Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore, Serious Luxury and an Awesome View


After living in Singapore (not at Marina Bay Sands!) for nearly one year, frequently gazing up at the majestically modern building shaped like a ship that is easily the most striking feature of the Singapore skyline, I finally got a chance to experience one of the most luxurious hotels in this metropolis, Marina Bay Sands hotel. Marina Bay Sands by night

A guest was visiting me and my husband in Singapore and I recommended her to spend one night of her trip at Marina Bay Sands. She was given a free upgrade to a suite, which was massive, with a large sitting room, meeting space, kitchen area (though no cooking facilities), two bathrooms (well, actually one bathroom and one powder room, ahem), a suitably plush bedroom, and a large balcony. The suite was not on the more expensive city-view side, but looked out over Gardens By The Bay, also a pleasant view. There was also a surprise in the suite; apparently each suite has something a bit special, its own room. My guest’s suite had its own karaoke room!

Chilling out watching one of the large flatscreen TVs, lounging on the massive soft sofa, drinking coffee made from the espresso machine, it would have been easy to spend a long time in the suite. We tried the room service, ordering dinner, and it was exquisite. But, Marina Bay Sands is certainly not all about the rooms. From outside, staring up at the top of the MBS building as I frequently did, you can see some palms trees, but not much else. In fact there is a long swimming pool running most of the way along the top, with plentiful sun-loungers, and quite simply the most spectacularly breathtaking view in Singapore. With my guest’s single booking we got swimming pool vouchers for me and my husband as well.

The view was stunning; I could have spent weeks just admiring it. And swimming while gazing at it was wonderful. But the water was freezing cold! I guess that’s the effect of being so high up in Singapore’s typically cloudy weather. Despite the low temperatures and strong winds, it was totally amazing. Known as the Skypark, as well as the long pool there are several hot jacuzzis, a chocolate bar which I didn’t try, a viewing area, and free drinking water. Towels were of course provided, and we, like many other guests, simply wore the hotel-provided dressing gowns over our swimming costumes to travel upwards in the lift. The atmosphere was of decadent relaxation, and I felt I was seeing how “the other half” live. Although it was back to reality after just one day, always a stickler for a good view, I’m pleased I had the opportunity to indulge in Singapore’s best. Pool and view

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Hatten Hotel Melaka: Review


We were fortunate to be able to stay at Hatten Hotel Melaka on our second visit to Malacca (we had stayed at a much cheaper backpacker hostel on our first trip, which was also charming in its own way). The Hatten Hotel Melaka, a luxury business hotel, consists of Junior and Deluxe Suites. Hatten Hotel Melaka

The hotel is located above Hatten Square shops, directly opposite Dataran Pahlawan, Malacca’s largest mall, which is connected by a walkway on the 3rd floor. It is easy to walk to all of the major tourist attractions in Melaka, such as Jonker Walk, Menara Taming Sari, Chinatown, Little India and all the museums. Although the hotel reception and lobby is on the ground floor, the restaurant is located up on the 11th floor, the pool and gym are on the 12th floor, and all the rooms are above that.

 

Our Suite

We had a Deluxe Suite on the 20th floor with a view down to the swimming pool and out across the city of Malacca. I was relieved we didn’t get one of the rooms down next to the pool because that would be really noisy. I was also relieved we didn’t get a room with a view of this atrium.

AtriumOur spacious suite was nicely decorated, very clean, and felt comfortable to stay in. Upon entering the suite there was a small sitting room area with a chaise longue, flatscreen TV,  tea/coffee facilities and a minibar (stocked only with soft drinks – this is Malaysia!). This smaller room was separated from the main bedroom by a large window.

Deluxe SuiteThe bedroom had a kingsize double bed, which was really comfortable, with bedside table and lamps on both sides, another larger flatscreen TV (yes, every suite has two televisions!), a desk and chair, another chair and coffee table, as well as a wardrobe with hanging space and drawers. I was impressed by the extra facilities in the room, which not all hotels provide, such as bathrobes, slippers, a hairdryer and weighing scales. Kingsize bed

The bathroom, which could be entered from both of the other rooms, had a spacious shower, with a handheld sprayer and a “rain” shower. As seems to be the trend for new hotels now, there was no bathtub. Bathroom

My favourite aspect of the suite, however, was the view across Malacca city. A massive window, almost floor-to-ceiling, meant I could spend hours just gazing across the city, even from in bed. As well as the swimming pool, directly in view were many of Malacca’s most famous tourist sites, such as the Porto de Santiago fort, the Independence Monument and Museum, the Sultan’s Palace Museum and St Paul’s Church. It was a perfect view of this historic city! Melaka city view

Hotel Facilities

The hotel swimming pool, on the 12th floor, is actually larger than it looks in the hotel photos, which meant that although it was very busy at times, it didn’t feel too crowded. Unfortunately it was very windy in the pool for most of the time I was there, and the water was so cold! There was nowhere nice to sit and relax by the pool without getting wet; the only sun loungers are in the shallow part of the pool, not somewhere you’d want to read a book, let alone use a phone or a tablet.

