We had five days in Singapore as part of the first leg of our honeymoon and for our final night, my parents gifted us a stay at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. You might not have heard of it before, but you’ll certainly recognise it, as it’s that spaceship-looking highrise that you see on all those Instagram pics of Singapore.
One perfect night at Marina Bay Sands
I’d been desperate to stay here after we watched Giles Coren and Monica Galetti’s BBC programme ‘Amazing Hotels’ where they go behind the scenes. In the programme, the pair visits the hotel’s infinity pool – the highest in the world and that was it, love at first site. The pool is reserved for guests only, so we had to stay.
It’s probably the largest hotel I’ve ever stayed in and has 2,561 rooms. I might have mentioned that we were on honeymoon when I made our reservation and the hotel upgraded us to a bigger and higher room which had a view facing the city skyline and dancing fountains (plus a later checkout time.)
The lobby is vast and it’s more akin to checking in at an airport than your average hotel desk. On arrival, it did look a little daunting with a mega queue for check-in and this was a sign of things to come, but it really didn’t take the shine off the place. The staff here really knew how to treat guests well.
Checking in at Marina Bay Sands
The line moved steadily and staff came down the queue with magnums, ice lollies, orange juice and water refreshments – in fact, Tom was a little disappointed to miss the free cornetto that was just edging its way towards us when we were called up to the counter.
The hotel is made up of three central towers with the SkyPark spanning the rooftops, which from the ground, looks like a floating ship. Our ‘Premier Room’ (roughly £300 per night, plus breakfast £30) felt huge after our stay at the Hilton Garden in Little India (which I equally loved but it couldn’t match this place!)
It had a very comfortable king size bed plus some excellent towel sculpture. It was on Amazing Hotels that they interview one a Guest Service Agent who attended the rooms and showed all the comprehensive towel animals that they can create.
Fittingly, we had two swans. Tom asked if I would recreate this for him every morning back home, I said he was lucky I made the bed before I left for work in the morning..! As you’d expect it was spotless and the deep soak bath ginormous!
Afternoon tea at Pollen in the Flower Dome
Before we spent our afternoon at the swimming pool, we first headed to Pollen in the Flour Dome in Gardens by the Bay for afternoon tea. Pollen is a sister restaurant to Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social in London, which we visited earlier in the year, and like its older brother, you can expect the same delicate presentation and hearty flavours.
Our tea included five savories: a beetroot dip with charcoal crisps, beef croquettes, mushroom volovants, egg and cress sandwiches and salmon rolls. Plus five sweets; an Earl Grey lemon cake, mint macarons, clementine profiteroles with crakalan, financiers, and the signature orange and white chocolate scones. It would have impressed even Bake Off judges, Prue and Paul.
The observation deck
The SkyPark Observation Deck is on the same level as the hotel’s infinity pool and is open to the public. Guests can go up to the top for free, but others will need to buy a ticket (it’s $23 Singapore Dollars for an adult).
From here you can see Supertree Grove, Singapore Strait and a bird’s eye view of the shipping lanes.
An afternoon’s swimming (or should that be posing!)
The infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands is the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool and gazes down at the Singapore skyline from 57 levels above. Yet this is no swimmer’s pool, it’s pretty much purely for posing. I’ve never seen so many people trying to take the perfect selfie in the water.
And it took Tom some persuasion to stand in the water phone aloft, but I don’t regret it for one cotton moment. We spent all afternoon by the pool soaking up the view.
Dinner at Lavo
We went back to our room around 7pm to get ready whilst watching the dancing fountains from our bedroom, which was a spectacular sight but due to the amazing glazed windows, you won’t hear the accompanying music.
We then headed up to Lavo the hotel’s New York Italian-concept restaurant. We made a reservation earlier on that day, which I would advise, as it’s a busy place and getting yourself a little organised helps keep everything running smoothly.
