Places worth stay(cation)ing for

A hidden treasure, Lazarus Beach is only a short ferry ride away from Marina South Pier.
A good vacation means pristine beaches and luxury hotels for some, a good dose of history or adventure for others. But no need to whip out your passport to get any of that. From Home Team villas to a former police station, and a revamped resort with discounts for public officers, here are some spots right on our sunny shores for your next vacay.

St John’s Island Holiday Bungalow

The best beach in Singapore

Clockwise from top left: The holiday bungalow at St John’s Island will take you and your family away from the bustle of Singapore’s city life. And the St John’s Island and Lazarus Island are connected by a short walkway.

A former quarantine centre for lepers might not seem the best place for a relaxed holiday. But St John’s Island easily makes up for it with its proximity to the best beach in Singapore: just a short walk away lies Lazarus Island, where sandy white shores and clear waters await.

St John’s Island today plays a role in Singapore’s marine diversity conservation, as part of the Sister’s Island Marine Park, and home to the Tropical Marine Science Institute and the Marine Aquaculture Centre.

For staycationers, the St John’s Island holiday bungalow has four comfortable bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, and access to basketball and football courts. There are no eateries on the island, so stock up on your own supplies, fire up the stove or the grill at the BBQ pits, and enjoy a no-frills weekend away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Alternatively, head out for an intertidal walk or learn more about marine life in the region by visiting the Public Gallery at the Marine Park Outreach and Education Centre.

Plan to stay during the school term and, as a plus, enjoy better rates of $53.50 a night for a stay from Tuesday to Friday, and $107 a night for a stay from Friday to Monday. Bookings are best made two months in advance.

Website: St John’s Island

St John’s Island today plays a role in Singapore’s marine diversity conservation.

The Villas@Bukit Batok

Adventures in the west

Air-conditioned double-storey villas can house parties of six to ten people.

Journey to the west for an adventure-filled holiday. The Villas@Bukit Batok, run by HomeTeamNS, offer comfort at the end of adrenaline-charged activities. A deluxe villa houses 10 people, while a superior villa can fit six. Prices range from $150 to $318 per night, and a stay of three days during the off-peak weekday period gets you a 30% discount on the first two days.

Once settled into your villa, test your fear of heights by scaling a rock wall, abseiling off one, or attempting the flying fox – all available at the HomeTeamNS clubhouse. Still want to get your heart pumping? Form teams to battle it out at the Laser Quest centre.

Both deluxe and superior villas come with a kitchen, so a good cook among you could fuel up your gang with some home-cooked food. If not, explore the Bukit Batok area for some good old hawker food. Unique spins on old favourites include curry chee cheong fun from Happy Hawker at Blk 632 Bukit Batok Central.

Finally, wind down with a stroll through Bukit Batok Nature Park and visit Little Guilin, an old granite quarry turned park, named for its resemblance to limestone rock formations in Guilin, China… it might just make your pictures look like you went overseas.

Address: 2 Bukit Batok West Ave 7

Test your fear of heights by scaling a rock wall, abseiling off one, or attempting the flying fox.

Civil Service Club (CSC) Changi

The coastal getaway


Nestled in the heart of Changi Village, and just a stone’s throw from the Changi Point ferry terminal, Civil Service Club (CSC) Changi is the place for a coastal getaway.

Besides bowling, karaoke and tennis facilities, you get an amazing view of the sunrise from the sheltered BBQ pit on the rooftop, as well as from the deluxe and superior suites on the third and fourth floors. (Not an early bird? Take an evening stroll instead from the Changi Point Coastal to Sunset Walk to enjoy the sunset.)

For fun outside the Club, you don’t have to venture far. Visit the Changi Museum to learn more about the Japanese Occupation, or the cafe Chock Full of Beans to get in on the hype about adorable 3-D latte art.

The more adventurous can take a boat out to Pulau Ubin and go cycling around the lake, or visit the Chek Jawa Wetlands. Others with a longer staycation can even consider learning sailing at the nearby PA Water-Venture or Changi Sailing Club! And when you’re done with all that activity, the famous nasi lemak at Changi Village awaits…

Public officers (from ministries and statutory boards) who are club members enjoy the best room rates: Off-peak rates range from $148 per night (single bedroom suites) to $605 per night (sea-facing villas with three bedroom units). Off-peak promotion periods include 50% off for the second night at superior or deluxe suites.

