While roaming around in Southeast Asia, there’s a good chance that you’ll swing by the small city-state of Singapore, whether intended or not. As one of the major transportation hubs of the region, Singapore sees many travellers brush through on their way to more popular neighbouring destinations.
Those who batten down and settle in for at least a full 24 hours in Singapore, however, quickly realize that this city is worth more than just a stopover.
There’s plenty of things to do & see in Singapore, even if it’s not cut from your typical Southeast Asian cloth. And when you choose where to stay in Singapore wisely, the whole city will quickly be at your disposal.
Not sure how to start planning? Get your bearings with this complete accommodations guide featuring the best areas & places to stay in Singapore…
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Where to stay in Singapore: A complete guide to the best hotels, neighbourhoods & areas for travellers
Settling on where to stay in Singapore can be a bit of challenge. The city-state spreads far and wide with a massive selection of accommodations straddling every budget range including plenty of mid-range & luxury hotels.
Fortunately, for travellers, the choices get narrowed down rather quickly. Many of the top Singapore attractions hover in & around the city’s downtown core.
Staying among the most central areas is a no-brainer, even if it’ll cost you a little more in the end. These neighbourhoods offer a wide variety of things to do, see & eat.
The best areas to stay in Singapore for travellers include:
- Chinatown: Top choice for travellers interested in mouth-watering food & culture. The central location means that many of the city’s more compelling tourist attractions are within a short walk.
- Singapore River: The riverside development in the north end of Downtown that includes Clarke Quay, Robertson Quay, and Boat Quay. This is one of the best areas in Singapore for excellent sit-down dining options & nightlife.
- Marina Bay: A glitzy area that’s a top pick for luxury travellers seeking out the perfect 5-star experience. The sights around Marina Bay, particularly the Gardens of the Bay and Bayfront, offer some of the finest evening views in Singapore.
- Orchard Road: The city’s shopping mecca, Orchard Road and neighbouring Somerset are the best places to stay in Singapore for shopaholics looking for upscale boutiques & malls to fill up their luggage with all the latest fashions. It’s also a great option for foodies seeking out a wide variety of delicious cuisine without the raw experience of the hawker centres further downtown.
- Bugis: A popular shopping area to the north of the historic river quays that includes Bencoolen & Kampong Glam, Singapore’s most Arab & Malay influenced quarter. There’s a mix of all types of accommodations here from budget hotels to some of the top luxury hotels in Singapore.
- Little India: A colourful area that’s one of the more interesting corners of Singapore for travellers. Both travel photographers and foodies will absolutely love choosing this neighbourhood as their base of operations while touring Singapore.
- Sentosa Island: An abundance of theme parks, family-friendly attractions and the country’s most beautiful beaches make this island to the south of the downtown core the top choice for where to stay in Singapore for families and thrill-seekers.
- Geylang: A budget-friendly alternative to the city centre districts, this area offers a glimpse at an intimate local neighbourhood with a raucous nightlife scene and some incredibly eclectic food venues.
- Changi Airport: If you’re only visiting Singapore on a layover, there’s no better choice than to stay close to its major air transfer hub. WWII-history fanatics will also love the area’s museums detailing Singapore’s Japanese occupation.
Now, let’s dig a little deeper into each area…
✓ Best area to stay for food & culture
I can’t justifiably start any guide for where to stay in Singapore without first mentioning Chinatown. This area, almost in the dead centre of Downtown, is not only one of the most convenient areas to stay, but one of the city’s most interesting & colourful corners.
The heart of Singapore’s Chinese heritage beats loud on the streets of Chinatown. As you wander along, you’ll catch a fleeting glimpse of Singapore prior to its economic explosion. There couldn’t be a bigger contrast between the area’s low-rise historical shophouses and the glitzy skyscrapers just a few blocks to the east.
Most of all, in choosing Chinatown as your base for where to stay in Singapore, you’re committing to a trip full of superb Singaporean food. Both the Chinatown Complex Food Centre and the nearby Maxwell Food Centre are two of the top hawker centres in Singapore, and are must-visits for any gourmand.
Attractions in & around Chinatown: Chinatown Complex Food Centre, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Maxwell Food Centre, Chinatown Food Street, Thian Hock Keng Temple, Singapore City Gallery, Sri Mariamman Temple
Recommended hotels in Chinatown
Like so many areas in Singapore, the selection of accommodations in Chinatown ranges anywhere from budget guesthouses (well, at least by Singaporean standards) and some of the city’s top luxury hotels.
