Nov 6, 2020
WHETHER OR NOT A TRAVEL BUBBLE to Hong Kong opens this month, the fact is, most residents of Singapore will remain confined within our own 700 square kilometers for the foreseeable future. Granted, there are worse places to be stuck during Covid than a modern city with plenty of green space and year-round temperatures in the high-twenties to mid-thirties. Nevertheless, after seven months under varying degrees of homebound lockdown, many stir-crazy Singaporeans are itching for a staycation, to spend a night somewhere (anywhere!) but their own beds.
Well, maybe not anywhere. We started at the top of the heap, and picked five high-end hotels that make for true getaways—even if they’re only a half-hour taxi trip from home. Do you want old-world, high-rise or island idyll? We’ve done the research so all you have to do is make the ressie(s).
Globally, St. Regis hotels pride themselves on providing personal butler service for which no request is too expansive or extraordinary to fulfill. This makes the St. Regis Singapore the ideal spot to carry off a grand romantic gesture. In the past, guests have had rooms filled with roses or balloons, or baths filled with champagne—heartwarming acts of pitching woo, to be sure, but far more sensibly committed in a space where someone else is responsible for organization and cleanup.
Best summed up with the word ‘plush’ (picture acres of marble, lashings of velvet, burgundy, oversized crystal chandeliers and gilt aplenty), the décor here exudes classic romance. Booking a transfer to and from the hotel in one of the St Regis’s bronze Bentley Continentals is certain to charm that special someone. And if the mood takes you to pump up the romance volume to 11—bended-knee proposal level—nearby Orchard Road has got you covered. From Cartier to Tiffany to Graff, Chopard to Harry Winston to Van Cleef, diamonds are forever… and aplenty.
Above four photos courtesy of The St. Regis Singapore.
We recommend checking in on a Saturday and simply remaining on-premise at the St. Regis, dining at the excellent Chinese restaurant Yan Ting, then retiring to your room for a snuggle in some of the most sumptuous bedding you’ll ever encounter. Skip breakfast the next morning, awaken at leisure, and head straight for the Sunday champagne brunch: the St Regis’s is the best in town. It’s served a la carte at your table, which is a blessing in several senses. Even before Covid, buffets were a microbe minefield—and awfully exhausting after that sixth or seventh glass of champagne.
The Deal: The St. Regis offers a romantic getaway package from SG$540 per night including breakfast, an SG$50 dining or spa credit and a welcome bottle of champagne.
More information here.
Its design was divisive when the building first went up, but in the decade since, Singapore’s most distinctive skyscraper has become an iconic landmark. Before the coronavirus crisis, spending a night in the 2,500-room hotel at Marina Bay Sands (a.k.a. MBS) had become an obligatory item on the to-do list for international visitors. With tourists now absent, locals have been seizing the chance to stay at the triple-towered, tongue-topped structure.
The chance to swim (and snap a selfie) at the hotel’s legendary 57th-floor rooftop infinity pool forms no small part of its appeal. But fair warning, due to social distancing restrictions, guests are allowed only one hour per person per room poolside each day of their stay, and slots must be booked in advance. Limited timings are available, meaning you do need to get in early with a reservation or risk missing out on your IG gold.
This may frustrate some but you’ve got to hand it to MBS—they’re being incredibly particular about maintaining hygiene standards everywhere. After each hourly session is completed, the pool and its surrounds are cleaned and sanitized. In your room, you’ll find every item guaranteed clean and disinfected, hermetically sealed in tamper-proof plastic. Under normal circumstances, it’d be a germophobe’s paradise. (Naomi Campbell, come on down!) During the current crisis, it merely displays the utmost care for guests’ safety and well-being.
Marina Bay Sands is hands-down the best place to shop in Singapore, with everything you could want in one location. There’s an A to Z of luxuries (literally, Audemars Piguet to Zegna), and the brand new floating dome-shaped Apple shop is a must visit. Obviously, a limited number of shoppers are allowed into this iTemple at any one time, individually accompanied while browsing by an Apple ‘Specialist,’ so make a booking online or potentially face a fearsome queue.
Above five photos courtesy of Marina Bay Sands.
The MBS complex also contains some of Singapore’s best restaurants, a few favorites being chef Daniel Boulud’s excellent French brasserie db Bistro, visually arresting nouveau-Asian restaurant Koma, and luxe steakhouse Cut. To enjoy the same views you’d get from the infinity pool while supping on outstanding New York-style Italian fare, make a beeline for Lavo. Meanwhile, if you’re here on a family staycay, blow the kids’ lids with mammoth milkshakes at Black Tap.
Our MBS advice in a nutshell: Check in, shop it up and chow down. Oh, and don’t forget, there’s a casino here, too, if you fancy a flutter.
The Deal: Marina Bay Sands offers various staycation packages. Starting from SG$319 per night, the Joyous Family Staycation package includes nightly restaurant credits of SG$60, complimentary parking and entry to the ArtScience Museum, among other perks.
More information here.
Though Singapore is a tropical island with a reputation as an exotic getaway destination, strangely, seaside resorts in close proximity to a beach are rare as a hen’s dentures in these parts. The W Sentosa is by many measures the best in that category this country has to offer.
Overlooking the yachts moored at Sentosa Cove, the W is just a few minutes away from Tanjong Beach. Sure, it’s no Maldivian idyll, but Tanjong provides as good a palm-lined strip of sandy shoreline as you’ll find in Singapore. It’s also home to Tanjong Beach Club, the champagne-fueled weekend debauch frequented by perma-tanned bikini babes and tattooed, Speedo-fied dudes.
