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Its doors only opened a few years ago in 2011, but the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore is one of the most well known five star hotels in the world and an architectural marvel. It boasts three 55-story towers that hold over 2,500 rooms and connect to a beautiful mall, the world’s largest atrium casino, skating rink, and plenty of restaurants and other attractions. But it’s the distinctive boat-shaped sky park mounted atop the towers of the hotel — home to the famous infinity pool — that lands this hotel on so many bucket lists. I recently stayed at the hotel for one night and got to experience the hotel first-hand and I’d thought I’d write a review on whether or not it’s worth it to stay at the Marina Bay Sands hotel for just a single night.
Why would you stay for one night?
Access to the infinity pool on top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel is limited only to hotel guests. This is a big reason why a lot of people opt to stay at the hotel so they can take a dip into the famous infinity pool and soak up those panoramic views of the city from 57 stories up high.
Also, Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) airport is one of top 20 busiest airports in the world and so it’s not uncommon for people to have long layovers in Singapore.
Staying at a luxury hotel like the Marina Bay Sands, which is only a few minutes from the airport, is a perfect option to kill up to 24 hours and experience some world-renown luxury, and so that’s why I think this is a hotel ideally suited for a one-night stay for many.
Our primary goals on our layover were to 1) rest up and 2) enjoy the infinity pool and catch the laser and light show. Thus, we were completely content with a standard “Deluxe room” at the hotel. We actually arrived in Singapore around 3 am and after spending a couple of hours in the arrival lounge at SIN (thanks to Priority Pass), we made our way to the hotel.
Thankfully, the hotel is a short cab ride from the airport and it’s not very expensive. You can also take the rail system to get there but with all of our luggage we opted for a cab.
We arrived at around 6am exhausted from traveling, despite having caught some sleep on the amazing Singapore Suites. We didn’t expect to be able to get a room so early in the morning but to our shock, when we checked in they told us that a room was available but it would be on the 2nd floor. We didn’t care about the view from the room so we jumped on it in a second and were just relieved to have a place to rest for the entire day.
Our room was in tower 3. Quick tip: there’s two separate entrances to the hotel one for towers one and two and one for tower three (there’s also separate check-in and check-out desks). While taxis can pick you up and depart from both entrances, we found it cheaper to just rely on departing from the Tower 1 and 2’s entrance. That’s because the taxis that took us from Tower 3 actually ended up routing through the other entrance area after battling a lot of traffic, so by walking to the other side of the hotel, we learned we could save a handful of bucks.
The lobby is massive and as you walk through it you realize the grand scale of the hotel. It’s very big and on scale with some hotels you find in Las Vegas and Disney World. You’ll find various art pieces throughout the hotel, including the piece Drift, pictured below.
This Deluxe room we stayed in, while the most basic room available, was still a step above many other hotels. It was spacious and fresh with elegant decor and furniture. But best of all, it had a super comfy bed to relax on.
A sliding door opens up to the bathroom area where both the shower and the toilet are open with one sink in the middle.
We had plans to do a quite a bit during the day but due to a medical (dental) emergency, we spent most of the day arranging for a visit to the nearby Raffles Hospital. As an aside I’ll say Singapore had outstanding medical facilities and staff. Also, the hotel staff did a superb job with assisting us with getting in touch with the hospital and I was very surprised we were able to get in since it was a Sunday falling on a holiday weekend. This is one (often overlooked) reason why it’s great to stay in nice hotels. They usually have well-trained and well-informed staff members who can assist you with situations like this. So props to Marina Bay Sands.
The infinity pool
Anyway, once we finally got all of that sorted out it was later in the afternoon and we decided to finally explore the infinity pool! To get to the pool from the bottom half of floors, you have to connect to a second elevator to get up to the top but you’ll see signs pointing you in the direction of where to go so it’s not difficult.
Once up top, you show your room key and they allow you to enter. Each person must have their separate room key when entering. You can choose to visit the observation deck which wraps around the rooftop or you can head in the other direction to enter the infinity pool area. (From towers 1 and 2, the entrance on the rooftop might be a little different.)
There are two main pool sections in the infinity pool area, one for families and another one where kids are not allowed. We never went to the other side where the family section is but our section was very relaxed and pretty quiet, with top 40 music playing in the background.
