Marina Mandarin Singapore hotel

Stuart Forster reviews a stay at the luxury Marina Mandarin Singapore hotel.

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 sat there until the bar closed. I was sipping delicious Singapore Slings served by waitresses in high-collared, Chinese style dresses.

Arriving from Changi Airport at 10pm meant I didn’t have time to visit Raffles for a Singapore Sling in the famous 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 also ordered myself a club sandwich.

Atrium of the upscale Marina Mandarin Singapore hotel
View towards the lobby of the upscale Marina Mandarin Singapore hotel.

The Marina Mandarin 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.

Atrium of the luxury Marina Mandarin Singapore hotel
View of the Marina Mandarin Singapore Atrium Lounge.

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 Marina Mandarin Singapore’s 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.

Desk in a guestroom at the five-star Marina Mandarin Hotel in Singapore
A place to check emails and deal with work issues prior to going for breakfast. A desk in a guestroom at the five-star Marina Mandarin Hotel in Singapore.

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.

Skyscrapers in Singapore's Central Business District (CBD) seen from a balcony in the Marina Mandarin Singapore hotel
The Esplanade and skyscrapers in Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD) seen from a balcony in the Marina Mandarin Singapore hotel.

In the heat of the night

On arrival 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. At night I couldn’t make out familiar stretches of the racing circuit.

Five-star Pan Pacific Hotel, at night, at Marina Bay in Singapore
A view from the Marina Mandarin Singapore hotel to the neighbouring five-star Pan Pacific Hotel.

Staying in the Marina Mandarin

The hotel has 575 rooms and suites.

I’m staying in 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 plays on the flat-screen television.

The marble bathroom features a bathtub and a walk-in shower cubicle.

I wish I was staying longer 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.

Bed in a bedroom at the five-star Marina Mandarin Hotel in Singapore
Bed in a bedroom at the five-star Marina Mandarin Hotel in Singapore.

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 SIngapore hotel.

Google map showing the location of the Marina Mandarin Singapore hotel.

Getting to Singapore

I travelled between London Heathrow and Singapore Changi Airport with Singapore Airlines. The flight takes approxomately 13 hours.

Ships idling in the Singapore Strait at dawn, seen beyond the Singapore Flyer from a balcony at the Marina Mandarin Singapore hotel
Ships idling in the Singapore Strait at dawn, seen beyond the Singapore Flyer from a balcony at the Marina Mandarin Singapore hotel.

Further information

Find out more about things to do and see in Singapore on YourSingapore, the Singapore Tourist Board’s website.

Photos illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography.

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