One of the largest in Singapore, the W’s pool is usually quite the party spot in its own right. Now, with social distancing measures regulating the number of bathers at any one time and the swim-up bar closed, it is a family-friendly oasis, waterslide and all. Bookings are required for two-hour pool sessions but unless you’re visiting during school holidays, access shouldn’t be too difficult to secure. Facilities are open 24 hours, so you could always opt for a nocturnal dip.
Though the W brand was built on in-house DJs and a millennial-friendly nightlife vibe, this is actually one of the best family staycation destinations in Singapore. That’s thanks in no small part to the fact that the W offers several room configurations that will easily accommodate two parents and two young kids. (Something more hotels would be wise to look at doing, with the business-traveler market nearly non-existent.) A ‘Wonderful’ room with two double beds should do the trick, but a one-bedroom ‘Marvelous’ suite with a corner balcony and view across the marina and pool is an even better idea.
Above four photos courtesy of W Sentosa.
The Deal: Family stays at the W Sentosa for two adults and two children under 12 start from SG$439 per night, including breakfast and all kids’ meals. Couples packages including a welcome bottle of champagne start at SG$459 per night.
More information here.
It’s not uncommon for Singapore dwellers to dream of living in one of the country’s grand 19th-century black-and-white houses. But with rents on these government-owned historic structures starting around a quarter-million dollars a year, few but the most privileged have the opportunity to make the dream come true.
With its Colonial Manor villas, Capella Sentosa can bring the fantasy to life—even if only for a night or two. Originally constructed to house British military officers in the 1880s, these bungalows are beautifully decorated in a contemporary-classic, Chinoiserie chic that harks back to the early days of Singapore while containing all modern conveniences. With three bedrooms, a private pool and lush gardens, the villas accommodate up to seven people, and come complete with a car and driver, daily chef service, babysitting and complimentary limousine transfer service to pick you up and take you (reluctantly) back home.
The resort’s two Colonial Manors are as sought-after as you’d imagine. But fret not if you fail to secure a booking (or to have a plump enough bank account) for one of these ye olde gems; Capella also offers the more plentiful Contemporary Manors, designed by leading British architect Lord Norman Foster. Their ranch house-style layouts with large windows across every room fronting the private pools make for homey #wfh (work from hotel) options.
Above three photos courtesy of Capella Singapore.
All the more so when you start the day with breakfast a la carte and al fresco facing the two tropical-greenery-ensconced tiered pools, and wrap things up to the tune of Bosun’s Call, the complimentary sunset cocktail ritual at which the appearance of the in-house peacocks is as reliable as the rum.
Family-wise, Capella is for the petite sophisticate, and their new family-wide staycation experiences have been crafted classily accordingly. Hands-on DIY-boba tea, -dim sum, -cocktail, -Peranakan pattern, and -flower arranging classes are among the several options to get your creative juices flowing.
The Deal: Capella offers the Manor Experience with a three-bedroom villa including an array of extras such as massages, yoga, personal chef and villa host, and 20 percent discounts at the resort’s restaurants, priced from SG$15,000 per night.
More information here.
Singapore’s grand dame was looking a little tired for a while there, with décor dating back to the days when Michael Jackson and Princess Diana patronized the Presidential Suite (separately, we might add). But following an extensive yet sensitive, spare-no-expense two-year renovation led by New York design firm Champalimaud, Raffles is back—and she’s more ravishing than ever.
Despite Singapore’s current lack of tourists, Raffles’s 115 suites have been in high demand ever since staycations were officially sanctioned in July. In fact, there’s been scarcely a vacancy; never mind that the hotel’s rates are among the highest on the island.
Given the hotel’s relatively small number of rooms for a property of this scale, beyond the quiet implementation of temperature screening and contact-tracking check-ins (experienced absolutely everywhere), Covid safety measures are hardly noticeable. At Raffles, service has historically been careful and unobtrusive, seating was always graciously spaced and the guests’ shared areas blessedly uncrowded. Under the ‘new normal,’ none of that has changed.
Another thing that has not altered since the 19th century, when author Rudyard Kipling commended the excellence of the food here, is the standard of dining on offer at Raffles. Worthy of highlighting is lobby-side flagship La Dame de Pic, which serves exquisite haute cuisine in elegantly ladylike surrounds (all soft, dusky pink). However if you fancy more robust, honest-to-goodness feasting in no less a luxurious setting, we recommend going omakase-style with veteran French chef Rémy Lefebvre at Butcher’s Block restaurant. At this upmarket carnivore’s nirvana, Rémy will be pleased to meet you—and bring meat to please you.
Raffles has to be the best foodie staycay option in town, given the volume of terrific culinary options within the hotel and in the vicinity. The Michelin-starred Jaan, where chef Kirk Westaway is progressively reinventing seasonal British cuisine, is just across the street at sibling property, Swissotel The Stamford. So too is Mikuni, among the best Japanese restaurants in Singapore. One of the city’s finest Chinese restaurants, Lei Garden, is also moments away, in historic former convent Chijmes.
Famously, they once shot a tiger here. Today, Raffles remains highly attractive to ravenous creatures of a different sort.
Top five photos courtesy of Raffles Hotel.
The Deal: Rates for a two-night stay in a Palm Court Suite at Raffles Hotel start from SG$855 per night, including daily breakfast for two, 15 percent discount at select restaurants, bars and the spa, plus complimentary Afternoon Tea at The Grand Lobby for two; available Sunday to Wednesday.
More information here.