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REVIEW: PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore – Urban Room with COLLECTION Club access

Revitalised, gorgeous garden-in-a-hotel concept, this hotel has transformed into a stunning property. The software however has much to catch up on.

Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay opened to little fanfare late last year, no thanks to Covid-19. After a S$45 million dollar refresh from its former days of Marina Mandarin, the newly-minted Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay reopened its doors officially to a local audience.

The new hotel, as PPHG envisioned, features Singapore’s first “garden-in-a-hotel” concept, in line with the hotel brand’s ode to sustainability and wellness. 

With a brand new club lounge and refurbished rooms, we checked out the hotel twice: once in August, and another time in October, to see how it measured up with its sister property, Parkroyal Collection Pickering.

In this post:
About the hotel
Location
Parking
Checking in
The room – Urban Room, COLLECTION Room
COLLECTION Club Lounge
Afternoon tea
Evening cocktails
Breakfast – Peppermint
Breakfast – COLLECTION Club Lounge
The facilities
Dining
Peppermint
Peach Blossoms
Final thoughts

The hotel

PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay (credit: Pan Pacific Hotel Group)

Back in December 2019 right before Covid-19 hit, Pan Pacific Hotel Group (PPHG), who manages the Parkroyal Collection brand, announced that it was taking over the former Marina Mandarin property for a refresh and rebranding of the hotel as a Parkroyal Collection hotel.

This move can be traced back to April 2019, when UOL Group – of which PPHG is a subsidiary – bought out the minority stake of the former Marina Mandarin from OUE to attain full control of the property.

The hotel was one of Singapore’s earliest hotels in the Marina Bay area. Completed in 1984, the 575-room property was designed by John Portman, the hotel has one of the largest open atriums in Southeast Asia, which rises through 21 levels and is permeated by natural light. 

Who is John Portman?

John Calvin Portman Jr. (1924-2017) was an American neofuturistic architect and real estate developer widely known for building hotels multi-storied interior atria (large volumes of space within a building). In Singapore, Portman designed the entire Marina Centre, comprising Marina Square and the three hotels – Pan Pacific Hotel, Mandarin Oriental and Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay. Another lesser known work of Portman’s was Regent Hotel, where you can find his signature design style.

The refurbishment was originally planned to be done progressively, with the hotel continuing operations through the refresh. With Covid-19 virtually drying up foreign visitors to Singapore, PPHG closed the hotel in mid-2020 to expedite upgrading works, and subsequently reopened the hotel in December 2020.

What the hotel did with the space was amazing.

Foyer

Upon stepping into the hotel through the main entrance, you will be greeted by a 13-metre green wall behind the Concierge desk, flanked by planters to project a 180-degree view of a forest. More than 2,400 plants, trees, shrubs and ground cover from 60 varieties of flora has been installed throughout the hotel, with the plants designed to blend into the hotel’s interior.

Take a ride up to the hotel lobby on the fourth floor in the hotel’s signature bubble lifts, it’s as though you took a ride through a vertical nature park. The second and third floors are void areas, but decked out in lush greenery.

Orchidea sculpture

Once you are on the fourth floor, the first thing that will catch your attention is a sculpture suspended through the atria titled Orchidea, a design evoking a windfall of coins dropping into cupped hands.

Aside from its green interiors, the hotel has also committed to other eco-friendly and sustainability initiatives, such as having filtered water tap in the room as opposed to bottled water. Another interesting initiative is the rooftop farm outside the hotel’s signature restaurant Peppermint, which supplies some herbs and vegetables to the restaurant, while kitchen waste is composted for the hotel’s gardens using a specialised food digester.

Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay comprises 583 rooms, across 10 different room types: 4 room types; 2 club-level room types and 4 suite types.

Room TypeSizeQty
Urban Room 31-33 sqm227
Lifestyle Room33-35 sqm182
Signature Marina Bay Room31-33 sqm 88
Family Room (two connecting rooms)63-66 sqm4
COLLECTION Room31-33 sqm38
COLLECTION Marina Bay Room 31-33 sqm22
Urban Suite63-66 sqm12
Lifestyle Suite66-70 sqm3
Signature Marina Bay Suite63-66 sqm 6
PARKROYAL COLLECTION Suite199 sqm1

So you may ask – what’s the difference between the Urban Room, Lifestyle Room and the Signature Marina Bay Room?

