Distinctive and elegant, the iconic Mandarin Orchard hotel has been a landmark in the heart of Singapore's glitzy shopping street Orchard Road for many years.
Back when it opened its doors in 1971 as Meritus Mandarin, the hotel was one of the most prestigious addresses in the area that was frequented by the rich and influential. Now known as Mandarin Orchard, the 44-year-old establishment has managed to retain its charm by constantly improving its service offerings amidst the highly competitive retail and hospitality landscape of today.
There is a quiet elegance about the hotel as one steps into the main lobby, which is oddly placed on the 5th level, although one could also do so on the ground floor. Checking in was a breeze and I soon found myself in one of the Premier rooms on the 32nd floor of the main tower.
Although the main tower is currently undergoing refurbishment - 160 rooms have been completed - there were no renovation signs, noises or any indication that the rooms were being enhanced. Minimal disruption, guaranteed. In fact, I could not hear the traffic downstairs as well.
While the rooms are furnished in a standard business hotel room layout and are pretty modern, I was impressed at how large and spacious the room and bathroom is. The high ceiling probably helped too. Every item in the room, down to the fridge and lights seem relatively new and you will probably not be able to tell that the hotel has been around for over four decades.
Mandarin Orchard scores in its prime location right in the Orchard Road shopping belt. In fact, its four-storey shopping arcade front, Mandarin Gallery, has become one of the must-visits while shopping along Orchard Road.
Hop into an elevator and you'll find yourself walking among high-end retail brands such as Marc by Marc Jacobs, Paul Smith and Y-3, as well as dining establishments Ippudo, Hashida Sushi and Wild Honey.
Not only does Mandarin Gallery provide added convenience to its guests, it also serves as a stepping stone to other glitzy shopping malls, restaurants and departments stores such as Takashimaya and Robinsons, which flank the hotel.
One of Mandarin Orchard's legacy is its famous Top of the M revolving lounge on the 38th and 39th floor, which had attracted many tourists and locals alike who would go up to catch a glimpse of Singapore's skyline from the tower.
However, Top of the M no longer revolves and the lounge has now been replaced with the Meritus Club Lounge, accessible to Club guests only who want a quiet retreat away from the buzz and other hotel guests.
Besides enjoying an unblocked 360 degree view, club guests are also entitled to daily buffet breakfast, all-day refreshments, complimentary use of the meeting room, workstations and Internet access, as well as evening cocktails. Club guests are also entitled to early check-in from 7am, as well as express check-out.
After a one-night stay at Mandarin Orchard, one thing that stood out is that no matter which part of the hotel you are at, service is impeccable. Whether you are dining at their buffet restaurant Triple Three or approaching the front desk, a staff will always be around to greet you or tend to your needs.
This Grand Dame of Orchard Road has withstood the test of time, a feat that is not often seen in today's fast-paced and ever-changing world.
For a hotel that has been running for decades, it is neither 'tired' nor old, and it has obviously pulled out all the stops to distinguish itself from others with its exceptional hospitality, retail offerings, impressive F&B line-up and modern rooms.
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