Everyone loves Monopoly Deal.
Some enjoy experimenting with multiple partners, others find one for life. Some believe that gameplay is enhanced with 3, 4, even 5 players, others that it should be a strictly head-to-head affair. Some see nothing wrong with hiring someone to play with (and hope that he or she doesn’t pull a Double the Rent card just as things are getting good), others find the idea distasteful.
As for me, I wouldn’t say my first-ever Monopoly Deal session was worthy of the highlights reel. All the guides I read turned out to be useless, there were far too many Just Say No cards, and in sheer testament to my raw talent, I gamed in record time.
Still, I believe that regular Monopoly Deal is a healthy part of married life. The problem is: where in land scarce Singapore can a mutually-consenting couple enjoy a round or two?
At home? Bad idea. Get too competitive, and the kids will be asking some awkward questions come breakfast time. At your parents’ house? No, they might overhear and start offering well-meaning but ultimately annoying tips through the wall. The nearby void deck? Possible, but society isn’t ready for that sort of thing yet.
This pretty much leaves hotels as the only viable Monopoly Deal venue, and it was just my good fortune to come across an advertisement by SO/ Singapore (formerly known as the SO Sofitel Singapore) for an Oh SO Naughty staycation, offered in collaboration with holistic wellness company Hedonist.
Although I was unfamiliar as to which particular edition of Monopoly Deal this was (it looked rather high-level, since anyone who can play blindfolded must have plenty of experience riding the Marylebone Express straight through Whitehall), I could tell at once it was very wholesome:
Spend some time away from prying eyes and get in touch with your sensual side with an Oh-SO-Naughty romantic getaway. In collaboration with Hedonist, set your pulse racing with a slip in the silky sheets at SO/ Singapore’s luxurious rooms. Make your wildest fantasies come true with a bespoke all-inclusive pleasure kit filled with quality and safe kinky toys.
Know a toy that your significant other would prefer? Get in touch with the team at Hedonist to curate the perfect pleasure kit just for them. Celebrate with a bottle of bubbly or wine to toast to the racy evening and have an unrestrained night only to savour breakfast in bed the next day. Let the fun begin with a big bang (pun intended).
-Breakfast in Bed
-S$50 in-room dining credit
-A bottle of prosecco or house wine
-A Pleasure Kit by The Hedonist
Monopoly Deal was indeed a quality and safe experience, where players could have their wildest fantasies of property ownership fulfilled (insert your own joke about millennials and housing). And should the cards get “kinky” — I assume they meant “kinked”, what careless copywriting — the careful application of a hairdryer could straighten them right out.
A bottle of prosecco (the popping of which the “big bang” no doubt referred to) was the perfect accompaniment for gameplay, and as for pulses racing, man, we’ve all been there when every player’s on two complete sets.
And so I rushed to the website to lock in my reservation, wary that avid gamers (and perhaps hot singles in my area) might be snapping up packages as we spoke.
Booking a SO/Naughty staycation
The first thing to understand about booking a SO/Naughty staycation is that just like real life, it’s cheaper to go solo.
The cheapest rate I could find was S$327++, but that was only valid for one adult- adding a second caused it to shoot up to S$417++ (there’s no price difference for adding one child, but I have a sneaking suspicion the welcome amenity for such bookings might be Chris Hanson).
How that made any sense when an additional breakfast set cost at most S$28++ is beyond me, suffice to say the solution was single-player Monopoly Deal (the MileLioness consented, though warned me that our health insurance did not cover vision loss nor the spontaneous onset of hairy palms)
Now, if someone is hosting a Monopoly Deal party, it’s only good manners to send out a note beforehand gauging where everyone stands with things like gender ratios (having been in the army, I can tell you that all guys isn’t fun), latex allergies (in this age of COVID, handling cards with surgical gloves might not be the worst idea), and videotaping (some prefer their strategies to remain closely-guarded secrets).
However, there was complete radio silence from the SO/ Singapore, and even the questions I submitted during the booking process went unanswered.
It meant I’d be going in blind, but based on the publicity images, that appeared to be the idea.