With the age of the heritage buildings in this neighbourhood, the quality of accommodations can vary quite significantly. Remember: Singapore is, like Tokyo and Hong Kong, one of the most expensive cities in Asia for hotels. Don’t base your decision solely on price.
- Bliss Hotel: Perhaps the best budget-friendly choice in Chinatown, this modern Singapore hotel features rooms far bigger than their lower price point would predict. While shorter on amenities than other more expensive hotels in the area, extras like a free smartphone rental add a huge amount of value.
- Orchid Hotel: Offering some of the best value in the area, this mid-range budget hotel delivers clean & comfy rooms that combine classic European designs with modern flair. The outdoor swimming pool is a pleasant surprise for its price point in Singapore.
- Oasia Hotel Downtown: Immediately captivating your attention with its green design, this sublime 4.5-star hotel blends nature with delightfully urban influences for a luxuriously relaxing stay. The rooms at the Oasia Hotel Downtown reflect a palpably modern Asian design aesthetic with tremendous city views to top it off. Chill out by the pool or with a drink to mega skyline views to take your stay to the next level.
- Parkroyal on Pickering: What can I say other than this is one stunning property! As you walk towards Chinatown for the first time, there’s no doubt that the brilliant 5-star Parkroyal on Pickering will catch your eye. Designed as a green garden oasis in the centre of the city, this building stuns inside and out. All of the requisite luxuries are available here to guests whether its soaking up city views from the spectacular outdoor pool or garden walk, indulging in 360-degree views from the rooftop Orchid Club or squeeze out the stress with a relaxing massage at the spa.
✓ Top area to stay for great dining & nightlife
Located just north of Chinatown, the area around the Singapore River is another one of the city’s top places to stay. For sightseeing, it’s undoubtedly one of my personal favourites in the city.
Much like Singapore’s Chinese quarter, the colourful merchant houses lining the Singapore River in the historical riverside quays—Boat Quay, Robertson Quay, and Clarke Quay—give visitors a fleeting look at Singapore’s marine trading heritage.
On top of offering some lovely scenes to accompany a relaxing stroll along the boardwalk, the banks of the river host some of the city’s tastiest restaurants. While the hawker centres, arguably, offer the tastiest food in the city, the restaurants perched along the riverbanks aren’t far behind.
The area around Clarke Quay is particularly popular. It’s one of the Singapore’s top nightlife spots with a barrage of pumpin’ bars & clubs. Even if clubbing isn’t your scene, relaxing along a riverside terrace with a Singapore Sling in hand before it gets too rowdy is a fantastic way to tap off a long day of sightseeing.
Attractions in & around the Singapore River: Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, Robertson Quay, Fort Canning Park, National Gallery of Singapore, The Arts House, Asian Civilizations Museum, Merlion Statue, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
Recommend hotels around Singapore River
As you’d imagine with its prime location in the heart of the city, accommodations along the Singapore River don’t always come cheap. That being said, there’s a good mix here with a little of everything for any style of traveller.
The area around the Clarke Quay MRT Station holds the highest concentration of hotels & guesthouses, particularly around Hong Kong Street and Carpenter Street. The higher-end properties are generally located closer to the river.
- Champion Hotel City: Not just one of the top budget picks in the area, but one of the best in the city. Rooms are a little cozier than other hotels in the area, but are clean, modern & comfortable. Chinatown, Raffles Place and Clarke Quay are all within short walking distance.
- Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay: A fantastic mid-range pick offering comfortable rooms with superb city views in a central location. Extras like an outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, and rooftop fitness centre help this 3.5-star punch well above its weight class.
- Park Regis: Perhaps the best value 4-star hotel in Singapore, this charming property impresses well beyond its fantastic location. The rooms are snazzy and comfortable, but the true magic of the Park Regis comes with enjoying its softly-lit outdoor pool area under the moonlight.
- Swissotel Merchant Court Singapore: Located in the middle of the Clarke Quay entertainment district, this 4.5-star is less a hotel than a full-serviced urban resort. Rooms feature modern furnishings illuminated by light shearing through oversized windows with courtyard, river, and city views. After a day of sightseeing in the dead heat of Singapore, cool down before walking out the door to indulge in riverside drinks at one of the many nearby bars & restaurants along Clarke Quay.
✓ Best area to stay for unmatched Asian luxury
There’s no denying that Marina Bay isn’t just one of the top-rated places to stay in Singapore, but in all of Asia. Well, at least if you’re not travelling on a budget.
Walking around Marina Bay has luxury written all over it. From the soaking in incredible evening views of the central business district to catching the dancing lights of Gardens at the Bay at nightfall, this area is truly a remarkable slice of urban ingenuity and is one of the world’s great triumphs of urban design.
