Singapore has been a great stopover city for my family on our frequent trips to Bali with it’s luxurious hotels, excellent restaurants , and scads of family-friendly activities to keep everyone happy.
I’ve heard Singapore referred as “Asia Lite”, meaning it’s a good place for Westerners who want to visit Asia but aren’t ready to give up order, cleanliness, and western amenities. Singapore is extremely clean and orderly, but you can still find vibrant ethnic neighborhoods — such as Little India, Chinatown, and Kampong Glam, aka Arab Street — that will fulfill your wanderlust desires.
For Starwood Members:
St. Regis — We usually stay at Starwood hotels due to my husband’s membership status with them. Always appreciate an upgrade when available, and luckily we were upgraded here to a suite. The hotel is gorgeous, and it’s easy walking distance to several malls and the subway system. My kids spent many happy hours in the pool… I spent many happy hours next to the pool, often with drink in hand. 😉
W Singapore Sentosa Cove — This was another great hotel for my family, due to it’s location on Sentosa Island which has plenty of activities to keep adrenaline-seeking boys extremely happy. Universal Studios being the top reason — it has the tallest dueling roller coaster in the world. I didn’t brave it but my guys gave it top marks. Sentosa also has a beach, an aquarium, indoor sky-diving, segway tours, and go-karts that necessitate a ski-lift ride to the top of a small mountain. I did try the go-karts and indoor sky-diving — both highly enjoyable, actually.
But, back to the W. It is a great choice: large pool, great breakfast buffet, funky decor, and right next door to a outdoor center dedicated to restaurants. We ate very well here. And if you want to stay in shape, there is a great running path near the hotel which passes by gorgeous water-side homes that one can’t help but ogle.
TIP: For families with young children, Sentosa is kid-heaven! So many small children everywhere, and at all the restaurants.
Other hotels to consider…
Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa — Beach-front, three sun-shaded water slides, a Flying Trapeze, extensive playground, kids clubs, and nearby all the Sentosa Island venues such as Universal Studios and the S.E.A. Aquarium… need I say more?!
Marina Bay Sands: The hotel in the building that looks like a giant surfboard on top of three towers, as my kids describe it. Awesome rooftop swimming pool with incredible views over the city. Plenty of kid fun nearby: Sampan boat-ride through the mall at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. Ice-skating rink is located here, too. Take a canopy walk among the super trees at the nearby Gardens By The Bay.
Resort World Ocean Suites: Each of the two-level suites of this Sentosa Island hotel include a glass wall with an underwater view to the world’s largest aquarium. Pure awesomeness, especially for parents of preschoolers.
Four Seasons Singapore: I always think the Four Seasons are great for families, as they cater to young and old alike. This one offers a gorgeous rooftop pool, Sunday Brunch with plenty of activities and entertainment geared to the younger set, and 4 tennis courts including two that are indoor and air-conditioned… aaahhhh, so perfect for this equatorial city that is hot year-round.
Mandarin Oriental: Another service oriented luxury hotel which caters to children as well. The Mandarin Oriental Singapore is perfectly situated near Singapore Flyer and overlooking Marina Bay and all it’s attractions. Relax on the rooftop pool while you gaze at the views, and the younger ones enjoy an adjacent children’s pool with a cool bubble-jet feature. For the Sunday Brunch, a kid’s playroom is set up with buffet, activities, cartoons and movies.
The Fullerton Hotel: The 1928 neoclassical building that now houses The Fullerton was recently declared a national monument. It used to house several government offices, the General Post Office, and the exclusive Singapore Club. Today it is an elegant hotel with understated luxury located in the thick of things. The Lighthouse Restaurant & Rooftop Bar has stunning views of Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay, and the Singapore skyline. THIS is the place to be for any city event which includes fireworks and/or a light show.
Ritz Carlton Millenia: The 32 story Ritz is located next door to the Mandarin Oriental and is very centrally located. The exterior architecture is simple and modern; the interior exudes luxury, and also includes quite a large collection of art, such as gigantic hanging sculpture by Frank Stella in the lobby, as well as works of art by Andy Warhol, Chihuly, and more. The views are spectacular as expected from a high-rise in this location. Tropical gardens surround the lovely pool.
Raffles: I was torn on whether to recommend Raffles, but ultimately decided it is worth including in my list. Yes, it is beautiful — a beautiful, white, colonial-era building. Yes, it has historical significance with the many dignitaries, writers, celebrities, and royalty who have resided here since it opened in 1887. Yes, it contains the famous Long Bar where the Singapore Sling was invented. And yes, there is something very exotic and magical to be greeted by the turbaned Sihk doormen when you arrive. But because of all these traits, it has become somewhat of a tourist trap. Still… it’s kind of sexy knowing you are staying in a historic residence also enjoyed by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, and Michael Jackson.
Sofitel So Singapore: Chic sophistication is how I would describe this hotel. I love the juxtaposition of the classical heritage building paired with the graceful modernity of the interior design. Centrally located but more in the business district than near to the attractions of the bay.
Wanderlust Hotel and New Majestic Hotel: These two design-oriented boutique hotels, located in Little India and Chinatown respectively, are both whimsically artsy (is this an actual term?!), and would be good choices if 1.) you like both cutting-edge and vintage design, and 2.) you prefer off-the-beaten-track locations where you can enjoy local culture. The rooms all have unique themes and have been designed by several award-winning firms. Even if you don’t stay here, it would be worth the trip to dine or enjoy a cocktail at their well-reviewed restaurants.