Old-world charm meets new-world luxury in Singapore – a global financial powerhouse and one of the world’s most affluent cities. While Singapore is well known as a major transportation hub – 58.7 million passengers passed through Changi Airport in 2016 – it’s much more than a convenient stopover city. It is the epicentre of elegance, a key destination for the world’s elite and home to some of the world’s best hotels, restaurants, shopping and cultural attractions. With its mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay ethnic groups, Singapore is a city like no other. So kick off your expensive shoes, tell your PA to hold all calls and take a moment to wander through our luxury guide to holidaying in the dazzling city that is Singapore.
Decadent Things To Do In Singapore
Exploring a bustling metropolis is no fun on an empty stomach so let’s tick off one of Singapore’s major highlights right up front: the incredible dining scene. This is a city where impressive street food often rivals the top restaurants for flavour and creativity, but sometimes you just want to sit down and enjoy a nice glass of wine with your meal. We’re talking about those restaurants.
Celebrity chef Joel Robuchon’s French restaurant at Resorts World Sentosa is the only establishment in Singapore to claim three Michelin stars and with the 2017 winners recently announced, that’s two years in a row. Book well in advance, and find out why the French haute cuisine has earned the city’s top honours. The degustation menu has reportedly been described as “pure magic” by many famed food critics. It includes caramelized black cod with bok choy and Malabar black pepper sauce, imperial caviar and king crab refreshed with crustacean jelly and light cauliflower cream, and light artichoke mousseline with a cappuccino of chickpea and turmeric. Wow.
This fine restaurant has amassed a string of awards since opening in 2010, including two Michelin stars this year. With a one-month reservations list and only 30 seats in the house, you want to book nice and early. The backbone of everything that is created in Restaurant Andre is ‘Octaphilosophy’ – eight words that inform the creative process from a single dish to the restaurant’s overall philosophy: unique, pure, texture, memory, salt, south, artisan, terroir. If you want to have an amazing culinary experience, this restaurant’s for you.
Take French cuisine and give it the Japanese touch and you have Beni, the popular one Michelin-starred restaurant in Mandarin Gallery. Guests are treated to an intimate and indulgent gastronomic journey through a series of courses featuring the best of the four seasons and served by Chef de Cuisine, Kenji Yamanaka. The minimalist décor is designed so as not to detract from the food and the counter enables guests to watch the artistry of the chefs as they work. The food, of course, is exceptional.
Singapore is a luxury shopping paradise, with residents and visitors alike coveting the big name, prestige brands. Here are some of the top spots for designer retail therapy.
The Shoppes, Marina Bay Sands
The spectacular architecture of this luxury shopping mall makes a day out shopping even more appealing, with giant glass windows, vast open atriums and a breathtaking central water feature. All the leading brands are here, such as Boucheron, Kate Spade and Givenchy. The icing on the cake is the activities for kids – skating rink, ArtScience Museum and DC Comics Super Heroes Café to name a few – which means everyone is happy at The Shoppes.
Orchard Road is regarded as Singapore’s premier shopping district, with ION Orchard the centre of the retail scene. This contemporary shopping mall is known as ‘Singapore’s first multi-sensory experiential shopping and lifestyle mall’ and spans eight levels. This impressive mall will have something for everyone, for sure.
Also on Orchard Road, Paragon is an upmarket, 20-storey shopping centre which has won numerous awards for design. Top brands include Tod’s, Prada, Miu Miu, Jimmy Choo and Burberry. With over 200 shops on six floors (and child minding on Level 6 if you need it) you could easily spend a whole day here.
More Things To Do
Break up the heady pursuit of highly covetable designer items with some nature time. Just as impressive as Singapore’s sleek, futuristic city skyline is its devotion to tropical gardens and lush green public spaces. The Lion City also has its fair share of exceptional galleries and museums, so if you’re not shopping or sipping cocktails at a rooftop bar, you won’t be short of things to do.
Gardens By The Bay
Gardens By the Bay is a 101-hectare nature park adjacent to the Marina Reservoir – and one of the world’s most inspiring uses of reclaimed land. With its Supertree Grove, Cloudforest and range of other delightful attractions, Gardens By the Bay makes good on its promise to visitors and residents alike: to be a showpiece of horticulture and garden artistry that presents the plant kingdom in a whole new way.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
The only tropical garden to be honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Singapore Botanic Gardens is an 82-hectare oasis in the heart of the city. The gardens are broken into three main zones, or cores, devoted to heritage, attractions for tourists, and education. Don’t miss the National Orchid Garden, a truly mesmerising experience, with over 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids on display.
