My husband and I actually booked a stay here much earlier on to celebrate our anniversary but we had to postpone it due to unforeseen circumstances. Thankfully, the package we booked directly from the hotel’s website allowed for changes in dates, so here we are!
Our package included an early check-in and late check-out that was subject to availability, so we took our chances and went down earlier. When we arrived at the relatively empty reception counter located on level 5, to our surprise, not only did they have a room already prepared for us, they also honoured our anniversary celebration and upgraded us to a suite! Max, the staff helping us check in, was really helpful and meticulous in giving us the information related to our package inclusions. Shortly after, around the official check-in time at 3pm, the reception area was teeming with people lined up in snaking queues. But fret not, additional waiting spaces were available at the repurposed Bar on 5 and staff were onsite actively managing the crowds. That’s good planning and commitment to the safety measures right there (:
Bubbling with excitement (first stay EVER in a suite!), we made our way to our room located at the Orchard Wing. The Regency Suite, which is one tier below the Presidential Suite, comes with a separate living and dining area, as well as a separate guest bathroom. It was a literal jaw-dropping moment when we entered the insanely huge and spacious room. It took me forever (or at least waaay longer than what I’m used to) to walk from one room to the other to answer my ringing phone, as an illustration of the enormity of the space (no complaints there though, haha). On top of that, we were greeted with a pair of lovely towel swans and a whopping 500g chocolate cake for our anniversary (also the biggest cake amenity we’ve ever received)! I can’t even begin to describe how blessed I felt by a team of staff I’d never even met ❤
The only downside was that the interior and furniture were sorely outdated. The dining chairs and lounge sofa, being of a velvet-like texture, looked and felt grimy from years of use, and I wasn’t too keen to sit on them. Also, the fabric on the lounge sofa had clearly been patched up at certain spots but came apart when it was sat on. In addition, after manually drawing the curtains, I felt compelled to wash my resulting mildly sticky hands thoroughly with soap. When I checked out the website photos of this room category, it looked astonishingly modern and refreshed. Maybe only some rooms were given a face-lift but not others.
Fortunately, the key elements that mattered, such as the bedding, bathroom and towels, were perfectly clean. Despite the aged nature of the room, I really appreciated having so much real estate to spare, as well as having the bathtub in the same space as the standing shower, so getting out of the tub didn’t result in puddles of water all over the dry floor area – you folks who need this wet-dry area division in your bathroom (my husband isn’t one of us), you know what I mean (;
Once I was done enthusing about our gigantic suite, we moved on to explore the hotel’s facilities. In the exploration process, I gotta mention that the lifts were rather confusing to navigate as some lifts serve certain floors but not others, so we had to turn many corners and figure out which lifts would get us where we want to go. That was a little bit of an inconvenience.
In order to use the pool and gym, guests have to reserve a timeslot and retrieve an access card from the guest services counter located next to the reception. Although we attempted to make a reservation for the pool right after our check-in, we were regretfully informed that there were no more slots for both days of our stay. Given the size of the pool, I can understand why there aren’t many slots to begin with. It was slightly easier to get a slot for the gym, which is located at the hotel’s other wing, the Main Tower (currently for guests serving out their stay-home notice).
Originally, our package entitled us to a 50% dining discount at Triple Three but apparently this promotion was no longer available, becoming a mere 20% for all in-house guests. Even if we wanted to take up this lesser offer, Triple Three was fully booked for both days of our stay anyway. We ended up ordering in-room dining instead as there was a better discount of 30% (thanks for the recommendation, Max!), plus we just wanted to try the famous Mandarin Chicken Rice from the award-winning heritage brand, Chatterbox. Unpopular opinion alert: Other than the rice, which was incredibly flavourful, we sadly failed to see (or taste) the hype over this renowned dish.
There are other dining options as well: Coffee & Crust for hot beverages, pastries and small bites, and Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro, a two-Michelin-star Sze Chuan restaurant. I had the opportunity to savour the food at Shisen Hanten when I attended a friend’s wedding here some years back, and it was fantastic.
The ultimate highlight of our stay was most definitely the Meritus Club Lounge at Top of the M and everything that came with it. Formerly a revolving rooftop restaurant, it is now the hotel’s exclusive club lounge with the same awesome 360-degree view of the surrounding city skyline. The lounge is bathed in natural sunlight during the day, while at night, it is lit up by warm ambient lights and tiny twinkling ceiling lights that resemble a starry night sky. We enjoyed our afternoon tea, evening drinks with hors d’oeuvres, breakfast and a second round of afternoon tea the next day, all served a la carte buffet style with unlimited ordering here. What a perfect place to chill at, I loved every moment of it.
Prior to our stay, I read another review (thanks Milelion!) saying that it was important to make an early reservation for the club lounge as there is a maximum capacity of 50 pax imposed. We were also informed of this restriction during our check-in. Thanks to this tip, we secured all our timeslots, especially the evening timeslot that allowed us to watch the beautiful sunset with a drink in hand.
One exceptional member of staff that stood out was Jaya, who has been working here for 37 years (wow). He not only attentively brought us our food and drinks, he also doubled up as a tour guide of sorts, candidly pointing out and sharing bits of trivia about the various landmarks surrounding the hotel and about the hotel itself. We got to see key landmarks, such as the Changi Airport control tower and 38 Oxley Road (Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s residence), which we would’ve missed if he hadn’t been there to show us around. His friendly and genuine demeanour made us feel right at home conversing with him. Later on, I overheard him suddenly break out in pretty legit Cantonese while speaking to another group of guests nearby. We found out that he was actually quite fluent in four other languages besides English (Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien and Teochew), extremely impressive. You just need one staff like him to make your day, both days for us as we saw him again the next day 😀
It was such a splendid and heartwarming experience that I thought it befitting to leave this gesture of appreciation in our room. Wish I had the chance to personally thank all the staff who made this very belated anniversary celebration of ours a special one to remember. This is for all of you, cheers (:
My overall rating of the experience: 4 out of 5 stars. Service here was impeccable, every staff we encountered was courteous and made us feel very welcome. We experienced many excellent firsts during our stay, like the suite upgrade, a whole cake amenity (most hotels offer small cake slices), the bathtub and shower in the same wet area, and full access to 360-degree sky-high views of the city area and beyond. Everything felt lavish and generous, they certainly didn’t skimp on taking care of their guests. Food was quite yummy and was served on either heated or refrigerated plates. Alas, even though we loved the space in the room, its expired design and overdue furniture were in dire need of updating and refining, which took away from the overall experience. The good news is that this makeover is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2021 as the hotel will be rebranded and renamed Hilton Singapore Orchard. Unfortunately, the bad news for us non-alcoholic drinkers is that the current club lounge is set to become a rooftop bar. Nevertheless, we’re aiming to come back again after they reopen under the Hilton brand in 2022, and also hoping to see Jaya continue to be among the ranks of their service staff!
Update: This property that was once Mandarin Orchard Hotel has undergone an extensive refurbishment and officially soft-launched on 24 Feb 2022 as Hilton Singapore Orchard, the largest Hilton property in Asia Pacific. A tad sorry to know all that’s left of Mandarin Orchard are but our wonderful memories. Nevertheless, we can’t wait to give the new hotel a go!