Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Mandarin Oriental's Ocean Grand Room: A Singapore Luxury Hotel review!

If you haven't heard of the staycation concept, here's a quick primer: Rather than spending hundreds of dollars travelling hours somewhere, just skip the flight and take the vacation in your home city! It makes a lot of sense for short weekend breaks, and is particularly popular in Singapore, where presumably the dozens of luxury hotels around the city provide a perfect backdrop for rest, relaxation, and a little family time.

Having stayed in exactly none of these aforementioned hotels, we aren't in any position to say which are better than others. Instead, in today's post we'll take a first baby step by reviewing the Ocean Grand Room at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore - and maybe in a year (or ten) we'll publish a "top 10" list!

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Layout

Built in 1987 and renovated in 2004, the Mandarin Oriental is a triangular building with rooms overlooking either the Marina Bay, City (North towards Suntec) and 'Ocean' (South towards Gardens by the Bay). As you can see in the layout above, the Ocean Grand Room's 570sqft is larger than many studio condominiums, and has a living room sort of partitioned off by a desk. It's a handsome desk, with a very comfortable chair. The location of the television is sort of a let down, though: thanks to its compromised location it isn't in an ideal viewing angle from either the sofa or the bed.

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Bed

The sofas are comfortable and great for relaxing on. On the small coffee table you should be able to make out the fruit 'basket' - bananas, oranges, apples, and pears.

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Living Area

Taking a closer look at the bed - As expected of a hotel of this calibre it's a huge, king-sized behemoth and feels insanely comfortable. The bed itself is medium-firmness, with plush, softer padding on top. Naturally, a choice of a half dozen pillows are available from housekeeping if the 'standard' ones are too soft for your liking.

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Bed
Sorry, Disney Bears not included!

On each bedside is a modern-looking switch panel with which to control the room's lights, a telephone, fancy looking clock, and a complimentary bottle of water which is also replenished during the evening turn down service. One notable omission: A USB port or power socket with which to charge phones or tablets.

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Bed

The balcony, frankly, is a huge disappointment and I can't imagine anyone spending much time there. For starters there are no chairs, and because the wall juts out at the corner you actually get a worse view than from inside the room.

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Balcony

Speaking of the view: it's spectacular. We don't have a good daytime photo, so you'll have to just use your imagination (oops!). If you're a visitor to Singapore you might perhaps prefer a room overlooking the Marina Bay, but the darling and I both prefer this wing of the hotel; we think having the Singapore eye, Marina Barrage, Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands makes it more interesting.

The room has huge, eight-foot-high floor to ceiling windows so you get this view from anywhere other than the bathroom.

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Panoramic View

Speaking of the bathroom; it's a bright, nice, twin sink design, although rather strangely there's a full length mirror directly opposite the toilet bowl. I guess the designers thought looking at yourself while you're sitting on the loo is a common behavioral trait of the luxury traveler?

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Bathroom

There's also a bathtub that's big enough for one, and amenities by Aromatherapy Associates (a UK-based company), and a small shower room tucked away in the corner (also just big enough for one).

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Bathtub

Let's also look at some other features of the Ocean Grand Room! Mandarin Oriental provides HDMI and Audio cables for you to connect your laptop/phone/mp3 player to the room's multimedia panel and speaker system. The speakers are a pleasant surprise, although they aren't particularly high fidelity or particularly strong.

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore HDMI and Audio Cables
Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Multimedia Panel

Some basic stationery is provided: Pen, pencil, paper, postcards and stapler. Which we didn't use.

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Stationery

A kettle is filled up with fresh water daily, which you use to prepare your Segafredo instant coffee and TWG tea. It's a step up from nescafe and lipton for sure, but at this price point would a Nespresso machine be too much to ask for?

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Coffee and Tea

The minibar is generously stocked, but with everything at 'hotel' prices we didn't dare partake. Besides, we had access to the The Oriental Club, with almost all-day free-flow tid bits, soft drinks and other hot beverages (we'll cover the review of the Club in a separate post).

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Minibar

In the evening we headed down to the 5th floor to check out the Mandarin Oriental's Swimming Pool. It's definitely a 'have fun, relax, and splash water' pool, so if you're looking to do some serious swimming you might be a bit disappointed. For just chilling out it's great, though: The pool staff serve you free flow iced water to keep hydrated while you laze your afternoon away. Of course drinks and food's available if you want it.

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Swimming Pool

Since it's Christmas Eve, we're pretty stoked to find a Christmas stocking hanging on our door handle at midnight! Goodies inside were quite nice as well - oranges, santa and christmas tree gummies, candy canes and cookies. Now we just need to come back next year to get a second stocking ...

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Christmas Stocking

If your room comes with access to The Oriental Club, we highly highly recommend having your breakfast there. If it doesn't, then you'll be with the rest of the hotel at Melt - The World Cafe.

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Breakfast Melt the World Cafe
Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Breakfast Melt Christmas Decorations

There are quite a number of ala-minute stations strategically located around the restaurant - like this eggs station:

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Breakfast Melt Eggs Station

The breakfast spread is very extensive - there's all sorts of juices, fruits, cold cuts, western, asian and indian hot breakfasts, noodles, pastries, bread, cereals, yoghurt, waffles, etc; anything you'd expect in a hotel breakfast is probably here in some form or other.

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Breakfast Melt the World Cafe
Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Breakfast Melt the World Cafe
Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Breakfast Melt the World Cafe
Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Breakfast Melt the World Cafe
Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Breakfast Melt the World Cafe
Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Breakfast Melt the World Cafe
Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Breakfast Melt the World Cafe

Food overall was ... just decent. After all, the Mandarin Oriental is a big hotel - over 500 rooms - which means on high occupancy days this single restaurant has to fill over a thousand hungry bellies. Melt does admirably on the quantity and variety measures, but quality definitely suffers.

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Breakfast Melt the World Cafe
Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Breakfast Melt the World Cafe

In addition to the food being rather mediocre, it doesn't seem like the restaurant can actually handle the crowd that well - particularly after 9.30am or so. It ends up being a little chaotic, really, with dozens of people thronging the buffet lines and egg stations, and dozens more standing in line waiting for us to finish our food and clear out. Definitely not the most relaxing of breakfast experiences.

Ocean Grand Room Mandarin Oriental Singapore Breakfast Melt the World Cafe

In concluding, we'd like to borrow some terminology usually used to describe trips on airplanes. As a luxury hotel, Mandarin Oriental has an amazing hard product. the furnishings are luxurious and modern and the floor-to-ceiling windows are a perfect complement to the gorgeous view.

The soft product, however, didn't really feel very luxurious at all. Outside of The Oriental Club, staff were generally polite but disinterested, well-mannered but aloof. And the Mandarin Oriental lacks a little in other minor aspects as well - for example, private in-room check-in, or being addressed automatically by name at restaurants. You can't help but feel like just another anonymous face in the sea of guests - inevitable, perhaps, given the hotel's sheer size.

Don't get us wrong, though. Despite the hotel's shortcomings, the darling and I still thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and are desperately hoping to strike the next toto or 4D so we can pay a visit again soon.

1 comment:

  1. This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.


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