Good for: living in a Wes Anderson-esque world
The Great Madras is set in Singapore, in the Little India district. If you're planning on taking a million pictures during your staycation, this pastel-hued, tropical dream hotel with a million Instagrammable corners. Rooms are on the smaller side but they are beautifully done up and cosy. Pop down to the pool for a few laps before tucking into Catalan cuisine at hotel restaurant, The Great Mischief.
Good for: a secret hideaway
First established in 1927, this boutique hotel opens its doors once again in 2012 with retro furnishings and nostalgic fittings from the early 1900s. Sitting on vibrant Jalan Besar Road, Kam Leng Hotel provides free local calls, free wired internet and free Wi-Fi. Decorated in soothing pastel colours, the air-conditioned rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, personal safe and free bottled water. En suite bathrooms come with a shower and free toiletries. Kam Leng Hotel is a short 10-minute walk from colourful Little India and the 24-hour Mustafa Shopping Centre.
Good for: eclectic chic
This is one snazzy to hotel to check into. Taking its cue from the surrounding arts and cultural district, Hotel G sports an unorthodox mashup of industrial, vintage and bohemian elements with pizzazz – even the gym looks like a vintage bachelor pad. The rooms are intimate but cleverly planned and thanks to the quirky details and the pampering Metis bath amenities, it really feels like a boutique stay. And for the food-obsessed types, the F&B perks here are a real boon. You get dining credits that you can redeem at either Ginett – one of the most affordably priced wine bars around – or at American burger bar, 25 Degrees (so-called as that's the difference in temperature between a rare and well-done burger).
Good for: minimalist vibes
Lloyd’s Inn Orchard Road address puts it just a little beyond the perimeters of the famous shopping district, and less than a hundred metres from the infamous Oxley house – the former residence of Lee Kuan Yew. The concrete-clad structure looks avant-garde next to the surrounding older, conventional architecture but step inside and you’ll find it lush and welcoming. The rooms have eight style varieties, bathed in soft natural light and with a Nordic minimalism, which feel like we're being whisked away to a cosy Airbnb in Europe. The facilities aren’t grand, but the roof terrace and foliage-lined dipping pool are idyllic enough to lull you into serenity – if you can stop Instagramming, that is.
Good for: a dash of the millennial
Achingly cool, M Social is all futuristic neon colours, steel and mirrored furnishings in the distinctive, flamboyant design style of Philippe Starck. The ceilings are all double height, which means that even the smaller lead-in rooms (industry jargon for a hotel’s most affordable category) feel plush, not oppressive. The space is tight but well thought-out, and the bed’s too comfy to leave. There’s a small pool and gym you can hit up, but the appeal of a stay around Robertson Quay is to bask in the breezy laidback charm of its riverside restaurants and Aussie-styled cafes.
Good for: one-of-a-kind rooms
Chic and unflinchingly fashion-forward, Wanderlust is a member of the prolific The Unlisted Collections, one of Singapore’s most well-regarded boutique hotel groups. But what does that mean for the average tourist? Well expect to be in awe, because not only are there good facilities - but unlike other cheap crashpads, design takes the forefront here. As you climb each floor of the hotel, you'll see the casually extravagant design shift from theme to theme, courtesy of various award-winning agencies. Particularly intriguing are the 2D pop-up inspired 'Mono' rooms (complete with glass bathtub) and the appropriately dubbed (and very cool) 'whimsical' sci-fi rooms, where you can sleep amongst the stars. For the aesthetic cherry on top, even the outside of the building gets in on the design action - with a central stripe that recalls floral ribbon. When all of that's on offer, it's easy to see why the prices at Wanderlust are a pretty sweet deal - and too good to pass up. And if you get peckish make a quick dash to one of the local eateries - there’s a great mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay open throughout the night.
Good for: a collision of heritage and colour
Each Indigo hotel around the globe reflects the neighbourhood in which it’s situated – and in storied Joo Chiat, lined with heritage buildings, the boutique space offers a culturally rich experience. A rooftop infinity pool and a 24-hour fitness centre are the basics everyone expects but what sets Hotel Indigo apart is the Indigo Pavilion. Perhaps in a bid to invoke the ‘kampong spirit’ that once flowed through the district, the pavilion is a communal space designed to mimic a living room. It’s set with water jars, a lantern-inspired chandelier and a ‘mama shop’ hawking literature from local brand BooksActually, among others.
Good for: tiny but comfy
We’ll be frank. Hotel Clover The Arts has the most compact quarters compared to other hotels on this list. But it is comfortable and clean, and the colourful murals that adorn each room – every room is painted by a local artist or art student – give it a cheerful countenance. And of course, the location is superb. It’s right next to the Civic District and the watering holes that line Boat Quay, steps away from 28HKS – the hottest speakeasy in Singapore – and minutes from the clubs at Clarke Quay. Guests have access to the dipping pool at the sister hotel around the corner too. Just remember to pack light.
Good for: a fully-fledged business hotel
As far as budget stays go, Mercure Singapore Bugis ticks all the right boxes. It’s centrally located and close to three MRT stations: Bugis, Bencoolen and Bras Basah. The rooms are fairly spacious and even loft rooms are available for under $200. As for facilities, there’s a small business centre and a good-sized infinity lap pool, jacuzzi and gym. What we particularly like is that there are numerous pockets of space – a breezy courtyard, a roof terrace, and a lobby lounge – to unwind at after a long day. The Albert Court Market & Food Centre is also right behind for some superb and wallet-friendly hawker fare.
Good for: staying in Singapore's trendiest dining enclave
The Keong Saik precinct that Naumi Liora sits in is one of the edgiest neighbourhood, flush with some of Singapore’s trendiest restaurants and bars: Esquina, Neon Pigeon, Flagship, to name a few. That, and the romance of staying in a heritage shophouse-turned-hotel means you’re really getting a steal. The rooms aren’t huge but there’s sufficient space for your luggage and a desk and most importantly, the beds are incredibly comfy. The complimentary self-service tea-and-coffee counter at the lobby is also convenient. And to reward direct room bookings, they’ve got free passes to Zouk – Singapore's hottest nightclub. If you’re hankering for local fare, there’s the famous Smith Street hawker centre, and numerous old-school eateries in the ‘hood.