Address: 2 Netheravon Road (

Hotel Indigo

A dose of heritage and food

Then and now: The old Joo Chiat Police Station is now a riot of colours.

Keeping with the area’s heritage, Hotel Indigo – located where Joo Chiat Police Station used to be – has integrated signature Peranakan tiles, batik motifs and other charming old-school fixtures, across all of its decor.

For $189 a night, you can retreat into a spacious shophouse-styled deluxe room, or step out onto the rooftop and behold a 25-metre-long infinity pool with a breathtaking view of the Joo Chiat neighbourhood.

It’s also the perfect base for exploring the area. You can follow the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s walking trail, or choose your attractions: the old shophouses provide plenty of photo-taking opportunities, while private museums The Intan and Katong Antique House offer a glimpse into Peranakan life.

Perhaps even more appealing are the food options available: besides local favourites like Katong laksa, Punggol nasi lemak and Beach Road prawn mee, an abundance of restaurants – Japanese, Thai and Italian – will satisfy every taste bud. The revamped Red House bakery, especially, is worth visiting, and for a good traditional kaya toast and eggs, a trip to the iconic Chin Mee Chin Confectionery is a must.

Address: 86 East Coast Rd

Behold a 25-metre-long infinity pool with a breathtaking view of the Joo Chiat neighbourhood.

The Sultan Hotel

A whole new world

A row of 10 shophouses at Kampong Glam have been renovated and now form the grand Sultan Hotel.

Just like the eclectic Kampong Glam that surrounds it, The Sultan Hotel retains the architectural features of a colonial-styled exterior, tall columns and wide arcs, all reminiscent of an elegant past. Comprising 10 shophouses, the hotel doesn’t boast a view of the Singapore skyline, but its skylight rooms allow guests the experience of sleeping under the stars, while enjoying the comfort of being indoors.

A staycation there promises the same variety in experiences. The surrounding streets have antique and jewellery stores, vintage clothing stores side by side with local designer labels, a huge range of Middle Eastern cuisine and local favourites, as well as rowdy backpacker joints just around the corner from fancy bespoke cocktail bars.

Those interested in culture and heritage will also be spoiled for choice. Pop by the Masjid Sultan, one of Singapore’s oldest mosques, visit the Malay Heritage Centre to learn about Malay history, or chat up one of the storekeepers selling carpets. Single rooms at The Sultan start at only $113, but a serendipitous experience at Kampong Glam? Priceless.

Address: 101 Jalan Sultan, #01-01 (

The Sultan Hotel retains the architectural features of a colonial-styled exterior, tall columns and wide arcs, all reminiscent of an elegant past.

Hotel Fort Canning

Live like ancient royalty

The swimming pools use chlorine-free mineral water. Guided walks around Hotel Fort Canning are available upon request for hotel guests.

The spot where Singapore surrendered to the Japanese no doubt has huge historical significance – and Hotel Fort Canning, situated in the area, fits perfectly with the location’s reputation as a history trove. Built in 1926 as the administrative building for the British Far East headquarters, the hotel today has seamlessly woven elements of our colonial past – think high ceilings, tasteful marble, a grand staircase – into its modern facilities.

Wander around to soak up the grandeur of days gone by. Or better yet, for an extra special occasion, splurge on a stay in the Majapahit suites at $1,500++ per night and imagine living like the kings before us. After that, you can venture out of the hotel to continue traversing Singapore of the past. Tours by the National Parks Board (guided and non-guided) offer a journey through 14th century Singapore, with a visit to the tomb of the last ruler of precolonial Singapore and artefacts left by Chinese merchants. And for an even more in-depth story of British colonialization and surrender, there’s the Battle Box tour through the World War II bunker.

Coming back to modern day, you can return to the hotel for a taste of the pleasure gardens the colonial rulers once had – enjoy a picnic basket put together with a mix of British, Japanese and Singapore flavours in the gardens of the hotel. Room rates start at $550 per night.

Address: 11 Canning Walk (

    Nov 1, 2016
    Fiona Liaw
    Hotel Indigo
    Photo of Joo Chiat Police Station Courtesy of the National Archives
  • link facebook
  • link twitter
  • link whatsapp
  • link email