The SO/Naughty experience
I arrived at the SO/ Singapore around lunchtime on a Sunday, where check-in was surprisingly uneventful. I wondered whether my solo booking for a couples’ staycation might raise eyebrows, but thankfully this hotel rendered no judgements as to one’s preferred playstyle.
Due to my Accor Gold status, I was granted a one-category upgrade from the lead-in SO/Cosy room to a SO/Urban room. I did have concerns; a wise sage once said that Monopoly Deal was best played in a small space, and at twice the size of a SO/Cosy, a SO/Urban might wreck my experience. But it’d have been weird to ask for a downgrade, and the last thing I wanted was for the receptionist to think this mumbling single man avoiding eye contact while checking in for a couples’ staycation was weird.
There are rooms that look like they’re purpose-built for Monopoly Deal (think The Scarlet, or the venerable Hotel 81s). SO/ Singapore certainly doesn’t fall into that bucket. The hardwood (heh heh) flooring and decorative cornices felt quaintly colonial, perhaps unsurprising given it occupies a neo-classical heritage structure that began life as the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company Building in 1927.
If I had one complaint about the room, it’s that it was too dim in places such as the toilet (some say Monopoly Deal is best played in the dark though). Apart from that, it looked completely ordinary.
Maybe a little too ordinary.
Wait a minute. This was just an ordinary room.
I had come expecting a debaucherously-decorated den of depravity, but instead was getting nothing more than its convent equivalent, with none of the amenities promised in the package. If a couple, lost in the throes of passion, intended to stumble through the door and start dealing cards right away, they’d find this quite the buzzkill.
It also meant I was about to have a very interesting conversation with the front desk, which I was somewhat unprepared for. I headed back to the lobby and sheepishly approached the counter.
“My room was supposed to come with certain….inclusions” I said. “Like wine and other…inclusions”.
The receptionist’s brow furrowed as she typed away at her computer.
“Oh yes,” she confirmed. “Would you like the prosecco or house wine?”
I requested the prosecco, and waited for her to comment on the other inclusion. She did not. I skulked away and snapped a few more photos of the lobby, only for her to come over shortly afterwards and inform me that the prosecco was on the way.
“We’re also sending up the Pleasure Kit”, she beamed, at an uncomfortably loud volume.
See, herein lies the issue with the SO/Naughty staycation package. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with some good ol’ fashioned Monopoly Deal, more bashful individuals might be slightly intimidated by the prospect of broaching the topic (there really is no easy way of saying “where’s my Pleasure Kit?”).
And if that wasn’t enough awkwardness for you, how about being met in the corridor by two people, one carrying a bottle of prosecco, the other carrying a black satin bag labelled THE HEDONIST STORE, the contents of which you hope he’s unfamiliar with. “Looks like a recipe for fun!” I wanted to say before realising they were headed to my room.
So yes, I daresay this is a staycation for those who play their Monopoly Deal loud and proud, rather than those who blush at the very mention of a titmouse.
The first order of business was to conduct a thorough inspection of the room.
This began with the soundproofing. When people really get into a Monopoly Deal session, gleeful screams and other verbal exhortations of goodwill are inevitable, and it’s just good etiquette to ensure that others aren’t disturbed.
I was unable to find any major motion picture featuring Monopoly Deal, so I did the next best thing: play the “I’ll have what she’s having scene” from When Harry Met Sally at various volumes and measure the sound from the corridor. It’s what an educated man, a man of logic and science would do.
With the help of a decibel meter app, I derived the following readings:
|Meg Ryan at||Corridor Sound at|
|25% volume||62 db|
|50% volume||64 db|
|75% volume||66 db|
|100% volume||69 db (nice)|
There was a bit of noise seepage, but it didn’t break the 70 db mark (which the CDC defines as “annoying”). So I’d rank the soundproofing as 4/5 pastramis.
The next thing to check was hygiene. While there are no doubt deviants out there who seek out unsanitary environments for Monopoly Deal (Esplanade handicapped toilet), the vast majority of us prefer to soil the setting ourselves, thank you very much.
Most of the room passed muster. With the odd exception, the toilet had been given a proper once-over.
The bed, however, seemed to be a more popular spot for gameplay, with the light picking up what can only be described as a Sly Deal.
