December’s here and Christmas is just around the corner, figuratively and literally. Situated right in the heart of the city’s most prominent shopping district of Orchard Road with its impressive annual Christmas light-up, Mandarin Orchard Singapore is the spot to be celebrating the holiday season with pizzazz. This year Orchard Road has been transformed into a galaxy of enchanting lights of blue, turquoise and sapphire, and this spectacular experience is right at the doorstep of Mandarin Orchard Singapore.
The festive ambiance is everywhere, both outdoors and indoors. The halls of Mandarin Orchard Singapore has been elaborately decked out to celebrate the season, and at its 5th floor grand lobby sits a lavish Christmas tree welcoming all guests. Now, this isn’t just an ordinary tree. The hotel has partnered with hospitals and other social services organizations to help send Christmas presents to children with illnesses and special needs. This “Stars of Christmas” initiative invites good Samaritans to pick stars from the Christmas tree and purchase presents appropriate to the children’s age and gender as indicated on each star. It’s heartwarming to see a pile of wrapped presents already gathered at the base of the tree. After all, the joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you.
The grand lobby is so enormous that there’s also a gingerbread house structure fronting the bakery that offers merry goodies, such as log cakes, macarons, cookies, and other sweet bites. Christmas is definitely in the air.
I was a ball of nerves before my staycation but my accommodation at Mandarin Orchard Singapore is a year-end refreshing getaway which I had needed. The Premier room on the 32nd floor affords me a spacious sanctuary to unwind in private with a reindeer’s view of bustling Orchard Road below.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that every room has a portable mobile phone that guests can use throughout their stay; it is internet-ready, it has a curated directory of places to visit, shop, eat, and other must-see must-experience local attractions, all ubiquitous social networking apps are already pre-installed, and you can carry the phone out with you while exploring the city. All this, including local and international calls made on the phone, is free. FREE! This practical amenity is so very necessary in today’s digital age and will certainly benefit all overseas hotel guests. No need to deal with the hassle of acquiring a local SIM card or fumbling around getting lost in the city, because the internet is right there on your fingertips.
Throughout the month of December, hotel guests also get a $25 off shopping voucher from Takashimaya next door, and this will come in very handy for Christmas shopping.
Michelin-starred Refined Dining
Mandarin Orchard Singapore offers an award-winning lineup of food and beverage outlets, including Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro, the Singapore debut of Japan’s highly acclaimed chain of Szechwan restaurants helmed by celebrity Iron Chef Chen Kenichi and son, Chef Chen Kentaro. The multi-million dollar interior of Shisen Hanten is a showcase of modern oriental design that sets off sweeping views of the city from 35 levels above Orchard Road. Shisen Hanten was recently awarded two-Michelin stars in the 2016 Michelin Guide Singapore, making it the highest Michelin-rated Chinese restaurant in Singapore.
The signature item on the menu is Chen’s Mapo Doufu (S$28), perfected using an original Chen family recipe. The tofu is first boiled in hot water before being cooked in a spicy doubanjiang that is fermented over three years. The end result is an extraordinarily soft and silky tofu that is best enjoyed when paired with a bowl of fragrant Hokkaido rice.
Another must-try dish on the menu is Sauteed Chili Peppers and Chicken (S$28): crispy bite-sized nuggets of seasoned deep-fried chicken tossed in an aromatic medley of chili peppers and offset by the sweetness of leek. Every little bite is bold on flavors and bound to delight the most demanding of tastebuds.
For a full-on luxurious experience, Foie Gras Chawanmushi with Crab Roe Soup (S$26) is decadence in every spoonful. The richness of this soup brings to mind being wrapped in plush cashmere blanket on Christmas morning. Presented piping hot, a generous serving of goose liver is bathed in velvety crab roe soup and will please even the most finicky gourmand.
All-day Local Fare at Chatterbox
Back in December 2001, I was visiting Singapore with a couple of gal pals and we stayed at this very hotel. Up to this day, whenever we reminisce about this trip one of the things that positively stood out in my pal’s mind was the delicious Mandarin Chicken Rice we all had at Chatterbox fifteen years ago.
From the moment this 24-hour coffeehouse opened in August 1971, the same time Mandarin Orchard Singapore commenced operations, Chatterbox was the talk of the town. Its menu featured a spread of local hawker fare, which back then was the first for any hotel dining outlet in Singapore. The most popular dish then was the Mandarin Chicken Rice and today, it has become an award-winning item that for many Singaporeans rings synonymously to the hotel.
Instead of Mandarin Chicken Rice at Chatterbox, this time I opted for something else on the menu for two reasons: one, the Chatterbox menu consists of many other delicious local favorites; two, the portion of Mandarin Chicken Rice set is gigantic! Typically a whole Hainanese chicken elsewhere makes about 11 to 12 servings, but at Chatterbox every Mandarin Chicken Rice set has been apportioned a quarter chicken. That’s a very generous serving which I’d save that for next time when I’m hungrier. Besides, this all day dining coffeeshop is well-known for another signature dish: The Chatterbox Lobster Laksa (S$36).
A whole Boston lobster sits in a bowl of spicy coconut gravy with thick vermicelli, fish cakes, dried beancurd, and quail eggs. Casual eatery Chatterbox may be, but the extra little touch of including a disposable bib upon ordering this dish is evidence of the hotel’s thoughtful service.
Meritus Club Lounge
I enjoyed an exclusive access to the sleek and contemporary Meritus Club Lounge on level 38. In what was historically the hotel’s iconic revolving rooftop restaurant at the uppermost top floor, the club lounge offers a relaxed environment and a spectacular 360° view of Singapore’s skyline.
Designed as a tranquil space to unwind and chill, the Meritus Club Lounge is tastefully decorated with couches, shelves of art volumes and encyclopaedias, and classic board games to spend carefree unhurried moments of a holiday.
The sunset view here during cocktail hour is not to be missed, especially when paired with free flow delicious hors d’oeuvres and beverages on the house. This is my favourite space in the hotel because the space is chic and cozy, the view is magnificent, the spread of nibbles is fabulous, and staff is very attentive and friendly.
The Meritus Club Lounge is also one of the two locales to enjoy the hotel’s daily breakfast (the other is at Triple Three on 5th level) which in my case, is a much more preferable option as I like starting my morning quietly and not ready for crowd yet.
After leisurely having a bowl of Fish Porridge, Egg Cocotte and some fruits, it was time for check out and the procedure was taken care of smoothly within the Meritus Club Lounge itself. Even though my packed bags were still inside my hotel room, I did not have to make an additional trip there as the Club concierge arranged for those to be picked up and waiting for me at the bellhop desk on my way out. This convenience and fuss-free check out is a notable perk of being a Premier room guest and marked the end of my staycation on a high note.
Every guest at Mandarin Orchard Singapore is greeted with a warm smile and the highlight of my staycation has to be the impeccable service throughout.
For those seeking Christmas retail therapy, some of the city’s most vibrant shopping malls – Paragon, Takashimaya, ION Orchard, and Orchard Gateway, are but a stone’s throw away from the hotel. And right within the hotel premises itself is Mandarin Gallery, a shopping haven of high-end international fashion brands and boutique eateries. Staying at Mandarin Orchard Singapore provides guests an all-encompassing retail, dining, and hospitality experience that will make this year’s festivities a special one.
Celebrate the season with plenty of good cheer and get the best rates by booking online directly at the Mandarin Orchard Singapore website. Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful happy Christmas.