Surrounding each section are dozens of chairs and lounge chairs for you to lay out on if you please. In the late afternoon, almost all of these were taken up but if you head out early you should be able to secure you a spot (I’d quickly scoped out the pool around 9am earlier in the day and the crowds were not there). Some lounge chairs are out in the sun but others are shaded with palm trees and further away from the high traffic areas near the pool decks.
If you’re hungry or thirsty, you can order cocktails and light dishes/snacks from the nearby bar. Here’s a link to their menu. Nobody had drinks while in the pool, so I don’t think they are actually allowed to be brought into the water.
The pool itself is only about 4 feet deep so it’s easy to relax and just wander around in. It’s definitely the most incredible pool I’ve ever been in, as those iconic views of Singapore are just hard to beat. Thankfully, we caught it on a nice day, as I’ve seen the sky filled with smog and the view obstructed in some older photos. Hopefully, that issue has been cleared up and is a thing of the past (no pun intended).
Despite it being a holiday weekend and late in the afternoon, the pool was not overflowing with visitors like I thought it might be. There was a steady flow of people in and out, but the pool itself was not crowded. The photo below shows about how bad the crowds got at their worst.
As you probably imagined, the water overflows over the edge of the infinity pool into a channel that acts like a giant rain gutter. And beyond that is another walkway which actually forms the edge of the rooftop. Thus, if you’re worried about heights, you shouldn’t have a problem while in the pool since you’ll be well removed from falling over the side.
The observation deck
The observation deck at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel is a very popular tourist attraction and is accessible to the public so you don’t have to be a guest at the hotel to get up there. Tickets cost S$23 for adults and you’ll be able to take in one of the bet ways to view the Singapore skyline and surrounding areas.
While you’re up on the observation deck I think you can also check out some of the bars and restaurants on top, although if you’re not a guest you probably want to call ahead to see if you’d be allowed in. Also, this is a five-star hotel so some of the bars and restaurants do have dress codes that differ depending on the time of day.
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
An underground tunnel connects the hotel to the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. It’s an impressive mall with all of the designer shops and stores you’d expect to find (Gucci, Chanel, Prada, etc.). One of the interesting features is the moat that runs through the mall, where you can take a ride in a sampan (flat-bottomed Chinese boat).
As you can tell from the photos, the mall was pretty packed as this was a holiday weekend in Singapore.
Outside, there are some other interesting things to see like the largest Louis Vuitton store which forms its own floating islands. (You can actually access the hotel via an underwater tunnel from the mall.)
The Marina Bay Sands laser and light show
In addition to the infinity pool, many people want to check out the Marina Bay Sands laser and light show. It’s the biggest light show in Southeast Asia and was designed by Australian based multimedia company, Laservision. The show itself is called “Wonder Full.”
It’s a 15 minute show that comes on at the following times:
- Sunday – Thursday: 8:00pm, 9:30pm
- Friday & Saturday: 8:00pm, 9:30pm, 11:00pm
You can find out more here.
If you want to experience the sights like the water screen and music then you should probably try to get as close to the action as possible at the Event Plaza at the Promenade. This area is directly in front of the hotel right on the water. You can see it marked on the map below as “Wonder Full.”
Because I was more interested in getting photos of the laser and light show from a distance, I opted to walk around a little bit and post up to the left of “The Float @ Marina Bay” for some photographs. It’s an easy walk from the hotel and you’ll take the Helix Bridge (pictured below) to get there.
There are many different angles you can choose to shoot from and all would probably make for some great photographs, as the entire bay is extremely photogenic.
The laser beams were a little harder to photograph than I’d anticipated. For the most part, my shots came out the best when I was at about 400 ISO, 2 second shutter, and aperture at 6.3. If you know how to stack images in Photoshop (I don’t) this is a good place to do so as you might find it easier to showcase the laser beams in post-processing.
The show itself is impressive with all sorts of different colored laser-beams shooting out from the rooftop and into the sky. The drawback of photographing it from a distance is you miss out on a lot of the fountain works and things like the water projectors. The good thing is that they play the show twice and sometimes three times a night, so you could always check out the show from a few vantage angles, even if you were only there for one night.
Overall, staying at the Marina Bay Sands for 24 hours allowed me to experience the world-famous infinity pool, catch some great views of the skyline, and watch a pretty spectacular laser show. I booked this room with my Capital One Venture card which allowed me to use a travel credit and stay at this hotel for free instead of paying around $360. However, even if I would have had to pay for one night, I still think that I would have found it worth it to experience what this world-class hotel had to offer.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.