City Hall and Bugis
It's not dubbed the arts and heritage district for naught. The City Hall precinct has perhaps the highest concentration of museums and monuments – including heavyweights such as the National Museum, the Armenian Church, and the Peranakan Museum – and encompasses three arts institutes. The wealth of beautifully preserved architecture also explains why you might keep running into couples out and about for their wedding photoshoots.
At the fringe of the Arts & Heritage District is Folklore, where chef Damian D'Silva tirelessly devotes himself to preserving Singapore's heritage foods. The menu is a confluence of Chinese, Malay, Peranakan, Eurasian, and Indian cuisines – food that he grew up with – and everything is made from scratch to the same exacting standards his grandparents held. You'll find timeless classics such as Peranakan chap chye (a medley of vegetables braised in a pork-and-prawn stock) and beef cheek rendang (fork-tender and suffused with heady depth), as well as lesser-known oldies like singgang (a Eurasian dish of deboned wolf herring cooked in a mildly spicy paste). Whatever it is, don't leave Folklore without relishing D'Silva's signature sambal buah keluak fried rice. Portions run hefty, so come in a big group and order up a storm to share.
This grand lobby bar single-handedly planted the Singapore flag on the global bar map when it opened in 2017 with its collection of more than 1,000 gin expressions – the largest in the world. Artesian alumnus Roman Foltan leads the cocktail front, shaking and stirring classics from the Jazz Age. Its Champagne collection is nothing to snub your nose at either: Atlas houses one of the most comprehensive portfolios, within Southeast Asia, of bubblies and other fine vinos from the Champagne region.
National Design Centre
A creative hub for Singapore's burgeoning design scene, the National Design Centre frequently plays host to all manners of design-centric events, from exhibitions and symposiums to workshops and pop-up markets. The bulk of its activities are open to members of the public. The centre also runs guided tours to introduce the history of the building and the programmes that are on-going. Keepers, a multi-concept store that champions local designers and artisans, has its flagship store on the ground floor – perfect for a bit of souvenir shopping.
JW Marriot Singapore South Beach
The sprawling compound of the JW Marriott is an amalgamation of heritage and eco-conscious modernity, and the best way to appreciate the historical significance of the architecture – and the artworks that enliven the hotel – is to request for a complimentary tour of the grounds. Guest rooms are generously sized (all with a luxuriously large bathtub) and quirkily decorated. There are not one, but two roof-top pools where you can really soak up a 360 view of city. If you're holidaying with girlfriends, opt for the women-only floor which nets you extra amenities such as hair straighteners, facial steamer, and pedicure sets.
If you do just one thing...
Wander around Kampong Glam (bound by Ophir Road and Jalan Sultan Road). Once home to Singapore's Muslim immigrants, the precinct is now achingly trendy with vintage-inspired boutiques, cafes and dessert parlours. Watch where you walk though – there's always a hipster posing for an #ootd at every turn.