Essentially, the location of the room matters:

The rooms facing the Padang are the Urban Rooms, while the Lifestyle Rooms are those facing Suntec City/Pan Pacific Hotel. The Signature Marina Bay Room are those facing Marina Bay Sands, with supposedly the best view in the house. Of course, this may not hold true, depending on which floor you are on. Reports have shown that those on the lower floors are blocked by Mandarin Oriental, so you get a half view of the bay.

Google Earth view of the hotel – obviously taken a while ago with the Meritus brand still visible

Location

The hotel is located in the heart of Marina area, flanked by major shopping centres including Suntec City, Marina Square and Millenia Walk.

If you are arriving by public transport, you definitely have plenty of options. The three nearest MRT stations (subway stations) are:

  • City Hall (EW13/NS25) – 15 min walk
  • Esplanade (CC3) – 5 min walk
  • Promenade (CC4/DT15) – 10 min walk

Parking

For those who are driving to the hotel, note that hotel uses the Marina Square car park. Drivers familiar with the area will know that the car park is a labyrinth in itself.

Visitors to the hotel should park in the green zone and make their way to the ground level before entering the hotel by the main entrance. There used to be a small entrance linking from the mall to the hotel, due to Covid-19 this has been disabled, so all guests will have to enter via the main entrance.

Marina Square car park – PRMB is in the green zone

Personally, I recommend that you drop off any luggage and companions at the hotel lobby, before entering the car park right next to the hotel driveway.

The hotel provides complimentary parking, you can collect a free ticket from the concierge at level 1 before you head for your car. There seems to be no limit to the number of coupons you can take throughout your stay, but each time you take a coupon you are required to log your name and room number.

Check-in

Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay have been actively running a lot of promotions since the beginning of this year with a good level of success, and this was exemplified by the buzz and the large number of guests when I was staying at the hotel.

The first sign of this was at check-in. My stay in August was over Saturday to Sunday, and this is what I saw:

Reception area

My stay in October was Sunday to Monday and this was the check-in line at 3pm:

Check-in line

In my first stay in August, I arrived just before the standard check-in time of 3pm, and I estimated my own wait time to be about 15 to 20 minutes.

For my second stay, I had the option of checking in at the COLLECTION Lounge, which I did, so thankfully I could bypass the front desk.

Despite the hotel being a Pan Pacific property, the hotel did not have a dedicated GHA Discovery counter for members to check in at the reception desk. Guests booked into the COLLECTION rooms and suites could check in at the COLLECTION club lounge at the fifth floor, however doing so is rather difficult given that you actually need a key card to access the swimming pool and the club lounge. If the doors are locked, you will need to get the Concierge’s help to open that door, so it’s kind of a poor guest experience there.

Having said that, the check-in process itself was rather fuss free. I was given an overview of my room, briefed on my entitlements for the stay and soon I was on my way to my room. Both times, I was given a complimentary late check-out at 4pm for my stay, even though I was not a GHA Discovery member.

For the August stay, we were booked into an Urban Room with COLLECTION Club benefits, while the October stay was a COLLECTION room (more on the subtle differences later). As our room came with lounge benefits, we were informed that we could either have my breakfast at the COLLECTION lounge, or at Peppermint, the hotel’s main restaurant. If you are having breakfast at Peppermint, note that you will have reserve your preferring dining time at either 7am, 8am or 9am with a dining time of 1 hour.

Urban Room & COLLECTION Club Room

For the August stay, we booked ourselves into an Urban Room, with COLLECTION Club lounge access, while for the October stay, we booked into a COLLECTION Room.

Note that the Urban Room with COLLECTION Club access is technically not a room category offered by the hotel, this was possible because of a pre-opening sale I took advantage of some time ago.

