Where to stay in Singapore
There is a wide variety of accommodation, ranging from budget to modern, ultra high-class hotels; note though that ‘budget’ in Singapore terms is significantly more expensive than in many other countries in the region. At the top end the hotels have extensive facilities, including swimming pools, health clubs, several restaurants, full business services and shopping arcades.
It is advisable to make advance reservations particularly at peak times, notably during the Formula One when prices increase dramatically but rooms can still be hard to find. All rooms are subject to 7% tax and 10% service charge; if a rate says ‘++’ then this has not yet been added. For further information on accommodation in Singapore, contact the Singapore Tourism Board.
If you arrive at Changi airport without a reservation, and don’t want to walk the streets looking for something, then it’s worth consulting the Singapore Hotel Association (www.stayinsingapore.com) desks which are in each terminal. They cover a wide range of prices and, unlike some similar services, they do not charge tourists for the service.
Grading: Some hotels are designated as being ‘International Standard’ with all modern conveniences such as swimming pools and air conditioning. However, there is no formal star system of grading. Expect a Singapore hotel advertising itself as five star to be considerably more luxurious than many of the European equivalents.
Bed and breakfast
The majority of the guest houses are situated in the area around Bencoolen Street and Beach Road in the Colonial District. Although considerably cheaper than the main hotels, guest houses tend to offer less value for money. Discounts are sometimes available when staying a few days.
The few campsites which exist in Singapore are inconveniently located, making camping a difficult option. Campsites are: Changi Beach Park, East Coast Park, Pasir Ris Park, Sembawang Park and West Coast Park; permits are required to camp on a week-night. In addition, it’s possible to camp without a permit on Mamam Beach on Pulau Ubin, although it isn’t among South East Asia’s finest by any stretch of the imagination.
Backpacker hostels: There are numerous hostel-style establishments offering communal dormitory accommodation to cash-strapped backpackers; the average price for a night’s accommodation is S$20, but the dorms tend to be packed. The cheapest places are in Little India and Kampong Glam, although Chinatown also has some good options. There is one YMCA International hostel in Singapore, in a great spot on Orchard Road.
Apartments: Although they are not designed for short stays, Singapore also has plenty of serviced apartments suitable for medium- and long-term visitors. There are few bargains to be found, but the best places to start looking are on expat websites and in the Straits Times newspaper.
Resorts: You’ll never get completely away from civilization in Singapore, but the islands do offer a little breathing space particularly during the week. There are several resorts, most of them on Sentosa but also on Pulau Ubin and St John’s Island. Generally, though, it would be better to go to one of Malaysia’s islands – Desaru is popular with Singaporeans as the easiest to get to, although Tioman is not so much further away. The Indonesian island of Bintan is another possibility.