The gentle chirping of birdsong greets me as I step outside my hotel room on the 19th floor of the Marina Mandarin Singapore.
“There’s a man over there who tends to the birds every day,” says a fellow guest as she wanders past me on her way towards the lifts.
I’d assumed the lilting twittering was a recording but this is no ordinary hotel. The Mandarin Marina Singapore is a true five-star property. Sure enough there’s a man on the far side of the cavernous atrium tending to a nightingale within an elegantly shaped cage.
Singapore Slings in the Atrium Lounge
Morning light is flooding into the lobby. I look down at the chairs and tables of the Atrium Lounge, down on level four. Last night I’d sat there until the bar closed sipping delicious Singapore Slings served by waitresses in high-collared, Chinese style dresses.
Arriving from Changi Airport at 10.00pm meant I hadn’t had time to get over to Raffles for a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar. My disappointment at not being able to fulfil that wish was soon assuaged by the powerful kick of the first of several cocktails in the Atrium Lounge. To be sensible I’d also ordered myself a club sandwich – a hangover in the tropical humidity of Singapore would surely be no fun at all.
The Marina Mandarin’s atrium
I pause by the lifts and photograph down into the atrium. Its volume, subtle illumination and stylish design were sufficient to draw a murmured wow from me upon arrival last night.
Even in daylight it looks remarkable. This hotel opened its doors in 1987 but there’s nothing tired about the Marina Mandarin Singapore. Refurbs have ensured John Portman’s symmetrical design continues to impress.
In 2015 the Marina Mandarin was named Best City Hotel at the Travel Trade Gazette’s Travel Awards for the third consecutive year.
A breakfast buffet and a half
I cross the lobby and head up to the breakfast buffet, from which I sample an eclectic selection of sushi, dim sum and fresh tropical fruit.
It strikes me that I could stay in the hotel for a week without munching through even half of the buffet. European, Indian and local dishes contribute just part of the vast array of food available. I suppose in a transport hub such as Singapore it pays to cater for palates from a cross-section of global cultures.
The hotel, I’ve noticed, has five dining spaces, including Peach Blossoms, an upscale Cantonese restaurant, and a Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
A rooftop pool with NASA technology
Sitting in my room, last night, I’d been impressed to read the hotel’s 25-metre swimming pool utilises an ionisation system developed by NASA. Traces of copper, silver and zinc are used to maintain the purity of the mineral water in the pool – not a drop of chlorine.
At school I was told it is dangerous to swim during the hour following a meal. Cramps and drowning could result, we were warned. Is there any truth in that? I pondered the matter as I sauntered past the pool to enjoy a rooftop view of the Central Area’s bold architecture.
Skyscrapers occupied by financial institutions stand near the curved metallic rooftops of buildings known locally as ‘the big durians’, after the spiky fruit whose custardy core soon begins to stink when exposed to air. The iconic buildings host a performing arts centre, the Esplanade.
In the heat of the night
On arrival, last night, I slid open the patio door of my room and stepped out onto the balcony to photograph the view. Moving between the air-conditioned cool of the room and the humidity of the downtown Singapore soon caused my lens to fog with condensation.
As I waited for it to clear I looked over at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre. I could also see the slowly turning wheel of the Singapore Flyer and tower-like structures within the Gardens by the Bay.
I was told the hotel overlooks the Marina Bat Street Circuit used in Formula One’s Singapore Grand Prix though, unfortunately, in the night I couldn’t make out familiar stretches.
Staying in the Marina Mandarin
The hotel has 575 rooms and suites.
I have been allocated a modern, spacious room with a king-size bed. An abstract contemporary painting hangs over the desk where I make use of the free wi-fi to check emails and check into my next flight. Meanwhile, CNN News, something I only watch when I’m in hotels, plays on the flat-screen television.
The marble bathroom features a bathtub and a walk-in shower cubicle.
I wish I was staying longer and could make use of the room for a couple of days but I have to hit the road again. Ultimately, if you want to return to a hotel, then you know it’s made a positive impression.
The Marina Mandarin Singapore
The Marina Mandarin Singapore hotel (tel. +65 6845 1000) is at 6 Raffles Boulevard on Marina Square.
The hotel is part of the Meritus group of hotels and resorts and operates a best price guarantee for online bookings via the hotel’s website.
Esplanade is the closest of Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations to the Marina Mandarin hotel.
Getting to Singapore
Stuart travelled with Singapore Airlines between London Heathrow and Singapore Changi Airport. Singapore Airlines operate four flights a day between the two international transport hubs. The flights take around 13 hours.
Find out more about the attractions of Singapore on YourSingapore, Singapore Tourist Board’s website.