Urban Room

Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay has refurbished all the rooms since taking them over from the former Marina Mandarin, to provide a much needed fresh look to the rooms.

One good thing about inheriting an older hotel is space; newer hotel rooms tend to skim on size (Sofitel Singapore City Centre is an exception), but here at Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay the rooms measure at least a decent 31 sqm.

Due to the architecture of the building, the room sizes tend to differ slightly depending on which floor and where along the floor you are at. The difference can be observed along the full-length windows and the balconies, where they adhere to the curvature of the building.

First things first, there’s virtually no size difference between the non-club rooms (i.e. Urban, Lifestyle and Marina Bay view rooms) and the COLLECTION-grade rooms, the difference comes with the COLLECTION Club benefits as well as some in-room amenities.

You can see how the room looked newly refreshed the moment once you opened the door. Sleek new carpentry, new upholstery on walls, and brand new electrical fittings are some of the things you will notice.

Urban Room

The room comes with an oversized king bed, big enough for parents with a young kid in tow if you must. The bed lies nicely on a grey fabric headboard, extended beyond both sides of the bed with a reading light, wall sockets and a side table on each side of the bed.

For those who prefer twin bed configurations, both beds are large and comfy, without compromising the size of the room.

COLLECTION Marina Bay Twin Room

Next to the bed, there’s also a small round table and a lounge chair. While the chair is pretty comfortable, the lack of armrests was kind of annoying, it’s almost impossible to lounge properly on the chair or take a nap.

Urban Room – Side table and chair

The table is sufficient for a drink or two, but if you are hosting a small gathering in the room or trying to eat from this table, the size might pose a problem.

Urban Room – TV console and desk

Right across from bed is a long table built into the wall, with a stylish chair accompanied. The table is pretty much the default workspace, with a set of wall power sockets next to the TV. While some may be disappointed that the room doesn’t come with a proper workdesk and a Herman Miller chair, this chair suffices for those short work-in-room moments for business travellers.

In a cabinet to the left holds the mini-fridge, as well as a kettle along with complimentary tea and coffee sachets. Unfortunately, the room doesn’t come with Nespresso or other coffee makers, so instant coffee is what you will get.

Urban Room – Tea & Coffee compliments

Note that if you have booked yourself into a proper COLLECTION Room like what I did in the October stay, you will get a Nespresso machine and TWG tea, instead of this ‘basic’ coffee and tea amenities.

COLLECTION Room – Nespresso machine

As a sustainable hotel, note that you will not find disposable bottled water in your room. Instead, water in the room is filled in reusable glass bottles, in a bid to be environmentally friendly. These bottles cannot be removed from the room (you will be charged for them if you do so), and will be refilled and resealed for every guest.

Bottled water

Closer to the main door is where the wardrobe is. Inside the wardrobe you will find other amenities fitting of a standard hotel room: an in-room safe, an ironing board and iron (not pictures), bedroom slippers as well laundry bags should you require laundry services.

In-room safe, ironing board

Next on to the bathroom. The bathroom has not been modified since its former days as Marina Mandarin, with a slight enhancement to the fittings done only.

Bathroom

First thing you will notice is probably the second ‘toilet bowl’, which essentially is an older-school bidet (if you don’t know how to use one, see this video).

The room is clearly a throwback to the good old glorious days of the 80s, where golden marble was a mark of luxury.

Bathroom

The bathroom is pretty compact by rooms of yesteryears, but still very well equipped and efficiently designed. There’s one single vanity and sink, stacked with a small drawer where you can find all the disposable items you might need: toothbrush, shaving kits and more.

Packed with both a bathtub and a shower stall, guests who look forward to a good night’s soak will not be disappointed. However, we personally found the bathroom a little too low, and the proximity to the toilet bowl is also a little disturbing when one is trying to relax in the bathtub.

Metis amenities

Similar to Parkroyal Collection Pickering, the Marina Bay hotel uses Metis amenities, an Australian dermatology brand that is commonly found in Australian serviced apartments and hotels. Metis has two ranges of hotel amenities: the Daily Solution range and the Ultra Hydration range, and Parkroyal Collection Pickering uses the latter. I’m personally not a big fan of this brand, and feel that the hotel could use with a slightly better brand to reflect the standing of its brand among its competitors.