Alcohol in Singapore is expensive, conversely to a lot of other things which are actually fairly inexpensive. We each had a glass of red which came in at around £10 each, so we just had one and certainly did not have a bottle! Tom had a seafood linguine and I had an amazing venison ravioli, and we both had a springy lemon polenta cake for dessert. Fully sated, we enjoyed using that giant bath before heading to bed.
Beating the breakfast rush
Our room note suggested that if we would like a ‘leisurely breakfast’ that we should head to one of the three restaurants serving breakfast before 8am. We thought we’d follow the advice as we only had one more morning to really enjoy the hotel. Plus I particularly wanted to have breakfast at Spago Bar & Lounge which is located on level 57 next to the infinity pool.
My family knows that I absolutely LOVE a hotel breakfast, I never miss it. Marina Bay Sands certainly didn’t disappoint. It had a vast array of pastries, asian noodles, granola and exotic fruits. There was also a dedicated eggs chef, I ordered eggs benedict, whilst Tom had a fresh omelette. By the time we left Spago ready for our morning by the pool, the queue was already beginning to build. We’d simply walked in and had a lovely table for two.
Yet more pool photos
The day before I’d seen quite a few couples having their photo taken by the hotel’s official photography service in the pool (well let’s face it, they’d be fools not have such a set up!)
Originally, I’d been a bit put off due to the expense as they only seemed to have options where they gave you a print out. That wasn’t going to be much use to us as we had another three weeks to go before we headed home and it would have either got lost, bent, torn etc. So, I asked about a digital package which I was quoted as just $50 (roughly £30-£40), which I thought more reasonable.
Well, we spent the morning taking more pictures ourselves, enjoying the view (it was much sunnier this morning unlike the previous overcast afternoon) and ordering fresh coconuts from the poolside service. We decided to have a last dip and one of the water photographers was wading around offering to take pictures. I persuaded Tom to indulge me.
Here’s the point of this story, after we had our picture taken I was quoted quite a different price for the pictures – double in fact. But after I mentioned that a colleague had said an alternative cheaper price, they were quite happy to go with that – so the tip is, do try a bit of negotiation. I’m pretty sure that there isn’t a set price for those digital pictures!
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
After we checked out, we stored our luggage at the lobby and went for a cruise around The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. (Tom found this spelling desperately annoying and no one seemed to know how it was actually supposed to be pronounced.)
It’s got 170 luxury and premium boutiques and we both quickly realised that neither of us had the paychecks to afford shopping here. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t an interesting place to mosy round. First off, it’s got its own canal running through the shopping mall and tourists queue for a ride through the shops. Like a slightly dismal Disney ride. Odd.
We had a few hours to kill here before we headed to Singapore airport and our next stop Ubud in Bali, so we decided to have lunch at Din Tai Fung, which I know now, was voted as one of the world’s top ten best restaurants by the The New York Times. It is a Taiwanese institution.
Initially, Tom wasn’t keen as it’s got quite a different ordering style. The maitre‘d gave us a clipboard with the menu on and we marked up the numbers according to the board posted outside the restaurant.
Now there was a lot of people clamouring to get a look at that board and Tom and I had a tag system, where I’d shout out the numbers of what we’d have and he’d scribble them down on the paper. We probably ordered way too much on reflection, but I’ve #noregrets.
Food certainly lived up to the New York Times billing and all these months later, it’s the place Tom and I recall most often. The restaurant creates theatre with several open kitchens; one with chefs nimbly folding pork dumplings and another creating long stringy noodles – it’s enough to get the taste buds salivating even now.
Our lunch included noodles in a spicy sauce, fried vegetable gyoza, bok choy, steamed vegetable dumplings, the restaurant’s signature pork dumplings and sweet steamed red bean paste buns. Like I said #noregrets.
And you will be pleased to know that you can recreate this experience at home, as Din Tai Fung will soon be opening its first restaurant in Covent garden this December (Cue much excitement in the Friend-Bartlett household!)