ION Orchard has become the "centre of gravity" in the retail scene, with spectacular frontage and cutting edge designs and concepts. It brings together the world’s best loved brands for their flagship, concept and lifestyle stores within one development, with over eight levels of intelligently designed shopping space – four levels above ground and four levels below – totalling 66,000 square metres of retail space at the prime site of Singapore’s commercial and shopping artery.
However, venture further down into the depths of ION and you’d realize that there’s much more to it. Besides expensive brands like Gucci and Prada, it also houses more affordable high-street brands such as Forever 21, H&M and a plethora of other fashionable labels.
ION Orchard is not just limited to shopping. If you’ve spent all your moolah and don’t know what else to do with your time there, head up to ION Sky. You’ll have a bird’s eye view of Singapore from ION’s 56th level for free! A very good deal considering you don’t have to pay a single cent unlike when when you go up the Empire State Building or Taipei 101.
Other than the usual expensive restaurants, there is a food court, where I enjoyed the food a lot. Altogether, ION is a little too out of hand for me, budget wise, and I would not go there again. I feel that the other shopping centres in the vicinity, Ngee Ann City and Paragon, for example are better.
The second thing is: is there any destination shop there that sets the place apart from the thousands of other ins Singapore? That depends on your age. I see it as a haunt for those who can't even spell wheel chair accessible. That makes it what I read as "fun and vibrant", and I had to cross check to make sure that it wasn't one of those shops...
I did try Jones the grocer but after buying one Merc I din't need to spend a similar amount on my smallgoods.
Others rave about the facade, and it is, well, different. It looks like a cross between the collapsed roof of the Esplanade Theatre (the smaller one) and the Helix Bridge.
Aha! That is it! There is the key to its labyrinthian complexity: it is funky, futuristic and, sadly, fiddly. It may well have won an award as Singapore's best shopping centre a couple of years ago. Does it deserve it?
Where is my wheelchair?
I find the layout of the mall quite confusing. Despite the mall directory conveniently located outside the lifts, it is usually hard for me to find the shops I want to visit. The shops seem to be randomly scattered, making it a challenge for shoppers to find a particular shop.
Despite the costly shops, there are also shops that provide more affordable apparel, such as H&M, Charles & Keith and Uniqlo. Overall, ION isn't a particularly interesting place to shop, so I would recommend you to visit other malls if possible.
However I have gotten lost in Ion several times and ended up in Wheelock before I know it. Maybe it is the way that the building is structured, and the lack of directories around. The building is really messy and everywhere feels the same to me. It is also difficult to locate the toilets, and I usually have to walk back to the MRT station before I could locate one.
Adorned in fancy luxury boutiques like Prada, Chanel, Officine Panerai, Oroton and much more, ION Orchard has this specific ambience which carries you all the way to a trip of window-shopping from Level 1 and above.
Basement 1 and below definitely has a bigger variety of shops (and the attracted crowds are different too) considering that there are mid-high end brands littered all around; ie BCBGMAXAZRIA, Massimo Dutti, Thomas Sabo and ZARA. On Basement 4 would be all the dining places where you'll find a wide range of food available ranging from simple desserts to expensive (still not as expensive as the higher floors) Japanese food. If you're not too worried about the price, I would love to recommend trying out Ginza Bairin if you enjoy Japanese rice dishes -- especially their specialty Kurobuta Tonkatsu (Fried Black Pork Loin Rice-dish).
I really enjoy each trip there because it's ] just a shopping haven for me (not that pleasant for my purse, yes, but there are reasons to ignore that) especially with cosmetic giants Bobby Brown, MAC, and Sephora all available there.
Ladies, you know where to go.
(Not that you'll be disappointed overall if you're a shopper for a man ;) )
Categorizing the shops according to consumers' taste is a wonderful idea. ION is one of the few malls being able to wittily play around with the location of shops due to the huge property it owns. Besides categorizing the shops according to the types of products it sells e.g. female office wear, sports wear, jeans etc and brands of similar price range together, the mall is tactfully built to separate the youth, working adults and affluent adults. The youth brands like Puma, Uniqlo, River Island are grouped close by. Middle-ranged office brands are conveniently located on a single stretch of shops. Finally, the high-end brands are located at the other end of the mall, only accessible by a single escalator. When I first stepped into that area I thought I was in another mall, (since most malls in town are linked) top-notch brands like Gucci, Mont Blanc are all present. This part of ION was unlike the densely crowded shops near the entrances, there was barely much people and if there were they'd proudly stride past with international labels on every single product they carry.
I thought this was a brilliant idea because the affluent doesn't want to be associated with those of a lower-range and those with a tighter budget wouldn't want to salivate at brands which would burn up all their savings, way too tempting. Since the mall is pretty big, separating them will allow easy access to the types of products they wish to purchase and that is within their budget instead of aimlessly walking around.
But, that said, ION gets boring too easily and I would rather visit the older Takashimaya and Wisma Atria than this supposedly new attraction in Orchard. Why? Because it tends to get too crowded, and you'll find there's not much to look at (or buy) after a few visits. Unless you're rich and constantly after the big brands, you won't have much reason to keep coming back.
Moreover, this shopping centre is really the centre of shopping needs. This building has shops ranging for teens to tai-tais. It is like a collection of high end and popular brands of clothes bag make up and even tea! However, this shop is not very stomach friendly. They do not provide a wide range of food selection.
Having said all that, I will almost always visit ION whenever I am at Orchard, and I have no idea why, but I guess it's just because ION is a great place to kill time to me. I do wonder when I'll start spending money here though; probably when I enter the work force, or probably almost never, heh. It's near Orchard MRT too, and if I were to wait for a friend within Orchard and had to choose between Wisma Atria and ION, it'd be ION hands down.