Singapore's Finest Hotels
It doesn't matter if it's a grand dame or a budget gem.
There's something very appealing about Singapore, a tiny city-state with a lot to offer. Despite a brief Japanese occupation during World War II, it spent 144 years under British rule, while its narrative today continues to be shaped by its large immigrant population, often angry at its sterile nature or shoebox-size housing. Nevertheless, context is important when it comes to most things. Although it is heavily policed - chewing gum, vapes, Airbnb and many over-the-counter medications are all illegal - it is also safe; people regularly leave their handbags on the MTR's floor while traveling, or use their wallets to reserve tables at its legendary hawker centres while queuing for street food. Moreover, it's known for its extraordinary infrastructure, especially for those who want to rack and stack income.
It has solidified its reputation as a playground for the ultra-wealthy with recent blockbusters like Crazy Rich Asians (its Sex and the City level of impact has led to citywide tours of filming locations) (Rich Report ranked Singapore fifth among the world's most prosperous countries). There are no shortage of things to do in Singapore, with a futuristic international airport that's become a tourist attraction by itself. The city comes alive in November during Formula 1's first night race, with its drivers burning rubber against a backdrop of iconic buildings like the 57-story Marina Bay Sands. Yet the island also has a softer, slower side: it's a haven for cyclists, birdwatchers (even on busy Orchard Road), and foodies. We've compiled a list of the best places to stay in town.
Ji Hotel Orchard
You can't get around it: even when you eat at hawker markets and take the MTR to get around town, costs can still add up quickly. Sometimes, all you want from a hotel is the basics done well. Among our criteria are decent bed and sheets; thoughtful design (such as USB/socket placement and an in-room kettle); power-shower; regular housekeeping; friendly and efficient front desk; and a good location. Therefore, this contemporary spot off Orchard Road excels against those criteria. As the hotel is in the middle of town, you have easy access to Fort Canning Park and the Dhoby Ghaut MTR, which keeps the rate affordable.
Located on the border of Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown, this historic 137-room property is no stranger to resurgences. Formerly an administration building owned by the British during their rule of Singapore, it was converted into the Six Senses until 2020, when it was handed over to Marriott, along with the nearby Duxton Reserve. There is still an old-world European feel here – towering jacquard beds, pink onyx bars, and liberal use of crimson velvet, courtesy of Jacques Garcia – but even its ardent fans tend to go off-site; some of the best restaurants in the city, including Maxwell Food Centre, are just around the corner.
On entering the flagship hotel of the Singaporean-owned Capella group, you feel an instant and almost inexplicable sense of calm. A tranquil island just 20 minutes from the mainland, Sentosa is home to almost all of Singapore's billionaires. Which is helpful. Although the property spans 30 acres, it still feels completely private despite its size. Featuring a glass-fronted extension, 80 of the hotel's 112 rooms are located there; a world-class holistic spa; near-faultless service; two infinity pools; and grounds so bucolic you'd think you were camping. Since parts of this place are protected by the National Park, you might as well be. It's possible to see Singapore's first albino peacock wandering around, who was born on-site.
Four Seasons Hotel Singapore
Several Singaporean friends recommended the lobby café at this Orchard-based hotel as their top lunch spot in the city (specifically, the off-menu Laksa, which met our lofty expectations). Despite being in the center of town, the hotel restaurant was full at 1pm with barely a tourist in sight. In addition to pop-ups with talented underground mixologists, Singapore's first Nobu recently opened on-site. The property's central location, near Orchard Road's glitzy shops and well-connected MTR, compounds its appeal.
Hotels in Singapore that are truly well-equipped for families of all sizes and stages can be hard to find. However, it isn't like that here. Despite being on Orchard Road, Shangri-La's outpost could compete with Disneyland as far as kids are concerned. Water parks, soft play, treasure hunts, cooking classes, and themed suites are all available if you want to ratchet up the excitement level. The adult population is well taken care of as well. You may be tempted to move in between the five restaurants, four bars, spa, and babysitting service (which they've thought of too - the residents' building is next door).
As the island's most feverish tourist attraction (the Singapore Sling was invented on-site, at the monkey-nut-covered Long Bar), Raffles' flagship hotel knows about expectations: they must operate at the same level as their room rate. As a result, the hotel's common areas are full of performance elements; they even offer to snap you a keepsake portrait when you check in. The magic of this 115-key grande dame happens in a quiet garden within Raffles Arcade, where DSLR shutters feel a world away: the holistic spa. There should be signs at Changi's arrival halls, because although the flattering lighting alone could cure jet lag, its gemstone massage is incomparable when it comes to repairing knotted, long-hauled limbs.
Ann Siang House
It can be tricky to rent an apartment for a long stay, especially if you don't know the city well enough to rent - and if you suspect subletting may be illegal (as it is in Singapore). Our traveling needs to evolve somewhere between a holiday and emigration. Tourist attractions are out and free laundry services are in. This boutique hotel in Telok Ayer has been designed for that oft-ignored, much-needed in-between, on a pretty shophouse-lined street in the Central Business District. The Lobby Lounge features good coffee and work areas as well as rooms with Hypnos mattresses and kitchenettes - although, with Maxwell Food Centre and Tanjong Pagar within minutes, we can't imagine they get much use.
The Warehouse Hotel
Hard-edged industrial décor, exposed brick walls and black iron beams accentuate the soft, elegant vibe of popular local restaurateur Wee Teng Wen's first hotel, located in a former warehouse downtown. The hotel's hospitality pedigree and clever location - across the water from foodie Robertson Quay - made it an instant favourite with Singapore's creative crowd when it opened in 2017. It's not uncommon for them to schmooze on-site; either in the cavernous reception's warm-lit lobby lounge or in Po, a contemporary restaurant. Swimsuits are a must; there is a glass-walled rooftop pool.