Singapore is filled with some of the world's most beautiful luxury hotels. From the largest infinity pool in the world at Marina Bay Sands, to the hotel that originated the Singapore Sling (Raffles), to the five-star Fullerton Bay Hotel, deciding where to stay can be a challenge, especially since there are some smaller, stunning boutique hotels as well. Visiting two contrasting hotels for an extended stay is a great way to “#GetIntoSingapore”. John and I got the best of both worlds when we chose the newly constructed Westin Singapore for the first part of our trip, followed by a stay at Naumi boutique hotel, part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group.
I chose the Westin for its incredibly grand aesthetic: from the sweepingly high-ceilinged lobby to the stunning rooftop pool and spacious rooms, I wanted that experience of being in a high-rise, slick hotel - something I wouldn't normally choose in other destinations, but felt like experiencing in a lively city like Singapore. More importantly, I chose it for its proximity to Lau Pa Sat food market and Gardens by the Bay - two destinations that were at the top of my "must-visit" list in Singapore! Location isn’t too critical in Singapore, as it’s very manageable in size and easily navigated by public transportation or air-conditioned taxi.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted with the Westin’s floor-to-ceiling windows, which overlooked the bay. Our room was large enough to accommodate a lounge area and work station, which was convenient as John actually needed to work! We had a spectacular view of the bay, especially at night.
Fresh off the plane and eager to scope out the hotel's rooftop infinity pool, we headed upstairs almost as soon as we'd checked into our room and marvelled at the amazing view of the city. It might sound cliched, but I felt so … alive when I jumped into that pool and surveyed the bright lights with John. As I floated gently in the water, I thought to myself, 'How amazing is this?!"
By then, we'd built up some hunger, so we headed over to Lau Pa Sat (a mere 5-minute walk away) for some amazing street food in a sparkling clean, indoor hawker center. As my stomach was still a little delicate from the flight, I chose one of my childhood comfort foods: fishcake soup noodles. The clear broth was as nourishing as the kind I remembered from my childhood, and the man who served the noodles to me had a smile as kind as my grandpa's. I excitedly ordered two rounds of sugarcane juice (great for hot climates; it's super hydrating and delicious to boot!) and then we devoured some char siu bao at the dim sum stall ... just because.
At this point, we knew we were risking overdoing it a bit, but before we left, we stopped for some satay at one of the enticing stalls set up outside the market. On the evening we visited, the entire street was closed for the satay stalls and people were up late laughing, chatting, drinking, and enjoying generous stacks of chicken, mutton, and prawn skewers accompanied by dishes of satay sauce. With each stall claiming its own "secret" satay recipe, competition was on fire ... literally, as I caught some of the satay masters at work!
Full and barely able to keep our eyes open, we headed back to the hotel, where I posted this photo of me feeling exhausted, happy, and exhilarated to be in Singapore.
When we moved to Naumi a few days later, I was a little sad to leave the Westin and that beautiful pool ... but my momentary sadness was forgotten when we stepped into Naumi's uber chic lobby and were shown to our swanky room, equipped with Apple products and chargers so we didn’t have to worry about pulling ours out.
While our "Habitat" room wasn't huge, the space was intelligently used. The mini bar was cleverly concealed in a sliding cabinet (with hanging wine glasses and all), which pulled out to reveal an array of complimentary treats. The lit-up island in the middle of the room tripled up as a sink, vanity table, and fridge. Under the bed we found an iron and ironing board as well as a yoga mat – a great idea for anyone who wanted to get a morning sun salutation in on the rooftop before breakfast. I was also a huge fan of the rainfall shower head and luxurious Malin + Goetz toiletries - one of my favorite NYC-based beauty brands.
Location-wise, Naumi is optimally located in the Central Business District, placing it in close proximity to the beautiful Chijmes (a former girls' school now reimagined into a complex of high-end restaurants, cafes and bars), Bugis Junction shopping centre, and of course, the iconic Raffles hotel itself. We also decided to walk to Little India, though even a 10 or 15 minute-walk in the Singapore heat is enough to make someone sluggish and dehydrated. Singapore is the only place I've visted where residents stand in the shade of neighboring trees, a few feet away from the pedestrian crossing, when waiting to cross the street because it's simply too hot in the sun!
Since we were spoilt for choice by the terrific food options in Singapore, we didn't dine in either of the hotels' restaurants. However, we still helped ourselves to the breakfast buffet and waffles made-to-order at Naumi one morning. Their homemade kaya on toast (a type of coconut jam that's popular in Singapore and Hong Kong which I love) did it for me; so simple, yet so delicious.
I really enjoyed staying in two different hotels that had such different vibes; it was lovely to experience Singapore this way and something I'd highly recommend doing if you ever visit!
Do you tend to stay in one place when you travel and use it as your "home base"? Or do you like to move around? Let me know in the comments below!
This post was written on behalf of Thomas Cook and the Singapore Tourism Board. All opinions are my own. Find out how you can Get Into Singapore by booking a trip with Thomas Cook here.