I visited Singapore last February to latch on to the end of my husband being over there with work. For the first 2 days I did next to nothing – jet lag and humidity were enough to deal with that – I just parked myself at “Privé” in Keppel Marina while my husband worked nearby. They do great coffees and breakfasts and being on the waterfront there was more breeze than in the city so it worked out as rather a good base! Quite a stunning view from the marina to some apartment and hotel tower blocks called ‘Reflections’ that really are staggeringly large and in a way similar to the Shard (but the look was more ‘normal’ in Singers).
Singapore airport is a great first taste of the city – so swift, bags appear in seconds and being one of the first off the plane I was through immigration in minutes and off in my taxi! The drive through the city is quite jaw-dropping – having been to NYC before this just takes it to another level, as the buildings are of course massive, but they are also really quirky – for example Marina Bay Sands which is a 3 storey hotel with a ‘boat’ across the top!
I would say that you should make sure you know where you are going – the taxi driver didn’t really know where Keppel Bay Marina was and so I probably would have been less flustered had I done a bit more research (I was leaving that for the 2 days I had planned to do nothing!)
After 2 days of doing next to nothing, holiday finally started – I left my husband to finish work and checked in early at Naumi Hotel. The room wasn’t ready but they were more than happy for me to sit by the pool and I was more than happy to oblige. Naumi is a small hotel by Singapore standards, and it is very near to Raffles – in fact the stunning view from the rooftop pool looks down on Raffles as well as across to the larger and more epic skyline that makes up the city. Having stayed a night at another hotel without a pool, the pool is critical in Singapore – the climate is so humid that being able to have a dunk in the pool really is rather restorative! (There is a second Naumi now but I don’t think it has a pool or is so central – but not sure.)
Naumi is a lovely hotel. Our room was a garden suite, but to be honest we didn’t use the garden – so paying the extra for that wasn’t necessary. The bed was incredibly comfortable and for a city hotel there really was a lot of space with a good lounge area to spread out. Breakfast was buffet style and not bad, I’m not sure that many hotels include breakfast and I don’t think we realised we had it so that was a nice surprise. The best bit of the hotel is the rooftop pool – it isn’t big, but it is cool and you can phone down for bar service at any time.
10 top things to do
Cocktails at Raffles – they set you back about £20 each, but when in Rome… not sure I am a fan of the Singapore Sling but the colonial bar is a must see (peel to their mojito as quick as you can)
Drinks at the Fullerton Post Bar – another expensive spot but then another part of the ex-pat experience. Lovely drinks. We didn’t get a chance to do the Sunday brunch here, but I’ve heard it highly recommended from countless sources
Food – Chijmes is a safe bet for anything and everything, Chinatown to get something a little more ‘real’, downstairs in the shopping centres you can get a tasty bento box of treats for about £5 tops. Boat quay has lots of gaudy looking places that are probably perfectly good, but friends of us met us for supper and took us to one of the upstairs restaurants away from the tourist prices and busyness – Punjab Da Dhaba is a great curry house with a good view over the CBD. Clarke Quay is more hip/expensive dining – every choice and not really that expensive.
Sentosa – quite random, but good to visit. We avoided the theme park bits and headed for the beach. The view of hundreds of ships moored at sea is quite random, but you forget that quickly – it is pretty idyllic. We based ourselves near to the little island that is the southern most point of continental Asia and it was quiet there. There is also a beach bar on Sentosa where you can ‘wave-ride’ on a surf machine, my husband loved this and it’s next to quite a nice beach bar and restaurant.
Equinox restaurant – 76 or so floors up the Stamford Hotel tower – the most epic views of the city. You need to book a table, we went early so we got to see it go dark. This is a bit of a splurge of an evening but was unforgettable. There is also a bar up there which is probably the cheaper option but the view isn’t quite so good as it looks the other way, away from the city.
Orchid gardens and botanic gardens – a complete sanctuary and well worth the traipse over from the nearest train station, well worth a visit and a totally different side to the city – easy to lose hours just pottering around and relaxing on the grass. And you can easily take in Orchard Road shops (and “clubs”) en route to the station
Take a trip to Chinatown at night and Little India in the daytime – stunning places, completely different to each other and a real cultural feast
Marina Bay Sands – wouldn’t want to stay there, or anywhere near it, but pay to go up top and take in the view – incredible vista. We didn’t stop for a drink at the bar on the roof, but it looked good. I don’t think the shopping centre here is the biggest but it is super fancy – it has a river and rowing boats, you won’t find Primark here that’s for sure!
Even at the airport it is quirky – orchids everywhere and an open air bar – interesting plane fuel scent, but a good change from normal airports and lounges!
Didn’t go to night zoo and were there before the newly opened gardens near the Marina Bay Sands – that would be on my list for next time
I imagine Singers is the sort of place people either love or hate – I’m not a big fan of city breaks, but the safety and cleanliness was striking and with such a mixture of different cultures and things to see, and 15 minutes on the train to get to the beach, 3 days of downtime there is almost not enough! Would love to go back!
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