More importantly for travellers, the area also plays hosts to many of Singapore’s most luxurious hotels, none more famous than the distinctive Marina Bay Sands.
If your travel budget allows it (or you’re up for a serious splurge), Marina Bay is the place to loosen up the pursestrings and treat yourself to a serious pampering Asia style.
Attractions in & around Marina Bay: Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands Casino, ArtScience Museum, Singapore Flyer, Esplanade Theatres by the Bay
Recommended hotels in Marina Bay
Marina Bay is the hub of luxury in Singapore and the accommodations here reflect that. Here you’ll find some of the best luxury hotels in Singapore and the prices to match.
This puts many of the top hotels in Marina Bay all but out-of-reach for budget travellers. That doesn’t mean that only celebs and dignitaries can stay here. Those with a mid-range budge might be able to squeeze in a night or two with a little smart pre-planning. (Hey, it’s worth a shot.)
- Pan Pacific Hotel: A fantastic 5-star hotel that’s excellent value considering the much loftier price tags of its neighbours. The spacious rooms feature modern furnishings and subtle splashes of colour to add some joy to the ambiance. Delight your tastebuds with one of the six on-site dining options or chill out in the massive outdoor pool to Singapore city views.
- The Fullerton Hotel Singapore: There’s hardly a more iconic luxury hotel in Singapore than this popular five-star on the western shores of Marina Bay. Get marvelled by the mighty colonnades before checking into one of the hotel’s spacious & elegant rooms. Enjoy the Fullerton to its fullest by spending an evening at one of of its on-site fine-dining restaurant or enjoying drinks to marina views at Post Bar.
- Marina Bay Sands: Even though it’s still a young pup, this 5-star luxury hotel & casino complex is undoubtedly one of Singapore’s best hotels and most iconic places to stay. Upon its completion in 2010, Marina Bay Sands forever redefined the city’s skyline and raised the bay for all future luxury hotels. Besides rooms that feature truly world-class views, this top Singapore hotel boasts 20 different dining options, the world’s largest infinity pool, and a garden-like observation deck on the the 57th floor overlooking the cityscape and Gardens by the Bay.
✓ Best neighbourhood to stay for upscale shopping & great food
Zipping a little further away from the city centre, one of the top choices for where to stay in Singapore has gotta be Orchard Road. This area to the northwest of downtown is famous as one of Singapore’s retail meccas with shopping malls coming out the walls. (And, yes, I’m totally quoting a ’90s Beck song).
Aside from adding a little retail therapy to your Singapore trip, Orchard Road is a great area to stay for foodies. Among the malls and boutiques you’ll find a barrage of food courts and restaurants with all of your favourite Singaporean goodies.
Attractions in & around Orchard Road: ION Orchard, Ngee Ann City, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore Art Museum, National Museum
Recommended hotels in Orchard
Thanks to the area’s popularity, there’s a wide selections of accommodations in Orchard Road. Most of the inventory here floats within the mid-range and luxury segments with little offered in lower end.
What you’ll find in Orchard though tends to have better value than in areas closer to the downtown core like Marina Bay. And considering it’s only a couple MRT stops from most of the top tourist attractions in Singapore, it makes for a great alternative if you plan to stay for more than just a day or two.
- YOTEL Singapore Orchard Road: One of the better value picks in the Orchard area, this modern hotel features cozy sophisticated rooms with lofty city views. Rare extras for the price range like smartbeds and an infinity pool add to the charm.
- The Quincy Hotel by Far East Hospitality: A boutique hotel delivering sleek & modern studios with extras like large bay windows, bathtubs, and a free smartphone rental with your reservation. The 12th-floor infinity pool and garden terrace are absolute magical at night.
- Shangri-La Hotel Singapore: Set among 15 acres of greenery, this luxurious hotel resort is one of the most spectacular properties in Singapore. Besides offering spacious rooms with jaw-dropping city views, world-class amenities await the traveller at the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore including a spa, fitness centre, two tennis courts, and a Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant.
- Four Seasons Hotel Singapore: A delightful 5-star hotel that holds true to the brand’s name with elegant contemporary rooms and a unique Asian design aesthetic throughout. Amenities here go well beyond the norm, charming guests with tennis courts, a 24-hour gym and two pools including one on the 20th-floor rooftop.
✓ Top district to stay for shopping & heritage sightseeing
Once one of Singapore’s most infamous areas, Bugis has changed much since its postwar heyday. It’s shed its seedier reputation to become, like Orchard Road, one of the city’s top shopping districts.
