As if blasted by a wave of hairdryers, we were greeted by a thick, tropical heatwave upon arrival in Singapore. As our taxi driver explained, “there are just two seasons here: summer and summer-er”. Chuckling, he grinned and loaded our luggage into the cab before wiping his brow.
Ready to embrace the summer-er season, we spent the next few days exploring the city. I fully expected the multitude of sleek glass skyscrapers souring into the clouds: a thriving financial hub, alive day and night yet what surprised me was the clash of cultures. Both modern and traditional architecture was interspersed sporadically across the city and surrounding suburbs. Charm oozed from every street corner of China Town and trickled down Orchard Road, the ‘Oxford Street’ of this Asian city.
During our time in Singapore we had the privilege to stay at both The Intercontinental Hotel and Hotel Indigo, experiencing two completely unique locations, one in the heart of the city and the other in a residential district named, Katong.
The Intercontinental was central living at its finest. Located just a few minutes from Marina Bay and the financial district, the hotel is a prime base for exploration. There’s even an adjacent mall with direct access to the Bugis train station for added convenience.
403 guest rooms from executive to suites boast scenic views of the cityscape from their Peranakan inspired interiors. Each room is equipped with a smartphone, loaded with 4G data as well as local calls to 20 countries. This was a huge luxury and made travelling around the city even easier and more enjoyable. Better still, if you are fortunate enough to experience Intercontinental Club, you’ll find an ‘a la carte’ breakfast menu in the morning proceeded by afternoon tea in a tastefully displayed library full of Peranakan literature.
Home to 6 unique restaurants serving delicious delicacies from European cuisine to Cantonese at Man Fu Yuan, the hotel has become a destination in itself for tourists and locals alike. With high speed internet, an outdoor swimming pool and fitness center, I hardly wanted to leave!
Of course, I was most excited about experiencing the Asian coffee scene. I had heard numerous positive reports but after stumbling upon a coffee roaster down a backstreet of Mumbai a few days before arriving, my expectations had been raised.
Crisp, clean, bright lines curated the minimalist interiors I had hoped for. Having opened just 6 months prior to our visit, ‘Apartment coffee’ was quite simply the café of my dreams. Executed with pure excellence, the coffee tasted like it had been brewed with love… which it had. After a few days in Singapore you’d be forgiven for believing this level of perfection within the coffee industry was a normality.
Another favourite café worthy of note is Nylon Cofee Roasters, a tiny space hidden beneath a residential block of flats and very easily missed. No frills, no seating: the coffee spoke for itself. For brunch and breakfast options, Common Man Roasters and Five Oars Coffee Roasters are an ideal option with extensive food menus and well roasted, balanced coffee. It’s fair to say in Singapore, you are spoilt for choice.
For our final night in Singapore we stayed at Hotel Indigo, a lifestyle hotel in the Katong neighbourhood. Much like The Intercontinental, Hotel Indigo’s design is hugely inspired by it’s surroundings with nods to the Peranakan heritage on every turn. The spacious, open-plan rooms are beautifully designed with feature walls of tile, all drawing the eye to endless views towards the city. The best view is found on the rooftop, complete with an infinity pool and fitness centre.
‘Mumas stall’ is a common term used in Perankan culture for local shops selling snacks and small goods. It’s no surprise then, that a miniature stall sat proud in the hotel lobby. It was only on the final day when I had ran out of battery that I took full advantage of the stall, renting a power bank for the day; such a thoughtful and convenient idea for a lifestyle hotel!
The neighbourhood itself is vibrant, bustling and busy with locals. Some of the best food and drink we tasted was in this neighbourhood, such as Tomi Sushi. Not only is it still close to the city, Katong is situated right between the airport and the city centre, an ideal location to begin or end a visit.
I very much expected the bright, clean interiors along with pristine roads and walkways but the frequent acknowledgements of heritage around the city were refreshing and unique. Singapore is the complete package for city and food lovers but be prepared for the heat and humidity of ‘summer-er’!
Favourite Places To Eat:
Tomi Sushi, Katong:
Address: 30 E Coast Rd, #02-14/15/16, Singapore 428751
Best for: Quality, authentic Japanese cuisine
Ryoshi Sushi Ikeikemaru Singapore
Address: Central Singapore
Best for: Affordable, tasty sushi
Chye Seng Huat Hardware
Address: 150 Tyrwhitt Rd, Singapore 207563
Best for: Brunch style lunch options
Best Coffee Shops:
Address: 161 Lavender St, #01-12, Singapore 338750
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm daily
Best for: Interiors and style
Five Oars Coffee
Address: 39 Tg Pagar Rd, Singapore 088462
Opening Hours: 8am-10pm daily
Best for: Extensive menu
Nylon Coffee Roasters
Address: Block 4, Everton Park, #01-40, Singapore 080004
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 5:30pm daily (closed on Tuesdays)
Best for: Roastery
Common Man Coffee Roasters
Address: #01, 22 Martin Rd, 00, Singapore 239058
Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5pm
Best for: Breakfast and coffee pairing
Address: 6 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018974
Opening Hours: 10am – 7pm
Buddah Tooth Relic Temple
Hint: head up the lift in the community housing adjacent to the temple to get views of the temple with the cityscape in the background.
Best: When sunset is before 7pm, you should see the temple lights still on for a more dramatic image.
Fort Canning Park
Description: Despite the humidity, I managed to do a couple of easy runs in during in the local park. It’s probably only 2km around the outside but it’s beautiful enough to do a few laps without getting bored. In all honesty, my primary focus was surviving the heat.
Best for: Easy circuit to avoid traffic lights and road crossings
Description: A seemingly reasonable alternative to taxi, much like Uber.
Best for: Convenience