A Review of The JW Marriott Singapore
I was looking for a more "fun" property to enjoy the Singapore sunshine by the pool, but also one that wasn't located all the way out in the resort island of Sentosa. I recently stayed at the Westin Singapore which I enjoyed, but it had a definite "business" feel, so I opted for the JW Marriott for a 2 night stay this time around.
I booked a prepaid rate on the Marriott app which came out to $290 Singapore Dollars (~$215 USD) per night plus taxes and fees. The entire Singapore hotel market is quite expensive, and all things considered it was competitive value - the Ritz Carlton, W and Westin were all priced at over $350 SGD on the same dates. The property is a Category 7 Hotel meaning award stays will usually price out to 60,000 points. I put the spend on my Citi Prestige card where I earned 1,512 ThankYou points - which I value more than Chase Ultimate Reward points after the recent United devaluation, along with 8,532 Marriott Reward points - valued around $76 according to recent valuations.
The JW Marriott Singapore, opened in December 2016, is located in the South Beach area of Singapore. Interestingly, before Marriott took the property over, it operated as The South Beach Hotel for about a year. The seaside used to come all the way up to Beach Road, though land reclamation has pushed this a few blocks inland. The famous Raffles Hotel, where the Singapore Sling was invented, is right across the street and used to look out on the water where the JW is currently located. Gardens by the Bay and the Financial District are both an 8 minute taxi ride or a twenty minute walk away. The MRT is also only a few minutes away with easy connectivity to the entire city. I actually prefer this area to the Orchard Road hotels since it is smack dab in the middle of the city with access to Chinatown, Little India and the CBD in under ten minutes.
As my taxi drove up to the hotel on Beach Road I was immediately struck at how ultra-modern the hotel looked.
The entrance area had an artsy feel and almost felt more like a W than a JW Marriott.
The lobby itself was narrow and long with a few specified areas for those who checked in online, folks checking in in-person and guests checking out.
A few hotel employees were staffed to proactively direct guests to the correct area and avoid congestion in the small-ish area.
I had utilized mobile check-in and noted I would be been arriving around noon. Luckily, my room was ready upon arrival at 1 PM. The agent thanked me for my Ambassador status and mentioned I had been upgraded to a Premier Marina Bay. He also went over the amenities like the lounge, breakfast options and provided some info about the spa. After about five minutes I was on my way to the 19th floor.
The Marina Bay rooms are located towards the end of the hallway - I was in 1915 during this stay. The hallways had a sort of fuzzy wallpaper and lights near every room number.
The door opened up to a long hallway with the bathroom on the right and beautiful water views in the distance.
The bathroom was massive and well-designed. It was equipped with a sizeable bath tub, spacious rainfall shower and a hi-tech Toto toilet in a water closet.
The drawer was full of amenities including dental kits, shower caps, a comb and mouthwash. The entire bathroom was stocked with Aromatherapy Associates toiletries that boasted a classy, minimalist aesthetic and smelled great.
The rest of the room was spacious and thoughtfully appointed. The linens and duvet on the king bed were outrageously comfortable which made it tough to get out of bed in the mornings - thank goodness the thought of the breakfast buffet got me up!
Every night included a beautiful turndown service where they put slippers next to the bed, a few chocolates on the pillow and closed the blinds which was a nice touch. The one weird aspect of the room though was the rocking chair next to the desk which was not a functional choice. The TV was also relatively small compared to the room though that didn't bother me too much. The blinds were electronically controlled and offered both black-out and shade options.
The seating cutout against the windows was also super comfy and offered spectacular views of Singapore, making it the perfect place for a morning cup of tea.
International plugs were plentiful and available on both sides of the bed, against the desk and in the bathroom. There was also 2 closets - 1 by the bedroom area and another at the entrance. The one in the bedroom was stocked with two robes an iron, ironing board and some extra pillows.
The minibar area was supplied with a kettle, tea bags, instant coffee and lots of snacks for purchase. Many of the closets were covered in mirrors which made the sizeable room feel even bigger than it was.
