Staycation: Mandarin Orchard Singapore

Monday, 7 September 2015

Interrupting the Hokkaido group tour review with one on a staycation I just enjoyed at Mandarin Orchard Singapore.
I was looking out for a way to celebrate my birthday, when I chanced upon a deal on Facebook.
Mandarin Orchard Singapore had just newly refurbished their Premier Rooms, and were offering them at a deal. This was their Facebook post that caught my eye:
The 50% discount on the room rate was the real eye-catcher. To be honest, I wasn't too impressed with the remaining details of the deal. In fact, things like free Wi-Fi are getting increasingly common in the hotel industry.
But a 50% offer on room rates on a 5-star hotel? Nope, not common at all. And when I checked it out on their website, I was so pleased , I immediately made a room reservation for 3D2N (13 to 15 August).
Total cost (including tax) = SGD$399.01
Considering that this is a 5-star hotel in the heart of Orchard Road, I thought it was a really awesome deal!
3 days before I was due to check-in, they sent a pre-arrival update via email. The email came with details of my reservations and also included a link for any arrival instructions I might have had. The welcome email also highlighted their "signature hospitality of Asian Grace, Warmth and Care".
Very promising. It's exactly little details like this that tells the guests that they are valued, and those are what make for a truly awesome experience. So, I was indeed looking forward to spending my birthday there.
Plus One for them.

Unfortunately, upon arrival, it was a slightly different story.
I was a little early reaching the hotel, arriving at about 1:40 pm, even though the email stated that check-in was after 2 pm. Having ended a birthday lunch and with nowhere to go until a movie at 2:40 pm, I decided to try my luck to see if I could check in early.
The lobby was at level 5. I managed to find my way to reception and was thankfully, able to check-in. The hotel receptionist though, seemed distracted and hassled. Initially, I enquired about getting the hotel breakfast as I didn't include it when I first made my reservations, and whether I was still entitled to the promotional offer for breakfast. After consulting a colleague (which made me wonder if she was inexperienced), I was politely told to just inform the restaurant my room number. I had to ask again to confirm that the promotional offer was still valid.
I definitely had further clarifications, since I had no other details as to where breakfast was served, what time, etc. but I held my tongue. She was definitely polite, but I had the sense that I was giving her trouble with my questions. In fact, she was so quick and distracted with processing my check-in, I felt like I was just part of a production/assembly-line. There was no friendly smile, and none of the "signature hospitality of Asian Grace, Warmth and Care" that had been advertised.
In fact, there was very little information and/or conversation provided during check-in. Nothing about the hotel's facilities. In fact, now that I think about it, not even a greeting! I even had to call later to ask for my Wi-Fi password as it was not provided to me at check-in. Eventually, I figured any other questions I had could be directed to the concierge instead, and then I could also see if that advertised hospitality was merely an advertisement.
Minus one.
I was also informed by the dispassionate receptionist that my room was not yet ready as the previous occupants had checked out late. She requested for my mobile, and shared that once my room was ready, I would receive a text message to alert me. Cool! That way, I could leave my bags and go for my movie first before coming back!
Except, I didn't even get to step out of the hotel before my phone buzzed to tell me that my room was ready. I hesitated for a moment before I decided to re-trace my steps back to the level 5 lobby to get my bags and the room keys.
I have no idea what system they are using, and perhaps this might be a freak incident of efficiency. However, I did feel a little irritation that I had to go through the hassle of depositing my bags and then coming back for them barely 5 minutes later.
The desk clerk/bell boy helping me with my bag though, was the saving grace. He was the first one who demonstrated hospitality; he remembered me and my bag right off, without me having to say much. He also seemed taken aback with the speed at which I came back for my bag, but recovered very quickly and went on to help me with the room keys.
Mandarin Orchard Singapore has two towers -  the main tower and the Orchard wing.
I was given a room on the 28th floor in the main tower, overlooking the Takashimaya Shopping Mall. I had no trouble zipping in and out but my friend who joined me later, got lost and actually went up the wrong wing. In fact, I overheard a family of tourists who had also lost their bearings until a hotel staff helped them out. Perhaps some directions might be helpful.
This was how my Premier Room looked like.
I found the room spacious and well-fitted with sleek, contemporary furnishings. I thought it was great that there was a designated work desk and a divan with an accompanying coffee table, and yet still enough walking room that I didn't feel like a clumsy Baymax. The room was pretty bright too, considering I didn't even draw the day curtains when I took the pictures. I later found out that the newly furnished Premier Rooms are located on the higher floors, and offer better views of the surrounding landscape.
The room was also clean and comfortable, two very important Cs. I have a very sensitive nose, that reacts too easily to smells and dust. It's not uncommon to hear me falling sick after a bout of dusting or cleaning. In fact, there was an occasion where I got terribly ill for two weeks, just from cleaning and packing up to move office. And another, where I went through a holiday high on sinus meds because my hotel room was shrouded in layers of dust. So by default, my nose usually ends up being my barometer for a room's cleanliness. If at the end of a day, I don't suffer from a runny nose, it usually means the place is clean enough.
Mandarin Orchard Singapore passed the nose test with flying colours.
The bathroom and toilet was immediately to the right as I entered the room. Again, it was clean and spacious. Simple shower, no bath-tub and a sprawling vanity/dressing area with two sinks. More importantly, it was well-stocked; full toilet rolls, thick fluffy towels, ample toiletries and clean robes.
Thumbs up for housekeeping!
In fact, I met the housekeeping staff on my floor on several occasions zipping in and out of my room. They were really friendly and always smiling whenever I met them. I first met the staff when I was hauling my bag trying to find my room. The auntie and uncle there saw me and immediately helped to direct me without me even asking! And the uncle quickly cleared some leftover plates spotted outside my room and apologised for it. The auntie was also very helpful when I asked for extra towels having spilled quite a bit of water and fussed about me not having enough towels for myself after that.

