Sensational Singapore: Why you should stay instead of stopover in the island city-state

Despite it being one of the world’s most vibrant, progressive and culturally enticing city’s, it’s uncommon for Singapore to be described or labelled as “bucket list-worthy”. It seems to be much more common for travellers to frequent the metropolis merely as a result of an airport layover en route to their final destination, or at best, an impromptu jaunt into the city centre to pass time before their next flight.

But as many would know, the underrated island city-state deserves to be hailed as a place to stay, not just stopover. From the world-class food, iconic hotels, state-of-the-art architecture, cool bar scene, and the skyscraper-filled city centre that is home to unexpected green walking trails and wildlife galore, there’s a lot to love.

We’ve curated an edit of some of the best places to stay, eat, drink and do in the Asian hotspot that will convince you to stay a night (or five) the next time you’re passing through — or even better, you may even be inspired to book yourself on a return flight to experience the thriving cosmopolitan city itself.

To stay

Raffles

  Image courtesy of Raffles.

Image courtesy of Raffles.

Fact: No trip to Singapore is complete without a stay at Raffles. Raffles — the flagship property of Raffles Hotels & Resorts — is not only the island-state’s most iconic hotel, but undoubtedly one of the world’s, too. The colonial-style luxury hotel was established in 1887 and has been a hotspot for discerning travellers ever since. Named after Singapore’s founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, the hotel was built by the Sarkies Brothers who were responsible for other luxury hotels in the region during the colonial era and it now epitomises the island’s rich colonial history.

The 125-year-old hotel boasts a charming bright white façade, an exemplary showcase of neo-Renaissance architecture, manicured tropical gardens, polished teak balconies, 110 spacious suites complete with opulent interiors, and unrivalled service. Not many hotels can say they’ve been an international icon for over a century, but Raffles certainly can.

Note: Raffles hotel is currently closed for restoration with a planned re-opening in the first quarter of 2019.

The Warehouse Hotel

  Image courtesy of The Warehouse Hotel.

Image courtesy of The Warehouse Hotel.

While it may be new to the Singapore hotel scene, The Warehouse Hotel is has already become one of the city’s coolest new hotspots since opening its doors in early 2017. Located inside a restored 19th century building in a former godown (hence the apt name) on the bank of the Singapore River in the colourful neighbourhood of Robertson Quay, the Mr & Mrs Smith property pays homage to the factory’s role during the height of the city’s spice trade with its strong industrial and heritage aesthetic.

The 37-room boutique hotel which took 22 months to complete is best described as sleek-meets-cool with a hint of charm. The vast lobby’s triple-height vaulted ceiling adorned with a collection machinery-inspired pendant lights dangling above designer furniture in muted hues, cooper detailing and exposed brick walls sets the scene for what you can expect throughout the luxury hotel. After you’ve admired the considered modern styling of your room, cool off in the glass-walled infinity pool on the roof, sip a signature cocktail at the bar or book into Po — the mod-Sin hotel restaurant.

To eat

National Kitchen by Violet Oon

  Image courtesy of National Kitchen by Violet Oon.

Image courtesy of National Kitchen by Violet Oon.

If you love exceptional food, elegant interiors and the finest of wine, National Kitchen by Violet Oon is an absolute must-do while visiting Singapore. The brainchild of the grande dame of Singaporean cooking and the city’s original culinary celebrity, Violet Oon, National Kitchen by Violet Oon is located in the iconic historical City Hall building now home to the National Gallery and is a bucket list-worthy dining experience. The grand, yet welcoming space is unquestionably one of the best places in town to celebrate and experience a modern take on Singapore’s traditional flavours while revelling in the moody, sophisticated space that is embellished with an array of kaleidoscopic tiles, crystal chandeliers and buttoned-leather banquettes.

Spago Dining Room by Wolfgang Puck

  Image courtesy of Instagram user @clarisekho.

Image courtesy of Instagram user @clarisekho.

Dining at Spago Dining Room by Wolfgang Puck ticks many boxes — eating food created by the legendary Wolfgang Puck; experiencing one of the most remarkable panorama views in town across the city’s skyline thanks to its location atop the monumental Marina Bay Sands; and the respite from the relentless humidity with the offer of one very impressive drinks menu.

Located on level 57 of Marina Bay Sands Tower 2, Spago Dining Room by Wolfgang Puck is the celebrity chef’s most recent international location and offers an imaginative and seasonal menu of Californian cuisine with global accents in a stylish and inviting atmosphere. When you’ve finished your meal, consider taking a dip in Marina Bay Sands’ famous infinity pool for a quintessential Singapore evening. Come for the food, say for the view.

To drink

Atlas

  Image courtesy of Atlas Bar.

Image courtesy of Atlas Bar.

It’s difficult to describe the sheer scale, opulence and magnificence of Atlas — it certainly defines the saying “you have to see it to believe it”.

Upon entering Atlas — a grand lobby and bar on the ground floor of Singapore’s iconic building, Parkview Square, in the historic Bugis district — you would be forgiven for thinking you had stepped into a scene from The Great Gatsby.

Atlas was inspired by the Art Deco skyscrapers of New York City and it’s overwhelming 45-foot-high decorative ceilings, intricate gold detailing and rich textures and hues prove exactly that. While you’d assume you need to be donning a ball gown to visit Atlas, you don’t. Still in your trainers after a long day of sight-seeing? No problem.

Atlas is classy, memorable and ready to serve you a gin from its collection of over 1,000 gins — the world’s largest gin collection. Impressive.  

Operation Dagger

  Image courtesy of Operation Dagger.

Image courtesy of Operation Dagger.

It’s often been described as “the hidden gem of Singapore’s cocktail scene” and when you visit Operation Dagger you know why. The somewhat secret underground cocktail bar is located behind an unmarked door and reached via the flight of stairs behind popular bar Oxwell & Co which gives this award-winning bar an instant feeling of mystery and excitement.

Founded by Australian bartender, Luke Whearty, Operation Dagger’s fit-out is almost as impressive as its innovative cocktail menu. Raw concrete walls, minimalist furniture and a dramatic art installation suspended over the bar that is made up of a light fitting created from thousands of overhanging bulbs fills the space and is worth a visit for the interiors alone.

The establishment has been on the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars for two consecutive years and took out The Bar Awards Singapore 2016’s Most Creative Cocktail Bar. If that doesn’t convince you to go, then the Macadamia cocktail complete with distilled macadamia, caramel vinegar and fennel will.

To shop 

Orchard Road

  Image courtesy of    Singapore by Hotels.com.

Image courtesy of Singapore by Hotels.com.

As one of the world’s most famous shopping strips, it’s highly likely you’re familiar with Orchard Road whether you’ve strolled its clean, tree-lined streets or not. Spanning an impressive 2.8km, Orchard Road is a one-way street flanked with shiny designer boutiques, top notch restaurants, iconic hotels and shopping malls so vast it’s near impossible not to get lost inside them. As its name suggests, Orchard Road was once a small lane lined with fruit orchards, nutmeg plantations and pepper farms back in the 1800’s. Now, the bustling boulevard that is likened to London’s Oxford Street or Hong Kong’s Nathan Road is one of the most vibrant streets in existence today. Orchard Road is retail therapy at its absolute finest. Seasoned shoppers, start saving your pennies.