You may think of the Republic of Singapore as a very young country, but the first settlements of the area date all the way back to the late 11th century. Ancient Singapura was a significant trading post for Chinese, Arab, Portuguese and Indonesian merchants. This, along with the more recent British colonial history, accounts for the vibrant clash of cultures that defines the island nation today. Step into the past by staying in one of these historic Singapore hotels – bookable on Culture Trip.
A five-minute taxi ride from Marina Bay Sands (if the traffic behaves), this restored Central Business District hotel makes a pretty good first impression with its 19th-century neoclassical facade – all grand columns and ornate trim. Once in the door, the French-inspired decor in the pastel-panelled rooms features details by designer Karl Lagerfeld, who also dresses the staff. Techies will love the in-room iPad mini, used as a remote control panel for everything from the TV to the air conditioning. The food is fresh, fusion and fun – try the torched goat’s cheese salad with caramelised fig compote and garden greens.
From the delicate lattice screens to the blue-and-white porcelain sinks in the sleek rooms and suites, intricate Chinese design details abound at this Singapore hotel, housed inside a collection of converted shophouses. Sip sake in the atmospheric, red-brick Japanese restaurant, and don’t miss the Fuk Tak Chi Temple museum just off the lobby.
The Vagabond is not as old as some others on this list, but this artistic boutique hotel presents a different side of Singapore history, located as it is in a 1950s art-deco property. Throughout its chequered past, the building has been both an illegal brothel and a workers’ dormitory. Being the first hotel in Asia designed by French architect Jacques Garcia, its lobby is full of thought-provoking art installations, and it’s within walking distance of the sights of Little India and Arab Street.
The Scarlet Singapore is located in a row of two-storey shophouses originally built in 1868, and anchored by a four-storey art deco building dating to 1924. The shophouses, once home to Chinese immigrants, have been immaculately restored, while the facilities have been retrofitted with modern amenities. Even the decor, with its opulent splashes of gold and crimson, will give you a sense of stepping back in time.
Built in 1900, Goodwood Park Hotel has a very distinct look. It was originally built for the Teutonia Club, catering to the German community in Singapore, and the architects took inspiration from the castles that dot the banks of the Rhine. The hotel has a tumultuous history: it was confiscated by the British at the outset of World War I, and during the Japanese occupation it was the official residence of high-ranking soldiers in the Japanese army. After the war, it was the site of war crime trials. The most striking feature is the tower block, which still stands out today when approaching Orchard Road from Scotts Road and is listed as a national monument.
Jo Fernandez contributed additional reporting to this article.
Still looking for a place to stay? Book one of the best guesthouses in Singapore now, via Culture Trip.
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