Singapore: The lion sleeps tonight

Sep 18, 2008

by DAVEN WU

Many first-timers to Singapore are surprised by the sheer range of hotels the tiny island state has tucked up its sleeve.

Ranging from chic backpacker hostels and boutique properties all the way to plush, five-star, marbled lobby land, somewhere on the island there’s a room to fit every budget, taste and occasion. Most of the big hitters like the Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, St Regis and Marriott are conveniently clustered around the shopping malls of Orchard Road and Marina Bay. These are always safe bets, but it pays to step a little off the beaten path as in recent years a number of interesting boutique properties have opened on the fringes of the city.

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Amara Sanctuary Resort

One of the newest hotels in Singapore, the all-white Amara Sanctuary Resort is perched on the edge of Sentosa’s Palawan Beach. Its tropical blend of stone, limestone and timber finishes, and lush grounds is a perfect setting for the 120-plus rooms. The courtyard suites, housed in the original colonial British army sergeants’ quarters and featuring a four-poster bed and outdoor jacuzzi, are probably the most charming.

1 Larkhill Road, Sentosa.

Changi Village Hotel

Kissed by cool sea breezes and imbued with village charm, Changi has long been favoured as the perfect antidote to all that frantic shopping and sightseeing.

1 Netheravon Road.

Copthorne King’s Hotel

The Copthorne makes the most of its location with lovely evening views of the nearby river from its renovated rooms.

403 Havelock Road.

The Elizabeth Hotel

Tucked away near the end of a cul-de-sac just off Orchard Road, The Elizabeth has the advantage of being mere minutes from fabulous shopping and yet far enough away from the noise and traffic. Refurbished in 2005, the hotel combines European charm with lush tropical gardens.

24 Mount Elizabeth.

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Four Seasons

It’s everything you need from a Four Seasons: the service is, as you’d expect, superlative, the bar lit just so and the rooftop swimming pool picture perfect. The rest is anchored by a long corridor of high-end fashion boutiques. This hotel also boasts some of the most informed concierges in town.

190 Orchard Boulevard.

Hilton

A long-time favourite of Indonesian fashionistas, the Hilton is located right on the edge of Orchard Road. The rooms are a little dated, but with an entire shopping gallery spread over three floors – think Bulgari, Balenciaga, Gucci, Mulberry, Paul Smith – it’s one hotel that’s hard to pass up.

581 Orchard Road.

Hotel 1929

The rooms in the junior categories are a little small, but the low room rates combined with the hotel’s sterling collection of funky furniture and its bohemian location in a food-fest enclave and red-light district make this a bona fide hip hotel. Ember, the in-house restaurant, is first-rate.

50 Keong Saik Road.

Mandarin Oriental

Refurbished just a few years ago, the Mandarin Oriental remains a favourite with visiting celebrities and high-flyers. And it’s no wonder: the classic John Portman interiors are dazzling, while the restaurants – including legendary steakhouse Morton’s and the buffet spread at Melt – are destinations in themselves.

5 Raffles Avenue.

Marina Mandarin

If you’re in town for business, the Marina Mandarin has pulled out all stops to pamper your inner road warrior, not least of which are its new Executive Deluxe rooms – each thoughtfully kitted out with large work desks, ergonomic work chair and six hours of complimentary broadband internet access.

6 Raffles Boulevard.

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Naumi

The owners are loudly trumpeting Naumi as Singapore’s first luxury boutique business hotel – and it’s right in the heart of one of the best foodie neighbourhoods in town. Because there are only 40 suites – each kitted out with Aesop products and decorated in Poltrona Frau, Artemide and Zanotta furniture – your privacy and a sense of exclusivity are assured.

41 Seah Street.

New Majestic

The sister property to the nearby Hotel 1929, the New Majestic makes its mark with quirky, spacious rooms, each specially decorated by a local artist. Taking its cue from the peekaboo pool on the top of Melbourne’s Adelphi Hotel, the New Majestic’s rooftop pool has portholes embedded in the bottom through which swimmers can look into the fabulous Cantonese restaurant below.

31-37 Bukit Pasoh Road.


Raffles Hotel

Refurbished in the 1990s, Raffles can still comfortably hold claim to being one of the most luxurious (and expensive) hotels in Singapore. Apart from a palpable sense of history, courtesy of its prestigious colonial past and famous guests such as Ava Gardner and Somerset Maugham, the hotel’s main draw is the stately elegance of the building with its timber staircases, white marbled corridors and old-world finishings. A singularly marvellous experience, old chap.

1 Beach Road.

The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore

We’re sold just on the enormous moon-gate at the hotel entrance that frames a piece of green paradise and, just beyond, a slice of the bay. Meanwhile the rooms whisper cool luxury, the bathrooms are widely acknowledged to be the sexiest in town, the beds are all-enveloping, and gourmands can find their way blindfold around the swathe of topnotch restaurants.

7 Raffles Avenue.

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Royal Plaza on Scotts

Fresh from its recent multimillion-dollar spruce-up, the Royal Plaza’s spacious rooms are lined with bright, glass-walled bathrooms and generous work spaces for the business traveller. But make time for the Carousel, open around the clock, which has a tasty buffet of Western and Asian fare and an adjoining gourmet deli stuffed with colourful macaroons and homemade cookies.

25 Scotts Road.

The Scarlet

With its gaudy, in-your-face decor – think gold wallpaper, crystal wall sconces, bright red lounges and shimmering Bisazza-tiled water features – The Scarlet looks like a set straight out of Moulin Rouge. Which is to say that the 84-room boutique hotel – in front of Chinatown’s historic Ann Siang Hill, barely a step from Club Street’s restaurants, galleries, boutiques and bars – is never boring.

33 Erskine Road.

Sentosa Resort & Spa

After a hard day’s workout at the spa’s mud pools, settle back on the deckchair with a chilled cocktail in hand and watch the sun set over the tree-lined horizon. Then, suitably tanned and rejuvenated, retire to the stylish rooms recently refurbished by celebrated designer Ed Tuttle. And be sure to book a romantic dinner at The Cliff, where the grilled seafood is a winner.

2 Bukit Manis Road, Sentosa Island.

Source: Qantas The Australian Way December 2007
Updated: July 2008

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