The first trip report for No Work All Travel involves a place that needs no introduction … here is my hotel review for the Marina Bay Sands Singapore.
I can’t recall the first time I read about the Marina Bay Sands resort, herein known as the MBS. But I do remember it being a big deal in Singapore, since it would not only be a massive tourism draw, but also 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 bizarre architecture, possibly vast breakfast buffet, and of course, the rooftop infinity pool.
You can reach the MBS by MRT (Singapore’s metro system) at Bayfront station; if you’re coming from Singapore Changi Airport, you’d have to transfer at Paya Lebar (to the orange line), or Bugis (to the blue line).
However, I only used the rideshare app Grab during my visit.
First Impressions / Check-In
It’s a mosh pit. Next.
More usefully, each of the three towers has guest rooms, although check-in was only at Towers 1 and 3. Naturally, my room — a Premier Gardens by the Bay Room — was in Tower 2, so the early flight coupled with the slow-moving traffic at the hotel entrance + lobby zoo was most unwelcoming.
Nevertheless, I eventually received my room key. Fortunately, each tower has 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 basic purpose.
My room had a balcony view of the Gardens by the Bay, known for its vertical gardens in the shape of “trees:
Given that I disdain smoking of all forms, I reserved a non-smoking room on a non-smoking floor. Unfortunately, smoke still penetrated the room (not really a shock); after telling hotel employees of this, they offered me breakfast at Rise.
The Tower 1 buffet restaurant was called Rise, and it was as busy as ever. I expected that, and naturally I just added to the crowd. It was mostly mediocre, but I was able to replicate to of my breakfast buffet staples:
Anywhere that has decent bread pudding won’t get the lowest marks from me, but the whole set-up and lack of orderliness, in addition to cramped seating arrangements lead me to consider it a big disappointment.
After a brief rest on my balcony, I went 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 influences.
As for the casino–
Firstly, you have to go through a passport check to enter, since Singaporean passport holders need to pay to gamble.
In short, 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. Great job.
Getting to the pool is 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 will have to switch from the room elevators to the much more maligned rooftop elevators.
Folks without key cards can pay to visit another part of the roof (aka the one without the pool); hotel guests can access this section free of charge.
Secondly, there’s no changing room on the rooftop, but there are towels.
It was cool to “swim up” to the Singapore skyline – you may be interested to know that there’s both a pool for kids/families, and one not for kids. More importantly, you will be jabbed my multiple selfie sticks, sometimes unintentionally. You read that right.
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.
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.
Have you stayed at/visited the Marina Bay Sands Singapore?