170 Bencoolen Street (+65 6593 2888; www.ibishotel.com)
Just around the corner from Little India, this affordable gem provides chic on the cheap. Its rooms are small, but so artfully designed they seem spacious. The corridors are dull, but the lobby, bar and restaurant sparkle, especially the restaurant, Taste, which offers a selection of iconic Singaporean dishes — three tastes for $15, four for $18 and five for $22 and that's Singapore dollars. You can feast on laksa, fish curry with roti pratta, sweet and sour prawns, chicken rice, pepper crab and roasted duck to mention a few of the dishes — and they're delicious. The staff is efficient and friendly and the bellboy will always hail a taxi in minutes when you want to zip back to the airport. It's also perfectly located for a walk around Little India, so stretch those legs.
10 Waterfront Avenue, Marina Bay (+65 6688 8888; www.marinabaysands.com)
Undeniably spectacular, this mega-hotel with its 2561 rooms and suites packs a great visual punch. Now a firm fixture on the Singaporean skyline, its ship-shaped terrace — which is longer than the Eiffel Tower — sits majestically on top of three 200-metre high towers. Adorned with a water park of palm trees and a series of swimming pools, it attracts Singaporeans in their thousands. Blessed with a dozen restaurants and countless designer shops, it's more metropolis than hotel. The views are unparalleled, but so are the queues for breakfast, which isn't surprising with thousands of rooms and one breakfast buffet in the lobby. Its publicity blurb proudly states four-and-a-half 747s could be parked on top of it. On my visit, all I wanted was some furniture on my balcony and a seat from a Jumbo would have done very nicely. The suites are worthy of their five-star rating, but the standard rooms lack warmth. Don't miss out on a meal at chef Justin Quek's Sky on 57 restaurant — it's eclectic dishes are unforgettable and so is the chocolate bar.
Clifford Pier,80 Collyer Quay (+65 6333 8388; www.fullertonbayhotel.com)
For proof that size doesn't necessarily matter, look no further than this glamorous 100-room hotel on the other side of Marina Bay. It's an astonishingly beautiful five-star establishment; a temple to inspiring design, courtesy of Andre Fu. Fronted by a glimmering glass facade, the hotel's impressive 17-metre wide lobby joins onto Clifford Pier, a heritage site that saw the arrival of thousands of Singapore's early settlers. Immigration halls seldom brim with warmth and vitality, but this intimate hotel does. The colours, materials, bespoke furniture and superb use of space caress the senses. It's known as the sassy younger sister of The Fullerton. It sits on stilts over the bay — the only pier hotel in the city. In the rooms are magnificent beds, sumptuous fabrics, rose wood, lattice screens and balconies with water features, but the highlight is the rooftop Lantern bar that surrounds a 25-metre pool with views of the night-time dazzle of the Singaporean skyline. The Clifford restaurant serves international cuisine and is excellent. Once you enter this glass-encased jewel case, you'll be reluctant to leave.
33 Erskine Road (+65 6511 3333; www.thescarlethotel.com)
A two-minute walk from Chinatown and the Temple of Heavenly Bliss, this hip hotel is housed in a converted terrace of 14 Chinese shop houses, circa 1868, filled with sumptuous baroque decor in many shades of red, black and gold. Its public spaces are very theatrical, but impressive. It has 84 rooms with soft leather and velvet furnishings, seductive drapes, chandeliers, flat-screen TVs, wireless and cosy bathrooms. The Desire restaurant serves international breakfasts, but rather uninspiring fare for lunch and dinner; the Bold bar is the place to pose and preen; and the roof terrace cafe/bar offers cocktails, seafood platters, barbecued meats under the stars. Its corridors are dark and cave-like, so a torch could come in handy, and some of the rooms are small and stuffy. Others have a touch of Versailles.
50 Keong Saik Road (+65 6347 1929; www.hotel1929.com)
In the heart of Chinatown's former red light district, two minutes walk from MRT underground station, Hotel 1929 offers funky retro-chic in a four-storey, light-filled heritage terrace, circa 1929, with vintage chairs in lobby (Eames, Jacobsen et al). Budget prices attract aspiring artists and architects, older backpackers and anyone in search of style at budget prices, good value considering the 32 compact rooms each have bold Marimekko fabrics, broadband, flat-screen TV, CD player and mosiac-tiled bathrooms. Don't miss out on the French-Asian fusion food at Embers restaurant, with its floor-to-ceiling plate-glass view over a bustling Chinatown street.
177A River Valley Road (+65 6338 3333; www.novotel.com)
The success of this new Novotel rests on two masterstrokes — simple, elegant design and a convenient central location. This hotel — with its spacious top floor pool deck — overlooks the Singapore River and Clarke Quay with its lively restaurant strip. The rooms have flat-screen TVs, high-quality beds and the best big breakfasts for the price in town. Stretch the legs and make an evening of it by exploring the bars and restaurants of Clarke Quay.
1 Fullerton Square (+65 6733 8388; www.fullertonhotel.com)
As exquisite as any Parisian palace hotel, this is the grand madam of Singapore's hotels. An independent, one-off establishment, The Fullerton's charisma and superb position make it the first choice of well-heeled globetrotters and business executives alike. Overlooking Marina Bay and the Singapore River, it's within easy walking distance of the city's colonial and business core. Once the central post office, it has been spectacularly converted into a five-star establishment with deluxe rooms that overlook the river, the bay and an internal courtyard. On a first-floor terrace is a lap pool and al fresco restaurant with intimate views of old Singapore — the perfect place for an early swim and breakfast before the humidity of the day builds up. Jade restaurant offers some of the most innovative Chinese cuisine in South-east Asia. It's sensational.