Over the last few years a cultural explosion has washed ashore in Singapore. The island city-state is the first Southeast Asian country and the fourth Asian territory to be rated by the Michelin Guide; its first edition launched in 2016. The National Gallery Singapore completed its restoration in 2015 after the government spent millions adjoining its two structures—part of the roughly $700 million per year that officials have allotted to infusing Singapore’s 276 square miles (the size of roughly half of Los Angeles) with artistic resources and creative spaces. Movements such as those attracted French-born chef Julien Royer to open his fine dining eatery, Odette, on the museum’s ground floor.
With Malaysia to the north and Sumatra to the west, Singapore sits just north of the equator. The year-round balmy island city-state went from third world to first in a single generation thanks to its first prime minister and founding father, Lee Kuan Yew. During his three decades of rule from 1959-1990, he emphasized engineering, technology and math, transforming both the economy and the public transportation system. The Lion City currently stands as one of the wealthiest countries in the world and is flush with cultural innovations, from food and beverage to fashion to sustainable living.
The architecture throughout the city varies immensely; from the two-story colonial era shophouses of Chinatown to the temples of Little India and central business district’s skyscrapers, below are our favorite places to eat, drink, sleep, ‘gram, shop and wander.
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Odette Named after his grandmother from whom he learned to cook, is Julien Royer’s two-year-old restaurant Odette. Housed in the National Gallery Singapore, also home to the city-state’s largest collection of art, Odette is French cuisine with a Singaporean twist. Royer works directly with importers to secure his produce-driven menu, which includes a pine-smoked organic egg, Hokkaido uni as well as a Brittany langoustine served under a white cloud of mussel spuma and topped with oscietra caviar and a gold leaf. Reservations are required and a tasting menu is mandatory, although diners can choose between four, six or eight courses. odetterestaurant/Instagram 1 of 1 Advertisement WHERE TO SHOP
Depression 277 Orchard Road, 04-14, Orchard Gateway
Kenny Lim created Depression with business partner Andrew Loh in an act of rebellion after feeling “stifled” by the local fashion industry. A unisex street style brand, Depression is anything but depressing. The sexy yet severe silhouettes of Lim’s long hoodies and trench jackets are offset by playful accessories like Mohawks-sporting unicorn-shaped black and white charm bags, graphic print knee-high socks and life size geometric beetles on thick chain necklaces. Located in one of Singapore’s many expansive malls, Sects Shop is Loh and Lim’s retail outpost and the sole brick-and-mortar retailer of Depression. depression_official/Instagram
Janice Wong 93 Stamford Rd, 01-06
“A piece of chocolate can be a whimsical fashion statement,” the 34-year-old Janice Wong tells me of the treats at her eponymous flagship eatery. While she serves up multi-course dessert degustation menus that include a pop rocks amuse bouche and lemongrass ice cream at her restaurant/laboratory/shop/ interactive playground (the tables are made of edible paint coated in resin), her chocolate paints, lotus mooncakes, pandan, gingerflower and mango curry sweet bites are the perfect edible accessories to bring home. When the petite native Singaporean isn’t creating seasonal tasting and dessert menus, she’s collaborating with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Shanghai Tang on edible experiences. janicewong2am/Instagram 1 of 2 Advertisement WHERE TO DRINK
Raffles Hotel Long Bar 1 Beach Rd
Crafted in-house, the gently saccharine Singapore Sling was invented specifically to allow women to drink alcohol in public, a previously unbecoming act. The year was 1915 and the cocktail looked like punch. No one except the bartenders and the ladies were the wiser. The Raffles Hotel Long Bar continues to churn out the gin-based rosy-hued $30 cocktail. No other bar even tries to compete. Note: the original plantation-style, peanut-shells-on-the-floor Raffles Bar & Billiard Room will continue serving until December 13, when it will close for an extensive restoration. raffleshotelsingapore/Instagram