COLLECTION Club Lounge

Parkroyal Collection properties has dully named their club lounges as COLLECTION Club Lounge. For Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay, the hotel has built a new complex out on the swimming pool deck to serve as the lounge.

COLLECTION Club Lounge & swimming pool

As a recap, the COLLECTION rooms and suites come with the following benefits:

  • Access to the COLLECTION Club Lounge from 7am to 10pm for all-day non-alcoholic refreshments and the following:
    • Breakfast from 7am to 10.30am
    • Afternoon tea from 2.30pm to 4pm
    • Evening cocktails from 6pm to 8pm
  • Two pieces of laundry per room, per day, non-accumulative during your stay (excludes dry cleaning or extra services such as express service and stain removal) 
COLLECTION Club lounge

The COLLECTION Club Lounge is open from 7am to 10.30am, and non-alcoholic beverages such as tea, coffee and soft drinks are always available whenever the lounge is open.

From the outside, it seemed like the glass facade is opaque, but once you step in, you will notice that the lounge space is built to allow as much natural light in as possible, while keeping the heat out.

COLLECTION Club Lounge

The first sight to greet you is this reception area, with a desk on the right (not pictured) where you check in.

Step further in and you will find a voluminous seating area, with plenty of options for either both sofa-coffee table style seating or dining table seats.

The inner half of the lounge comes with a double volume ceiling height with large window panes, allowing more natural light to come in and providing a pleasant view of the Esplanade Theatres.

COLLECTION Club Lounge
COLLECTION Club Lounge
COLLECTION Club Lounge

Given the current setting, naturally most tables are for two people, but the beauty of this setup is that it can be easily reconfigured for larger groups. There are also some larger communal tables that can accommodate bigger groups in the eventuality when one day restrictions are lifted.

In the event you want somewhere that’s a little more private or darker, there are also some tables behind the main seating area, closer to the rear of the venue.

COLLECTION Club Lounge

Afternoon tea

I came to check out the afternoon tea shortly after check in. The only menu available was a beverage menu, and the food menu was a rotation between a Wellness Lifestyle set and a Heritage Redefined set, served on alternate days.

COLLECTION Club Lounge afternoon tea menu

During our August stay, the afternoon tea spread was a simple affair comprising sandwiches, a pastry puff and an assortment of sweets, such as kueh-kuehs and cakes.

COLLECTION Lounge afternoon tea

In our October stay, this was what we got:

COLLECTION Club high tea

Evening cocktails

Evening cocktails is held from 6pm to 8pm daily at the lounge with a daily rotation of menus. Both times I went, there wasn’t a menu available, so the staff will explain to you what’s available for the day.

My August stay, which was over a Saturday to Sunday, featured a BBQ spread, including steaks, lamb, and chicken on stick. It was a very decent selection, sufficient as a dinner replacement.

COLLECTION Lounge evening cocktails

In October, my stay was on a Sunday, and this is what I got:

COLLECTION Club lounge – Evening cocktails
COLLECTION Club lounge – Evening cocktails

It’s cute that they had try to make some of the items Halloween themed, but the novelty probably ended there. I wasn’t too big on the spread, but instead focused on the drinks instead.

The downside to the food offering is that it is wildly inconsistent in terms of selection depending on the day of the week, and unfortunately it’s almost like a lucky draw each time you go.

In the area of beverage, the lounge offers an excellent collection of cocktails and mocktails, as well as some passable wines, including a red, a white and a sparkling option. Beer wise, you have an option of either Tiger or Heineken; a selection of spirits are also available if you prefer.

COLLECTION Club Lounge – Evening cocktails drinks menu

Breakfast – Peppermint

For guests with breakfast included in their room rate, breakfast is served at the all-day restaurant on level 4, Peppermint. For the uninitiated, Peppermint is a halal-certified buffet restaurant, and is fairly popular among Muslim families and visitors.

