Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Underground Shopping at Marina Bay Link Mall

You may have heard about CityLink Mall which is Singapore's first underground shopping mall. Opened in 2000 and located in the Marina Centre area, the CityLink Mall has a wide range of popular shops and food outlets. Plus, it's directly connected to two MRT stations which are City Hall MRT Station and Esplanade MRT Station. However, in today's post, I'll be talking more about the Marina Bay Link Mall which is one of the newest underground shopping malls and it's located in the Raffles Place and the Marina Bay area. The Marina Bay Link Mall is a competitor to CityLink Mall although the developers of the mall don't see it that way. Compared to its competitor, the Marina Bay Link Mall has fewer people and most of the shops found here can't be found in other places around Singapore. Furthermore, it mainly caters to the working people working there and it's directly connected to Raffles Place MRT Station and Downtown MRT Station (opens in 2013).

The Marina Bay Link Mall has quite an interesting layout compared to its competitor. Instead of having one straight passageway with shops at both sides, Marina Bay Link Mall has different 'lanes' of passageways. There is a straight passageway but you can also enter some lanes on the left to check out more shops. Some lanes have shops at both sides whereas some don't. Also, one of the lanes also have a direct link to the upcoming Downtown MRT Station on the Downtown Line which opens in 2013.

It's a bit weird that Marina Bay Link Mall actually has a big sign indicating that there will be a future MRT station there as seen from the picture above. Usually, when there's going to be a future MRT station, you can only see shutters or hoardings. However, there are glass doors with the Marina Bay Link Mall logo and a nice water splashing design pasted on it. When I looked through the holes of the doors, I could only see shutters which will give access to the station. I can't wait for the station to open so that I can come here easily instead of walking all the way from Bayfront MRT Station.

To enter the Marina Bay Link Mall, just keep a lookout for a small glass building at the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade with the mall's logo. Just push the glass doors and go down the escalators. When you reach the mall, you'll find out that the place is quite creepy and deserted but just make your way to the left and you'll see a cafe selling salad and a 7 Eleven convenience store. Make your way to the right and you'll see a row of shops and people walking and shopping at the shops.

Here's how the row of shops look like. Doesn't it look beautiful with the warm lighting and the minimalistic interior design? There are also some beautiful art pieces that can be found in the underground shopping mall as seen from above.

A lot of shops are available here including some familiar names like The Coffee Bean, Starbucks, Polar Puffs and the Starhub shop. However, some uncommon ones include SwissBake, Red Mango, Four Seasons Gourmet Market and I have also seen a minimart selling asian goods too. As I was about to enter The Coffee Bean to have a break, I noticed a small promotional exhibition about fashion, shoes and some grocery items. Above the promotional exhibit is a wise quote by the late fashion icon, Marilyn Monroe. I wonder how I can contribute wise quotes like that. It's quite an interesting exhibit plus it's placed directly below a big and bright yellow light.

After walking through some parts of the underground mall, I decided to take a break at The Coffee Bean which is an American cafe selling coffee, cakes and pastries. You can check my article on beverages at The Coffee Bean here and also the cakes here. I just love the look and feel of the Coffee Bean outlet at Marina Bay Link Mall. It has warm lighting and the shop is mostly dark. I also love the seats because I actually sat on a comfortable arm chair complete with a short coffee table. The cafe plays relaxing Jazz music and there are plenty of reading materials available for customers to read.

At The Coffee Bean, I got myself the Apple Muffin and a Moroccan Mint Tea Latte. The muffin was nice and soft although it's a bit on the expensive side at 3.80. The Moroccan Mint Tea Latte was heavenly especially when it's warm. It tasted a bit like the English Breakfast Tea Latte although with a slightly more chocolatey flavour. It's quite ironic that even though the name of the beverage has the word 'mint' in it, it doesn't taste minty at all. Having a muffin and a hot tea latte with a newspaper on hand is awesome. Sitting on a comfortable armchair and listening to Jazz music also makes it a nice and peaceful experience dining at the Coffee Bean. It really makes me feel rich even though I spent ten bucks on both products. (which is still expensive if you ask me)

Here's some more pictures of the linkways and shops of the underground mall. I really like minimalistic interior design and the warm lighting of the mall. Maps and directional signs are found everywhere so you won't have trouble navigating the mall.

Now let's talk more about the offerings here at the Marina Bay Link Mall. Apart from The Coffee Bean, I also noticed some other shops that are available here too. I can't really remember the name of the restaurant of the first picture above though. Anyway, the mall has Toast Box which is a cafe that sells different kinds of toasts and thick toasts along with a range of innovative beverages from what I know. It's kind of like a slightly fancier coffeeshop.

There's also Four Season's Gourmet Market which is a supermarket that sells gourmet and organic products. Unlike leading supermarkets, the products sold here are more expensive because they're all organic and serve a wide range of products that are not sold elsewhere. Swissbake is a bakery that sells pastries and breads that are made fresh in the store itself. Swissbake is also a cafe selling unique sandwiches and fresh meats with comfortable seatings and a beautiful interior design.

Just like regular shopping malls and public places, Marina Bay Link Mall also has ATM machines which come from the different local banks. Another advantage of Marina Bay Link Mall's fewer amount of shoppers is that the toilets are very clean and fancy-looking. It's almost like entering a 5-star public toilet.

Clear directions are also found everywhere like this wall right over here and maps can be found near the escalators. Anytime if you feel lost, just check out the directional signs at the ceiling or get a map from the Customer Service counter.

The Marina Bay Link Mall isn't just about the underground shopping mall only, the mall is part of the Marina Bay Financial Centre which is an office tower complete with a condominium and serviced apartments. It's a swanky new hotspot in the Marina Bay area and I decided to check out the building itself.

There was a row of shops at the first level of the Marina Bay Financial Centre/Marina Bay Link Mall. Also known as the Subterranean mall, this part of the building has several kinds of clubs and bars. Majority of the working people could be seen enjoying the night away at the bars with their colleagues.

After checking out the whole underground shopping mall structure, shops at the first level of the office tower and the architecture of the Marina Bay Financial Centre at night, it was time for me to go home. Thankfully, there was a bus stop at the entrance of the Marina Bay Link Mall which has bus service 97 to the Marina Centre Bus Terminal.

Overall, the Marina Bay Link Mall is certainly quite a new and interesting shopping mall which has a collection of familiar shops and also new shops that can't really be found at other shopping malls in the island. Despite being located in a place where you can find lots of working people from the Central Business District, the Marina Bay Link Mall has very few people even during the peak hours. So, instead of going to its competitor, the CityLink Mall, the Marina Bay Link Mall is certainly worth checking out.

Getting Here 

Bus services available: 97, 97e (Bus stop along Marina Boulevard outside Marina Bay Financial Centre)

Nearest MRT Station: CE2 Bayfront MRT Station (Circle Line)

Website: http://www.marinabaylink.com.sg/home.html

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