Does it get any better than this? A review of the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach
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Singapore is an interesting city for Marriott loyalists to visit. The Ritz-Carlton Singapore Millenia doesn’t participate in the Bonvoy programme, reducing it to simply another luxury hotel with no unique pull for me, and the W Singapore Sentosa Cove, my go-to hotel chain in a new city, isn’t especially well-located for first-time tourists or those traveling on business (though it’s definitely worth spending a day exploring all Sentosa has to offer).
This left the JW Marriott South Beach as the obvious candidate for me during a recent visit to Singapore with my girlfriend, and while I’d heard many good things about this property in passing, I wasn’t prepared for just how quickly I would fall in love with this hotel. It turned out that the JW Marriott Singapore was the best hotel I’d ever stayed at, with the obvious exception of all-suite properties like The St. Regis Maldives and Al Maha.
The JW Marriott Singapore is a Category 7 property, a ranking this hotel unequivocally deserves. This means that free nights cost 60,000 points each, worth £420, based on TPG’s valuations. We ended up booking two nights for $717 (~£580) total, and I redeemed 60,000 points for the third night, which would have cost about £420 in cash. Keep in mind that I booked two separate back-to-back reservations, because it’ll be important later.
If you book before September 14, 2019, you’ll be able to lock in a stay at the 60,000-point rate, but once the new peak/off peak chart is implemented on Sept. 14, you’ll need anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 points for a free night, depending on what the algorithm decides for this hotel.
The JW Marriott is in the South Beach development right across the street from the historic Raffles Hotel, where the Singapore Sling cocktail was invented.
We took the MRT in from the airport and got off at EW13 City Hall, though we got a bit turned around from there, as the station opened up into a poorly signed mall. We could not have asked for a better location for this trip, as the hotel was no more than a 15-minute drive from the Gardens by the Bay, the Marina Bay Sands, the Singapore Flyer and just about everywhere else we wanted to go.
We took a cab back to the airport when we left, and the ride took 25 minutes tops. The hotel was also connected to the CC3 Esplanade MRT station.
We arrived at night and followed the signs to the hotel entrance, noting that one of the towers in the complex was also residential.
The lobby was simple yet stunning, with LED candles hanging over the check-in counters.
It was just as beautiful during the day, and some of the decoy furniture choices (I never once saw anyone sitting on the log) reminded me more of a W Hotel.
We were helped instantly by a very friendly check-in agent, who quickly noted my two separate reservations. I’d applied some of my Suite Night Awards to this stay in order to confirm an upgrade to a marina bay-view suite, but I’d only applied them to the first two nights and not the third night, which I’d booked separately on points.
The check-in agent informed us that the marina bay-view suites were all booked up for that night and that we would have to move rooms (which is exactly what’s supposed to happen in this case), but he promised to try and block us off a large room for our last night. He could tell that we were tired, and so he let us get up to our room as quickly as possible.
Our suite was on the 20th floor, the highest floor that featured marina bay-view suites.
Directly inside the door was a small sitting area on the right.
By day, that window offered beautifully tropical views of the hotel’s upper levels.
Closed, the bathroom door turned into an energetic graffiti-covered wall.
The living room featured an incredible amount of space and mirrored walls. There was a small desk with a lamp and information about the hotel, and a couch on the other side.
I loved the small bookshelf in the corner, which featured random titles including a book on rapid learning and 30 activities for designers to get their creative juices flowing.
In the center of the room were five small, black marble tables, where we found a small welcome amenity of coconut chocolates waiting for us the first night.
The minibar, snacks, coffee and tea were all hidden behind one of the mirrored walls.
The living room and bedroom were connected by a heavy door that did a good job of keeping light out even if we forgot to close the blinds in the living room.
And with the iconic Raffles Hotel right across the street and the Marina Bay Sands visible in the distance, we kept the blinds open as much as possible.
The bed was centered in the bedroom, with plenty of room to walk around on all sides. There were outlets and USB ports on both sides of the bed, a simple thing that so many hotels can’t seem to get right.
Behind that was the bathroom, which featured two mirror-image white marble sinks and counters on either side of the door.
Each side of the bathroom also came well-stocked with amenities such as mouthwash and toothbrushes.
