Little India, Lavender Street and Arab Street
Little India proper and beyond – the zone extending up to Lavender Street, reachable via Farrer Park or Lavender stations – is the best place to find budget accommodation, although hotels are hit and miss. The area around Arab Street also has a few good places to stay.
For boutique on a budget: Moon 23. A boutique-hotel experience that won’t strain your wallet, with stylishly kitted-out rooms boasting snazzy wallpaper and iPhone docks.
For flashpackers: [email protected]. A sprawling place, its size matching its ambition to be a “flashpacker” hostel taking the concept of comfort on a budget to new heights.
Bras Basah Road to Rochor Road
The grid of streets between Bras Basah Road and Rochor Road has been rendered a bit sterile by redevelopment, which has also wiped out nearly all the cheap accommodation that once packed Bencoolen Street; now it’s mostly modern mid-range hotels that remain. The area remains a good choice if you can afford it, as it’s within easy walking distance of the Singapore River, Little India and the eastern end of Orchard Road.
For a memorable dorm bed: [email protected] Emily. Owned by the company behind the historic Cathay cinema at the foot of Mount Emily, the Hangout is an impressive designer guesthouse with a breezy rooftop terrace.
For industrial chic: The Big Hotel. This excellent new hotel occupies a converted office building, reflected in the lobby decor – all artfully exposed ducting and pipes.
The Colonial District
There are only a few places to stay among the grand Neoclassical buildings of the Colonial District, the area immediately north and east of the Singapore River that forms the core of downtown Singapore. If you’ve got deep pockets, however, there are two places worth seeking out.
For colonial splendour: Raffles. Colonial-era charm in spades, especially evident in the opulent lobby and the courtyards fringed by frangipani trees and palms.
For great views: Swissôtel The Stamford. Not for those with vertigo, though the views are as splendid as you’d expect from one of the tallest hotels in the world, with over a thousand rooms.
Image courtesy of Swissôtel The Stamford
Chinatown and Boat Quay
Chinatown runs a close second to Little India and Lavender Street in its selection of guesthouses, and also boasts a good many upmarket and boutique hotels. Boat Quay, right on the south bank of the Singapore River, is dominated by restaurants and bars, but has two worthwhile places to stay, including the splendid Fullerton hotel.
For a budget bed: Wink. One of the best designer hostels in town, with hi-tech capsule beds inside flower-themed rooms with colour-coded lighting to match.
For Art Deco opulence: The Fullerton. Nearly as impressive as the Raffles, with a stunning Art Deco atrium propped up on massive columns like an Egyptian temple.