“Singapore is Asia for beginners,” says Cher and the Loneliest Elephant director Jonathan Finnigan, “because it’s so safe, it’s so organized, and English is the national language. Everything works, and you’re never going to struggle for good food — there’s almost too much.”
The island urban jungle at the tip of mainland Southeast Asia is a refined mashup of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures — and flavors — with some Indonesian, Thai and English influences for good measure. The Garden City, as it’s known, is also a newly certified sustainable destination by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s Destination Criteria.
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2023 is set to be a huge year in the luxury hospitality realm: The 190-room Singapore Edition Hotel is expected to bow, as is the Artyzen Singapore, which promises plenty of flora worthy of the city’s green reputation. The Standard, Singapore, is in the works with 143 keys anticipated in early 2024, too, and Raffles Sentosa Resort & Spa, with 62 private pool villas, is set to become the first all-villa property in Singapore, on holiday-heavy Sentosa Islands.
More immediately gratifying are two brand-new debuts as of June 1. At the intersection of the historic terracotta-roofed Chinatown and buzzy Duxton Hill neighborhoods — and literally joining them together with a new pedestrian walkway — is the art-focused Mondrian Singapore Duxton ( from $334/night; more booking options at Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com). It was designed by LA’s Robbyn Carter of Studio Carter with a ’70s Hollywood–themed rooftop and pool, shophouse-inspired contemporary architecture, hand-drawn murals and a restaurant by Dario Cecchini, whom Anthony Bourdain once called the world’s greatest butcher. The vibe of the entire place is lively, social and stylish, especially at the hotel’s bar, Jungle Ballroom, hidden behind a velvet curtain and featuring Southeast Asian flavors, local libations, DJs and the area’s only 2 am license. Duxton Hill is home to many of the city’s best bars, galleries, boutiques and restaurants.
Pan Pacific Orchard (from $341/night; more booking options at Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com) is the other brand-new, high-end opening this month, in a lush tower dripping with greenery and four soaring outdoor Sky Terraces cooled naturally for a more sustainable approach. The vibe is tropical, even in the midst of a metropolis, especially in the beach rooms with balconies hanging over the sprawling free-form swimming pool. The location, just minutes from Orchard Road, puts it in a prime position for guests interested in luxury shopping and dining, while the hotel’s own eating spots specialize in Mediterranean with a Peruvian twist and oysters alongside boutique Champagnes.
The newcomers are entering a scene already rife with five-star hotels. Raffles Singapore (from $742/night; more booking options at Booking.com and Expedia), the grande dame that opened in 1887 and underwent a luscious revamp in 2019, is where Elizabeth Taylor and Ava Gardner have stayed and where Constance Wu and Henry Golding shot scenes for Crazy Rich Asians. The property’s still-legendary Long Bar is where the first Singapore Sling was mixed up and its restaurants today include Osteria BRR by Alain Ducasse and the historic Tiffin Room for luscious Indian feasts. A just-launched Retreat by Raffles program includes not only pampering spa treatments but sound healing and guided botanical garden walks, while the Suite Serenade package includes one-on-one visits with musical artists and maestros from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.
The first-ever Shangri-La hotel (from $225/night; more booking options at Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com) opened in 1971 on a tropical explosion of 1.5 million–plus plants on 15 acres with 792 rooms and suites, including the freshly renovated Tower Wing with its zen accommodations and a dedicated family floor with five adorable themed family suites. The Valley Wing is the hotel’s most exclusive and has hosted many presidents, who can enjoy its private entrances, free-flowing Champagne, live harp music and more intimate breakfasts in the Summit Room. Tapping into the sleep tourism trend, the hotel offers a new package including tension-relieving massages, pillow spray, curated music and tailored pillows.
Four Seasons Hotel Singapore (from $444/night; more booking options at Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com) has a new bottomless brunch at its Nobu restaurant, while Hilton Singapore Orchard opened in 2022 with Asia’s first Osteria Mozza by Nancy Silverton, plus the two–Michelin starred Shisen Hansen. The wellness-focused Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore (from $275/night; more booking options at Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com) debuted during the pandemic, too, with a vast network of pools, suites with outdoor bathtubs and a Thai- spa style.
As depicted in Crazy Rich Asians, “if you want to shop and eat, Singapore is definitely among the best places you can go,” says Finnigan. Former Showtime SVP Robin Gurney suggests visiting “Dempsey Hill, a small enclave of restaurants and shops amid Singapore’s famed black-and-white houses, and Min Jiang for Michelin-star cuisine and a true taste of the neighborhood.” The Tiong Bahru market — near hip cafes and galleries — is also a hit for its traditional Singapore food stalls, one of which has a Michelin star.
And in the cooler mornings or late afternoons, a trip to the iconic Gardens by the Bay — which famously appeared in Crazy Rich Asians — is advisable. The Supertree Observatory and OCBC Skyway shouldn’t be missed for the perspective gained on all of Singapore, while the Cloud Forest currently has an interactive “Avatar: The Experience” exhibit, including James Cameron’s mystical creatures that come alive, and a Dale Chihuly blown -glass flower installation. When flying out of Singapore Changi Airport, its adjoining Jewel Changi Airport complex with its impressive HSBC Rain Vortex — the world’s tallest indoor waterfall — and family-friendly activities serve as a final reminder of Singapore’s thriving and superabundant green scene.
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