The city-state of Singapore is the most modern country in Southeast Asia. While it sometimes feels like a western city, its Malay, Chinese, and Indian heritage makes it a cosmopolitan Asian city.
If you’ve been travelling in the region then Singapore can be a shock to the system when it comes to accommodation prices. There are no cheap guesthouses like you find in Malaysia, and you won’t find a backpacker area like Khao San Rd in Bangkok or Pham Ngu Lau in Saigon.
For backpackers, this will mean it’s back to hostel dorms, and the cheapest hotels are outside of the central area. If you’re on a strict budget then make sure you are within walking distance of a metro station and you will be easily connected to central Singapore.
If you are a visitor I think it’s best to stay in the historic central area to make the most of your time. For first-timers I have put together this Where to Stay list of the best areas to stay in Singapore, along with some recommended hotels.
Chinatown is where the original community of Chinese immigrants settled in Singapore. The area is lined with Chinese stores, markets, temples, and great places to eat for all budgets. It’s centrally located next to the Downtown area and the Civic District and there is a variety of accommodation options, from hostels to 5-star luxury hotels.
Search for hotels in Chinatown.
Budget (1-2 Stars)
The hostels and budget hotels aren’t as cheap here as in other parts of town (like Little India or Bugis) as you are in the middle of the action here. If you prefer location over price then these are the best-rated options.
Mid-range (3-4 Stars)
Luxury (5 Stars)
[Colourful shophouses in Little India, Singapore.]
Little India is where most of the original Indian migrants (mostly from South India) made their home. Today it still retains its sub-continental flavour with Hindu temples, markets, and lots of cheap places to eat. It’s a popular spot for backpackers and there are some good mid-range options here.
Search for hotels in Little India
I have stayed at Ali’s Nest, which is the cheapest guest house I’ve found in Singapore.
Other than that, the cheapest places are going to be hostels such as the Clifden Hostel.
Bunc Hostel is ideally situated next to a metro station. Read my review of Bunc Hostel.
[Check rates for Bunc Hostel.]
While technically not in Little India, One Farrer Hotel and Spa is one station away next to Farrer Park MRT.
[Check rates for One Farrer Hotel and Spa.]
Kampong Glam / Arab Street / Lavender
[Bussorah Street and Sultan Mosque.]
A short walk from Little India on the other side of the Rochor Canal is the Kampong Glam area. This is where Arab and other Muslim traders set up shop, with street names such as Haji Lane, Baghdad St, and Arab St. There is also the photogenic Bussorah Street and Sultan Mosque. The neighbourhood is now one of the trendiest in Singapore. Above here is Lavender.
Search for hotels near Kampong Glam.
Budget (1-2 Stars)
Cube Boutique Capsule Hotel @ Kampong Glam is a good example of how Singapore has embraced the capsule model for their hostels.
[Check rates for Cube Boutique Capsule Hotel @ Kampong Glam.]
Mid-range (3-4 Stars)
Hotel NuVe is a 3-star hotel in a well-reserved heritage street (my full review here).
[Check rates for Hotel NuVe.]
Hotel NuVe Urbane is a luxury boutique 4-star hotel in the Lavender area (my full review here).
[Check rates for Hotel NuVe Urbane.]
Luxury (5 Stars)
Hotel Vagabond Singapore – Central Heritage District is a luxury boutique hotel by the world renowned French designer Jacques Garcia.
Bugis is below Kampong Glam and near Bras Basah; the arts and heritage district which is home to museums and monuments. Bugis has been redeveloped over recent years and has lots of food, shopping, and transport options.
I like staying in Bugis as the East-West MRT Line from the airport stops here, making it an easy way to arrive. I stayed at the Plush Pods Hostel which was ideally located near the station. Many hostels in Singapore have now adopted the “pod style” of bedding, where your bed is either in a capsule (Japanese style) or has little walls and curtains around the bed for privacy.
Hotel NuVe Heritage is a 4-star luxury boutique hotel in a street that has become well known for its food. Here is my review of the Hotel NuVe Heritage.
In 2018 another architectural landmark was added to the Singapore skyline with the addition of DUO, by German architect, Ole Scheeren. This pair of concave skyscrapers are clad in a latticework of hexagonal windows, and one of the towers is home to Andaz Singapore – A Concept by Hyatt. This is the first Andaz hotel in Southeast Asia, where each hotel is one of a kind. DUO is connected via underground pedestrian walkways to Bugis MRT station.
[Check rates for Andaz Singapore – A Concept by Hyatt.]
Search for hotels near Bugis.
Singapore River: Clarke Quay / Boat Quay / Collyer Quay
[Clarke Quay, Singapore.]
Between Chinatown and the Singapore river is Clarke Quay. There are lots of bars and clubs around here and there are hostels and hotels for all budgets.
Next to Clarke Quay is Boat Quay, which is home to the 5footway.inn Project Boat Quay.
Search for hotels near Clarke Quay.
Near the mouth of the Singapore River on Collyer Quay, the Fullerton Hotel Singapore is a five-star luxury hotel that occupies the former General Post Office Building.
[Check rates for The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.]
In the area between Boat Quay and Chinatown is the PARKROYAL on Pickering. This hotel lines a whole city block and has integrated sky gardens in the property. The hotel is dubbed ‘Singapore’s most awarded sustainable hotel’, and upholds Singapore’s stature as the garden city.
