Review: Mandarin Oriental Hotel (Singapore)

Mandarin Oriental never really featured highly on my I-really-wanna-stay-here list, but they released a very affordable package promotion on that was too good to miss! This package included complimentary breakfast for two, $100 dining credit (with some usage restrictions) and a guaranteed late check-out at 6pm (the only other hotel we’ve been to with this insane check-out timing was The Fullerton).

Mandarin Oriental Hotel's building facade
Hotel facade


There was barely a queue when my husband and I were checking in. Andrew, the staff attending to us, was a delight to talk to. He shared with us that they extended all their restaurants’ opening hours as it was the school holiday period, so they were expecting more crowds. That was great for us as I initially thought we’d have to go search for food outside the hotel. They also honoured my Fans of MO membership (it’s free to join!) and presented us with a welcome amenity that came in the form of yummy, buttery pineapple tarts.

Reception counter at Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Reception counter

Welcome amenity of pineapple tarts for Fans Of MO members at Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Fans Of MO welcome amenity


Our booking was actually for the Deluxe King Room but Andrew very kindly upgraded us to the Ocean View Room at the top floor of the hotel 😀 It was a clean and comfortable room with a pretty sweet view but there were the inevitable tell-tale signs of the property’s age: The rusty dust-filled drawer tracks, the yellowing of the tile grout and the peeling corners of the bathtub. This mirrors the overall condition of the hotel at large, where some parts have been updated and modernized while other parts have been left in their yesteryear “glory”.

The bed felt firm but this was mitigated by a soft layer on top, making it less firm than I would prefer. Well, it was good enough for me to get a good night’s sleep along with the firm pillow they sent up. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for my husband as his side of the bed was slanted (higher in the centre and lower at the side). He commented that if it weren’t for this lopsidedness, the bed would’ve been quite comfortable.

In the bathroom, there were bath salts available in a container but they weren’t individually packed, so we didn’t want to touch those. The shower’s water temperature fluctuated greatly and at certain points, the water was downright cold. On the plus side, turndown service was automatically provided without us having to request for it. I also liked the complimentary sparkling soda from The Tapping Tapir too – refreshing and not too sweet.

Ocean View Room at Mandarin Oriental Hotel

King-sized bed in Ocean View Room at Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Bathroom in Ocean View Room at Mandarin Oriental Hotel

The view of Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands hotel and Gardens By The Bay from Ocean View Room at Mandarin Oriental Hotel
View from the room

Two complimentary The Tapping Tapir bottled drinks in Ocean View Room at Mandarin Oriental Hotel


After checking in, we went straight to Dolce Vita located on level 5 for lunch. We shared a Rigatoni (basically carbonara bumped up several notches) and a Brasato (overnight braised Sanchoku wagyu beef). Wow, were we in for a treat! The Rigatoni had a nice creaminess that was punctuated by salty accents from the guanciale (similar to pancetta) on a base of freshly-made pasta, bringing my husband back to his unforgettable experience at Vapiano. I’ve never taken a fancy to wagyu but it turns out that I’ve probably just been eating very poorly prepared wagyu, because this wagyu dish was AMAZING. The meat was perfectly seasoned and the fats, instead of being gluggy and chewy, were melt-in-your-mouth goodness that enhanced the overall flavour. It was so awesome that I’m officially a wagyu convert.

Service staff here were very professional and knowledgeable, ready to explain what exactly went into your dish and how it was prepared whenever they served something to our table. Super impressive.

Seating area at Dolce Vita at Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Bread and olive oil, rigatoni carbonara and brasato wagyu beef dishes from Dolce Vita at Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Once we were done with lunch, we put our bags down in our room before taking off to explore the hotel. There are so many dining options within the premises but our dining credit could only be used for a handful of them (a bit of a bummer). The pool and gym are located at level 5 right next to Dolce Vita, with a small kids pool round the back.

Swimming pool at Mandarin Oriental Hotel with a view of the CBD area
Hotel pool

Gym at Mandarin Oriental Hotel

As for the spa facilities, currently there is a high restriction on in-house guests accessing the steam room and shower facilities due to intermingling concerns in the changing room, so priority is given to guests who have already purchased spa treatments. I called in to try my luck anyway and managed to secure a 30-minute slot to check it out. Sadly, the experience shower (a shower stall with 3 water jets aiming at you from 3 separate directions) was out of order. One lady staff also graciously took me on a brief tour of the facilities, explaining how reservations need to be made way in advance as they only have 2 couple suites and 4 individual rooms.

Changing room with steam and shower facilities within The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Single spa massage room in The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Hotel

For dinner, we decided to dine at MO Bar as it has a fantastic view of the Marina Bay area through its floor-to-ceiling windows. Temperatures here were much colder than other parts of the hotel so putting a note to self here to wear more layers if I do come here again.

Taking cue from the food reviews I read prior to our visit, we already set our mind on trying the signature lobster laksa. Those reviews were spot on, we had nothing but praise for this dish! As it arrived at our table, rich and fragrant broth was carefully poured over the soft yet slightly bouncy noodles. To top it all off, half a lobster and its claws sat there already peeled and ready for enjoyment, although they were a tad chewier than I would’ve liked. The highlight of this dish was definitely the full-bodied, flavourful broth that had us finishing every last drop of it.

Our second dish was the Boston lobster roll. I expected lobster chunks instead of lobster shreds (like those tiny ones you get on sushi), but it was really yummy nonetheless. The brioche bun was buttery and soft but crispy on the top. No doubt, the signature lobster laksa was a tough act to follow, but I’d say this dish still held its own.

Seating area at MO Bar at Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Signature lobster laksa and Boston lobster roll from MO Bar at Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Next morning, it was breakfast at Melt Cafe. There was quite a long queue and the place looked packed to the brim. On our turn, we opted to take the outdoor seats as it was freezing inside. Little did we know the unpleasant but rather amusing consequence of the decision we made. Brazen birds were swooping in and pecking at any scraps they could get, and that meant bird poop on those chairs we were sitting on (eew). The staff really tried their best to chase the birds away the best they can, but the birds kept returning. You probably should stay indoors if this situation makes you uncomfortable.

Now, moving on to the food! Frankly, everything was so unmemorable that I don’t have much to say about it. They also used to serve fresh juices, but that was not what we received that day. Staff there also looked like they were shorthanded so the service was touch-and-go. Not a great last impression to leave us with.

Entrance to Melt Cafe at Mandarin Oriental Hotel

A la carte breakfast buffet dishes from Melt Cafe at Mandarin Oriental Hotel

My overall rating of the experience: 3 out of 5 stars. The highlight of our stay here was truly the food, service and ambience at Dolce Vita and MO Bar! Superb stuff, we’ll be back for sure. Our room was also generally spacious and pleasant, boasting an incredible view from the hotel’s top floor. However, the overall look-and-feel of the hotel, as well as certain elements in our room, was tired and in need of some refreshing. Little details like not having sufficiently consistent hot water or hygienic bath salts to use took away from the experience too. In addition, breakfast was pretty much a disaster: Less-than-sanitary environment, very mediocre food and barely-there service. We were thankful for the 6pm check-out and $100 dining credit that enabled us to dine at Dolce Vita and MO Bar as these aspects helped to make the stay feel more worth it.

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