PoolDue to wind and the cold temperature of the water, the pool was better suited to swimming lengths, rather than hanging out, and it seemed to be mostly children who wanted to spend a long time there. So I didn’t spend as much time in the pool area as I had expected. At least I could enjoy the same view from my room; the pool also looks out across the city.

Swimming Pool from above

Also on the 12th floor is the Hatten Hotel gym, which is very well equipped, and has the sea view. It was easily the best view I’ve ever seen from a treadmill and could definitely motivate one to work out!

Gym with a view

Breakfast was served in the restaurant on the 11th floor. It was the first time I’ve had to queue to get in at a hotel breakfast, because the hotel was full for the beginning of our stay. Although it is a buffet breakfast, after queuing up, we were actually shown to a table by staff, not in the usual grab-a-table style. There was a wide range of food, with Chinese options such as yam cake to cater for the majority Chinese hotel guests.

The hotel lobby, down on the ground floor, was very spacious and I really liked the décor, with sitting room areas and an amazing chandelier that filled a large part of the ceiling. Service was excellent, with an efficient check-in and check-out. The concierge staff were also helpful in booking our taxi. Lobby sitting areaLobby with chandelierOverall, I loved staying at Hatten Hotel Melaka, largely because of the amazing view across the city and the luxurious room where I was happy to spend time. Clearly, some of the other rooms are inferior, being next to the pool or without a view. I suggest, therefore, that if you book a room at this hotel, you should specify that you want a room with a view.

Photos of Melaka / Malacca, Malaysia: Views of the City

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I recently had the pleasure of visiting Malacca / Melaka for a second time, but this time instead of staying at the quaint Rooftop Guesthouse, we upgraded and stayed at the luxurious Hatten Hotel. From our room on the 20th … Continue reading

Makassar, Sulawesi: A Fiery Spirit and Youthful Energy


Makassar is the largest city in Sulawesi and a popular place to begin a trip to the island. I had been advised by friends to get out of Makassar, a city lacking in culture, as quickly as possible. But I wanted to see this port city, which is often featured on Indonesian TV news due to demonstrations and riots. Makassar was known as Ujung Pandang from 1971 to 1999 which is why the airport code is UPG.

Makassar streetMakassar felt hot and dirty, with litter strewn across the streets. During the day a peaceful but busy atmosphere ensued but by night the city came alive. Youths sat around on plastic chairs sipping non-alcoholic drinks with their friends, nightclubs offered karaoke or dangdut, an Indonesian popular music. The city has a thrilling type of energy which I have not felt in other Indonesian cities so far.

In terms of sightseeing there’s enough to fill a day or more, and it’s easy to get around on foot or by cycle rickshaw. There are even motorcycle rickshaws in some areas to go a bit faster.

Fort Rotterdam

Situated a stone’s throw from the sea in central Makassar, Fort Rotterdam was captured by the Dutch in 1667 from the Gowa kingdom and rebuilt. The colonial buildings are extremely well-preserved, and some of the Gowan ruins can also be seen. Entrance is by donation; we gave Rp. 10,000 for two people.

Fort RotterdamOn Saturday evenings there are arts performances at Fort Rotterdam beginning at 5pm. Unfortunately we weren’t in Makassar on a Saturday, but it would be worth checking the schedule if you’ll be there.

Makam Diponegoro (Diponegoro’s Grave)

Diponegoro was a Javanese prince, born in Yogyakarta, who opposed Dutch colonial rule and was active in the Java War of 1825 to 1830. In 1830 the Dutch exiled him to Makassar, where he lived until his death in 1855. Today Diponegoro is considered a national hero of Indonesia.

Diponegoro's graveDiponegoro’s grave is in a well-kept courtyard, surrounded by graves of Diponegoro’s family. We spoke to the grave’s caretaker who claimed to be one of Diponegoro’s descendants. Entry is free though guests are required to remove their shoes when approaching the grave. There is a guestbook and a box for donations.

Pantai Losari (Losari Beach)

We walked along the sea front in the evening and stalls lined the side of the road selling pisang ebe, bananas cooked with a choice of flavours, such as chocolate and cheese (a popular Indonesian combination!).  Some stalls also sell drinks and I tried jus viu, a juice drink made of orange juice and milk. It was surprisingly tasty.

Pantai Losari by nightAt the main point of the beach front there are large letters spelling out “Pantai Losari”, by night a place for hanging out, wandering about and chatting to friends. We were a little disappointed to see the dirty condition of the area, with litter lying on the ground and floating in the sea. But Pantai Losari is a city beach, and city beaches are rarely clean.

A City for Wandering

Makassar is a pleasant city for wandering and we often came upon interesting places and tasty food in this way. We were welcomed into a five-storey Chinese temple which offered panoramic views from the top floor, and we enjoyed eating deliciously fresh fish.

View across MakassarIt is worth spending a day or more in Makassar, to soak up the atmosphere, which is so different to the large cities I have visited in Java and Sumatra. While there may not be traditional arts everywhere, Makassar offers a taste of modern Indonesia, with a vibrant, youthful energy.