Updated: June 15, 2017
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Singapore Boutique Hotels – Tips and Advice
- Many Singaporean hotel rooms include a smartphone (known here as a handy phone) with unlimited internet plus local and international calling for guests to use outside of the hotel grounds. Check with your hotel to see if they provide a complimentary handy phone before buying a prepaid local SIM card or racking up a huge bill using your own phone. Also, many mobile apps, such as WhatsApp or Viber, allow users to make international calls and texts for free as long as they have Wi-Fi or a 4G connection.
- It’s not uncommon for Singaporean hotels have a few rooms without windows. If this sounds unappealing, be sure to request a room with a window when booking.
- For getting around the city, do use public transportation. It is the most cost-efficient, user-friendly, and punctual system in the world. Train and bus lines are integrated, and users pay with an EZ-Link card that can be purchased at any train station. Cash is accepted for bus fare, no change given. Night Owl buses run on limited routes about every 30 minutes from midnight to 2am.
- Taxis in Singapore are required to use meters and have air conditioning. For safety reasons, taxis are not allowed to stop for pickups on the main roads in downtown, so don’t plan on being able to flag one down from just anywhere. In downtown you will need to go to a taxi stop or stand to hail a cab; these are usually found near malls, hotels, office buildings, and train stations. Another option is to call ahead to have a pickup at a designated taxi stop or stand; they are all labeled with unique location codes. (Taxi companies do charge a booking fee for this service in addition to the metered fare.) It can be difficult to hail a cab, even at a designated stop, during peak hours (Monday through Friday from 6am-9am or any day between 6pm and midnight), so calling ahead is the best option if traveling during these hours. Peak hour travel incurs a 25% surcharge; travel between midnight and 6am incurs a 50% surcharge. Alternatively, you can use an app like GrabTaxi or Uber. Rates are comparable to taxis here, but they will pick you up from just about anywhere, so you don’t have to hunt for a designated stop.
- Singapore is sometimes called The Fine City, not just because of its beauty, but also because of the stiff fines it enforces for infractions like chewing gum, jaywalking, and spitting. Also, same-sex relations are still illegal here and punishable by two years in jail. Though the law is generally not enforced, there are no anti-discrimination protections.
The 10 Best Boutique Hotels in Singapore
1. Hotel Fort Canning – Museum District
This elegant, five-star boutique is in the heart of downtown, but tucked away inside a huge national park, giving the whole thing the feel of a remote, tropical resort. Amenities include three pools (freeform, lap, and kids’), an extravagant spa, a fusion restaurant, and a jazz bar. This former British Army outpost from 1926 sits on the highest point in Singapore, and is surrounded by lush rainforest. HFC is just a short walk from the National Museum, The Substation art gallery, plus The Quays, Bugis, and Little India neighborhoods.
Hotel phone: +65 6559 6769
2. The Warehouse Hotel – The Quays
This boundary-pushing boutique in an 1895 warehouse features a glass-sided rooftop pool for underwater city-view swimming, sophisticated décor, and an inspired bar. Rooms are chic with exposed beams and muted tones, some with mezzanines or pitched ceilings. Playing up the hotel’s red light past, the lobby has a collection of historic criminal paraphernalia (brass knuckles, opium pipes, and more) in a showcase, while rooms come with a vice menu of kinky adult toys. The hotel overlooks the Singapore River on Robertson Quay with great restaurants and bars nearby.
Hotel phone: +65 6828 0000
3. One°15 Marina Club – Sentosa
Part of the yacht club, this 26 room waterfront hotel has great family amenities, including an infinity pool and children’s pool, arcade, and trampoline. Featuring six inspired bars and restaurants, including a bistro inside the pool, this boutique’s dining options rival those of much larger resorts. Their incredible spa includes butler service and full suites. Located in the affluent Sentosa Cove, this hotel is walking distance to the shops and dining at Quayside Isle and the Tanjong Golf Course, with easy access to beaches and attractions, including Universal Studios and the Luge.
Hotel phone: +65 6305 6988
4. Naumi – Bugis
The swanky Naumi boutique features design-focused rooms, a top-notch Indian restaurant, and a rooftop infinity pool with stunning cityscape views. Art and fashion are the leading themes here, with rooms inspired by Chanel and Warhol. The entire hotel is run like a club lounge, with personalized experiences arranged for each guest by dedicated Naumi Aides. Centrally located in Bugis, walking distance to shopping, dining, Little India, the Museum District, and the Merlion.
Hotel phone: +65 6403 6000
5. The Scarlet – Chinatown
Designed for couples, seduction is the theme of this hotel, with sexy snakeskin and plush velvet upholstery, neo-Baroque furnishings, and heavy gold décor. Housed in a row of nineteenth century shophouses and an Art Deco building, The Scarlet boasts a rooftop bar and Jacuzzi, plus two stellar restaurants. Rooms are lavishly appointed, some with soaking tubs, one with an outdoor terrace and hot tub. Sitting on the edge of Chinatown, its street closes to cars on weekends and fills with sidewalk cafes and bars. Walking distance to spas, hawker food, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, and the Downtown Core/Financial District.
