The ultimate Christmas gift guide 2018
December means it's time to play Secret Santa. Check out our gift ideas – we've got something for everybody, from your arty-farty best friend to your tech-loving baby brother. A word of warning, you might end up shopping for yourself. But hey, the more we give, the more we receive, right? RECOMMENDED: The ultimate guide to Christmas in Singapore and the best shops in Singapore for Christmas decorations
Where to shop for eco-friendly products in Singapore
Singapore's progress towards a zero-waste, plastic-free life is going beyond the the ban of plastic straws and spilling over into groceries, beauty and even fashion finds. Here are some local brands to check out for a meaningful way to shop. RECOMMENDED: The best sustainable dining restaurants in Singapore and 8 easy steps to live more sustainably in Singapore
The best shops for flowers, indoor plants and gardening supplies
If you feel like your home or living space feels a little empty or cold, it's probably because you lack some house plants. There's nothing that a couple or ferns or the beautiful fiddle leaf fig can't fix. Green up your space with a potted plant or two from one of these places. RECOMMENDED: The best farms in Singapore and 8 easy steps to live more sustainably in Singapore
The best sports shops in Singapore for activewear, equipment and accessories
With a plethora of gyms and fitness studios dotted around Singapore, there's really no reason to skip a good workout. But before breaking out a sweat, get kitted out in quality activewear, footwear and accessories, as well as equipment to elevate your sweat sesh. Whether you're looking for a brand new pair of running shoes for an upcoming marathon, a football for the next game of footie, a racket for another tennis match, goggles for a quick dip in the pool or dumbbells for your makeshift home gym, these shops will have you all geared up in a jiffy. RECOMMENDED: Best gyms in Singapore and 7 best activewear stores in Singapore
The best multi-label shops in Singapore
A mecca for shopping addicts, multi-label stores are chock-full of fashion, jewellery, accessories and novelty items by a variety of different brands – international and local – within the four walls of its shopping playground. Warning: it's nearly impossible to leave these hip shops without splurging on new duds and kicks in time for a style update. RECOMMENDED: 50 best shops in Singapore and new shops to check out this month
Best health and beauty services in SingaporeRead more
Singapore's best spas
St Gregory Spa at PARKROYAL on Beach Road
Revamped in 2013, this spa at PARKROYAL on Beach Road’s new annexe features a rooftop pool, a jacuzzi, a bar serving healthy cocktails and spa cuisine, as well as a gym and fitness room that you can enjoy. With a total of seven treatment rooms (including one for couples) available to book, St Gregory at PARKROYAL on Beach Road specialises in skin treatments using clinically trialled skincare products by British brand Elemis, and has in-house Traditional Chinese Medicine physicians and masseurs to diagnose and alleviate most common bodily complaints.Treatment to tryTraditional Chinese tui na massage ($180/60 minutes). Combining the techniques of massage and acupressure as practiced in ancient China, such as pushing, pulling and kneading, the spa therapy session will stimulate key pressure points in the body to relief tension and increase your 'qi' energy.
Step into the lift at The Westin Singapore and you’ll be taken straight up to heaven – the hotel’s Heavenly Spa, that is. Located 35 floors above the ground and boasting spectacular views of the CBD and Chinatown, it’s definitely not a bad place to clear your head and unwind. The spa has six rooms – one of which is a couple suite – that are decked out with minimalistic décor in soothing, earthy tones. Guests are advised to arrive early to take advantage of the other facilities in the gender-segregated changing rooms, including an Experiential Shower (choose between the hot ‘tropical’ and cold ‘glacier’ modes), a steam room, and a whirlpool filled with very hot water. After your treatment, feel free to stay awhile longer in the relaxation lounge to nibble on dried fruits and nuts while browsing through magazines. Treatment to try Lavender’s often regarded for its relaxing properties, and the 90-minute Lavender Spa Journey ($250/single and $450/couple) does just that. It starts with a hydrating scrub made from pure sweet almond oil, natural sea salt and therapeutic lavender essential oils aimed at improving circulation. You’re then given time in-between to rinse yourself in the adjoining shower, before being treated to a 60-minute massage with yet more lavender oil. The scent never overpowers, though, and your masseuse adjusts the pressure of the massage accordingly to ease bodily tension and encourage complete relaxation of the mind. In fact, you’ll likely drift to sleep and awaken feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. Or pick the spa’s signature Revitalize Massage ($160/60 mins; $220/90 mins) that combines techniques drawn from three cultures – Chinese, Malay and Indian, in that order. The masseuse starts off by releasing the tension in the shoulders and back by targeting meridian points, followed by a gentle abdomen massage. To round off the treatment, a metallic Kansu bowl is rolled around your soles, which is said to dispel body heat, leaving you feeling both relaxed and energised.
Remede Spa at The St Regis
Decadence is the name of the game at Remede’s first branch in Asia. Located on the hushed end of the Orchard Road stretch, this place takes the relaxing experience up a notch with exotic teas, bubbly champagnes and floral-scented chocolates from the hotel’s LaBrezza restaurant. Filled with steam chambers, a Finnish dry heat sauna, a Vichy shower, a hydro massage pool and a peaceful outdoor hot whirlpool. What it lacks in space for outdoor cabanas and sweeping pools like other spas, it makes up for with indulgent amenities. There's the Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio by Bastian Gonzalez (for you to pamper your nails as well – it’s worth it, trust us), and the spa’s treatments include body scrubs, cooling facials, customised massages or facials, body wraps and more. If you're thinking of a staycation, they have packages available (depending on time with price upon request), which include spa treatments or complimentary vouchers. Treatment to try St Regis Signature Warm Rassoul Wrap ($230/one hour). Start off with a body brush, then lather up with warm, orange blossom-scented Rassoul – a type of mud renowned for mineralising and moisturising effects. As you relax on a warm marble slab while wrapped in cotton muslin, you’ll be treated to a gentle argan oil facial massage, followed by a Vichy shower.