National Gallery Singapore
Located in the Downtown Core, the National Gallery of Singapore is a new visual arts institution which oversees the largest public collection of modern art in Singapore and Southeast Asia. The Gallery is housed in two national monuments – former Supreme Court and City Hall – that have been impeccably restored and transformed.
Asian Civilisations Museum
The Asian Civilisations Museum is uniquely Singaporean, devoted to preserving the cultural heritage of the city’s residents, being Chinese, Southeast Asian, Indian and Islamic. If you want to gain a greater understanding of the rich history that has created Singapore’s multi-ethnic society, a wander through this excellent museum is a must.
Luxury Places to Stay
Which are the best luxury hotels in Singapore? That depends what you’re looking for. From futuristic buildings that dominate the skyline to tastefully renovated classics hiding in plain sight, Singapore has no shortage of fine places to lay your head.
Marina Bay Sands
The self-proclaimed ‘most spectacular hotel in Singapore’ is hard to beat when it comes to scale and impact. Developed at cost of over AU$7 billion, the triple-towered, 2,561-room resort is said to be the most expensive stand-alone integrated resort property ever built. (How’s that for wow factor.) The location is also super-impressive, just ten minutes from the CBD by taxi, with views towards the glittering downtown skyline or Gardens by the Bay.
Not surprisingly, the rooms are equally impressive, with floor to ceiling glass windows one of the best features. From the plush Deluxe Rooms all the way up to the 629-square-metre, 4-bedroom Chairman Suite, comfort is paramount at Marina Bay Sands. This appreciation for luxury extends to all amenities in the hotel, with the world’s largest rooftop pool, stretching 150 metres across Sands SkyPark, now an icon in itself with its unmatched views of the city. A stay at the hotel wouldn’t be complete without some pampering at the award-winning Banyan Tree Spa, and guests can hit the treadmill on the 55th floor for an inspiring workout.
Where to begin when it comes to dining? Marina Bay Sands is an epicurean paradise, with nine restaurants by seven of the world’s finest Celebrity Chefs. These include Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay, CUT by Wolfgang Puck and Waku Ghin by Tetsuya Wakuda, where you can savour a sea urchin sheared in half and filled with roe, sweet raw Botan Ebi shrimp and a delectable dollop of caviar.
As a member of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, the Mandarin Oriental Singapore more than delivers on 5-star luxury. The hotel lies in the heart of Marina Bay, close to the CBD and luxury shopping at Orchard Road and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
The 527 rooms and suites in this hotel are luxuriously appointed, following an impressive renovation in 2004. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame captivating views of the ocean, bay or the city. From the modest Ocean View Room, which offers – yes, an ocean view – as well as a spacious granite bathroom, to the money-is-no-object Mandarin Suite with two bedrooms, two balconies, two bathrooms, a dining area, kitchen and living room, you’ll be sure to feel well looked-after at the Mandarin Oriental.
With five restaurants and two lounges to choose from, you won’t be having the same dining experience every night at the Mandarin Oriental – unless you choose to, of course, with Dolce Vita a popular destination for those seeking authentic Italian cuisine, and Melt Café a firm favourite for its international buffet.
If pampering and wellness are a big part of what you consider to be a true luxury hotel experience, the Fairmont Singapore will be high on your list. Home to one of Asia’s largest spas, Willow Stream, the Fairmont Singapore is the perfect place to decamp for a lavish stay in the Lion City. Located right in the Downtown Core, this hotel will place you at the crossroads of Singapore’s central business districts and world-class shopping and entertainment precincts.
With 769 rooms ranging in opulence from the standard Deluxe to the extravagant Penthouse Suites with their top-floor views, the Fairmont Singapore offers something to suit all guests. Every room is like a private sanctuary, with comforting special touches such as goose-down pillows and quilt. A key drawcard of this luxury hotel is the prestige Willow Stream Spa. Incorporating the influences of both East and West, Willow Stream Spa offers a wide range of to-die-for rejuvenating experiences across its 23 decadent treatment rooms. Some of the Willow Stream Spa signature experiences include the 150-minute Pearls and Caviar Ultimate Anti-Ageing Rejuvenation for face and body, head-to-toe Ginger Renewal, and the Fairmont Singapore Signature massage/East Meets West Hot Stone Massage.
It’s all here at the Fairmont: exquisite signature Japanese cuisine at Mikuni, authentic Italian dishes at Prego, traditional Chinese delights at Szechuan Court and more. In all, the hotel has 15 distinctive restaurants for you to choose from. Poolside Alligator Pear serves a lean, healthy style of meal and also caters to spa guests as a way to complement their pampering treatments.