Also between Boat Quay and Chinatown is The Clan Hotel Singapore by Far East Hospitality. This was listed as one of New York Times 10 new standout hotels in Asia.
Up the river is Robertson Quay. A notable hotel here is The Warehouse Hotel, which is a converted 19th-century spice warehouse on the Singapore River.
Colonial / Civic District
There are mainly high-end hotels around here, with the most famous being the Raffles Hotel.
Raffles Singapore is a colonial-style luxury hotel that was opened in 1887 by Armenian hoteliers, the Sarkies Brothers. Named after the founder of Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, “The Raffles” is world-famous and has become a byword for staying somewhere luxurious. The Grand Old Lady of Singapore re-opened in August 2019 after a two-year renovation.
And if you’re not staying here (which is most of us) you can still visit the Long Bar to have a Singapore Sling, which is where the famous cocktail was invented. Note that no one in Singapore actually drinks this, but don’t let that stop you.
Most of the downtown/financial district is dominated by skyscrapers, with very little in the way of heritage buildings. More of the more exceptional modern buildings is Oasia Hotel Downtown, Singapore by Far East Hospitality. This hotel stands out among the grey and blue glass towers with its red facade covered in a vertical garden.
Orchard Road is the premier shopping street of Singapore. In recent years there’s been a redevelopment arms race, where each mall seeks to outdo the other in brashness. And unlike the malls of the US, UK, and Australia, the malls are actually good places to eat.
Most of the hotels here are high-end hotels with the few mid-range hotels getting average reviews.
Mid-range (3-4 Stars)
I stayed at the Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore (formerly Traders Hotel Singapore), which is the mid-range hotel brand of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.
[Check rates for Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore.]
At the far end of Orchard Road is the Orchard Rendezvous Hotel by Far East Hospitality.
Luxury (5 Stars)
Hilton Singapore Orchard (formerly the Mandarin Orchard Singapore) is a landmark hotel on Orchard Road.
[Check rates for Hilton Singapore Orchard.]
Just after Orchard Road on Orange Grove Rd is the Shangri-La Hotel – one of the most iconic hotels in the city. Read my Shangri-La Hotel review.
[Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore.]
[This is where people stand and dream of staying at the Marina Bay Sands.]
Marina Bay is opposite the colonial and downtown area of Singapore on what is mostly reclaimed land. With the opening of the Gardens by the Bay and a metro station, the area has shifted the centre of gravity of the city. Being a redevelopment project in a prime location, the hotels here are in the 4-5 star range.
Marina Bay Sands is the most recognisable hotel in Singapore with its giant swimming pool straddled across its three towers overlooking the bay.
The world’s largest rooftop pool stretches 150 metres across Sands SkyPark, and it might also be world’s most famous Infinity Pool. The rooftop is only accessible by hotel guests, just in case you were thinking of sneaking a pool selfie for the ‘gram.
This landmark hotel was a fitting location for the movie Crazy Rich Asians. If you want to splurge on a memorable stay then this is the place to do it. Here is my review of the Marina Bay Sands.
For views of the Singapore skyline – including the Marina Bay Sands – the best-rated hotel is the The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.
Search for hotels in Marina Bay.
An emerging neighbourhood that is worth considering for budget hotels is Geylang. I say emerging because this area that was once synonymous for being the red-light district has been (for better or worse) cleaned up somewhat, and it’s now seeing new hotels. With its location close to central Singapore and a good stock of heritage buildings, it was only a matter of time before it became desirable as a place to stay.
Search for more hotels near Geylang.
[A lounge chair with alarm clock at Singapore Changi Airport.]
As one of the biggest airports in the region, the chances are you might just be passing through without time to stay. Changi Airport is consistently awarded as one of the best in the world, so if you have to do an overnighter at an airport then you could do worse than Changi. Here is a review of one time I stayed overnight at SIN. I didn’t get any sleep but it was an enjoyable stay at the airport.
For a more luxurious stay, the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport has been voted as the best airport hotel in the world.
[Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.]
Sentosa is the island off the island of Singapore. I don’t recommend it if it’s your first time in Singapore, but I am listing it here for reference. Sentosa is a resort island filled with theme parks such as Universal Studios and Marine Life Park. People go for staycations, or it’s a good option if you have kids in tow and you don’t feel like sweating it out in the city.
Search for Sentosa Island hotels.
Lovely article about where to stay in Singapore. It’s my first time with my little toddler. So lil tensed. Can u tell where we can get budget hotel in Singapore which will be nearby main attractions. Do I need to take passes online or I can buy them after reaching SG.
Impressive and interesting facts about Singapore
Hi, we are 3 adults heading to Sinapore in April before an overseas trip for 3N on the way there and then 3N on the way back.
I’ve researched on where to stay and I’m very confused. Im only keen on 4 to 5* hotels, nearby attractions that are not to far, and not in an area that is low end. Any recommendation?
I’ve read Marina Bay Sands area is lovely and close to all.
Hope to pay no more than $350PN.
We’re are not drinkers or clubbers lol.
James Clark says
yes the Marina Bay Sands is lovely and a unique experience as its rooftop pool is amazing. For areas, anywhere in Clarke Quay, Chinatown, Downtown, Bugis, Colonial/Civic District is central. Anything 5-star is going to be a good neighbourhood as well.
Terry Murray says
Thanks for sharing this information with us. Keep posting and keep sharing like this more about Where to stay in Singapore.