Many of us have friends from out of town who come to visit, who prefer less touristy places to stay. So instead of exorbitant hotels, here are five more authentic, less pricey accommodation options, where guests are likely to see more of the Singapore spirit.
5footway Inn- Project Bugis is all shiny white, minimalist cool, and surrounded by the hip shophouse hangouts of Kampong Glam and Arab Street—shisha joints, indie boutiques, music venues like Blu Jaz Cafe, and a range of restaurants and cafes serving everything from Middle Eastern to Japanese to Swedish suisine. This hostel is also about 15–20 minutes’ walk from bustling malls Bugis Junction and Bugis+. The hostel itself comes complete with a beautiful white lobby which doubles as an Atelier, where artists from different countries exhibit or put up the odd performance. Guests might even get to meet the artists, thanks to the ‘Art For a Bed’ initiative where selected artists get discounted stays.
5footway Inn- Project Bugis | Address: 8 Aliwal Street | Tel: 64661811 | Rates: From $26/bed/night in shared dorms; $66/room/night for private dorms
For a stay that screams Singapore, a great place is the multi-award-winning Five Stones Hostel—the first boutique hostel in Singapore to have themed rooms designed by local artists. It’s preposterously close to the shopping and nightspots of Clarke Quay, walking distance from the charms of Chinatown, and a very short stroll from the Christmas lights of City Hall.
Five Stones Hostel | Address: #02-01, 61 South Bridge Road | Tel: 65355607 | Rates: $30–$37/bed/night in shared dorms; $105–$110/room/night for private rooms
Especially fabulous for visitors on layovers is the new Capri by Fraser. It’s linked to the new Changi City Mall—complete with outlet shopping, a roof garden and kids’ waterpark; is walking distance from exhibition venue Singapore Expo, and provides regular airport shuttles. The hotel itself is so high-tech it hurts, with everything from a free iMac station, to a submerged hydro-treadmill in the pool. Even laundry rooms are equipped with iPads, Xbox Kinect, foosball tables, TRX trainers and more. If that’s not enough, the hotel loans guests TREK bikes to explore Changi’s more scenic side, including the beach and Changi Village, famous for food (and brazen streetwalkers). The months-old hotel is still offering many promotions including a Staycation package, for even Singaporeans to check it out.
Capri by Fraser | Address: 3 Changi Business Park Central 1 | Tel: 69339833 | Rates: From $195/room/night with current promotions
Orchard Road is fine and dandy, but sometimes you want your visitors to see local life, like Punggol’s Marina, Serangoon Gardens’ Chomp Chomp, or a HDB estate. Find stayover locations in hospitable homes all over the island on Airbnb Singapore, a website where Singapore residents offer rooms or even entire apartments for short-term let. Prices can often be cheaper than even hostel rates, and guests often get to chat with generally friendly hosts who’ll be happy to introduce heartland haunts and famous coffeeshop stalls.
www.airbnb.com/s/Singapore--Singapore | Various locations and prices.
If your guests are up to roughing it, suggest that they camp on the beaches of Pulau Ubin. While you require a permit and have to pay a fee to camp in most parts of Singapore, on Noordin or Maman beaches of Pulau Ubin you only need to let the island’s police officers know where on the beach you are camping. Still relatively untouched by urbanisation, Ubin boasts the Chek Jawa Wetlands and its awesome biodiversity, old shrines and temples, daredevil bike trails to be carefully navigated on bikes available for rent, and a view of the stars at night relatively unobscured by citylights.
Also read: Guide to camping in Singapore
Jo Tan is a professional freelancer whose cv includes wedding singing and selling fish. She actually likes salads and tofu, and doesn't eat chicken because she had two as pets (their names were Bubbles and Joveranter Cat.) However, she is not a hippie because she is bad at yoga and like most of Singapore, expects to slave her whole life to pay for her new HDB flat.