Room service and the concierge also deserved to be mentioned. They were very prompt with my requests. After speaking with the concierge about my queries with regard to the hotel facilities, I requested for wine glasses to be sent up to my room. They arrived within 15 minutes. Amazing efficiency!

And the room service staff who attended to our room was completely unfazed when I asked for help to open a bottle of wine. The cork had broken off and we just couldn't get it out. He tried with the cock-screw but failed as well. Then he took the initiative to ask for permission to bring it to his colleagues for help and left the room with our bottle. Again, within 15 minutes, our wine was returned un-corked AND in a ice-bucket.
Finally, the "signature hospitality of Asian Grace, Warmth and Care" that was advertised.
Major plus points.
Facility wise, Mandarin Orchard Singapore boosts of an outdoor pool, a tennis court and an indoor gym. I made use of the pool early morning as I noticed that it would get crowded in the afternoons when I was there. It wasn't a big pool, but enough that I could still do laps and get my exercise quota done.
I didn't see the gym myself but my friend who checked it out, mentioned that it was adequate with the necessary machines, weights and bosu balls.
What I really liked about Mandarin Orchard Singapore was its location in Orchard.
Take the hotel lift down and I'm in the middle of Mandarin Gallery.  Orchard Cineleisure is next to it, making it easy to drop by for a movie or two. There's a starbucks right outside too and hence not too troublesome to get my daily dose of caffine. Plus, the hotel is surrounded by shopping malls. Shopping and dining galore!
So convenient, I didn't even get to try the hotel's famed restaurants:
Chatterbox - renowned for its chicken rice, and
Shisen Hanten - Szechwan restaurant helmed by third generation Chen Kentaro, son of famed Iron Chef Chen Kenichi.
Another check in the plus box.
However, I did get my breakfast buffet at Triple Three.
The breakfast buffet selection was quite varied; there was a decent spread of bread and pastries, Western and Asian breakfast items. Taste-wise, it was passable. Nothing impressive.
However, what marred the breakfast experience was again the hassled feeling I sensed. Perhaps, the hotel was at peak and there was just too many people. I had the feeling that the staff were overwhelmed and not able to cope. My table was cleared just before I took my seat. Plates, cups and food kept running out and refills took some time. Queues were snaking at some of the more popular food stations, e.g. the omelette station.
And staff were so harried and busy, it felt like they were just dumping stuff and people at tables:
*Points* That's your table *scoot off*
(I didn't even have the chance to turn around to confirm the table with the staff)
Here's your cutlery *dump and scoot off*
There was no way they were paying attention to details. So they obviously didn't notice the plastic that was still stuck to my cutlery. Neither did the waitress notice the full cup at the next table when she was trying to squeeze past and that resulted in a spill.
The cashier probably also didn't notice that she had presented differing prices I had asked to check for the promotional breakfast offer. My first bill indicated that it was SGD$28. When she realised that I had requested for the promotional offer, she returned with a second "corrected" bill where the breakfast buffet was priced at more than SGD$30 before the discount.
Extremely slip-shod and distasteful.
Check-out was also less than stellar. Assuming that check-in and check-out times would entail peak traffic at the reception, there was only one person manning each counter. Queues formed and I overheard some tourists complaining about not having enough staff, or worrying about being late for their flight. Apart from that, the check-out process was simple enough. Just impersonal.
Thoughts on the staycation:
On the whole, while it was not a completely pleasant experience, I did enjoy my staycation. I had a peaceful time in my room and apart from the restaurant and reception, was made to feel welcomed by the staff. However, with those little less-than-stellar episodes, I would think twice about recommending the hotel to someone else. Particularly since not everyone would get to experience the housekeeping or room service staff, but everyone definitely has to go through the reception. In fact, I would think twice myself if I were to consider another staycation. Unless, of course, it was again set at an unbeatable price offer.
Hotel Contact Information
Mandarin Orchard Singapore
Address: 333 Orchard Road, Singapore 238867
Tel: (65)­ 6737 4411
Fax (65)­ 6732 2361
General enquiries:


  1. Nice of you to share your experience. My daughter’s birthday is in couple of weeks and searching for a seattle convention center to host the party as planning to call everyone. Looking for a perfect location with nice decorations.

  2. That looks an awesome place. I'm gonna try to visit it. I'm pretty sure me and my friends are going to love it. Check out the Mactan Island Hotels, you'll love it too. Anyway, Thanks for sharing!