Definitely one of the funkier spas we've checked out, the rainforest-inspired AWAY Spa, in W Singapore, oozes trendiness and elegance all at once. The massage rooms are bathed in a unique, soothing blue light, and each comes with its own private outdoor shower. Guests can also make use of the many facilities, such as the warm vitality pool in the decompression area (complete with a hydro back bench and jet features) and a fun, experiential shower called Aqua, which has options like Tropical Storm and Cold Mist – with various water settings and light effects to match. Choose from treatments like customised massages, the luminous crystal facial, a bust-reviving therapy to lift, firm and tone, a cleansing and exfoliating facial for men, and even a tension-easing massage for sports buffs. Treatment to try AWAY Body Treat ($380/two hours). Using products from UK-based company Ila-Spa, the treatment starts off with an exfoliating body scrub with Himalayan salt crystals and a body mud wrap, while the second part involves an invigorating tension-reducing massage. A special soundtrack by Ila is played throughout the session to complement the long, gentle movements of the masseuse.
The 10,000-square-metre space houses a series of hot and cold facilities, including a Japanese-style onsen set on the edge of small jungle, a crystal steam room, gymnasium, yoga studio and Tangerine serving up healthy cuisine by chef Ian Kittichai. On top of soothing massages and stress-relief rituals, ESPA's staff include a naturopath trained to deliver useful advice on living and eating healthier, as well as perky gym trainers who conduct classes in their impressively kitted-out workout room. Patrons who purchase treatments worth more than $200 are welcome to use the various pools and exercise classes. ESPA's after-treatment facilities are also unrivalled. Thoughtful extras like the special spin dryer that whirls your swim suit dry, and the sleeping room with pods to take a nap in after your treatment – don't you hate abruptly navigating the bustle of public transportation after a massage? – are compelling arguments to go to ESPA and make a whole day of it. Treatment to try The Day Spa Retreat ($380/Mon-Thu, $450/Fri-Sun). Centred around themes 'Fit for Life', 'Weight Management', 'Intro to Detox' and 'De-stress', this package is a good primer to ESPA as a lifestyle destination, and includes a consultation with a lifestyle or fitness staff member and two treatments: one 60 minutes and another 45 minutes long (try the Indulgence Hammam Ritual, a Turkish bath ritual in Singapore’s first hammam steam facility). The package also includes a two-course meal at Tangerine, with a menu that recommends dishes based on the retreat you’ve enjoyed.
Auriga Spa at Capella
Nourish your body, mind and spirit at this award-winning spa nestled in the quiet confines of Capella Singapore. Keeping a sharp focus on all things natural and organic – it’s the only spa to use products from The Organic Pharmacy – the space features nine cosy treatment rooms (each with a private alfresco garden), two of which are couple suites and one that offers traditional Asian remedies. After your session, you can wander around (the staff are extremely polite and keep out of your way to give you privacy) to use the other facilities. The spa's hot and cold wet facilities include a herbal steam room, an ice fountain to cool down after a heated treatment, an experience shower, and a calming vitality pool for neck and full-body water massages. Other facilities include a relaxation lounge with unique 'sound wave' chairs (where you can recline, sip tea, munch on nuts and read magazines for as long as you want) and a fitness centre with private instructors on hand. Treatments include stimulating Balinese, Thai and Shiatsu massages, couple spa experiences, soothing therapies for mums-to-be, body-sculpting sessions, body exfoliations and wraps, facials, manicures, and many more. Treatment to try Senja Sunyi Massage ($250/90 mins). This soothing treatment uses rose and pomegranate body balm plus warm ‘moon stones’ with tui na and Javanese massage techniques to untangle your nerves and remove muscle kinks. You can ask for light, medium or strong pressure, and your therapist will gladly oblige.
Where to work out
The best rock climbing gyms in Singapore
Boulder Movement My arms are sore and my thighs are quivering. Yet I can’t let go. Not unless I want to free fall three metres or so on to the, admittedly, cushy crash pad below – but I’m too chicken to do that. I’m two-thirds through a bouldering problem in Boulder Movement ($30/single entry, $148/month) and, despite the aches, I can already see the appeal of this sport. Bouldering is very much like indoor rock climbing, except the former is stripped down to its raw essentials – there are no ropes and harnesses involved. All you need is a good pair of climbing shoes, a bag of chalk, some fundamental techniques and a whole lot of guts to take on a bouldering problem (the path a climber has to take in order to complete the climb). Conveniently located in the CBD, Boulder Movement is the newest entry into the burgeoning climbing gym scene in Singapore. Founded by climbing enthusiasts Jansen Ko, Lwee Jia Wei and Joe Fu, the gym positions itself as a beginner-friendly bouldering-only facility with over 30 metres of wall, lengthwise. The walls are no higher than four metres –which sounds short, but trust me, it’s certainly high enough to experience the thrill of climbing without any safety gears. Bouldering problems are categorised by different climbing abilities: white tags BM1-6 are for beginners, blue tags BM6-16 for intermediates and red tags BM17-25 are for the advanced – a section of the wall is refreshed every two weeks so you’ll never get bored. First-timers can join
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5 books written by Singaporean authors you should read
Set aside your Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman novels and discover a brave new world of Singaporean literature. In line with this month’s #BuySingLit movement, here are 5 new(ish) books by up-and-coming homegrown writers to add to your neverending collection