There was a large bathtub, and toiletries were provided by Aromatherapy Associates, as is the norm at JW Marriott.
This wasn’t the largest suite I’d ever stayed in, nor was it the most over-the-top luxurious, but it was still one of my favorite rooms. The design on the walls and carpet felt energetic and not overly formal, the room offered incredible views, and it was intuitively designed.
When we had to move rooms on our last night, the agent who checked us in was true to his word and managed to block us a deluxe suite. (I certainly didn’t deserve an upgrade for making a mistake, but the gesture was very nice.) Even better, the room was on the same side of the same floor, so we only had to move a few doors down.
The living room in the deluxe suite was smaller but still provided plenty of space for a small group to lounge.
There was even a small kitchenette off to the side.
The bedroom and bathroom were down a long hallway, and the heavy use of mirrors created fun reflections (like waving to my girlfriend while she was in the living room and I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom).
The bathroom had the same double-sink setup, with the bathtub between.
We were only there for one night, but the views from the bedroom were just as good, if not better, than from our previous room.
Food and Beverage
As a Marriott Titanium elite, I’m entitled to free breakfast when staying at a JW Marriott hotel. I expected that to be served in the property’s executive lounge but was told I could also dine at the hotel’s Beach Road Kitchen restaurant for free.
The restaurant was set up as a buffet, but it blew every other hotel breakfast I’d ever had out of the water.
Given the diverse ethnic backgrounds present in Singapore, the breakfast sported a mix of Chinese …
… Malay …
… and western cuisine.
The spread was so extensive that even after walking around for five minutes, we missed a good half of the food options (including the made-to-order egg station). Thankfully, one of the hosts was kind enough to give us a tour and set us straight.
After seeing the Beach Road Kitchen, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would choose to eat in the lounge instead, but we decided to check it out on our last morning, when we wanted a quick grab-and-go bite before we left for the airport.
The lounge was on the second floor in the tower opposite the main hotel, directly above the Beach Road Kitchen.
It offered a great mix of semiprivate seating and larger tables and a solid-looking breakfast spread.
Before dinner on our second night, we stopped by Tonic, the hotel’s gin-themed bar, featuring over 100 different types of craft gin.
The drinks were served with giant ice cubes, and when we told our waitress we liked spicy things, she even brought out a dish full of Sichuan peppercorns for us to add as we pleased.
The real highlight of our stay came on our second night, when we got the chance to dine at Akira Back. The eponymous restaurant has about a dozen locations around the world, and we first got to try it back in February, when we stayed at the W Dubai on the Palm Jumeirah. That meal lives on as one of the best I’ve ever had, and I still talk about it to this day, so suffice it to say I was excited to give it another go.
This time we made sure to try chef Akira Back’s signature tuna pizza, a light and creamy flatbread that just exploded in our mouths.
We followed that up with diver scallops in an orange reduction. The dish was good, but with only four pieces of scallop, it was tough to share.
Next up was the miso eggplant, a cheesy, crunchy delight, and one of the best parts of the meal.
We also tried the applewood-smoked strip loin, which came covered to trap the smoke until the last possible moment.
We finished our feast with the Pop Rocks roll, which was delicious but not nearly as popping as the one we had in Dubai.
I was eager to check out the hotel’s 18th-story outdoor pool, and it ended up being the only thing approaching a letdown during our entire stay. The views were exactly as stunning as I’d anticipated.
And the submerged furniture offered plenty of seats to lounge in.
But the water was freezing cold. Even in the heat of a July sun near the equator, the water was too cold to enjoy swimming.
Service throughout our entire stay was top-notch, and despite this being a larger hotel, we routinely bumped into the same employees who remembered details of our trip and always asked how we were doing and if there were anything we could do to help. It felt fitting that the same agent working when we came to check out at 7am was the one who checked us in on our first night, giving us the opportunity to thank him in person for blocking off the deluxe suite for us and to tell him how much we loved the property.
Never in my life have I struggled so hard to come up with something negative to say about a hotel. The JW Marriott Singapore is a stunning property with delicious and memorable food, and what’s more, they took incredible care of us during our short stay. I know that when I come back to Singapore, this is where I want to stay again.
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