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Asia travel

Five of Singapore’s best boutique hotels, from relaxing retreats to urban bases from which to explore the city state

Staying in a boutique hotel shows guests some of the things that make Singapore special, from a restored colonial villa to converted godowns and shophouses and concept interiors

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 1:06pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 April, 2017, 11:25am

Singapore is a city that prides itself on its diversity and contrasts. Nowhere can you see this more than in its vibrant and varied neighbourhoods and enclaves, its international food offerings, buzzing bars, shopping malls and its sleepy little stores.

When it comes to accommodation, while there’s nothing wrong with checking into a luxury chain hotel, a boutique hotel can offer you a glimpse of what makes the city state unique. We set out to find some of Singapore’s best boutique hotels – places that suit different tastes and needs, whether you’re looking for a relaxing retreat or a hip urban base from which to explore.

Naumi

In the heart of Singapore’s “colonial district”, just a stone’s throw from the Raffles and Fullerton hotels and on the doorstep of the National Gallery and various museums, the Naumi is the perfect place from which to explore Singapore’s sights. Renovated in 2013, this sleek and modern hotel has an exclusive yet relaxed feel, with friendly, courteous staff. Each of the 73 rooms is kitted out with an Apple TV, and mini bar drinks and snacks are complimentary.

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The feeling of exclusivity is most palpably felt at Cloud 9, the rooftop infinity pool, terrace and bar. Only accessible to guests, from here you can enjoy a skyline view of Singapore’s central business district, and glimpses of the Singapore Flyer Ferris wheel and Marina Bay Sands. Table by Rang Mahal restaurant on the ground floor is known for its fantastic Indian cuisine.

While Naumi’s soundproofed rooms ensure privacy, if you want to take it a step further there’s a dedicated privacy floor with extra security. With original designer furniture pieces by the likes of B&B Italia, Poltrona Frau, Zanotta, Tom Dixon and Artemide, and an impressive collection of commissioned art pieces on display throughout the hotel, Naumi is the perfect choice for the trendy traveller.

Rates: from S$288 (HK$1,595, US$205). Best price guaranteed if booked via their website.

naumihotels.com

Villa Samadhi

Villa Samadhi is new on the scene, having opened in January 2017. Set foot on the property, with its period furnishings, fans and shutters, and you’re transported back to colonial Singapore. As much as possible of this early 20th century building and its original features have been preserved. The rustic rooms are spacious, and six come with private jacuzzis, while the largest room on the property has its own private plunge pool and a large bathroom with double shower.

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Samadhi means “state of utter relaxation”, an apt name considering its secluded spot by Labrador Nature Reserve, surrounded by lush vegetation and the sounds of nature. The Labrador MRT station is less than 10 minutes’ walk away.

Take a stroll along the tree-shaded wooden walkway and you’ll reach the hotel’s restaurant, Tamarind Hill, which offers delicious Thai food. Make sure to sample some of their home-infused gins while you’re there.

Its charm and privacy make Villa Samadhi feel homely but luxurious and with the service you would expect of a high-end boutique hotel.

Rates: SG$395 to $975 per night. A special opening deal offers 20 per cent off all rooms until the end of April 2017.

villasamadhi.com.sg

The Warehouse Hotel

The Warehouse Hotel is one of the newest boutique hotels on this list, having opened at the beginning of 2017. On the Singapore River in Clarke Quay, the hotel occupies three connected former godowns, built in 1885 and used as warehouses for the city’s spice trade. They were later used to distil moonshine liquor and then as a disco in the days before the city’s famed Zouk club opened.

The buildings had fallen into disrepair in recent years but have now been transformed into a chic, minimalist industrial hotel with 37 rooms and an impressive lobby bar, all of which are influenced by Singapore’s history.

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When guests enter the hotel, they step into a warm, cavernous lobby full of leather and aged steel, and can go straight to the cocktail bar for a signature drink inspired by the venue’s history (including the spice-infused “Spice Trade”). On the ground floor you’ll also find the hotel’s only restaurant, Po, which serves local comfort-food classics and modern renditions of Singapore’s most famous dishes – think popiah, satay, char siu and so on. Staircases lead up to the rooms, most of which have double-height ceilings, hardwood floors and locally sourced furnishings.

Further references to Singaporean culture can be found in the rooms, including locally made salted duck-egg potato chips, but it was the “Lust” section of the room-service menu that caught our eye. What other hotel offers its guests sex toys and BDSM equipment as part of room service?

We also loved the small pool mounted on an elevated deck overlooking the Singapore River – which looked nowhere near as tempting.

Rates start at S$295.

thewarehousehotel.com

The Scarlet

As its name might suggest, The Scarlet is a place of opulence and grandeur, with rich colours and lavish furnishings that lend it a boudoir feel. A red warren of a hallway connects the 13 19th century shophouses which comprise the hotel in Ann Siang Hill, next to China Town.

The 1924 art deco architecture of the 80-room Scarlet has been retained restored, and a use has been found for every nook and cranny. No two rooms are alike: some may have a corner workspace or a balcony, others a chaise longue. Make sure you know what you’re booking – you may even have to compromise on having windows; splash out on the Passion suite and you’ll have your own private jacuzzi terrace.

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Just around the corner, vibrant Club Street has an abundance of bars and restaurants; the area really comes to life at weekends. Alternatively, you’ll find an informal atmosphere and views across China Town from the hotel’s rooftop bar, Aria, as well as good Italian cuisine on site at restaurant Casa Tartufo.

Spend some time at the open-air jacuzzi on the second floor and take advantage of the complimentary 10-minute welcome treatment offered at the spa. If you’re in town for business, there’s a meeting room you can use just off the foyer. Staff at The Scarlet are warm and attentive, and while it’s been on the scene since 2004, this hotel stays original thanks to its sumptuous and sensual character.

Rates: from S$350 to S$980

thescarlethotels.com

Lloyd’s Inn

Set amid leafy greenery on a side street off Singapore’s main shopping street, Orchard Road, Lloyd’s Inn has a raw contemporary feel, its clean white lines contrasting with black metal and concrete. This hotel is small, with only 34 rooms, but spacious, and what it lacks in facilities (there’s no on-site restaurant or bar and only a dipping pool on the premises), it makes up for in its Le Corbusier-like design.

Total privacy is guaranteed by its clever layout, while a strong connection to nature is created through floor-to-ceiling windows, open-walled bathrooms and, in some of the larger rooms, outdoor bathtubs. Its monochromatic simplicity creates a peaceful urban sanctuary, but Lloyd’s Inn takes minimalism a little far, with no in-room tea or coffee facilities, meaning a trip to the communal pantry area is required.

If you’re after something more substantial, the staff will point you down the street to nearby cafes, restaurants and food stalls, or you can study the giant area map on the wall in the foyer. Stylised features, right down to the signature toiletries and clothing rails instead of wardrobes, make Lloyd’s Inn a memorable choice. When guests are done with the nearby shopping malls, they can spend some time in the garden area by the pool, where there are reading nooks and loungers.

Rates: from S$280 to $330

lloydsinn.com