In June 2021, I checked into the Urban Room at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore. Formerly known as the Marina Mandarin Singapore since its launch in 1987, the rebranded hotel officially opened its doors in December 2020 as part of the first phase of its opening after an extensive S$45 million renovation. Soaring 21 floors high near the waters of the iconic Marina Bay in the heart of the Central Business District, the 583-room property is surrounded by attractions such as Esplanade, the Singapore Flyer and the Merlion and shopping destinations such as Suntec City, Marina Square and Raffles City. The hotel is a stone’s throw from Esplanade MRT, a short drive away from Raffles Place and the Orchard Road shopping stretch as well as a 20 minutes drive from Changi Airport.
Notable properties in the area include Mandarin Oriental, Singapore; Conrad Centennial Singapore; Pan Pacific Singapore; The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore; The Fullerton Hotel Singapore; and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore. PARKROYAL COLLECTION is a relatively new brand under the Pan Pacific Hotels Group portfolio with an emphasis on design elements. Along with properties such as Capella Singapore and The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, the hotel is under the Global Hotels Alliance (GHA) loyalty programme.
My stay comprised of two weekday nights in an Urban Room. My Trip.com booking came with daily breakfast for two as well as COLLECTION Club Lounge access.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Immersive garden-within-a-hotel experience next to Marina Bay.
Must Dos: Enjoy evening cocktails and canapes at the COLLECTION Club Lounge, take in the views from your private balcony, dine at Peach Blossoms.
PARKROYAL COLLECTION MARINA BAY, SINGAPORE
Envisioned as a “garden-in-a-hotel” concept (to complement sister property PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, Singapore’s external garden concept), the property features a 13m landscaped wall and more than 2,400 different trees and plants, most of which are interspersed with sculptured pavilions resembling birds’ nests within the hotel’s central atrium. Apart from forming an integral part of the interior design across the property’s various spaces, greenery also features heavily in the outdoor landscape such as the immaculately-maintained garden area on the 5th level outside the hotel’s COLLECTION Club Lounge. Your very first steps from the elevator onto the 4th floor lobby level provides a suitably dramatic introduction to just how immersive the “garden-in-a-hotel” experience is – as you cross the atrium sky bridge towards the reception area, your eyes would irresistibly be drawn to the vast expense of (very alive) foliage as well as the breathtaking interiors all around you, and it does feel like you are right in the midst of a glorious tree-top walk.
The building’s architectural design bears all the hallmarks of the distinctive style of its neo-futuristic architect John Portman, known for the dramatic skylights, glass elevators and soaring atria featured across his projects. (He also designed the Regent Singapore, Pan Pacific Singapore and Mandarin Oriental, Singapore with which this hotel shares substantial design DNA.) The hotel’s guest rooms are situated along tiered levels of open walkways which are orientated towards the soaring central atrium, with natural light entering the space through a skylight above.
Aside from its green interiors, the property has also committed to various eco-friendly and sustainability initiatives. For instance, guests have access to drinkable water from the filtered water tap in your bathroom as opposed to being given single-use plastic bottles of water. In addition, a rooftop farm outside all-day dining space Peppermint supplies herbs and vegetables to the restaurant, while kitchen waste is transformed into nutrient water for the hotel’s gardens via a specialized food digester. The hotel also offers guests daily eco-tours of the premises for a more in-depth showcase of these initiatives.
The hotel boasts six dining concepts: all-day local and international buffet restaurant Peppermint; Cantonese restaurant Peach Blossoms; lobby lounge Atrium Lounge; tropical poolside space Skyline Bar; Japanese restaurant Sushi Jiro; and steakhouse concept Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
Wellness facilities are available on the 5th level. The fitness centre is equipped with cardio and strength-training equipment, while the outdoor mineral water swimming pool is fitted with 1,380 fibre-optic lights which illuminate the pool after dark. An open green space next to the pool offers opportunities for outdoor yoga, while those seeking a bit more vigour in their wellness journey can go for relaxing treatments at the The St. Gregory Spa such as their signature Chinese Tui Na Massage or Dynamic Resurfacing Facial.
