It’s a strange feeling that I’ve traveled and chronicled sights and scene all over Asia but had no time to show the sights right in my own home – Singapore.
I’ve not been to the Esplanade, Suntec, Marina Square and Marina Bay Sands area for a long time. In fact, I’ve never even been to the Marina Bay Sands Resorts and certainly not the Esplanade area since the place has been enhanced. It’s funny that foreign friends and colleagues seem to have seen and taken photographs and know more about this area more than me!
So, it was time to make plans for a short stay-cation in that area. We chose the Marina Mandarin Hotel; both for the fact it’s one of the cheaper hotels in the area and that it has great view for photographing the surrounding area.
Nice spacious room and bed
Chair fit for any Chinese scholar
Spacious dressing and writing table
Beautiful singing birds at the corridors
Driving to the Marina Square Shopping Mall car park wasn’t a problem. Looking for the parking area designated for the hotel wasn’t a problem. Finding the staircase leading to the hotel was a bit of a hassle. Apparently, the carpark does not lead straight to the hotel; you need to go up a staircase, come out near the hotel, go into the main entrance and then take a lift to the 5th level hotel reception area. Not quite a good idea to be lugging luggage and bags. Better to engage the valet service.
The hotel receptionist told us the rooms facing Marina Bay Sands Resorts were completely taken up. Pay more to upgrade. Bad suggestion!
We showed her our confirmation sheet that was printed direct from the hotel website. We had already paid more for a deluxe room because it faced the view we wanted and we had specified clearly we had wanted a high level, sea facing room.
After a bit of to and fro, we got the view we wanted; albeit on a low floor. Oh well, a low level sea-facing room is still better than nothing.
View from the hotel lobby
Spacious atrium area
We had our high tea here
View from the hotel room window – what we came for
The hotel has a number of restaurants and cafes that seem to be well patronised at all hours. As locals, we know our way around and hit the Marina Square mall and the Esplanade area for our favourite food.
Towards dusk, we got ourselves busy by setting up a tripod and camera within the room for some fancy dusk and night photography. The room was just about the right angle for photographing the Marina Bay Sands resort and CBD skyline although I would have preferred to have been on a higher floor. The balcony was also a little small and odd shaped for spreading up a tripod and we had to put up the tripod within the room itself. That had to involve some shifting of furniture within the room itself as only one panel of the sliding window could be opened.
Entrance to Marina Square Mall
The CBD and Esplanade skyline by day
Sunset and the early lights make nice photographs
CBD area at evening dusk
Night fall and all the fancy lights came on
Although this is a 5-star hotel and was indeed grand in it’s hey day, the hotel does look slightly aged compared to all the fancy hotels in the area.
Other than the bad reception encounter we had, everything else was pleasant and the staff were cheerful and greeted us whenever we bumped into one. Room rate was indeed high and it did not even come with breakfast. Luckily Ya Kun is just round the corridor and we had Mee Siam and toasted bread for breakfast; much better than the usual hotel breakfast if I may say.
The hotel is busy and the restaurants, function rooms and atrium seems to be extremely busy at all times of the day despite the high prices charged in this hotel. Singapore is indeed living up to it’s reputation as a rich country.
Speaking of restaurants, we did had a unpleasant encounter at the Peach Blossom Chinese restaurant. We were at the restaurant reception and asked the restaurant manager for a Dim Sum menu. The manager did not look up from his counter and pointed us towards some menu on a table. We had a look through and decided to have Dim Sum. That was when the manager told us that Dim Sum order will close in 5 minutes. Is this guy dumb or what? Why didn’t he inform us when we inquired about Dim Sum?
The hotel has a large swimming pool, nice high tea buffet and corridors filled with nice art paintings and caged singing birds. I had a fun time listening to the birds. Apparently, they’ll not sing when I’m right below observing them but the moment I walk away, they’ll start singing. The moment I walk back, they’ll stop singing! I’ll certainly say they’re proud singing divas who know how to play the fame game.
There are indeed many, many nicer and grander hotels in the Suntec, Esplanade and Marina Square area. If you’re looking for the most economical and best positioned hotel that is with easy reach of Suntec, Esplanade, Marina Square, CBD and the Flyer, Marina Mandarin hotel certainly ranked as one of the best.
Marin Mandarin Hotel, Singapore
6 Raffles Boulevard