Complimentary box of chocolates next to the water bottles which were delicious and you could easily miss if you weren't paying attention.
Food and Beverage
Platinum and club level guests are given access to the executive lounge which offers breakfast, afternoon tea and a generous 4 hours of free flow cocktails from 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM. Guests also have the option of visiting Beach Road Kitchen, the main restaurant near the lobby for a breakfast buffet which is definitely the right move if you have the time. Should you want to pay for the buffet, it will cost you $45 SGD.
It is served from 6:30 AM to 10:30 AM on weekdays and until 11 AM on weekends and offers a massive international spread. It consisted of Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and Malaysian favorites along with made to order eggs and noodle soups. The quality of everything I tasted was quite good, though if you show up towards the end of breakfast hours many of the dishes start to run empty.
One thing that many of my favorite Asian hotel breakfast have is a fresh juice bar, which was the only thing this one was missing. I enjoyed a spicy noodle soup and a smattering of the buffet offerings along with a sublime waffle. If you eat here you could easily skip lunch.
Breakfast in the lounge is offered until 10:30 AM and has about 50% of the offerings of the main restaurant in a more private setting. The quality of the food was the same and I found the buffet was kept fresh slightly better.
All things considered, I would brave the crowds at Beach Road Kitchen if you have the time, though the lounge probably makes more sense if you are in a time crunch.
I missed afternoon tea but did enjoy cocktail hour in the lounge. The offerings are very solid - mid-range liquors and wine, and a large selection of hot and cold food.
The free booze is particularly valuable in Singapore where a beer can easily run you over $10 SGD, even in mid-range establishments. In the lounge they were serving Stella and Tiger on tap, along with 2 reds and 2 white wines and a sparkling which were all retailing at $10 to $15 in the US. They were also serving a range of hot dishes.
And even a salad bar if you were in the mood for something lighter. I skipped out on much of the food in the lounge during cocktail hour saving precious stomach space for the hawker centers!
While the offerings of the lounge were great, I didn't find it a particularly comfortable place to pass time.
The seating wasn't inviting and outlets were few and far between. It was a perfectly fine place to swing by, but I much preferred to relax and work in the comfort of my own room.
Down in the lobby was Gin bar called Tonic which looked really cool though I didn't have time to grab a drink here.
There are over 8 drinking / dining establishments within the hotel itself if you don't feel like venturing too far.
The 18th floor is the recreation deck which houses a pool, the gym, a bar and game tables. The pool is on one end of the floor and frames amazing views of the city.
Even though it was blazing hot during my visit, this pool stayed quite chilly since it is covered and receives minimal direct sunlight. This might not be an issue to many, but I did find it uncomfortably cold. FLOW18 was the resort-style bar around the corner from the pool.
At the other end of the building was an open area with game tables like ping pong and pool which you could use free of charge.
The gym indexed heavily on the cardio machines and did feel somewhat small for a 634 room hotel, but it wasn't full during my two afternoon visits.
Around the entire deck is seating and the views are out-of-this-world good.
There is another pool available to guests on the 6th floor which seems to be the hotels best kept secret. It was much less crowded and much sunnier!
Down on the third floor is the spa which had a relaxation room, jacuzzi, spa and steam room available for free to plats.
I really liked the funky style of the hotel - considering it is a massive 600+ room hotel, the designers of the property did a great job of making sure it has a unique identity. While it wasn't cheap, if you are a Platinum member you can really get a lot of value out of the perks the property offers - like the breakfast and the 4 hours of cocktails. The location is also perfectly connected to both sides of town, and my room in particular had stunning views of the city. If you don't have status, I would consider splurging for a Premier Marina Bay room depending on the premium. Waking up to that view was awesome.
There were a few shortcomings - the service didn't feel particularly warm / personal, and while its nitpicky the rocking chair at the desk would be pretty annoying to me on a work trip. I would consider this hotel perfect for an urban weekend getaway, and it will definitely be on my shortlist of hotels on my next trip to the city.