Hotel phone: +65 6511 3333
6. Wangz Hotel – Tiong Bahru
This stylish boutique, built in a round tower, offers spacious rooms with city view baths and showers and nature-inspired art. This hotel features a rooftop tapas restaurant and an inspired lobby lounge, offering British high tea by day and cocktails by night. Room rates include breakfast in their rooftop restaurant and minibar drinks. A popular spot for locals on staycation, Wangz sits in the hip Tiong Bahru neighborhood, walking distance to trendsetting restaurants and bars and historic Chinatown.
Hotel phone: +65 6595 1388
7. Lloyd’s Inn – Orchard
Featuring outdoor showers in all rooms, a garden pool, and unfinished walls and floors, this family-owned boutique blends nature with simplicity. Rooms are decorated in a greyscale palette with blonde woods and lush greenery outside; suites add an outdoor dining space or soaking tub. Situated in the Orchard area, Lloyd’s is walking distance to several traditional-style restaurants and cafes, plus designer shopping on Orchard Road, Fort Canning Park, The Quays, and the Museum District.
Hotel phone: +65 6737 7309
8. Wanderlust Hotel – Little India
Along with a rainbow tile Jacuzzi and a South American/Indian fusion restaurant, this wild boutique hotel features a different design concept on each floor. Entry level rooms on the second floor are all vivid monochrome colors, while the third floor is styled in black and white with color-change lighting. Top tier loft rooms have different themes, including outer space, bling, and more. In Little India, this hotel is walking distance to several incredible temples, great vegetarian restaurants, and shopping.
Hotel phone: +65 6396 3322
9. New Majestic – Chinatown
The New Majestic features an eclectic mix of retro-colonial style and contemporary design. Highlights include an art tile pool with a peekaboo glass floor with views into (and from!) the downstairs restaurant. Rooms are individually designed with no two alike. One has two soaking tubs in the living room and a loft bedroom, while another windowless room has mirrors completely covering the walls and ceiling and a copper bathtub. The New Majestic is in the foodie heart of Chinatown, surrounded by bars and restaurants, near Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, and walking distance to The Quays and Downtown.
Hotel phone: +65 6511 4700
10. Hotel Vagabond – Little India
With themes of art and globetrotting, this hotel is known for its over-the-top décor, like the glittering banyan tree, life-sized elephant relief, and giant rhino sculpture that serves as the reception desk (all three in gold). The walls of these mid-century converted shophouses are decorated with original artwork, all of it unique and some of it controversial. This hotel is unique for its artist-in-residence program, where visiting artists and performers create one-of-a-kind works and talk with guests about the creative process. Hotel Vagabond sits at the edge of Little India for fab dining and temples, near the Rochor Canal and Kampong Glam neighborhood, a traditionally Malay enclave.
Hotel phone: +65 6291 6677
The best neighborhoods for visitors in Singapore are:
- Chinatown: Under British rule, this was the area where most Chinese immigrants lived. Many building here are heritage sites, and feature mixed local and Victorian architecture. Famed for street food, bars, shops, temples, and mosques.
- Little India: Now known for great food, a boho arts scene, shopping, and gorgeous temples and mosques, this area was once a colonial Euro hotspot which gained its Indian identity from migrant workers hired by livestock traders.
- Museum/Civic District: Home to the city’s major museums, galleries, national monuments, historic sites, and parks, including the National Museum of Singapore, the Singapore Art Museum, Fort Canning Park, and The Substation.
- The Quays: Stretching from the Marina up both sides of the Singapore River, the three historic wharf areas are: Boat Quay (near the Merlion, marina, and river’s mouth), Clarke Quay (once the old warehouse area, now converted into restaurants and clubs), and Robertson Quay (largest of the original wharfs, now high end restaurants, chill bars, and art galleries, home to many expats)
- Bugis: From the ‘50s-‘80s, this area was known for being the main gathering spot for ladyboys. The city has since redeveloped the area, and it’s now known for its night market, malls, Arab Street, and several temples and mosques.
- Tiong Bahru: With its original Art Deco buildings, this was once the place where wealthy businessmen kept their mistresses. It is now the trendiest neighborhood in the city, with fashion boutiques, cutting edge restaurants, bookstores, and coffee houses. Tourists haven’t discovered it yet; this is where to go for true local flavor.
- Sentosa: Known as Singapore’s Playground, this rainforest island off the south coast (once a British army outpost) is home to three beaches, posh resorts, and several amusement parks.
The Best Places to Eat in Singapore
- Tiong Bahru Market • $ • Reviews
A collection of food stalls; order the bak kut teh and chicken rice.
- Bincho • $$$$ • Reviews
A food stall by day; a hidden, chic Japanese restaurant is run out of the back by night.
- Burnt Ends • $$$$ • Reviews
Aussie barbecue joint with an open kitchen and fantastic tasting menu.
- Red Star Restaurant • $$-$$$ • Reviews
Traditional dim sum – go early to miss the crowds.
- Restaurant Andre • $$$$ • Reviews
Michelin-starred, Southern French fine dining featuring molecular gastronomy.
- The Coconut Club • $ • Reviews
Hands down, the best nasi lemak in Singapore.