Guests with lounge access can also opt to take their breakfast at the COLLECTION lounge. If you prefer a quieter and fuss-free breakfast environment, this is the place to go.

For those who are having breakfast at Peppermint, breakfast hours are between 7am to 11am daily. Upon check in, you will be asked to book your one-hour breakfast slot, available on the hour (i.e. 7am, 8am, 9am or 10am).

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the restaurant can only take about 150 guests during my stay which unfortunately caused quite a bit of a wait during my first stay.

For my first stay in August, we opted to have breakfast at Peppermint on Sunday morning. We booked for breakfast at 8am. When we got to the restaurant, there was nary a queue, although the restaurant was already full and guests were starting to be seated at overflow areas over at Portman’s lounge.

Portman’s Lounge – Breakfast overflow area

Guests seated at Peppermint would have access to a digital ordering system available through the QR codes on their table, while guests seated in overflow areas will have their orders taken manually.

This was the breakfast menu provided:

Peppermint Breakfast Menu

The orders were taken within minutes of us being seated, and coffee came rather promptly.

As we waited for food to come around, you could see the queue at Peppermint starting to build up. A rough count I did saw at least 15 to 20 people in line, waiting for a table. This is when we thanked our lucky stars we booked a slot at 8am, and not 9am.

Breakfast queue

The first of our food – the Asian selections, including nasi lemak and dim sum – came by about 30 minutes after we seated. There was clearly a lack of manpower serving the guests in the overflow section over at Portman’s lounge and even getting a refill of my coffee proved difficult.

Breakfast – Nasi Lemak
Breakfast – Dim Sum

While we wolved down the food, the remaining items has not arrived. We waited another half hour for the eggs that we ordered to no avail. We then managed to enquire with a staff on the status of the our orders, only to be told that it was still in the queue, much to our disbelief – imagine waiting for almost an hour for eggs at a hotel breakfast restaraurant!

As we had to rush off for something else, we told the wait staff to cancel our orders, and we headed off from the breakfast area. At that point in time, it was probably about 9.15am, and the breakfast queue only got longer. I can only hope they got something to eat.

Some asked, why didn’t I go to the COLLECTION Club lounge for breakfast instead? Very good question indeed. The lounge uses a QR code digital menu system, so when I was in the lounge for evening cocktails the day before, I navigated through the breakfast menu at the lounge and this was what I saw:

COLLECTION Club Lounge – breakfast menu (August 2021)

Needless to say, I didn’t want a continental offering, so I decided to book a table at Peppermint instead.

I was later advised that there were actually hot food on offer in the lounge, but for some reason this wasn’t reflected on the digital menu.

Breakfast – COLLECTION Club Lounge

So, for my visit in October, we chose to have breakfast in the lounge instead, which didn’t disappoint.

Breakfast is offered at the lounge from 7am to 10.30am, and prior reservations aren’t necessary. I had my breakfast on a Monday at about 9am, and at no point in time when I was there was the entire lounge filled up.

This time round, the lounge removed the digital menu and instead offered a small A5 sized menu.

COLLECTION Club Lounge – Breakfast menu

If you were to compare this with the menu from Peppermint, this is a slightly reduced menu, but still adequately varied to cater to different tastes.

I ordered a crispy prata with curry, along with a side of eggs, while my companion went for the “Energy of the Day”, which is essentially an American breakfast.

Breakfast – Crispy prata with ‘curry’

Unfortunately what came wasn’t exactly prata but really more a crispy puff. The ‘curry’ wasn’t curry either, it’s closer to a dhal (I suspect it’s chickpea).

The eggs, fortunately, were more reliable:

Breakfast – Ommelette

All the egg items come with a side of bite-sized hashbrowns, cherry tomatoes and a single stalk of asparagus.

If you like, you could also choose one protein to go with your eggs, such as a sausage, bacon or a chicken patty.

Pro-tip: As Peppermint is a halal-certified restaurant, the COLLECTION Club Lounge is the only place you can get bacon and pork sausages as part of your breakfast.

