Only 3 hours away from Hong Kong, Singapore is one of our favorite short-term destinations. It's no doubt that Singapore is great for tourists visiting for the first time, boasting good food, great views, and convenient transportation. And of course you are not going to miss out its iconic skyline and the Singapore Flyer, but once you've done that, here's how we out-of-towners can get more out of the city like savvy locals.
Without further ado, here’s my itinerary for the weekend:
Day 1 – Café Hopping and Friday night out
During my 30-minute taxi ride from Changi Airport to the Westin Singapore, I was informed by the friendly driver that the hotel is SG's first integrated hotel, located within the vicinity of Marina Bay, the heart of the country’s bustling financial district.
I love red-eye flights because it maximizes time for exploring the city, albeit in a laid back way. Having arrived at 6 a.m., I was escorted to level 32, the highest lobby in Singapore. First impressions are important, and the lobby did well by offering tall floor-to-ceiling windows and expansive views of Marina Bay. Morning rays, natural light, and wooden-toned walls gives off a harmonious feeling. What I love most about the décor is how an elegant palette of muted colors and velvets in grey, mustard, and turquoise complements the distinctive pendant lights.
Just as I was expecting to be told to leave my luggage at the concierge while my room is being prepared, the thoughtful team allowed me to check in early (so I got to take a nap before walking around town). Handy smartphones are available in the room so it wasn’t a problem for me who did not purchase a data card – I use it for google map and ordering taxis while I’m out.
I instantly spotted a sign saying “Food Garden” outside the hotel, which is one of the largest dining halls in SG designed in a relaxing green space, conveniently hosting a variety of international restaurants. Soup Stock Tokyo from Japan and Guzman y Gomez from Australia have opened their first-ever overseas outlets there. I however resisted the temptation and went on to my first stop.
Brunch at Common Man Coffee Roasters. The place looks like a super popular place for expats to me, and was packed even on a Friday afternoon. Everything on the Menu looks super delicious and it certainly gave me a hard time in choosing between the Broche French Toast and all the egg dishes. According to owner Harry Grover, the name of the cafe is to pay tribute to the fact that coffee is grown and drank by the common men. If you want a café in Singapore that serves both good coffee and good food, this is the one.
Jalan Besar neibourhood. There’s plenty to do there, and it has a thriving culinary scene. Butter Studio (red velvet cupcakes) and Chye Seng Huat Hardware (coffee joint with its own roaster and private tasting room) are musts while you’re there!
I also visited Brawn & Brains which was further away. As instagrammable as it is, it’s probably not worth the travelling time if you’re just here for the weekend since it’s more detached from other points of interest. But if you have the time, it’s a really good place to bring a book and chill for the afternoon. The downside is that the washroom is a public one across a car park. Other places I recommend include: RONIN (best scrambled eggs) and Artistry Café.
As promised, here is part 2 of my experience at Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort
(check out part 1 here).
Turning to the spa experience at SoSPA tucked away in a secluded corner of the resort ground -
it has dark, mysterious entrance which was next to SoFIT
(an innovative gym space boasting state-of-the art equipment, and exercise programs that I am yet to try out).
Like every other spa place, you sit by impatiently to fill in a form indicating your preferences before the actual treatment. But the difference here is that you’re sitting by an ornamental pool in the lounge area
with high ceilings, intricately carved wood panels, mood lighting, and a fireplace in the middle.
Upon entering Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort,
I was escorted by a helpful front desk and greeted by their management in French
- it was only then I realized Sofitel originated from France.
They were not surprised, and explained that it can difficult to tell
owing to how its resorts and hotels around the world often blend in local elements into their designs.
The guided private tour began, predictably, in the main lobby.
We were instantly surrounded by distinctive décor which incorporated French influence with local Balinese artwork
- the wooden installation that occupied the central spot representing the circle of life is a meaningful and stunning piece that sets the tone for the resort; whereas the staircases are ones that you’d expect in a Parisian museum.
Staying consistent with the wooden tones and making good use of natural light,
the interiors of the resort give off a modern and contemporary impression overall yet
staying true to the local culture.
From there, we walked through the corridors and paths
(some were in a circular arrangement echoing the lobby’s structure),
leading to the gray and cream toned exteriors of the villas and suites that complement well with the main pool.
As a design fanatic myself, these details are very much appreciated.
The Art Space exhibition "Très'Ors" is about everything gold, it being a carefully curated space featuring pieces of glamour and wealth, showcases limited editions of luxury cutleries, jewelries and watches. One thing that stood out to me was how people of older times (perhaps with limited technology and long travel times) used to pack meticulously all daily necessities into a small briefcase - ranging from utensils to tea cups, nail clippers to combs and scents. French curator Anne Camilli did an amazing job in also tribute to MGM's golden days by including elements of the hotel's symbols.