Sugarhall 102 Amoy St. 9732 5607
While its big sister and next-door neighbor, Jigger &Pony, perpetually steals some of the limelight, the wood and wicker Sugarhall is coming into its own. Innovating with ingredients like ylang-ylang, macerated green grapes and ume, ? Sugarhall is a rum bar by name (sugar is nod to the singular foundational ingredient of all rum) and specialty. Perfecting its proprietary daiquiri took the inclusion of fermented banana, lime and caviar. The Hot Buttered Rum, a sweet yet oddly soothing cocktail, features burnt butter and spiced pumpkin puree while the Plum Sour adds Umeshu plum liqueur into a whiskey-leaning classic. Its location on Amoy Street, ground zero for cocktail bars, makes Sugarhall a perfect starting spot for a night on the town. sugarhallsg/Instagram 1 of 2 Advertisement WHERE TO STAY
The Warehouse Hotel 320 Havelock Road, 169628, Robertson Quay
Throughout the last 120 or so years, the building now inhabited by The Warehouse Hotel was home, at various times, to moonshine stills, a spice storehouse, a gangland trading hub, a distillery, a prostitution house, the Chinese headquarters of secret societies, an opium den, and, most recently, Singapore’s most popular disco. The 37-room property oozes an industrial feel, all steel beams, replicated pulleys and Edison lightbulbs. Paying homage to its various lifecycles, the hotel offers up “minibars of vice,” (with spanking paddles and salted eggs yolk crisps) and a focused cocktail program that functions as a timeline of the space’s history served up at its edgy, jade bar inset with terrazzo. Some of its rooms, dubbed “Warehouse Sanctuary,” are purposefully windowless. Hugging the Singapore River, many of the other rooms overlook Robertson Quay, a popular dining and shopping district directly across the river. thewarehousehotel/Instagram
Marina Bay Sands 10 Bayfront Ave
It took $5.5 billion to bring the Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino to life. The slender tri-tower hotel boasts 2,560 rooms and more than 7,000 employees. The casino’s centerpiece atrium-chandelier took 132,000 Swarovski crystals to create. Hotel guests have first priority to its seven restaurants and exclusive access to the 57th floor 500-foot rooftop infinity pool, the must-have selfie and best view in the city. Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, some say the Marina Bay Sands cemented Singapore as a global tourist destination. Everyone can agree, though, that the two floating nightclubs are the hottest ticket in the city. marinabaysands/Instagram 1 of 2 Advertisement WHAT TO DO
Thian Hock Keng Temple 158 Telok Ayer Street
A Hokkien temple, Thian Hock Keng was built in 1839 and continues to be frequented by Chinese immigrants giving thanks to Mazu, the Goddess of the Seas. Erected in a traditional southern Chinese architectural style, the entire structure was assembled without nails 178 years ago. Wood carvings of dragons and phoenixes lead into stone statues of Buddhist and Tao deities, gold engravings and bright orange, red and green tilework. Wolfgang Kaehler/Getty
Asian Heritage Signature treatment at the Fullerton Spa 1 Fullerton Square
After the dancing and the drinking, head to the Fullerton Spa. Housed in the Fullerton Hotel, a national monument, the spa features a robust program combining eastern and western practices so seamlessly it won a spot in the World Luxury Spa Awards 2017. The Asian Heritage Signature Treatment (Tip: ask for Diane) blends Oriental techniques to detoxify the body with chi balancing and Chinese pressure point techniques. Their in-house blend of warmed rosemary, lavender, black pepper and ginger oils is specially formulated to aid with jetlag. fullertonhotel/Instagram
Gardens by the Bay 18 Marina Gardens Drive
Containing over 1 million plants, this more than just your average garden or horticulturalist fantasy. A sanctuary from the city, Gardens by the Bay has heavily curated both its grounds and interior spaces. Inside the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, each with its own microclimate and stunning array of vegetation, walking paths and sky bridges guide visitors around built environments. Outside, tourists and locals alike wander the Supertree grove, a set of endlessly Instagrammable tree-like vertical gardens, and picnic in the Bay East Gardens. Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty 1 of 3 Advertisement