We also got a couple of servings of dim sum to go along with the rest of our food, while they are not spectacular, they are pretty tasty and warrants a re-order.

Breakfast – Energy of the Day
Breakfast – Dimsum

Facilities

At a glance

FacilityLocationOperating HoursRemarks
Outdoor Mineral Swimming PoolLevel 5 (Outdoors, near Lounge)7am to 10.30pmAdvanced booking required
Fitness CentreLevel 57am to 10pmAdvanced booking required (1 hour slots)
Max of 8 guests at a time
St Gregory SpaLevel 5Weekdays: 11am to 8pm
Weekends: 10am to 8pm
Urban FarmLevel 4 (Outdoors)7am to 10pm

Swimming pool

As part of the refurbishment, the hotel has transformed its 25-metre lap pool into a mineral pool, complete with 1,380 fibre-optic lights illuminating the pool when night falls.

Swimming pool

The result is an amazingly picturesque sight at night, which is fast becoming an Instagram-worthy moment while swimming at night.

Swimming pool at night (Photo credit: Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay)

For those who want to lounge by the pool with a drink in hand, you will be pleased to see a poolside bar available for that as well.

Skyline Bar

Fitness centre

The gym is available for guest use between 7am to 10pm daily, but pre-booking of slots is required as the maximum number of guests allowed in the gym is eight at any point in time. Each room can book an hour-long slot per day. Having said that, there is no staff at the fitness centre to enforce this, so I believe you are free to stay on if the gym looks relatively empty after your slot.

Fitness Centre

In a separate studio closer to the entrance to the pool, there’s also a fitness studio equipped with indoor cycling bikes and a large LED wall for group fitness workouts.

The hotel also offers a lifestyle membership for unlimited use of its gym and swimming pool, priced from $1,888 nett per year (about $150 per month), which also gives members discounts at hotel. There are also souped up membership packages that include a free night stay, massages and more, which you can check out here.

Dining

Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay has four restaurants and two bars housed within its premise. Of which, all are managed by the hotel except for two restaurants: Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Sushi Jiro.

During my stays and one other time we managed to try both Peppermint and Peach Blossoms, and here’s our take:

Peppermint

Peppermint is the hotel’s flagship restaurant, opened for all-day dining and is also the restaurant serving breakfast to all guests. As mentioned earlier, Peppermint, even as its former self Aquamarine, is a halal-certified buffet restaurant and therefore serves no pork and alcohol. Buffets are served for both lunch and dinner daily, with seasonal menus planned from time to time.

Peppermint is styled to focus on “sustainability and a farm-to-table concept”, with Asian and international menus created by its executive chef, Chan Tuck Wai.

With its vast, garden-inspired surroundings, what’s hidden from sight is the urban farm on the side terrace, where a range of 60 different herbs, edible flowers and vegetables can be harvested for use in salads or as garnishes for dishes in the restaurant.

While Covid-19 measures are still in place, the restaurant offers its buffet a la carte-style, so the items are plated and served to your table without you having to leave your seat. Ordering is done through your mobile phone, via a unique QR code available at each table.

On a separate visit, we checked out Peppermint some time in October. The restaurant was offering a Hong Kong-themed buffet dinner.

May be an image of standing
Photo credit: Cuisine Wine Asia FB

For the thematic dinner, the menu featured close to 50 items from appetisers, starters, main courses to desserts. Of which, about 10 over items are Hong Kong styled dishes, including several dim sum items, while the remaining are from its regular international buffet menu.

For appetisers and starters, Peppermint offers us sashimi moriawase, assorted seafood on ice, edamame, some soup options, chawanmushi and more.

Peppermint buffet dinner – Lobster on ice

If you only preferred select items for instance from the assorted seafood on ice (say, you just want lobsters), you can always inform the staff and they can customise it for you.

Hong Kong-themed items include Braised fish puff with sea cucumber, Kowloon wall city claypot duck, Luffa gourd with bean stick, Oyster poached rice broth and some others.

There was also a one-time serve of a braised lobster, which was a nice touch. This was not available from the menu, but will be brought to you by the wait staff.

