Singapore has an international reputation as a shoppers’ paradise, and when the locals tell you shopping is a national sport in their country, they’re not joking. Modern air-conditioned shopping malls and traditional markets are literally everywhere, and the Singapore experience is very much a “soft landing” into Asia.
From the efficient underground train system and regulated and inexpensive taxis, to its tree-lined streets and overall cleanliness for a busy city (there really is no litter anywhere), it is the model of efficiency which has earned it the nickname “the Switzerland of Asia”. But that’s not to say it lacks charm and diversity and this is a city that's also rich in history and now confidently embraces the culture of East and West.
One of Singapore's iconic luxury hotels located in the Marina district, the Marina Mandarin is an elegant property with modern Asian touches with great views of Marina Bay and the financial district which lights up brilliantly at night. The hotel is also within striking distance of all of the city's major attractions, and shopping of course, including Orchard Road, Chinatown, Little India, Arab Town, Sentosa Island, Clarke Quay and Jurong Bird Park to name a few.
The first thing you notice when you walk in is the Marina Mandarin's atrium. It's an overwhelming and impressive space which stretches through 21 floors of the hotel and newcomers are easy to spot - they're the ones who just stop and stare upwards and around for a few minutes as exotic birds in cages chirp away.
Each of the Marina Mandarin's 575 rooms are spacious and each one has a private balcony overlooking either Marina Bay or the city. Furnishings are understated and elegant with soft browns and beige the predominant colour in the bedrooms while the bathrooms are modern and spacious with high quality products. The beds are also impressive and are the perfect cure for shopping-itis and it can be difficult actually getting up to go exploring in the mornings. All rooms have wireless broadband internet access, large flat screen televisions with channels from around the world and a couple of good free movie channels. There's also a spacious work desk and coffee and tea making facilities. There's about five different categories of rooms from the standard Deluxe Room to the mega-luxurious Presidential Suite and prices naturally reflect the standard of room. But where possible ask for a room with good views of Marina Bay - at night it provides a stunning backdrop to the city skyline.
All of the dining options are located within the expansive atrium and the Marina Mandarin has three main restaurants. Peach Blossoms is a renowned Cantonese restaurant on level 5 which specialises in dim sum but also serves up classic dishes from the region. Ristorante Bologna on level 4 was one of the first Italian restaurants in Singapore when the Marina Mandarin opened in 1987 and chef Carlo Marengoni has created an authentic menu which has a loyal following among the locals. AquaMarine is the buffet with high quality international cuisine with seafood as a specialty, along with an a-la-carte menu, and on weekends and public holidays the High Tea Buffet (S$38 plus taxes) is a popular event. Along with the restaurants there's also a casual cafe bar called the Atrium Lounge which is open throughout the day for tea, coffee and snacks and is the perfect spot for an afternoon tea. In the evenings live classical music is played and the happy hour from 5pm to 9pm is busy with 50% off all house pour drinks. On weekends Atrium Lounge also does a tea time buffet with an innovative Mixology drinks list of original cocktails.
The hotel has direct access to the Marina Square Shopping Mall so pretty much everything you need is close at hand, but the hotel is especially proud of its 25 metre Mineral Water Pool and rightly so. This is in a relaxed outdoor setting with very comfortable deck chairs and plenty of shaded areas to escape the strong Singapore sun. There is almost no chlorine in this pool as it uses a NASA-developed system where the water is purified by a patented Ionisation process where minute amounts of silver, copper and zinc are metered into the pool via a refined combination of digital-analog technology. It means the pool is 100% mineral water and a good comparison is that it feels like you're swimming in a fresh water lake. The St Gregory Spa is an oasis of calm within the hotel with a full range of spa and skin care services which is especially helpful after long flight. There's also a 24 hour fitness centre and for business travellers, the award-winning Meritus Club Lounge is a great spot for an evening cocktail in the sumptuous rooms.
This is a hotel in a great location with top class facilities and even though the property is more than 20 years old, it has been refurbished recently in a modern Asian style which evokes an atmosphere of sophistication and tranquility. Perhaps the biggest plus is the rooms themselves which are a generous size and are immaculately serviced twice a day.
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