By Thomas Shambler
Since it opened in 1987, the pyramid-shaped Mandarin Oriental Singapore has been one of the city's most opulent places to stay
Sat opposite the shining Marina Bay Sands (a Singapore landmark that features three towers with what looks like the bow of a boat straddled across them), one might think the Mandarin Oriental looks a bit dated.
One might say that its pyramid-shaped façade is no longer in style, especially when compared to the throngs of glass-and-steel skyscrapers that huddle around it.
But despite all that, guests keep coming back in droves. Why? It's not just because the Mandarin Oriental brand has an army of loyal clientele. More that its Singapore property has managed to maintain its stellar reputation for luxury hospitality for more than three decades.
That's not to say that all of the hotel hasn't changed in its 30-years of operation. Thanks to a facelift in 2005, all the rooms and public spaces have been given a massive overhaul.
Rooms are light and bright, which contrasts the dim-lit lobby - resplendent with impressive art installations and a 15-metre-long crystal chandelier. One floor above that – past the Japanese Zen garden – is the central atrium, where you'll often see guests gazing upwards as the interior of the pyramid-structure actually spreads out to look like a fan (the same as the hotel's logo).
And while the hotel is big, boasting a staggering 527 rooms and suites, even fully booked you'd be hard pressed to know it. So vast are its floors and waiting areas that guests will hardly ever bump into another – save for at 12-noon during check out time.
The Mandarin Oriental Singapore is in a prime location. It's connected by an indoor walkway to the massive Marina Square Mall, the Singapore Flyer and Esplanade Theatre on the Bay are both five minutes walk away from the hotel, as is the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.
It's also handy if you prefer public transportation; the Promenade MRT station is two minutes away on foot, and the Central Business District is a quick five-minute taxi ride away.
It should come as no surprise that a hotel this large is not lacking on facilities. There's a spa, lap-friendly swimming pool, business centre, gymnasium and fitness centre complete with outdoor patio area for yoga.
The pool has a vast garden area around it, which offers guests privacy even when the pool looks packed. Service comes with a smile, no matter how busy the staff are, at any one of the property's six bar and restaurants.
Dolce Vita, which serves an a la carte weekend buffet brunch with free-flowing champagne, is popular amongst the expat crowd, while Melt – the hotel's international buffet dining and breakfast venue – impresses on the sheer quantity of food it puts out each service.
The rooms are reasonably-sized for an urban hotel. Middle Eastern guests (who are notoriously spoiled on hotel room space) won't feel uncomfortable, and each is decked out in a neutral palette of grey matched with polished wood and ornately decorated headboards. The suites are elegant and luxurious, but not ostentations complete with living and dining rooms, and a separate master bedroom.
Singapore is now spoilt for choice when it comes to luxury hotels. From any one of the hotel's sides, guests will spot no less than three luxury brands, from the Ritz-Carlton to the Marina Bay Sands – the city's landmark. But newer isn't always better, and the Mandarin Oriental certainly proves that.