Beyond its malls, boutiques, and shopping streets, there’s another bonus to staying in Bugis: sightseeing. The area is home to Kampong Glam, an old Arab quarter that’s one of the most interesting places to check out in Singapore. It teems with golden mosques, small boutiques, cafés, restaurants, and even a surprising smattering of cool street art.
Attractions in & around Bugis: Bugis Junction, Sultan Mosque, Malabar Mosque, Haji Lane, Arab Street, Malay Heritage Centre, Bugis Village
Recommended hotels in Bugis
In terms of accommodations, there’s a little of everything in Bugis from budget to mid-range to luxury. If you’re looking to save a little money while still staying within a super quick ride from the downtown core, Bugis is a superb choice.
- Hotel G Singapore: A budget-friendly hotel with a hip & funky vibe. Each room features modern amenities and includes a free smartphone rental.
- InterContinental Singapore: A 5-star luxury hotel dripping with elegance. Rooms are spacious & meticulously appointed with classy furnishings and mega views from floor-to-ceiling windows.
- Andaz Singapore: The perfect 5-star concept hotel, this modern masterpiece oozes with cool from its spacious rooms to its clean design lines. City views from the outdoor infinity pool and the rooftop bar, Mr. Stork, are simply jaw-dropping.
✓ Top district to stay for foodies & photographers
Now that you’re becoming more well-acquainted with Singapore, it’s probably obvious that the city’s full of colourful corners. Well, there’s perhaps none more vibrant than Little India, home to a large proportion of Singapore’s Indian community.
Walking through this interesting district, you’ll quickly be overcome with the smell of delicious curries cooking on charcoal grills and the sound of Bollywood tunes pumping through loud-speakers outside colourful merchant houses dating back to the colonial era. It’s quite possibly Singapore’s most Instagrammable neighbourhood!
Not only is Little India an interesting place in its own right, it’s well-connected to the rest of Singapore via public transportation. Whatever your tastes, you’ll find Little India a fantastic choice for where to stay in Singapore.
Attractions in & around Little India: Indian Heritage Centre, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, Abdul Gafoor Mosque, Sim Lim Square, Our Lady of Lourdes, Tan Teng Niah, Farrer Park
Recommended hotels in Little India
Despite its tremendous sightseeing potential, the accommodations scene in Little India isn’t as superb as one might think. The offerings skew mostly towards the budget and mid-market spectrum with the latter showing off better quality choices overall.
- Aqueen Heritage Hotel Little India: One of the most budget-friendly choices in the area, this boutique hotel offers a cool artistic aesthetic along with sizeable simply-styled guestrooms.
- Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon: A fantastic 4-star hotel that lives up the brand’s promise with large rooms featuring excellent views over Singapore. The outdoor pool is a great place to relax and cool down in Singapore’s heat.
- Village Hotel Albert Court by Far East Hospitality: A classy hotel, situated in restored shophouses between Bugis and Little India, boasting elegant Straits Chinese decor throughout. There are four on-site eateries here including Shish Mahal Restaurant, serving up tasty Northern Indian cuisine.
✓ Top area for families & thrill-seekers
Whomever thought Singapore was a boring place to visit clearly never spent much time exploring Sentosa Island. Home to variety of family-friendly activities including Universal Studios Singapore, Sentosa Island is where to stay in Singapore for families or anyone looking to escape the urban buzz for a little fun in the sun.
Besides its famous theme parks & amusement parks, Sentosa Island is home to the best beaches in Singapore. (Yes, beaches! Who woulda thunk it!) As you’ll quickly find out, they can be quite packed; staying nearby will help you secure your spot on the busiest of beach days before the crowds descend from downtown.
Attractions in & around Sentosa Island: Universal Studios Singapore, Adventure Core Waterpark, S.E.A. Aquarium, Tiger Sky Tower, Singapore Butterfly & Insect Kingdom, Fort Serapong, Palawan Island, Siloso Beach, Sentosa 4D Adventure Land, Madame Tussauds Singapore, Trick Eye Museum Singapore
Recommended hotels in Sentosa Island
Thanks to its popularity and seaside location, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Sentosa Island isn’t exactly well-suited for budget travellers. In fact, many of the properties here are among the more expensive in Singapore! Of course, that also means that many of the best places to stay in Sentosa Island are also among the best in the city.
- Le Méridien Singapore Sentosa: One of the better value mid-range properties on the island, this stylish hotel occupies a graceful restored colonial building situated among relaxing private gardens. The outdoor infinity pool and terrace are built for infinite relaxation.
- Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa: This absolutely massive resort is undoubtedly the ultimate family getaway in Singapore. Located along Siloso Beach, this hotel will feel miles away from the bustle of Singapore while still easily accessible from some of its top attractions.
- W Singapore Sentosa Cove: Another home run from Westin’s “boutique” brand, this 5-star hotel is as hip & stylish as any in the portfolio. World-class amenities like a massive outdoor pool, spa, fitness centre, and four classy dining options await.
- Capella Singapore: The top luxury pick on Sentosa, this 5-star resort, tucked away in the island’s rainforest, charms guests with its delightful Asia decor and host of amenities including 3 outdoor pools and an award-winning spa.
✓ Recommended district for budget travellers looking for great food & happenin’ nightlife
Once one of the dodgiest corners of the city, it seems a little odd to include the district of Geylang among the top choices for where to stay in Singapore. Despite its sordid reputation as the red light district, this neighbourhood, to the northeast of the downtown core, is indeed one of the most interesting corners of Singapore.
Although development, thanks to the area’s lower property value in comparison to elsewhere, is constantly changing the face of Geylang, there are still plenty of pocket of old Singapore to be found here. As you might expect with its—a-hem!—local “professionals,” there’s a raving nightlife scene in Geylang.
Its growing multicultural population has also turned Geylang into one of the most exotic food locales in taste-obsessed Singapore, including the culinary nirvana of Old Airport Road Food Centre, one of the top hawker centres in Singapore.
Attractions in & around Geylang: Geylang Serai Market, Foo Hai Ch’an Monastery, Sri Sivan Temple, 112 Katong Mall, Joo Chiat, Old Airport Road Food Centre
Recommended hotels in Geylang
As one of the cheaper places to live in Singapore, it’s hardly a surprise that much of the focus in Geylang is on budget accommodations. Unfortunately, the quality here can be a little hit or miss. Be sure to read reviews thoroughly or stick to one of these top places to stay…
- CapsulePod@Aljunied: Thought capsule hotels were only in Japan? Think again! This popular hostel offers a perfect way to check off two boxes in saving money and capturing the real Asian capsule-pod accommodations experience.
- five/6 Hotel Splendour: If you’re dead-set on staying in the area, this budget-friendly hotel is a fantastic choice thanks to its modern rooms and clean facilities (not always a given in Geylang).
- Fragrance Hotel Sapphire: A popular local hotel chain offering up simple, no-frills rooms that provide excellent value for Singapore.
✓ Best place to stay for travellers in transit
With all of the amazing places to stay in Singapore and the superb transportation system, there’s, truthfully, little reason to lay your head around Changi Airport unless you’ve got an extremely early (or late) flight reservation.
Even with one of the world’s best airports at its heart, Changi offers a handful of lesser-known WWII attractions nearby for history buffs including several museums and monuments detailing Singapore’s Japanese occupation and the area’s prisoner-of-war camps.
Attractions in & around Changi: Changi Beach Park, East Coast Park, Pasir Ris Park, Johore Battery, Singapore Expo, Changi Museum and Chapel, Navy Museum, The Jewel
Recommended hotels in Changi
As with most areas surrounding major airports around the world, the selection of accommodations around Singapore’s air hub tend to be relatively pricey. The closer you get to the airport, the more you should expect to pay.
- YOTELAIR Singapore Changi Airport: Located just half a kilometre from the airport, this hotel offers some of the best value in the area. The rooms here are decidedly small but quite comfortable.
- Park Avenue Changi: Although a little further from Changi than our other recommendations, this mid-range hotel is an excellent choice for business travellers as it’s located in Changi Business Park and 0.5 kilometres from the Singapore Expo.
- Crowne Plaza Changi Airport: Directly connected to the airport, this 4-star hotel is the top choice in Changi for travellers looking for a little dash of luxury during their Singapore layover.
Summary: The best places to stay in Singapore
- Looking for a budget-friendly choice in central Singapore? I’d highly recommend checking out Champion Hotel City. It offers clean & modern (if a little small) rooms within a short walk of both Clarke Quay and Chinatown.
- Got a little more to spend on your comfort? There’s hardly a better mid-ranger than the Park Regis near Clarke Quay. The outside pool area is simply stunning!
- Craving something truly splurge-worthy? The Marina Bay Sands has quickly catapulted to star status to become the city’s most iconic luxury hotel. Take in the spectacular views from your room or from the rooftop infinity pool, the world’s largest of its kind, to see what all the fuss is about.