Mandarin Oriental Singapore ranks among my most frequently stayed hotels in Singapore. Time and time again, the property launches creatively packaged staycation deals that defines what it means to be “a tourist in your own city.” Coupled with the hotel’s renowned hospitality and level of luxury, their staycation packages tend to come with inclusions that appeal to a wide demographic – whether it be families, couples or friends enjoying a weekend getaway.
This review is an amalgamation of my various staycations at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore. There are only so many ways one can do a package out of a hotel staycation but Mandarin Oriental Singapore seems to nail it every time and I always look forward to my stays here.
The hotel was built in the 1980s with the design coming from John Portman. Entering the lobby, one gets mesmerized by the cavernous atrium. As the brand name suggests, the decor is very much in keeping with the chain – think lots of Chinese figurines, dark and warm tones as well as long chandeliers.
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Marina Bay View Room
When I checked in, I was politely told that I was staying in one of the Marina Bay View rooms. This room category is a few notches above the entry-level ones. While the room size, at 34 square meters, is the same; this particular room category comes with unblocked views of Marina Bay. Over at this side of the bay, only one other hotel has the same selling point.
A pot of tea inside a basket greeted me when I entered the room. This is a standard welcome amenity at Mandarin Oriental Singapore although I noted that I was not brought a pot when I stayed again a few months later at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore during Phase 2.
The current look of the property has been around for a while now but I still like the colorful touches surrounding the room – from the bright hues of the throw pillows to the elaborate motifs on the carpets.
While the hotel’s staycation packages tend to cater to the leisure crowd, the brand’s appeal to business travelers remains undeniable. As is my experience in other Mandarin Oriental properties, the desk came with a full stationary set as well as HDMI cables for easy screening of one’s laptop to the large LCD TV in the room.
Judging from the interiors, it seemed like the last renovation at the property was a while back. Indeed, a quick search revealed the last major renovation in Mandarin Oriental Singapore to be during 2004 to 2005. Soft renovations were done in the rooms between 2015 to 2017 and that probably explains why there were charging outlets and light controls by the bed even though the last major renovation occurred well before the age of smartphones and gadgets.
The room also came with a Nespresso machine and a well-stocked minibar. Prices were in line with the luxury hotel standard but with Marina Square just next door, there is no urgent need to grab something from the minibar unless it’s to satiate a late-night hunger pang. Alternatively, one can just grab a piece of fruit from the complimentary basket laid out on the table.
Separated from the room partly through a see-through window and partly through a wall, the bathroom is of decent size with an attached tub, separate shower area with massage feature as well as a semi-enclosed toilet area. I did note that they provided the complete set of bathroom amenities – including my much-needed razors – without me having to ask.
It has also been a while since my last stay at Mandarin Oriental Singapore and I noticed that they’ve changed the brand of toiletries. It’s now an inhouse brand. They used to use Aromatherapy Associates.
Ocean Grand Room
Another noteworthy room category at Mandarin Oriental Singapore is their Ocean Grand Room. Measuring 53 square meters, this spacious room features an open-plan layout with windows spanning almost the full width of the room.
The stack with which the Ocean Grand Room is positioned in the hotel allows for views of some notable Marina Bay icons like Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer. Seeing both in one panoramic view is quite rare where Singapore hotel rooms are concerned. Most of the time, you’ll get one but rarely both.
The Ocean Grand Room features a long and narrow hallway which is probably the only negative point of the layout. The bed is strategically placed on one end, the seating area on the other with a rather long work desk separating both areas. The TV is the swivel type which allows for easy repositioning to face either the bed or sofa.
The Ocean Grand Room features a modest triangular balcony, the highlight of which is a view of Marina Bay Sands.
Compared to the entry-level rooms, the bathroom in the Ocean Grand Room is slightly bigger allowing for both a his and hers sink. Compared to my last visit, I have noted that the hotel now uses Diptyque toiletries – though guests are now unable to keep the bottles which are locked to the wall.
Marina Bay Suite
During another staycation at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore, I was fortunate enough to be upgraded to the Marina Bay Suite. At 62 square meters, it is roughly the size of some 2-bedroom condominium units in Singapore.
One enters the Marina Bay Suite through a foyer with a small powder room. Beyond it is a spacious living area. This area is split into the entertainment corner on one end with sofa, coffee table and TV while the other end has a work desk and arm chair. There is also a door that leads to a triangular-shaped balcony where one can get unfiltered views of Marina Bay.
The other half of the Marina Bay Suite is the bedroom which follows a similar layout to the normal rooms except that is almost totally devoid of any other furniture other than the bed itself, a console table and an arm chair.
