Whether you’re looking for a hip staycation or a place to stash visitors, the new MSocial at Roberson Quay provides a cool and convenient option.
Designed by Philippe Starck, new hotel MSocial sits proudly beside the river at Robertson Quay, Singapore. In truth, MSocial is designed for tech savvy millennials, not families with kids – but I flew in the face of convention and grabbed a chance to check out MSocial with my 4-year-old for some mama-and-me time.
What we liked:
- The hip design element of the hotel is omnipresent. Art on the driveway and smartly lit alabaster floors in the lobby give a great first impression. M Social is very technology-led – computers allow for self-check-in (with humans available as back up just in case – which is fortunate because we do like being greeted by a real smile).
- We especially liked the décor of the restaurant, Beasts & Butterflies (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner), which gives the welcoming impression of an eccentric lounge complete with pool table, lava lamps, magazines and books. It’s a good thing, too as the small bedrooms do not encourage too much lingering so this is where the action is.
- You’re given a handy phone on registration for use during your stay – use this to navigate Singapore through Google maps, make free calls back home (just check your country is on the free list), use social media and generally be connected – very useful!
- Beds (queen size) are super comfortable.
- There is a gym and also a lovely 31 metre lap pool on the 5th floor. The pool is long and narrow but is prettily landscaped with vines and potted plants, with black and white sun loungers and jazzy music. We liked how you could sit in the pool and look out onto the river for some people watching.
Know before you Go:
- There are four room options: The Nice Room, The Nicer Room (includes an outdoor terrace), The Big Room and The Bigger Room. Rooms are sleek and chic but extremely compact. Go knowing that and you won’t get a shock when you open the door to your 19 sqm room (22 sqm for the Big and Bigger rooms). The Big and Bigger rooms are lofts – some have the bed and bathroom on the main floor and a small sofa and TV on the mezzanine level upstairs. This configuration is our main bugbear with the design – most people would want to bunker up in bed under the duvet for some TV bingeing. You’ll need to bring your iPad to watch TV in bed here. There is free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, so streaming Netflix on your iPad works.
- A minibar is provided but comes unstocked. There is a kettle with Nestle coffee and tea sachets. As there is no dine-in room service, having some gourmet snacks in the mini bar or a hallway vending machine for some nibbles and wine would add some substance to the style. You may order food and drink (including tubes of wine 100ml/$9) from the restaurant and take them back to your room yourself.
- There are no kid-friendly facilities and equipment (no cots or high chairs).
- Tripadvisor notes some guests having problems with the room blinds and with the lack of privacy afforded by the glass bathroom walls– but we found the blinds easy to close and there is also a discrete setting to make bathrooms private.
- There are only a handful of parking spots for guests (chargeable) or you may park on the street with coupons.
- The hotel is a mix of design and no-frills (no mini bar, no spa, no free parking, nor room service). That said, MSocial is bang in the centre of things so you could pop out for a takeaway or use your loaned phone to Google spa services nearby – and if you’re a savvy millennial you can probably find some buck-saving Groupon deal far cheaper than any hotel spa.
Beast & Butterflies restaurant at MSocial Robertson Quay is also designed by Philippe Starck. The restaurant is decked out with Starck-designed tan sofas scattered with ethnic cushions, African beaded armchairs, more formal dining tables and lit-up alabaster communal tables for large groups. The dining room is filled with digital art – from the video projections inside the chandeliers and on countertops to the 40 tablets screening contemporary art on the walls. An open-plan kitchen and bar stands on one end of the long room. There are stacks of novels at every turn, lava lamps to mesmerise you, a pool table for a game.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served here (it’s the only restaurant at MSocial). Breakfast is a buffet ($25/13 for adults/kids) and open to the public from 7am (good for earlybirds or anyone with kids) and offers up a serve yourself buffet of Eggs any style, a Congee station, Fruit, boxed Cereals, Yoghurt, Juices and Pastries (Croissants, Danishes, Pancakes and Muffins). Coffees and teas are self-service too as in keeping with the theme of the hotel.
The menu is the same for lunch and dinner though at lunch, offers include Sets for $19.80/24.80/29.80 for 1 to 3 courses. Grab yourself an iPad and place your own order – doubly handy because you can then check out pictures of dishes to help you decide whether to order the Australian lamb loin with Burratina ($26) or the local-favourite-gone-glam, Lobster Porridge ($28).
Chef Li’s menu is a marriage of East and West with dishes like Collagen Soup with fish maw and Mushroom Ravioli ($24), alongside Western dishes like the Beast Burger with Fries ($28) and the delicious and light Crab & Leaf salad ($22) of baby spinach, crab and sesame Lavosh crackers.
There are some misses along with the hits – Chicken and Chorizo ($26) consisting of soft sous vide chicken is missing its flavour partner, the chorizo which hides undetectably in the potato chorizo croquette and also the desserts didn’t quite do it for us. But there were plenty of hits, too. The Ham Hock ($28/$38 for half or whole) was nothing short of excellent. A meat feast board of pork fried to a crisp – the delicious crispy crunchy crackling giving way to tender pork meat all served with a Thai influenced sauce of Nam Jim. Also good is the scallop Carpaccio ($24) – slivers of sashimi thin Hokkaido Scallop topped with crispy fried garlic – adding flavour and a contrasting texture.
Desserts swing from East: Yam Brûlée ($10), a modern version of the traditional Teochew yam paste dessert to West: Chocoholic ($10), a melting spherical ball of chocolate encompassing passion fruit sorbet or go for the dessert platter ‘Extravaganza’ ($25) consisting of four desserts to share.
The restaurant is not kid-friendly per se (no kids menu), though kids are allowed. Luckily Beast & Butterflies is not a “Don’t Play with the Art Darling” kind of place. If you come with kids, chope yourself a sofa alongside the tablet art decorated wall so kids can occupy themselves taking pictures and editing them with the art function – this kept our 4-year-old happily busy.
For those looking for a smart, good value riverside spot, MSocial is definitely worth a visit, especially for who it’s aimed at: the younger crew of tech savvy millennials who don’t need lots of frills and space.
Room rates start from S$208++ per night, inclusive of breakfast for two, complimentary Wi-Fi and Handy phone access with unlimited data.
M Social, 90 Robertson Quay, Singapore 238259, Tel: (+65) 6206 1888, www.msocial.com.sg