For the usual suspects – Prada, Louis Vuitton, Dior – head to Orchard Road or Marina Bay Sands. But, if it’s local fashion you’re after, start at Exhibit at Far East Plaza. It’s owned by street-style star Yoyo Cao (better known as @yoyokulala) whose emerging women’s label is taking South East Asia by storm. For a high-fashion, contemporary take on traditional Chinese cheongsams, head to established Singaporean designer and fashion week favourite, Laichan.
Naiise lifestyle store is one of Singapore’s biggest design retailers with nearly 1000 emerging and established brands from Singapore and overseas, selling everything from soft furnishings to stationery. Dover Street Market just opened a 12,325 square foot store in a converted colonial house with over 25 brands and collaborations. For sunglasses, it has to be Gentle Monster – the Korean cult eyewear store is part art gallery, part retail store. The Singapore flagship, named Samsara, reimagines the “life-cycle”, via large-scale installations in three different spaces.
Leading the way in the zero waste bartending scene is Native. Helmed by Singaporean Vijay Mudalia (who has done a stint at London’s White Lyan), Asian spirits and ingredients take centre stage at this cocktail bar and nothing goes to waste: banana peels, old coconuts and pineapple skins are all repurposed into inventive cocktails. Impressively, the bar doesn’t use a single garbage bag. Beer enthusiasts should head to Smith Street Taps. Located in a hole-in-the-wall Chinatown hawker stall, the authentic Singaporean atmosphere is as much a pull as the tight edit of craft beers on tap.
There’s no shortage of rooftop bars in Singapore, but for a more intimate vibe, head to Potato Head Folk on Keong Saik Road. Housed in a renovated four storey traditional shophouse, come here for tropical drinks and views of Chinatown. Tanjong Beach Club on Sentosa Island is perfect for margaritas by a pool (on a beach, no less). For a blast of house and techno, Headquarters by The Council is the new home for underground music in Singapore and a dingy hideout for some of the best parties in Singapore.
For a mishmash of cheap and cheerful local food, hawker centres reign supreme. Try Lau Pa Sat, which spills onto a closed road by night and has the best satay sellers in the city. Try chicken rice, Singapore’s national dish, at Maxwell Food Centre, where the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay have been spotted. For an elevated twist on classics, try Po or Wild Rocket. Both restaurants, helmed by local chef Willin Low, are a taste of trendy Mod Sin (modern Singaporean) cuisine.
For international flavours, head to David Pynt’s perennially packed barbecue restaurant, Burnt Ends. Having started life as a pop-up in East London, the now permanent restaurant is a 101 in modern open-fire cooking. Or, try newly opened Blackwattle by highly acclaimed chef Clayton Wells (of Momofuku Seiōbo New York, Viajante London and Automata Sydney), for a modern interpretation of Australian cuisine.
The Warehouse Hotel is without doubt one of the coolest hotel openings in the last year. The former spice warehouse is a proud showcase of contemporary local design, architecture, food and drink. For something more on the sultry side, stay at Hotel Vagabond. Located In the once seedy district of Kampung Glam, this boutique block was designed by Jacques Garcia of Paris’ Hotel Costes and is little bit of Paris in Singapore – dark lighting, maximalist prints and red velvet drapes.
Chinatown’s latest addition, Hotel Mono, is a collective of six historic shophouses turned sleek monochrome hideaway on Mosque Street. For another hotel-meets-shophouse experience, try the quirky and affordable Hotel 1929 on Singapore’s historic Keong Saik Road. Balinese-inspired Naumi Hotel is a boutique bolthole in the financial district, complete with an infinity pool and bar.