While many of the hotel’s entry Urban Rooms offer views overlooking the Padang, I was fortunate to have been allocated one which was situated along the side of the building facing the iconic Marina Bay, which meant that my 31sqm Urban Room turned out to be essentially a lower floor equivalent of the hotel’s higher category Signature Marina Bay Room.
In contrast to the Japanese light wood aesthetic of sister property PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, Singapore, the newly-renovated room adopts a more sophisticated and mature tone with its dark wood panels, deeper colour tones and touches of metal gloss. The bedroom features a king-sized bed, a sizeable work space, a single sofa chair and table as well as a pantry with kettle and packet coffee/tea making facilities. The room’s most notable feature would be the spacious private balcony which offers expansive views of Marina Bay – the panoramic view from my balcony extends from as far as the The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore and Singapore Flyer all the way past Marina Bay Sands and beyond.
While the bedroom area feels visibly refreshed and rejuvenated, the seemingly un-renovated bathroom throws back heavily to its Marina Mandarin Singapore days – think inbuilt bathtub with a rather low placement of the shower-head holder, an old-fashioned bidet as well as an extremely cosy enclosed shower stall which discriminates against those with larger silhouettes and may trigger claustrophobic reactions in those who do manage to fit. Save for the installation of the filtered water tap, one will not be able to perceive any update to the bathroom whatsoever, and the stark difference between the state of the bedroom and bathroom does leave much to be desired.
There were certain housekeeping issues. Upon my check-in, I observed a hair in the bathtub, a largely empty tissue box within the tissue holder in the bathroom, a certain sticky quality to the bedroom floor and as well as a sizeable puddle of water on the tabletop below the refrigerator, likely because the refrigerator has not been properly closed for hours. Given the high occupancy (likely driven by the regular and attractive on-going staycation promotions) as well as the large number of guest rooms in the property, one should certainly manage their expectations when it comes to service standards at the hotel.
COLLECTION CLUB LOUNGE
Situated within a stand-alone structure next to the pool on the 5th level and boasting panoramic views of Marina Bay beyond a lush garden landscape, the COLLECTION Club Lounge serves all day refreshments, daily buffet breakfast, afternoon tea as well as evening cocktails.
Aside from the usual fromage and cereal options as well as an extensive egg dish menu (from Sunny-side Up and Omelette with Button Mushtooms, Turkey Ham, Tomato, Capsicum and Parmigiano to the Eggs Croissant Bowl “Benedict”), the lounge’s breakfast menu offers both warm dishes similar to those appearing in Peppermint’s breakfast menu (examples include Dim Sum Basket with Chicken Siew Mai, Majestic Shrimp Har Gao, Pork Char Siew Bao and Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf as well as Rice Noodle Soup with Shrimp Dumplings) as well as exclusive lounge options such as Organic Pumpkin Congee and Crispy Prata with Spinach Dhal and Aloo Matar Curry. Elsewhere, the afternoon tea is a tiered affair comprising sweet and savouries such as quiches, sandwiches, panna cotta and tarts.
Presented in wooden bento boxes, the sunset dining selection served during evening cocktails was a surprising revelation, and I may go as far as to say that these were really some of the best club lounge food I’ve had in Singapore, even during the period long before the pandemic affected executive lounge operations. On my first evening, the Singapore-inspired selection comprised a slightly spicy Scallop Otak in Shell, a juicy Chilli Crab Cake, a nicely-marinated Meatless Chicken Satay as well as local-inspired Pandan Chiffon Cake, Old-School Butter Cream Cake and Taro Cake. The following evening, the Japanese-style offerings comprised California Maki, Unagi Chawanmushi (!), Sustainable Seafood Croquette with Tobiko Mayo, Matcha Red Bean Cake, Black Sesame with Yuzu Swiss Roll and Hojicha Cake.
