This article first appeared in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of World Gaming magazine.
With 1.2 million hotel room nights available in any given month and a local population of just 5.5 million people, you would assume choosing a room in Singapore would be easy. But with supply growing about nine percent every year and an average occupancy of over 85 percent, Singapore’s hotel scene is only destined to get even hotter over the next few years.
I recommend selecting accommodation based on your intended activities whilst visiting this modern island state. With the city organised into districts – shopping, financial, clubbing and heritage – having a hotel nearby when you need some time out is hugely beneficial.
However, another great option is staying at one of the boutique hotels that has emerged in recent times. These smaller operations located in restored shop houses or previously derelict government buildings have injected a new vibrancy for visitors. They not only offer stylish accommodation without the international chain prices but are often attached to hip and happening bars and restaurants. These are a welcome addition to a market which was once polarized between low level budget offerings and high end establishments.
With so many great hotels, narrowing the list to the best five means a number of my favorites still miss the cut, but the ones below have that little extra something that makes them stand out from the crowd.
1. Capella. Situated on Sentosa Island and anchored in former colonial buildings, the perfect fusion of old and new means this much awarded property has rightly earned its place at the top of my list. Amongst the spacious, well-appointed rooms, Michelin star dining, old school bar, spa and a library there is one feature which stands out – the understated yet impeccable service. With no designated check in or check out time you are made to feel like you are an owner rather than just a visitor.
2. Mandarin Oriental. Based in the Marina Square/Suntec area, the Mandarin Oriental Singapore once again lives up to everything expected from a Mandarin property and more. Excellent restaurants and an amazing Spa and a pool area which offers the perfect relaxation space at any time of the day or night, the Mandarin Oriental offers tranquillity in the middle of the city. The Dolce Vita Poolside Italian restaurant is a must visit.
3. St Regis. Located at the start of Orchard Road, the St Regis is ideally located between the diplomatic enclave, the botanical gardens and more shopping malls than there are months in the year. From the Bentley transfer to the amazing art collection, St Regis offers opulence and luxury at every turn. My personal highlight is the Astor Bar with its perfectly crafted and appropriately alcoholic cocktails which you can enjoy while watching the live singer who performs there most nights of the week. Sit back and pretend you’re in 1920s New York!
4. Marina Bay Sands. Dominating the City Skyline since opening in 2010, this modern 2,500 room hotel is the centrepiece of the Marina Bay entertainment district. Bordered by Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay and the Marina Bay financial district, Marina Bay Sands has everything – shops, a casino, an art museum and convention centre. Hosting numerous fine dining restaurants and some of the city’s coolest nightclubs, this is a true integrated resort. The must-do activity when staying at Marina Bay Sands is a swim in the rooftop infinity edge pool. This water feature spans the deck of the boat-shaped crown, has unsurpassed views of Singapore and comes with drinks served straight to your pool water bed! Just ensure you have applied plenty of sun screen!
5. Ritz-Carlton Millenia. Opened in 1996 in time for the new millenia, hence the name, Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore is known for one thing above all others – professional service. From the welcome, check in and even the trip up to your room, this place is the gold standard. Always fresh and inviting, luxury is infused into the property at every turn, yet generally done so subtly. An opportunity to visit the club floor will ensure you never want to leave with the canapés and drinks served in style on the finest china.