And then there were other stains you don’t need UV light to see, like this one which suggested the previous occupants may have been into more vigorous renditions of Monopoly Deal than what I’m used to.
This meant another visit to the front desk, and another pair of visitors to my room.
There was an ancient iPhone 5C on the bedside table, which lacked a SIM card. This suggested it was meant for in-room media consumption, and it occurred to me the hotel might have prepared some supplementary materials, like videos showcasing the finer points of Monopoly Deal.
No such luck. But perhaps there were still images. Those could be informative too.
Nope. Two blurry, out-of-focus photos from the rooftop were all I got.
The expectation was clearly that I create my own, and that’s exactly what I did. Hopefully, the next guest would benefit from my expertly illustrated setup.
But if you’re feeling lazy to shoot your own material, there’s always the option of downloading ready-made tutorials. The Wi-Fi clocked in at 33 Mbps down and up, more than sufficient to stream all those 4K Monopoly Deal videos.
Yes, 4K Monopoly Deal videos exist. Why do you ask?
Satisfied with the room inspection, I whipped out the cards, and at this juncture you may be wondering: just how do you play Monopoly Deal with yourself?
Well, contrary to popular belief, single-player Monopoly Deal is very much possible. In fact, numerous Twitch streamers run a healthy side business monetising videos of their solo playthroughs.
The trick is to first play with one hand (of cards), then switch to the other hand (of cards; I don’t know why I repeated myself). Just be sure to keep them separate or you’ll have a bit of a mess on your hands (of cards; there I just did it again).
To heighten the experience, I explored the Pleasure Kit, which was described as such:
Make your wildest fantasies come true with a bespoke all-inclusive pleasure kit
I reached out to Hedonist before arrival to ask about customisation options, but was told there was no customisation to be done- everyone got the exact same kit (a statistician might call this a “standard deviation”).
Leaving aside the fact that a “bespoke standard-issue kit” is kind of an oxymoron, what would really have given me pleasure was a card shuffler, sleeves and lube (to stop the cards from sticking together).
Instead, I got this.
It was far from ideal, but when life gives you lemons, make a lemon party.
Some people like to role play during Monopoly Deal. Perhaps you like to imagine yourself as the Race Car, the Scottie Dog, or the humble Thimble (don’t even mention the Penguin, T-rex and Rubber Duck, they’re strictly non-canon).
As for me, I like to pretend I’m someone with hair, so I was pleased to see the Pleasure Kit included this handy wig.
While it failed to conceal all of my bald spots, it gave me the confidence boost required to up my game.
Depending on your posture and technique, prolonged sessions of Monopoly Deal can lead to muscle stiffness (among other things). Fortunately, the Pleasure Kit included a back and shoulder massager, as essential for easing aches and pains as a Hitachi Magic Wand, which as everyone knows is used exclusively for healthcare purposes.
Unfortunately, this was a poor fit for my broad, chiselled shoulders, the product of many hours training at the Pokemon gym.
For those less swole than me, a miniature version was thoughtfully provided.
There was just one problem: the darn thing couldn’t be charged at all, because whoever manufactured this decided to cover it in waterproof silicon. That’s a good idea in one sense (who doesn’t enjoy some tub-based Monopoly Deal?), but maybe less so when the silicon blocks the charging port as well.
Try as I might, I simply could not insert the charging pin into the hole. I contacted Hedonist and was basically told to poke harder, if not return it so they could poke it for me and send it back.
I didn’t like what they were insinuating about my upper body strength, but could never live it down if the local
book club iron pumping society got wind that I had someone else do my poking. So I declined the offer and fabricated a story about successfully resolving the matter; such is the price of fragile masculinity.
If you’re playing multiple rounds of Monopoly Deal, you’ll need to keep score somewhere. I assume that was the purpose of this quill, an archaic yet classy touch.
But the QC left a lot to be desired, as some twit had forgotten to install the nib. Like hello, how was I supposed to jot down the scores and spontaneous fan fic without a nib?
More incompetency was on display with the next item, whose description was clearly written by someone who had never played Monopoly Deal before.
Pro Tip: More than just a blindfold, you can also use this essential as a restraint to tie your partner’s wrist or ankles to keep them in your submission.
