Firstly, I hope that you are all well and safe, especially during COVID-19.
I apologize for the lengthy delay in writing an update on BuildingMyBento. My plans of moving to Japan earlier this were swiftly dashed as a result of the pandemic, but my desire to move overseas is greater than ever.
After catching a glimpse of tumbleweeds crisscrossing my passport, I decided to write this review of Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands hotel. Please note, some of the photos are from an associate, who stayed in a Premier City View Room.
I can’t recall the first time I read about the Marina Bay Sands, herein known as the MBS. But, I do remember it being a big deal in Singapore, since it would be the home of its second casino, and thus competition for the recently opened Resorts World Sentosa.
Naturally, I was drawn in by the MBS’s unappealing though avant-garde architecture, possibly vast breakfast buffet, and of course, the rooftop infinity pool.
You can reach the MBS by MRT (metro system) at Bayfront station. However, I just took rideshares everywhere, since I’m not a fan of Singapore’s MRT.
First Impressions / Check-In
My colleague had never visited Singapore before, and was overzealous about everything regarding the MBS, which he even termed a Singaporean “national landmark.” To me, it was another obnoxiously large hotel – albeit with a nuanced pool -with the anticipation that nothing would be efficient, given the number of guests and day-trippers.
Indeed, both of our expectations were met.
Each of the three towers has guest rooms, although check-in was only at Towers 1 and 3. Naturally, our rooms were in Tower 2, so the early flight coupled with the slow-moving traffic at the hotel entrance + lobby zoo was most unwelcoming.
Nevertheless, we eventually received our room keys; my colleague had a Premier City View, and I had a Premier Garden view. Each tower had sizable elevator banks, so the wait was never too bad.
The room was very standard issue; I would say the best part about it was the signature MBS souvenir pen. Nothing was remarkable, but nothing was broken, either, so the room served its purpose.
My room had a view of the Gardens by the Bay, known for its vertical gardens in the shape of “trees”– (the following photo wasn’t the view from the room balcony)
Given that I disdain smoking of all forms, I did reserve a non-smoking room on a non-smoking floor. Naturally, the fact that the hotel had a casino – and, let’s not beat around the bush here, mainland Chinese visitors who often consider casinos their second homes – didn’t help this situation.
I alerted hotel staff to the strong cigarette odor in the room, to which they first told me “we politely asked the Chinese guests to stop, but they wouldn’t listen.” GREAT SERVICE, GUYS! I escalated the issue to the Night Manager’s attention, who admitted that relocating me to a different room would be in vain, so I got a breakfast buffet out of it instead.
After a brief rest on my balcony, I met up with my colleague to tour the MBS grounds.
There is also a path directly from the hotel to Gardens by the Bay; Gardens by the Park is a modern park both with tropical, Japanese, and Chinese aspects. Although it wasn’t open that day, you can also view an observation deck atop one of the Supertrees.
The casino was another pathetically designed section. Firstly, you have to go through a passport check to enter, since local Singaporeans need to pay to gamble (gambling is a vice! But…smoke if you got ’em.) The lower level of the casino allows smoking, and the upper doesn’t…but the smoke just rises to the upper level, completely defeating the purpose. Cool.
Getting to the rooftop was a bit of ordeal. Firstly, non-guests aren’t “allowed” up there; in other words, you need a room key once you’re up there to swipe to the pool area. Also, you have to switch from the room elevators to the much more maligned rooftop elevators, which often have guests harnessing that Singaporean “kiasu” (FOMO) mentality, in that they’ll try to run you over to get there first.
Folks without key cards can pay to visit another part of the roof; guests can access this part free of charge.
Secondly, there’s no changing room on the rooftop, but staff do provide towels up there.
It was cool to “swim up” to the Singapore skyline – you may be interested to know that there’s a pool for kids/families and one not for kids, but either way you will encounter some of the world’s most obnoxious people wading right beside you. Yes, it’s a social media frenzy, but some folks had selfie sticks measuring the entire width of the pool…or thereabout.
There are places to eat on the roof, too, and waiters infrequently walk around the pool/hot tub area to see if you want a drink/snack.
As dull as I find Singapore, I do delight in much of its food. Chili crab? Dosas? Kaya toast? YES, HAVE SOME. That said, I received a free buffet due to the MBS’s incompetence, so here we are.
The Tower 1 buffet restaurant was called Rise, and it was as busy as ever. I expected that, and I just added to the crowd. It was mostly mediocre, but I was able to replicate one of my favorite breakfasts of all time, along with another plate of fun:
Anywhere that has decent bread pudding won’t get the lowest marks from me, but the whole set-up and lack of order, in addition to cramped seating arrangements was a big disappointment.
I wouldn’t return. I went to the pool, I admired the MBS spectacle for a few minutes, but it’s just not a relaxing place to be, especially when you have limited vacation time.