I’ve always loved Singapore. With seven years in nearby Kuala Lumpur in the 80s, Singapore has so many of the same smells, sights and sounds that transport me right back to that Southeast Asian childhood. As I recently wrote in my weekly New Zealand Herald ‘Travel Bugs’ column:
“I never understood why some people think Singapore is boring. It’s almost as if there’s this patronising notion that Asia isn’t authentic unless it’s a bit chaotic. And sure, chaos can be terrifically entertaining, but that doesn’t mean that the opposite is a snooze-fest.”
Actually a bit more snoozing might’ve gone down well during our visit there in July. Faced with a list of literally dozens of things my wife and I wanted to see and do, relaxing while in Singapore almost didn’t enter the equation. Almost, but given we were in a hotel with literal robots to attend to our every need, we even managed to do a bit of that too.
That hotel had intrigued me for a couple of years, going back to when it was announced that the tired old Copthorne in Auckland was undergoing a multimillion dollar refurbishment to become just the second M Social in the world. The first? The M Social in Robertson Quay, Singapore. Having written about the Auckland M Social shortly after its outstanding overhaul – click here to read that piece – I was determined to see the property that had inspired it.
Located right next to the Singapore River, the original M Social is 293-rooms of Phillipe Starcke-designed trendiness that while being in a quieter part of the city, is still handy to all the action. With the famed Starcke having overseen all the interiors, the M Social is a self-described “contemporary lifestyle hotel” that caters for “adventurers, explorers and those who live for new experiences”. Think some of the hip shared work spaces that are popping in Auckland like Generator and you’ll get a sense of both the look and the vibe of the M Social.
With five different room configurations, my wife ticked a box off her bucket list by finally sleeping in a hotel loft. There’s something extra exciting about a hotel room that’s split over two levels and this was as clever a use of a small space as I’ve seen in a long time. With the bedroom occupying the upper level, the entry floor is the lounge and bathroom. Under the staircase is the sink, mirror and fridge and there are hidden drawers for extra storage. With floor-to-ceiling windows for the entire room, not to mention a full wall-mirror next to the bed, there’s a feeling of more square-metreage than there really is.
The views from our loft (as well as throughout the hotel) are the kind of high-density green urban chic that is a Singapore trademark. As you’ll see in the photos below, these are the right kinds of apartments; apartments surrounded by the lush tropical foliage that grows so well is this part of the world.
From the rooftop pool, you also get views of the Singapore River below where either an easy walk or short bike ride on the flat will get you to the bars and restaurants of Clarke Quay and then onto Marina Bay and the central city beyond. Or if you want to dine at the hotel, the Beast & Butterflies restaurant delivers a credible Asian fusion menu with a vintage furniture ambience.
Words like “ambience” and “vibe” spring readily to mind when talking about both the M Social in Singapore and the M Social in Auckland because the ethos is all about providing an atmosphere where creatives and professionals will want to gravitate. Whether for work or play, the M Social brand is about contacts, connectivity and technology as much as it is about R&R.
Where the technology and the R&R meet is best encapsulated by the hotel’s two robots. We had four nights at the M Social and the novelty of Aura and Ausca showed no signs of wearing thin. Starting with Aura, this cute and chubby character is straight out of the Jetsons as she glides around the hotel, awaiting instructions. Want some extra water or towels for the room? Just ring reception, a staff member will code in what you need and Aura will deliver them to your door.
She has senses to stop her from banging into things (and people) and she can even operate the elevators all by herself. Once outside your room a phone call is automatically made and you can open the door, lift Aura’s lid and take the items. We became very fond of her!
As for Ausca, this is less the Jetsons and more like a contraption out of Doc’s kitchen in Back To The Future. Ausca is the breakfast robot who makes your eggs for you precisely as you desire and each morning there were as many people gathered round him producing Instagram stories as there were people taking his eggs. Very Insta-worthy.
With it being my wife’s first time in Singapore, there was much I wanted to show her and a great deal she wanted to see for herself. You realise just how redundant the notion that Singapore is merely a stopover and not a destination in and of itself when you start to plan your four days and it hits you there isn’t enough time. What to do!
Well, we did as much as we could. From my ‘Travel Bugs’ column once again:
“…on one manic day we visited the zoo (arguably the best in the world), the new River Safari next door, a couple of the mega malls on Orchard Road, sunbathed at our hotel pool and hired bikes to cycle by the river to Marina Bay where we ate dinner and watched fireworks.
It was one of those days that was brilliant while being vaguely ridiculous too. ‘We’re trying to do too much!’ we both said to each other, but when there’s so much you want to do, it’s hard to know how to pare it back.
From rooftop bars to theme parks to historic neighbourhoods to the mind-blowing Gardens By The Bay development to pockets of jungle like the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore may be devoid of chewing gum, but it’s hardly devoid of stimulation.”
Enjoy the photos! Here are the links:
M Social Auckland’s website
M Social Auckland’s website