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Swee Lee Social Club
Photograph: Swee Lee Social Club/Facebook

The best lifestyle cafes in Singapore for music and art lovers

Have your coffee and cake with a side of good tunes, artworks, and more

Cam Khalid
Written by
Cam Khalid
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These days, cafes aren’t just about freshly brewed coffee. Some are sharing their digs with gyms and sports hubs, while others are doubling their corners as a record store, art gallery and event space – all for an innovative all-in-one experience, which we're sold. For some coffee and culture, we’ve mapped out the best lifestyle cafes with specially curated art showcases, music paraphernalia, and even art jamming sessions.

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Music

  • Shopping
  • Musical instruments
  • Buona Vista

An audio aficionado’s paradise, Swee Lee’s colossal Star Vista flagship store boasts a diverse range of musical instruments, accessories, and DJ equipment, as well as kitschy novelties, books, and vinyl. But that’s not all – nestled within the store is its signature cafe and social event space better known as Swee Lee Social Club. Besides good choons and intimate live gigs (when possible), the cafe also serves cups of Java from PPP, refreshing beers from Lion Brewery, and tasty pastries from Mother Dough.

  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • Marine Parade

The brainchild of DJ collective Matteblacc, this music space is more than meets the eye. Choice Cuts Goods + Coffee moonlights as a great spot for a fix of vinyl, coffee, craft beers, bagel sarnies, and self-baked tiramisus – a crowd favourite. The crate-digging haven is well stocked with enough urban gold on its shelves ranging from funk and soul to hip-hop and global sounds. It also has a range of band merch to complete your purchase. Prior to the circuit breaker, it had live DJ sets and in-store listening parties at its old digs, which was just a stone’s throw away from its new home.

Art

  • Bars and pubs
  • Bukit Merah

From the creative brains behind the now-closed Kult Kafe comes a cool sanctuary for musicians, design studios, and makers atop Pearl’s Hill – in a former police headquarters, no less. The colourful multi-purpose space champions art and music while dishing out a rotating selection of craft beers, ciders, and even grilled meats like satay. Complete the al fresco dining experience with its signature Kultails including Kult Julep, a refreshing mix of rum, kaffir lime leaf and gula Melaka. In the past, the space has rolled out animation screenings, live music performances, poetry showcases, and open mics.

  • Shopping
  • Grocery stores
  • Bukit Timah

With a mission of redefining dining experiences, Sprmrkt is a culinary-cultural concept that merges food, retail and art into a single, yet multi-faceted, experience. Visit their outlet at Cluny Court, nestled within the picturesque neighbourhood of Bukit Timah, for an afternoon of good food, produce shopping, and cultural immersion. Try its delectable Blackened Fish & Chips for a one-way ticket to Flavour Town. Admire works of art hung up all around the cafe, created both locally and internationally. See something you like? Maybe it's a sign for you to start your very own art collection.

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Homeground Coffee Roasters
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Marine Parade

Hidden in the far east of town, this under-the-radar artisanal coffee shop puts a unique twist to modern cafes. Blending both art and coffee, the art gallery part of the shop has paintings made from coffee – blending in with its otherwise crisp and clean interior. There aren't a lot of options on the menu, just a couple of types of beans done in your preferred style as well seasonal cakes and bakes but that doesn't mean you shouldn't add this place to your café-hopping list.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinatown

This lifestyle cafe in Chinatown effortlessly blends food, retail and art together in one gorgeous, pastel-hued space. Spanning three storeys, with a gallery space on the second floor, the cafe has attention-grabbing paintings by emerging local artists lining its walls. It also gets creative in the kitchen with Asian-inspired fusion dishes like the popular tamago sando and matcha affogato in its menu.

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  • Restaurants
  • Tanjong Pagar

If the cakes at Flor Patisserie aren’t enough to give you a sugar rush, perhaps the kaleidoscopic artworks will. The Duxton Hill cafe is known for its Japanese-French pastries, which are made with premium seasonal ingredients such as white strawberries and Japanese summer peaches. But it also houses a rotating exhibition and retail space featuring local artists, as well as arts and crafts workshops led by local artisans.

  • Restaurants
  • Global
  • Orchard
  • price 2 of 4

While Orchard Road pulses with life, find tranquillity at Arteastiq, a boutique tea house that offers respite from the hustle and bustle below. The name reflects how the concept combines both a premium tea lounge with an art jam studio, encouraging people to gather for a therapeutic experience. After spending the day painting, refuel with your pick from the food menu. You can find classic favourites like squid ink spaghetti and salmon wellington or Asian delights like sambal sea bass and dry laksa or pan-roasted chicken thigh.

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