Braised lobster

From the regular menu, you get options such as laksa, Indian selections such as vegetable korma, western fare including honey glazed spring chicken and mussels cooked with garlic and chilli. There are also some interesting items, including a Spanish octopus and Korean-style veal leg.

In terms of desserts, there are a handful of traditional Hong Kong desserts on offer, including a steamed egg pudding, glutinous rice balls with peanut and sugar, egg tarts and bolo bun, on top of the usual suspects including cakes, fruits and ice cream.

Peppermint – Dessert selection

Whoever decided on the serving sizes definitely thought through this. The portions served are small enough, such that for a party of two we could order 10 over dishes and still keep going. This is definitely an upside to an a la carte buffet, given the plated portions generally tend to be more than what I would personally take from a buffet line.

While 50 items is a commendable number of items for a buffet restaurant, the quality of the items unfortunately leaves much to be desired.

The oysters were not what I’d expect out of fresh oysters; it was far from briny, and a tad hard on the bite. Normally oysters would gracefully slide off their shells; this bunch needed a bit of coaxing, as though they have gotten way too comfortable in them. The lobsters are also a little dried out and rubbery, and needed a big dash of tabasco sauce to help. The saving grace were that the prawns were pretty much on point, and sufficiently large.

For the Hong Kong-themed items, unfortunately most of them missed the mark too. The braised beef brisket was a tad too hard to chew and ironically needed more braising for the flavour of the broth to be infused. Several other items were either over seasoned, or too bland.

The international items looked promising, but the taste and texture were a complete letdown. One of my personal favourite food – the octopus – turned out to be overcooked, resulting a mushy texture that I couldn’t associate with an octopus. The veal was arguably the best of the lot, but even that was pretty much forgettable.

A special mention for the Hong Kong desserts: the Put Chai Gou completely lacked any type of flavour and sweetness, but instead was just a tasteless chewy rice cake.

What’s worth mentioning is that Peppermint’s service, despite being fairly busy on a weeknight, was up to scale. The staff were attentive and personable, willing to customise orders for us and regularly topped up our (complimentary) water for us. This was probably it’s only saving grace, despite the failure in the kitchen.

Peach Blossoms

On my second stay in October, we decided to drop in for dinner at Peach Blossoms. Helmed by Executive Chinese Chef Edward Chong, the restaurant features traditional Cantonese dishes, but updated with some modern touches to the food presentation, and also feature some interesting use of ingredients to create a pleasing sensory experience.

Peach Blossoms retained its name from its former days, and has gone on to modernise the space after the transformation. The update in the dressing was a much overdue one, and indeed made over a very traditional Chinese restaurant to an elegant and serene dining space.

Peach Blossoms offers an exquisite menu comprising traditional cantonese fare, as well as a selection of dim sum available for both lunch and dinner.

Set menus are available for both lunch and dinner, but one will be better ordering a la carte from the menu to customise to your palate.

There were only two of us, so we ordered a selection of items to share. The menu lists only a small portion fit for 2-3 guests, but you can always order larger portions if you are dining out in a big group.

Deep-fried ‘Cigar’ Rolls filled with Black Truffle, Foie Gras and Prawn (S$24)

Deep-fried ‘Cigar’ Rolls filled with Black Truffle, Foie Gras and Prawn

Despite it looking quite small in photo, the actual spring roll is larger than the average cigar.

Served on an actual cigar ash tray, this deep fried spring roll is power packed with an assorted paste comprising prawn paste, truffle and foie gras, giving it the umami taste with every bite. On the ash tray is also a sweet sauce, serving as an optional accompaniment to your ‘cigar’.

Barbecued Meat Trio Combination (S$48)

Barbecued Meat Trio Combination

This dish is usually offered as a trio of meats comprising Peach Blossoms’ famous Crispy Roasted Pork, Applewood Smoked
Jamón ibérico Pork Char Siew and Roasted Duck, but the restaurant unfortunately ran out of its roasted pork for dinner. As such, we were offered a duo of meats instead, with larger portions of the char siew and roasted duck.