Pffft. Even the most elementary Monopoly Deal player knows that if someone runs out of money, they aren’t sold into indentured servitude; they simply don’t pay.
This is obviously a tourniquet, an essential inclusion because with all that happens during a game —the nervous fingering of cards, the heart-in-mouth moment when you think the other person might finish before you, the euphoric rush of making a great play—accidents can happen. I mean, I bumped my knee against the bedframe after pulling a particularly awesome move.
And finally, the minds at Hedonist saw fit to include this golden staff, the proper usage of which eluded me. The working hypothesis is that it might either open a portal to another dimension, or be sold on Carousell for five dollars and a meetup in Tuas.
Toys can be a divisive issue amongst Monopoly Deal players, with proponents saying it takes gameplay to the next level, and purists preferring the vanilla version. I personally don’t get what the fuss is, because my first round was solid, if unspectacular.
I rapidly assembled Strand, Fleet Street and Trafalgar Square, followed by the easy pairing of Whitechapel and Old Kent Road, and gamed when my gullible opponent fed me the Water Works card I needed to finish my Electric Company pair. I played three more rounds, and each time comprehensively outfoxed my opponent- it was as if I could see two moves ahead.
It felt routine, and a little too easy. Perhaps I needed a change of scenery to liven things up.
Monopoly Deal is traditionally played on the bed, since it is so much more convincing to tell your partner “not tonight I’m tired” if you’re already in bed. Also, most men expend such great effort playing that they pass out upon completion. Being already on the bed simply facilitates the transition.
For the sake of research, however, here is my analysis of other possible venues.
My personal favourite? Probably the armchair. Just be sure to drape a towel before playing, because the added friction keeps cards from slipping off.
It’s common to get the munchies after playing, and fortunately, the SO/Naughty staycation package came with S$50 of in-room dining credits.
Monopoly Deal Hall of Famer Giacomo Casanova reportedly ate dozens of oysters at a time to enhance his performance, and I attempted to emulate his diet with an order of mussels and an aglio olio pasta (well, he needed carbs too, right?).
I called up room service to place the order, and 31 minutes later got a call back. “Do you want penne or spaghetti with that?” This caused me to lose faith in their ability to deliver the item before check-out time, so I cancelled it and just took the mussels.
Properly prepared, these can be the food of the gods. But the SO/ Singapore’s version came with no more than a dozen lukewarm bivalves and stale piece of bread, which together with a small plate of vegetables set me back S$38++.
It was disappointing to say the least, but I was more tired than hungry at this point, having powered through an entire day of Monopoly Deal. In my younger days I used to be able to play all night long, but now that I was in my 30s, perhaps I should have taken up some of those offers in my spam folder.
And so I retired to bed, where I had a strange dream that a Wild Card was soliciting me outside King’s Cross Station with promises of going both ways, but ended up taking my Mayfair home. It’s basically a G-rated version of the Anna Nicole Smith story.
I woke up the next morning and ordered an avocado toast, hoping it might kickstart my metabolism for one last burst of fire. Unfortunately, it arrived cold, a piece of barely-toasted bread with the yolks already burst.
It was entirely underwhelming, though that didn’t prevent me from setting up this poorly composed, out of focus breakfast-in-bed photo.
I’ll admit this isn’t the most insta-worthy of shots, given how some influencers can rack up thousands of likes with nothing more than a breakfast flat lay and a misattributed quote about our common humanity (being partially-clad may or may not help).
But hey, even if this doesn’t work out, I take some small comfort in knowing that all this practice has made me an excellent Monopoly Deal player, if a little muscularly imbalanced.
Maybe there’s a career in there somewhere.
Is the SO/Naughty package a good choice for couples? Given my experience, I probably wouldn’t recommend it.
But here’s the good news: you don’t need to play Monopoly Deal at the SO/ Singapore. For the price of a SO/Naughty staycation, you could easily buy your own set of gaming aids and still have enough leftover for a nicer hotel, one with fewer operational snafus (I was charged for breakfast at check-out, which led to another awkward discussion over my package and its…inclusions), better dining, and sheets that don’t look like someone was murdered on them.
Unless, of course, you’re into that sort of thing.