Joburg Expat: Hotel With a View

April 4, 2012

Hotel With a View

I have to return to the topic of our Singapore Mystery Trip one more time, just to talk about the hotel we stayed in. It deserves its own post because it's like nothing I have ever seen before, as far as hotels go. Even though I probably wouldn't go there again, as you will soon see.

Marina Bay Sands hotel, as seen from Marina Bay, with ArtScience Museum on the right
Side view of Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

The most striking two features of the Marina Bay Sands hotel are a) the look of it from across the bay (or from a boat in the bay), and b) the view from the top. Both can be had for free or a very modest fee, so don't despair if you've looked at the room prices and rather decided to invest that in your kids' college education.

A day pass to the observation deck on the 57th floor costs S$19, and in my opinion is a must when visiting Singapore, as the view from up there is truly spectacular, both during the day and at night. Or you could choose to take it in while dining at Ku De Ta or sipping drinks at the Sky Bar. Or you could come up specifically for the nightly chocolate bar in the club lounge, which - unbelievably - must have escaped Noisette's attention while we were there. There's another restaurant up there called Sky on 57, but I suspect its prices might come close to spending the night.

View from Marina Bay Sands towards the ocean, dotted with the ever-present container ships

You can swim right to the edge for a full-size view of those skyscrapers

I found the night time view the most spectacular

I'm afraid of heights, remember? But somehow it's different when you are standing in water

What I haven't been able to find online is an option to buy day passes for the pool, also on the 57th floor. So if you want to experience casually lounging by the pool while overlooking the Singapore skyline from above, I think getting a room is your only option. As you can tell, we did, and tried to suppress our guilt about the college money with frequent trips to the pool. It's really cool up there. Literally. If you've ever been to Singapore, you will remember that the heat is oppressive, and I was very surprised how breezy it was so high up. In fact, I was always slightly chilly at that pool. Which Noisette will tell you I always am, so don't listen to me.

And yet, we might rather stay somewhere else the next time. Yeah yeah, I know what you will say about a gifted horse and all, but Noisette himself was the one who spotted the shortcomings first: The Marina Bay Sands is WAY too big for our taste. When we were coming in from the airport early in the morning, we were slightly puzzled why the movie on the shuttle bus was explaining all the different check-in locations, but we should have paid attention. We trudged back and forth between towers one, two, and three to find the correct counter, and let me tell you, that is a trek right there. I should have brought my Kili hiking boots.


Entrance hall of Marina Bay Sands: huge, glassy, and busy

The entrance hall feels like an airport terminal, and everybody and their brother is passing through it. The high prices don't seem to deter many people at all. I guess we're slightly spoiled by having traveled to the bush in Africa, where you share absolute luxury and peace with a maximum of sixteen people and receive the utmost personal attention of the dedicated staff. At the Marina Bay Sands, you are just one of many people, and the service suffers accordingly, even though you can't say it's bad. 

We also didn't like the feeling of being nickled-and-dimed in such an exclusive place. Like having to pay for the water taxi to take you across the bay, or an early check-in. Or the fact that they still find a way to wring more money out of you by cordoning off a section at the Sky Bar, where the nice comfortable sofas are, and only allowing you in if you purchase two entire bottles of spirits. Standing room only for all those who "just" order two glasses of mojito for $20 each (and yes, mine was virgin, in case you're still keeping track of my lent project, though I did make an exception for our dinner with old-time friends).

The Singapore ArtScience Museum makes for a good movie backdrop at night

Unfortunately, by the time we found our way to it, it was already closed. However, we got
treated to a great personal tour of the Asian Civilizations Museum by our friend Lisa, so
overall we were good in the museum department.

Marina Bay Shopping Centre - more glitz and glass and vast air-conditioned distances. Just
findng our way from the hotel to the waterfront promenade beyond the shopping center was
an adventure every single time.

So, when in Singapore, by all means pay a visit to the Marina Bay Sands. Beyond the observation deck on top there are many other entertainment options to be found, such as a humongous shopping center (with equally humongous prices, mostly), a casino (charging you a S$100 "sin tax" per entry if you happen to be a Singaporean resident), the ArtScience museum currently featuring an Andy Warhol exhibition, and the beautiful promenade along the bay, where you can watch a dazzling light and water show every night.

But I wouldn't get a room there if I were you.

[Click on image for the full-size version]
Okay, I admit it, the edge of the pool came out seriously warped and those Photoshop
connoisseurs among you can feel free to pooh-pooh my attempt at getting you the full
panoramic view of the Singapore skyline. I should have stepped all the way to the edge
but I opted for staying safely in my chair instead.



See all posts in this series here:

Mystery Fantasy Travel Come True
Journey into the Past, and the Future
Expat Homecoming
Hotel with a View


8 comments :

2Summers said...

Beautiful!

cat said...

Wow, that is a huge hotel!

Sine said...

Yep, isn't it? It seriously needs a trolley service inside of it to get back and forth. Or maybe a rickshaw service:-)

Maria said...

You had me at "chocolate bar." :)

Sine said...

Still can't believe we missed out on that, Maria. This from the family who travels to Mauritius mainly to eat the chocolate mousse at our favorite hotel. I hope you pay it a visit on your trip and report all the flavors back to me!

The Loerzels said...

Gorgeous!

Conrad said...

Stell Dir vor, ein Bekannter aus Gauting (die Kinder waren zusammen im Kindergarten) hat vor ein paar Wochen Selbstmord begangen, indem er von diesem Haus gesprungen ist.

Sine said...

Was? Das ist ja schrecklich!