When one considers that Marina Bay Sands is one of the most reviewed hotels here on TripAdvisor, not a lot else can be said that hasn't already been said. This, however, does not stop me from writing a review of my 3 night stay as a solo traveller from October.
First things first, Marina Bay Sands was simply one of the main reasons I wanted to visit Singapore. Everything from the architecture, the style, to the sheer scale of the property made it easy for me to choose which hotel I would be staying at when I landed from my 13hr flight from London.
Having booked a deluxe room at shirt notice on the official website for around £320 per night, I utilised the option of taking the Marina Bay Sands complimentary shuttle service to the hotel from Changi Airport's Terminal 3. There are no timetables per se, merely a rough guideline as one departure every 30 minutes. When you arrive at the coach area, there is no way of knowing how long you must wait until the next departure, although on my arrival I waited literally a few minutes before the driver allowed us on the coach. The coach was only half full, and while the driver did look slightly uninterested and did not greet any of the guests upon entering, he drove in a safe and efficient manner. It takes less than half an hour to get from Changi to Marina Bay Sands.
Wha you must remember with Marina Bay Sands is that they are very strict with their check-in times. Having landed in Singapore at 07.15, and then cleared immigration, and shuttled to the hotel, I checked in at around 09.00. I was told my room would not be ready until 15.00, which left me a disappointing 6 hours to waste before I could fully relax. That said, the friendly receptionist who checked me in informed me that I could leave my luggage with the bellboys and go off and explore the resort, or do whatever I wanted to do. I made sure I had my camera, passport, and wallet, but everything else was left in my luggage (including laptop), and safely and extremely professionally dealt with by the bellboys who took it out back with a ID tag around the bagstraps.
I was not too impressed with having to wait 6 hours for my room, but that is official hotel policy. I then went to explore the Shoppes, and the promenade of Marina Bay Sands. I had been researching this for a while on TripAdvisor and YouTube, and now I had my opportunity to takes as many photos as I could.
There are no ATMs in Marina Bay Sands hotel itself, which I found quite poor, especially seeing as it is a resort destination, even for daytrippers. I enquired with the concierge about exchanging my UK Pounds for Singapore Dollars, and he informed me the Far Eastern Money Exchange outlet on the top floor of the Shoppes was the best option. It took me ages to find it, and the guy inside is very rude and does not even speak to you as he exchanges your money. He is not an employee of Marina Bay Sands, so I am not criticising the hotel, but, once again, it would be nice to have some kind of currency exchange within the hotel itself.
I decided that to pass time I would also visit the famous SkyPark. I informed the lady at the desk that I was a guest of the hotel and was checking in later that day, and asked if that meant I get complimentary access to the SkyPark. Unfortunately not, as without your roomkey card (which you don't get until your room is ready a 3pm), you are treated like any of the other paying guests. I paid anyway as I needed to pass the time, but I think many people have enquired about SkyPark entry in the past, and you can only do it without paying if you have your roomkey card with you. Otherwise you lose the privilege. The touristy [paying] side of the SkyPark is largely a waste of time, with just a drinks seller and a souvenir stall in what is a relatively small and cramped area.
Finally the time to get my room had arrived. Incidentally, I tried my luck going back to the reception at about 14.30, and luckily enough for me, my room was ready. I was informed of the room number and went up in the tower 2 elevator to floor number 48. When I used the keycard to open the door I was shocked. I had received a complimentary upgrade to a Club Room with City View! The room was massive, the most luxurious I have ever stayed in. I had floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Marina, from which I had a great bird's eye view on my first night of the spectacular WonderFull laser show. The bathroom had an oversized bathtub with walk in toilet and separate walk in shower. There were a plethora of mirrors all around the room, with a three-piece sofa, 2 armchairs, a glass dining table, a kingsize bed, a work desk with complimentary Internet, and of course free access to the Banyan Tree Spa (which I didn't use). I would like to remark that the Internet access is faultless and the speed is perfect for a business hotel. I did not notice any slow moments even during peak times, however your complimentary access lasts for just 24 hours (from the first log in) and therefore you must re-enter the simple passcode every day to continue your usage.
One problem I did encounter at Marina Bay Sands was the minibar. As is typical in a lot of modern hotels these days, the contents of the minibar are on a sensor and if you remove an item, even without wanting to consume it, then it will be charged to your room account. On one occassion, I wanted a can of Coke, only to remove it and notice that it was 3 (THREE) months out of date. I promptly called Guest Priority Services and informed them of the problem. Later that day, I found a note of apology from the minibar staff on my glass table, with a complimentary bowl of fruit and some chocolates. It was a lovely touch, although how a drink that is 3 months out of date gets past quality control in a luxury hotel I will never know! I also noticed upon check out that I was not charged for the can of Coke.
The SkyPark is open to hotel guests from 6am to 11pm, weather permitting. I did not actually realise it opened so early, since otherwise I would have made use of watching the sunrise from up there. The attentive pool staff come along and offer drinks and snacks (via order form) at regular intervals. You don't need to carry any cash, it will be charged to your room account. However, towels were not offered at all. If you want a towel you need to walk up to the towel podium and sign for one. Enough has been said about the view from the SkyPark, so there's no need to go over it all again here, but rest assured it was the highlight of my trip to Singapore from a leisure perspective. I got whistled at once by a lifeguard because I was swimming in a cotton T-Shirt, which apparently isn't allowed, so make sure you don't make the same mistake. Expensive swimwear is available to purchase from the SkyPark Shop.
Overall, Marina Bay Sands is an expensive hotel, but you get what you pay for. There are many other luxury 5 star hotels in Singapore, in fact quite a few facing the marina itself, but Marina Bay Sands classes itself as an integrated resort, with Shoppes, Casino, SkyPark, and many eateries. You are paying for the luxury and convenience of being on top of it all, and arguably the SkyPark experience is worth the nightly rate alone, even if only staying for the one night. It can be said that public transport connections to Marina Bay Sands are not ideal (at time of writing), although taxis are so so cheap and efficient in Singapore, everywhere in the country is easy to get to, so finding your way to the hotel should not be a problem. Sleep quality was extremely good, with a lovely bed in a clean, well attended-to room. Being a new property, the hotel still has an air of natural cleanliness to it, as if nobody has ever slept in your bed before or used the same carpet as you. This is what makes a 5 star hotel experience so special for me.
Check out was painless and painful at the same time. Painless as in easy and stress-free, and painful because I realised I had to leave this wonderful place. Even after checking out, I was allowed to leave my bags there for seemingly an unlimited time if I wanted to (according to the concierge when I enquired), and the final act of my first ever stay at Marina Bay Sands was the bellboys who graciously opened the front doors for me, put my bags into the taxi, and opened and shut the cab door for me. It was a final act of kindness and top-notch professionalism that will certainly see me come back to this marvellous hotel in the very near future.