Singapore is one of those nations that, like an onion, is multi-layered and has so more to learn underneath the surface than it looks. I stayed here for 6 days on a stopover on the way to Los Angeles, thinking it would be too lengthy, only to find that I left wanting a lot more time.
They warned me there wasn’t much to do in Singapore, there were just three days left and it was a hefty expense. In actuality, the food is endlessly intriguing and wonderful, with hotspots all around the city and its environs, the culture is equally varied and fascinating, and the nightlife is tremendously fun. Considering the price-performance ratio, it is also not tough for the budget.
It was six days that I won’t soon forget, spent meeting beautiful local people and experiencing local art, cuisine, and culture. This is so often neglected by passers-by and it’s a real tragedy. Here’s how to get the most out of Singapore, whatever your budget or travel style:
The Classic and All Inclusive: Le Quincy
Another guest stated it best when, during breakfast, she attempted a small chat with me, adding, “Isn’t this a wonderful place?” I appreciate how everything is provided, you truly feel taken care of!” I couldn’t have agreed more and thought the exact same thing.
The Quincy Hotel is a fresh new boutique hotel with an edgy ambiance. The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful (which I think was true of the wonderful Singaporean culture), and what I liked the most were all the added extras: free food all day from breakfast to dinner, free cocktails from 6 p.m.: From 30 p.m. to 8 p.m., free mini-bar and Wi-Fi, swimming pool and gym 24 hours a day. I have never gone to a hotel before that provided all of this.
Their “staycation” package for locals wishing to vacation at home also includes an afternoon cupcake class, the kindness of which we truly appreciated when I met the readers a few days later. The location was wonderful also, just a 5-minute stroll from the ION Orchard Mall. Now normally malls aren’t my thing, but this one has a food stall market in one of the lower levels that serves all kinds of delicious food, including the famous chicken rice (chicken cooked steamed or roast served at room temperature, served with rice cooked in chicken broth, chili paste, and soup) (chicken cooked in steamed or roast served at room temperature, served with rice cooked in chicken broth, chili paste, and soup).
Nearby: Ion Shopping Center for foodies and a readily accessible rail station for a stroll to the Gardens by the Bay Super Tree Grove, which has hourly light shows after dark. Make sure to stroll along the boardwalk in the sky to thoroughly appreciate the experience. I was so happy with them that I visited there twice. They’re also open all the time, so if you like a 4am stroll in the trees, go for it!
Location: Central Singapore along Orchard Road
Price: $168/night (but remember that covers everything!)
Stay here if: You want to feel “cared for”
The quirky and fabulous: Wanderlust Hotel
Situated in the heart of Little India, Wanderlust is for guests who prefer something a little unusual and highly distinctive. Depending on the level you’re living on, everything from a music and color-themed room to one furnished like a tree house might be your home for a few days. I was confined in what is termed the princess room, which was all white and had lighted cutouts.
Notwithstanding the very imaginative concepts and design, what truly jumped out to me was the amount of attention that went into the visitor experience outside of the hotel. They provided me with a cell phone to use the whole time I stayed with them which meant that everywhere I went I had internet and a map to guide me. Every time I pulled it out of my bag I thought of my great hotel and how nice they made my stay thinking of that tiny touch.
Nearby: Think there’s no street art in Singapore? Think again. The fashionable neighborhood in and around Haji Lane features cafés, bars, and boutiques with loads of individuality. I liked wandering through the stores, but one-size-fits-all clothing just isn’t for someone who’s 5’8! Very unfortunate, because the ensembles were so adorable and I was so hoping for a Singapore item! Let’s not forget Little India’s delicious cuisine, to boot.
Location: Little India
Price: $129 (mid-week) – $209 (weekend)/night
Stay here if: you appreciate a quirky feel and want a Little India venue
The luxurious and pampered: the regent
Talk about superb service and attention to detail — if you want to feel utterly pampered, the Regent is wonderful. With delectable Italian, Japanese, and Cantonese restaurants as well as the Manhattan Whiskey Bar, you can traverse the world on a gourmet tour without even stepping foot outside the hotel.
The apparent benefit for me of staying at such a nice hotel was the customer service. Since my jet lag was so terrible that I napped in the afternoon one day, they packed me a sandwich from Basilico, the Italian restaurant, to take with me when I visited the city that night simply so I don’t have to waste time thinking about food. I didn’t have to ask — he was just waiting for me.
When I had to board a very early flight the next day, they once again gave me a snack so that I didn’t leave hungry. That’s the type of thing that makes a luxury hotel so worth it, and it’s a delight to stay there. Oh, that plus the bed, of course:
I also tend to find the deluxe hotels in Southeast Asia a wonderful deal. For this amount in the US, it would be pretty tough to stay in a hotel as excellent as the Regent. If you have luxury preferences, gratify them when visiting Singapore to enjoy the complete VIP experience without the cost you’d encounter in the US or Europe.
Nearby: The Regent is located directly close to the Botanical Gardens, which are also open very late. If the heat of the day is too much for you, go for a stroll early in the morning or late at night. It’s simple when you place your head right close to it. There is also an extremely convenient bus station just in front of the hotel that can transport you wherever in the city.
Location: close to the Botanical Gardens
Price: Rooms start at $177/night
Stay here if: you want five-star luxury and feel like a superstar
The Backpacker Digs: Tree Inn Lodge
My first night in Singapore was at the Tree Inn Lodge Hostel in Chinatown. What actually made the facility amazing was the service and the location. Being so near Chinatown’s greatest food places and conversing with the employees lead me to Singapore’s famed Carrot Cake, which was a highlight of my first day in the nation.
Tree Inn touts itself as a ‘green’ hostel, although I wouldn’t say it necessarily exceeds the norm for keeping things green, ie urging visitors to use less water and switch off lights when they are not in the room. This is your usual backpacker-style housing with dormitories, a make-your-own bed with linen, towels for hire, and community living. It’s by no means lavish and dormitories are always going to be more about savings than comfort, but it’s a smart alternative if your money is limited. Plus, the staff is absolutely excellent.
Nearby: Tasty names of Chinatown. For my top hawker food recommendations, check out this page.
Price: $20-27/bed in a dorm
Stay here if: you want to keep it affordable
Basically, whatever you’re searching for, you may find it in Singapore, a city with lots to see and do. My best advice? Stay at each site and experience a complete variety of municipal amenities.
*Some of the rooms above were supplied to me through a media stay, and some I purchased for myself. The reviews above are my honest opinions of each property. You will never see a good review on this site of something I didn’t enjoy. Your trust always comes first.