I had about five hours to kill during my layover in Singapore on the way from Shanghai to Perth, so I decided to take this opportunity to check out the Jewel, a highly-acclaimed shopping mall and entertainment complex right on the grounds of Singapore Changi Airport which opened in April 2019.
The Jewel is located landside in a separate building from all of Changi Airport’s departure terminals, so visiting it required that I clear Singapore immigration first.
The immigration officer asked me if I was sure that I wanted to enter the country, given that I also had the option of taking the inter-terminal Skytrain over to Terminal 3 for my departing flight.
“I want to go check out the Jewel,” I said.
“Oh okay, have fun and enjoy,” he replied, handing me back my passport.
“I can’t wait to see it. What do you think of it?”
“I work here every day man, I freaking hate it.”
I stifled a chuckle and continued through the Arrivals hall, making my way up to the second level to take the inter-terminal walkway over to the Jewel. The new building is positioned centrally with Changi Airport’s Terminals 1 through 3 fanning outwards on three different sides (and Terminal 4 located quite some distance away beyond Terminal 2). From Terminal 2, it was only a five-minute walk until I reached the Jewel.
The 10-storey facility consists of five above-ground levels and five below-ground levels, and looks exactly like one of the many glamorous malls and shopping facilities you’ll find across Singapore and all of Asia, filled to the brim with restaurants, cafes, and retail outlets. As I wandered around the hallways for a brief while, I basically forgot that I was in an airport.
Of course, ultimately you can find a mall like this basically anywhere in Asia – what really makes this place unique is the Rain Vortex in the very middle of the Jewel. And it wasn’t long before I ventured towards the centre of the building, taking my place against the railings to watch incredible cascading waterfall doing its thing.
If you’re a longtime blog reader, you’ll know that I have a real affinity for waterfalls in particular, and while I can’t say this one was quite as awe-inspiring as their naturally-formed counterparts, it was still quite enchanting to watch in action.
From the donut-like shape of the glass ceiling, cradling the water as it begins its freefall, to the highly satisfying curvature of the cylinder of water itself, as though you could reach out and hold it within your hand as a solid object, there was much to admire about the Rain Vortex. I took my time climbing up and down the stairs through the surrounding forest, taking in the view from every angle.
I also loved the fact that the Skytrain between Terminals 2 and 3 runs on a piece of elevated track that passes directly of y along the side of the Rain Vortex, which must make this one of the most engrossing rides on an intra-airport people mover anywhere in the world!
After spending about 30 minutes wandering around the Rain Vortex, I headed to my next stop: the Changi Lounge, a Priority Pass lounge that’s located on the ground floor of the Jewel building. This is a pretty unique lounge within the Priority Pass network, since it isn’t housed within any airport terminals, and instead sits within a shopping mall that happens to be near an airport.
To enter the lounge, you still needed to show a confirmed boarding pass for same-day travel from Singapore, so this could be tricky if you’re originating in Singapore and are unable to obtain an electronic boarding pass, since you’d have to visit your departure terminal first, pick up your boarding pass, and then come over here to the Changi Lounge in the Jewel.
Connecting passengers would also need to make ample time to visit the Jewel, and there are also other Priority Pass lounges in all of the other terminals, so this probably wouldn’t be the most practical option if you’re simply looking for any lounge to kill some time during a Singapore layover.
It seems to me that the Changi Lounge was basically designed for people who made the trip to the Jewel specifically to check it out, which was basically my situation on this day. After the lounge agent checked my documents, she warmly welcomed me inside and informed me that I could book a shower room if I wanted, and was also entitled to one free alcoholic beverage.
As soon as I entered the lounge, I was enamoured by its mid-century modern design aesthetic. Everything about it – the colour combinations, the cove lighting, the plywood and leather chairs – was exactly my style, making this the single most visually stunning airport lounge I’ve visited recently.
The lounge is shaped as one large rectangular room, with a few pillars and several large potted plants in the middle to create a sense of privacy among the different areas of the room. Most airport lounges use the same few tried-and-true types of seating clusters over and over throughout the lounge, but this one had all sorts of different seating to play with throughout the lounge, and I ended up moving around and trying out the different seats quite a bit.
In addition to the seating zones, there was a dedicated space for computer workstations towards the back of the lounge as well.
I had ordered a glass of Tiger beer for my drink, and I then went to grab some food from the buffet as well.
The dining zone consists of a small food spread, a bar (although any drinks beyond your first one would be chargeable), and a few private and communal dining tables.
While the size of the food spread was limited, the quality was very good, and I particularly enjoyed the bi tai bak rice noodles.
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In addition to the complimentary alcoholic drink, there was also a selection of non-alcoholic beverages that you could help yourself to, as well as a coffee machine and a selection of teas.
I spent about two hours in the lounge mostly working, nursing my beer, and going back to grab a few more portions of food in the meantime. Eventually, the clock struck one hour before boarding time for my flight to Perth, so I began heading over to Terminal 3.
It’s my understanding that the Changi Lounge also has shower rooms if you wanted to freshen up before your flight (or before looking around at the Jewel and the Rain Vortex a little more), although I didn’t get to check them out on this visit.
I took the escalator back up to the third floor for the walkway over to Terminal 3 – as much fun as it would’ve been to go back to Terminal 2 and then take the Skytrain over, I didn’t have time for that now, and had to rush through the walkway quite a bit to make it in time for my departure to Perth.
I imagine many of you will be passing through Singapore Changi Airport, if not visiting the city, on one of your Aeroplan redemptions someday. When you do, the Jewel is very much worth a visit if you can spare a few hours on your layover or prior to your departing flight, since the central Rain Vortex is truly one of the most impressive features you’ll see at any airport around the world.
The Changi Lounge is worth swinging by too, if you have the time, if only for the novelty of dropping into an airport lounge that’s not within an airport building and admiring the lounge’s gorgeous interiors. I enjoyed my visit this time around, and will likely return the next time I pass through Singapore with my girlfriend Jessy in tow so that she can see the Jewel for herself as well.