Even though the signature cocktails themselves were expectedly perfunctory, the quality of the sunset dining menu more than made up for it. I had multiple bentos on both nights.
Breakfast is served at Peppermint, an all-day local and international Halal-certified buffet restaurant with its own urban farm where herbs, edible flowers and vegetables are grown and used in the preparation of the restaurant’s food and beverages. Highlights of the breakfast menu include Nasi Lemak with Otak and Crispy Chicken, Ikan Bilis, Peanut and Homemade Sambal as well as Hainanese Chicken Meatball and Century Egg Congee, with the local favourite of the day during my visit being Chwee Kueh. Plant Based Meat was available as a substitute for eggs, with Peppermint’s various menus also offering plant-based options. Away from breakfast, the restaurant changes its dining menus regularly. I tried their Peranakan menu back in March 2021, with highlights including Ayam Buah Keluak, Fish Maw Soup, Nonya Laksa and Udang Assam Nanas (freshwater prawn simmered in pineapple assam gravy). Their current July 2021 menu is a meat-based Roast and Grill affair with offerings such as Black Angus Beef, Whole Baby Lamb and Angus Beef Belly with Truffle Sauce.
Given the current staffing issues due to the pandemic as well as the hotel’s large number of rooms and high occupancy, one might wish to have breakfast at an earlier off-peak hour as the queue at around 9.30am snaked from Peppermint’s entrance all the way to the reception area.
Situated within a sculptured pavilion on the 4th floor against the breathtaking backdrop of garden expanse and dramatic architecture, the Atrium Lounge serves all-day coffee, nature-inspired afternoon tea and, after dark, an extensive selection of bar bites as well as a selection of signature cocktails such as the Sky Bridge Highball, the Atrium Garden and the rum-based Pavilion Nest.
Arguably the most exciting dining concept in the hotel and one of the best hotel Chinese restaurants in the country, Peach Blossoms offers progressive Cantonese cuisine in a quietly elegant setting which showcases an abundance of natural light as well as beautiful views of the iconic Marina Bay. Helmed by award-winning Chef Edward Chong, the restaurant serves cuisine that tantalise and delight not just in terms of taste but also appearance. The Dim Sum Artistry (Steamed Scallop Dumpling, Steamed Crystal Dumpling and Steamed Squid Ink Seafood Dumpling with Three Types of Tobiko) looks like something that could have waltzed out of Janice Wong’s kitchen, while the Four Combination Platter (Seafood Fritters filled with Lychee and Cheese; Chawanmushi with Australian Scallop, Ikura and Truffle Oil; Sliced Peking Duck and Foie Gras served in Golden Cup; and Puff Pastry filled with Shredded Radish and Shrimp) plays it all cinematic diorama with dry ice effects and miniature nature imagery. Their Seafood Dumpling with Abalone in Lobster Essence is an exercise in oceanic collagen luxury, while the Poached Fillet of Sea Perch with Chinese Yellow Rice Wine – served in a gorgeous textured ceramic bowl – is a deliriously heady and indulgent take on fish soup crossed with that distinctive Chinese rice wine flavour.
Rounding up the F&B concepts are tropical poolside space Skyline Bar, Japanese restaurant Sushi Jiro as well as steakhouse concept Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
The “garden-in-a-hotel” visual concept is marvellously executed and the building’s central atrium is really quite the sumptuous feast for the senses. Elsewhere, the COLLECTION Club Lounge really surprised with its remarkable sunset dining offerings, and Peach Blossoms is a must-try gastronomical experience even if you are not a staying hotel guest. However, I cannot help but allow the state of the bathrooms to give me this sinking feeling that much of the rebranded hotel’s potential may have been squandered during the hotel’s renovation decision-making process.
Nonetheless, if you can look past the usual mass-market hotel issues with service and housekeeping as well as the curious case of the guest bathrooms not being given the same upgrade as the bedrooms, there are many reasons to give this rebranded property a visit.
PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore
6 Raffles Boulevard