A special mention about the Jamón ibérico Pork Char Siew: this was a very unique take on Char Siew. I didn’t like it at first (I’m a purist, don’t mess with my char siew), but the applewood smoke flavour won me over after a while. The pork was also well caramelised, giving it a good crunch, while maintaining a good amount of juiciness within.

Hot and Sour Seafood Soup (S$14)

Hot and Sour Seafood Soup

Most guests would normally go for a more exquisite soup or broth in a Cantonese restaurant, but my go to soup is always a hot and sour soup. While this is strictly not a Cantonese dish, I enjoy it for its strong flavours with a tangy finish.

The hot and sour seafood soup here was a pleasant surprise: the broth is of the right texture with a good amount of seafood in it that didn’t compromise the broth. The difficult thing to get right with hot and sour soup is the consistency, as I generally don’t like the broth to be to thick nor too watery, so this was just right.

The portion here is also large enough for two smaller bowls, so you are getting good value here.

Braised Fish Paste Noodles with King Prawn and Ikura (S$38)

Braised Fish Paste Noodles with King Prawn and Ikura

This dish was probably the star of my meal. While visually not the most fascinating given the strong gravy, what’s amazing about it was the noodles.

Braised Fish Paste Noodles with King Prawn and Ikura

The noodles were made out of fish paste. While it still have some amount of binders to make it into long strand of noodles, you are going to get far lesser amount of carbs with this dish while still giving the dish a bite you expect out of regular noodles. The king prawn was a great accompaniment to the dish, although deshelling it in a sea of gravy can be rather challenging.

Stir-fried Celtuce Stems with Sakura Ebi, Fresh Lily Bulbs and Lotus Root stuffed with Minced Shrimp Paste (S$28)

Stir-fried Celtuce Stems with Sakura Ebi, Fresh Lily Bulbs and Lotus Root stuffed with Minced Shrimp Paste

Celtuce Stem, or 莴笋 in Chinese, is a common Chinese ingredient, as is lotus roots and lily bulbs. The winning combination here is the use of shrimp paste as a filling for the lotus roots, resulting in a perfect pairing of crunch and meat.

We didn’t order any dessert, but you will notice a visible absence of traditional Chinese desserts. Chef Edward has upped the ante with a modernisation or fusion on some of the traditional sweets, including Chilled Mango Purée served with Coconut Kaffir Lime, Baked Alaska with Lychee and Wolfberries and more.

Overall the food was beyond my expectation, especially after the previous disappointing experience with Peppermint. While some other reviews have mentioned that the service can be slow on some occasions, we personally felt the pace was perfect and not overly attentive.

The full menu can be found here.

Final thoughts

I always had a personal favourite towards older standalone hotels in Singapore, especially those featuring large atria such as Marina Mandarin.

Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay lobby

What is clearly lacking from Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay is a worthy food and beverage offering fit of its hotel positioning. The flagship restaurant Peppermint is mediocre at best, while the lounge offering is hardly anything to shout about and incredibly inconsistent.

In terms of service, the staff is clearly tired from being under resourced and overworked: in my August stay, the COLLECTION Lounge saw only three staff members serving the entire lounge even during the busy evening cocktail session, akin to an expert level Diner Dash game. They beefed this up to four team members in October, which thankfully was more than sufficient to deal with a more mellowed out crowd for a Sunday stay.

The breakfast situation at Peppermint also needs a lot more work. A 150 seater restaurant cannot sufficiently serve a full occupancy 500-room hotel, especially when more than half the rooms have breakfast as part of their entitlements. While this is not the norm in a non-Covid situation, the hotel clearly didn’t plan for sufficient capacity in its F&B department when the sales team were aggressive peddling rooms for local staycations.

The saving grace of the hotel’s restaurant ambition is Peach Blossoms, which has served up some pretty clever and ingenious creations, in a cuisine that typically commands difficult cooking techniques and high standards.

Overall the hotel delivered in its hardware, but the software leaves much to be desired. While guest hospitality can often be a make or break for the hotel, the overall experience still relies on other aspects to come together in order to make an excellent stay.

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