In September 2019, I checked into the Ocean Grand Room at the Mandarin Oriental, Singapore, located along Marina Bay and connected to the sprawling Marina Square shopping mall in downtown Singapore. The 527-room luxury hotel is minutes away from Promenade and Esplanade MRT Station, a short walk away from destinations such as the Singapore Flyer, Esplanade Theatre, Raffles City and Suntec City as well as 20 minutes from Changi Airport by car.
Mandarin Oriental, Singapore is one the few hotels in the country to be rated five stars by Forbes Travel Guide 2019, an accomplishment shared by the Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore and Capella Singapore. Notable properties in the area include Conrad Centennial Singapore, Pan Pacific Singapore and The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Classic elegant luxury in Marina Bay.
The must-dos (if any): Enjoy the panoramic views of Marina Bay from your room, have a cocktail at MO Bar, luxuriate in the Oriental Club Lounge.
MANDARIN ORIENTAL, SINGAPORE
Sporting a distinctive fan-shaped concrete facade which pays homage to the brand’s logo and a soaring grand atrium design with a core of glass elevators courtesy of the late architect John Portman (who is also behind the design of Regent Singapore), the bayside property is part of the Marina Square building complex which also houses Pan Pacific Singapore as well as Marina Mandarin Singapore (which will soon be rebranded as PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay). The interior design choices are informed by the property’s Eastern persuasions, from the dramatic Guan Yin statue below the striking 15m-long crystal chandelier at the lift lobby which injects a sense of temple-tinged spirituality to the proceedings to the public washroom signages which depict traditional Chinese outfits.
In terms of wellness, the hotel has a fully-equipped fitness centre which offers both indoor and outdoor exercise areas as well as an expansive outdoor swimming deck with direct views of the bay area, both of which are located on the 5th level. Surrounded by lush landscapes and private cabanas, the deck comprises a 25-metre outdoor swimming pool as well as a children’s pool with bubble jet facilities, with the poolside Italian restaurant Dolce Vita and alfresco lounge BAY@5 adding a bustling, tropical vibe to the proceedings. Elsewhere, The Spa at Mandarin Oriental on the same floor boasts treatment room and suites, manicure and pedicure services as well as both male and female changing areas with their own experience showers and steam facilities.
OCEAN GRAND ROOM
With floor-to-ceiling windows and a private balcony, both of which offer some of the most intimate views of Marina Bay possible (the room’s length faces both the Singapore Flyer as well as Marina Bay Sands), the 53sqm Ocean Grand Room offers a fairly comfortable guest experience despite its visible age (although I can certainly imagine its potential once the property receives a much overdue refreshment). The room is spacious, featuring a sofa seating area as well as a large marble-topped workstation which could double up as a dining table if you order room service. While all rooms have TWG tea-making facilities, the Ocean Grand Room is equipped with a Nespresso coffee machine. I noticed that the drawers of the stationery box were left pulled out such that they resemble the hotel’s stepped facade, which was a fairly cute gesture if it was intentional. The fairly dated bathroom features double vanities, a cosy enclosed rainfall shower stall as well as a wall-side bathtub, with bathroom amenities are from Atelier Cologne.
After a particularly boozy evening at the Oriental Club Lounge, and because we had a US$50 dining credit from our Holiday Escape package, we decided to order room service for dinner, and I am pleased to confirm that the Signature Maine Lobster Laksa and Alaskan King Crab Hokkien Mee were dishes which were luxuriously indulgent and immensely comforting.
As a member of the “Fans of MO” programme, I received two drink vouchers which can be used at various concepts throughout the property, and I eventually spent them on two “7,000 Leagues Ahead” cocktails at MO Bar.
Breakfast is served at Melt Cafe, the hotel’s all-day buffet restaurant. The extensive breakfast offerings during my visit ranged from the usual Western breakfast sides (including a gargantuan and serpentine Spiral Chicken Sausage) to Asian delights such as Stir-Fried Noodles, Egg Fried Rice, Roti Canai, Otak-otak and Nasi Lemak, a soup noodle station as well as an assortment of sweet treats.
Situated on the 4th floor of the hotel and boasting impressive views of the skyline, with its design and menu concept taking inspiration from the Pacific Ocean, MO Bar serves dainty afternoon tea sets as well as a carefully curated, conceptualised and regionally-inspired cocktail and bar menu. The masculine and degenerate should opt for spirit-forward choices such as 7,000 Leagues Ahead (Super Sonic Gin, Kaffir Lime Leaf Oil), which plays like a valentine to gin lovers, or the heady Rough Waters by the Coral Sea (Herb Cognac Wine, Edible Coral) which dons a mysterious black widow-esque coral veil. However, those seeking an Instagrammable cocktail moment can go for the dramatic-looking Mother of Dragons (Strawberry Aloe Vera, Dragon Cachaça), which evokes hazy pleasurable memories of grape-flavoured Yakult in its wake. The cocktails can be paired with light bites such as the lemongrass-perfumed stuffed Phoenix Wings or the saucily succulent Singdog (Nonya Sausage, Achar, Sambal Mayo, Scallion, Dry Shrimp).
One of the most established steakhouses in the country and a gold standard destination for date nights as well as anniversary celebrations, Morton’s the Steakhouse is known not just for its quality steaks but also its daily happy hour offer – every order of a signature Morton’s Martini comes with a free flow of complimentary fillet mignon steak sandwiches between 5-7pm. I once had the 8oz. Centre-Cut Filet Mignon, and the roasty, intimately juicy steak surrendered to the bluntest blades with ease, blushing a brilliant pink as I revealed its most private bits. Diners can opt for various enhancements such as Poblano Butter or Black Truffle Butter, or order a variety of side dishes such as Creamed Spinach or Sauteed Brussels Sprouts to accompany their steak experience.
Cherry Garden offers Cantonese cuisine and dim sum in a refined setting, while poolside Dolce Vita serves classic Italian cuisine as well as an à la carte weekend buffet brunch with free-flow champagne. Rounding up the dining concepts are poolside alfresco lounge BAY@5 and Japanese teppanyaki concept Teppan-Ya.
ORIENTAL CLUB LOUNGE
Located on the 19th level and with panoramic views of the Singapore skyline, the Oriental Club Lounge is one of the best things about the property. The space strikes an impressive first impression with its towering ceiling, dramatic red walls, plush sofas and elegant furnishings, distinctly feeling fresher and more up-to-date than the guest rooms. The lounge is one of the few in Singapore which serves champagne breakfast (others include The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, Pan Pacific Singapore and PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, Singapore), with Ruinart being the club’s bubbly of choice.
Champagne breakfast is an a la carte affair, with options such as Eggs Benedict, Open-faced Vegetable Omelette, French Toast, Fluffy Waffles and Singapore Wanton Noodle Soup available. A buffet of savoury and sweet bites – think Tuna Tarts, Egg Mayo Sandwiches, Scones and other pastries – are served during afternoon tea, while the 2hr-long evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres presentation is the most extensive in terms of variety, comprising a themed buffet (I had a Mediterranean spread featuring a Seafood Stew, Baked Chicken, Vegetarian Pizza and Mezzemaniche with Arrabbiata Sauce) as well as a selection of champagne-based, MO Signature as well as classic cocktails available. Degenerate drunks would be delighted to hear that wines, beers and other beverages (including an exclusive TWG teas created specially for the property) are served all day.
Despite its visible fatigue and age, the hotel’s superlative Marina Bay views, array of confident dining options and the pampering Oriental Club Lounge experience elevate the guest experience to a level that ranks as one of the most luxurious in Singapore.
Mandarin Oriental, Singapore
5 Raffles Avenue