For a more detailed look at the Marina Bay Suite at Mandarin Oriental Singapore, check out my review here.
If you prefer extra space and a balcony, the Marina Bay Suite might be worth the odd splurge though one should also take note that it is usually priced around 2.2x the Marina Bay View Room.
One of my usual gripes about weekend staycations is that it ends all too soon, with check-in usually around 3PM and check-out by noon the next day. Some of Mandarin Oriental Singapore’s staycation package allow for a late check-out of up to 6PM (subject to availability). This is just enough time to explore and enjoy the many facilities of the property, from its comprehensive fitness center to its swimming pool with a view.
As mentioned previously, the property is one of the few with unblocked views of Marina Bay. As such, it’s no surprise the swimming pool at Mandarin Oriental Singapore is also one of the most impressive in the country. At any given time, it’s always brimming with tourists enjoying the sun while appreciating the city skyline.
As I stayed just before Singapore imposed the circuit breaker, I had the swimming pool to myself most of the time. It was a rather strange sight as I’m used to seeing crowds there. Nevertheless, it was great to be able to cool off in such unabashed luxury just before the restrictions kicked in. During my third stay at Mandarin Oriental Singapore which was during Phase 2, I did see more families and locals using the pool but this quickly cleared after 12pm the following day as those on weekend stays had mostly checked out. Since I had the 6pm late checkout, I was among just a handful using the pool in the afternoon.
Mandarin Oriental Singapore also has a rather spacious gym with plenty of exercise equipment including a Kinesis Wall (much more than what you’d actually need during a staycation). There is also a nice outdoor workout area with wooden floorboards from which you can place your yoga mats. During my earlier stays at the property, they even had a dedicated inhouse fitness instructor. He was missing during my stays in 2020 unfortunately – an employment casualty owing to the current situation, perhaps?
Food and Drink
Mandarin Oriental Singapore has quite a strong food and drink line-up. In its premises are Cherry Garden (Chinese restaurant), Melt Cafe (Buffet restaurant), Dolce Vita (Italian restaurant), Morton’s (steakhouse) and MO Bar. During my staycation, I checked out MO Bar which is known for their signature cocktails inspired by different regions within the Asia-Pacific. This bar is also cited as one of the 50 best bars in Asia. They change their drinks menu every few months. At the time of my visit, their signature drink was the Sarimanok. Appealing visually as well as to the taste bud, the cocktail had a most instagrammable mythical bird art on top.
One of my favorite places to lounge around is the outdoor bar in front of Dolce Vita near the swimming pool. However at the time of my third staycation I found it temporarily closed due to government restrictions.
At the time of my stay, the property partnered with the folks from Singapore Sidecars in order to provide an element of fun to the staycation experience. The 10-minute ride on a sidecar of a Vespa replicated the route of the Singapore Grand Prix, where we passed through some iconic attractions such as the National Gallery, Esplanade, Asian Civilisations Museum, etc. The company behind Singapore Sidecars has actually been around for a while and they offer more comprehensive tours around various neighborhoods in Singapore that last for hours. It was a really fun experience and if you ask me, it would be great if the ride was a little bit longer.
As per my latest visit, I was happy to find that they have restored the usual hearty buffet at Melt. Gone were the well-plated dishes available on order. Hotel guests now have to queue for their breakfast, like it was before.
As with the nature of a buffet, guests can get as many dishes as they’d like from the different stations. I did not stations for Indian, Chinese, local and Western dishes. There was also a pastry counter where the chefs would make waffles and pancakes. For breakfast, I chose the Nasi Lemak which came with a generous portion of chicken and prawns.
I also tried the Kurobuta Pork Wanton Mee. Overall, there’s a good balance between local and international fare. For those who prefer classics such as eggs benedict or toast, that’s also available.
While the Mandarin Oriental Singapore probably won’t win awards as the most cutting edge designed hotel owing to its age, I found the rooms very well maintained during all my staycations there. What really sets this experience apart, aside from the impeccable Marina Bay views and having one of the most attractive looking hotel swimming pools in Singapore, is the overall friendliness of the staff and the genuine level of their service. It just made me feel truly welcomed. Even though by now I already know the layout of the rooms and facilities by heart, I still greatly look forward to every staycation there. Their highly creative staycation inclusions also help to create that sense of excitement.
The property is well-known for coming up with creative staycation packages. I have stayed at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore a couple of times and aside from the movie bundle I had here, I have also experienced getting driven around Singapore’s civic area on a Vespa. Currently, they have a limited-time staycation package that includes free use of their bikes plus a snack basket. You can book their staycation offers here.
Mandarin Oriental Singapore
5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square