SS Little Black Book: Singapore

Feature image: Jimmy Choos and seriously good views, snapped by me at a press presentation at the Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore. 

I lived and worked in Singapore for a year and half, during which time I explored many a kopitiam (Malay/Hokkien and Hakka words melded to mean coffee shop/hawker centre, kopi = coffee which will help you order!), cafe and bar. Living in a city definitely gives you more intimate knowledge than being a tourist and so in the spirit of sharing here are the places I always recommend to friends and family who ask me for any tips of where to go when they’re in town! I also figured it would be much easier to direct any enquiries to one space rather than writing out a new recommendations list each time! This list will focus on the more bougie spots (I’ll do Part 2 with less-bougie haunts at another point).

Here is the Little Black Book of some of my favourite spots in SG, by no means complete, but these are the enquiries I get the most/where I would take you if I could be your personal tour guide:

Where to drink

Let’s start with where to drink if you find yourself in the Lion City, one of the best ways to enjoy that much-photographed CBD skyline (Central Business District).

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Marina Bay Sands = Hotel, mall, casino, the bar, club and infinity pool is on the top. Image: Jennifer McGeever

Ce La Vi on Marina Bay Sands (1 Bayfront Avenue, MBS Tower 3)

Yes yes clichéd but for good reason, Ce La Vi (previously known as Ku De Ta) is the perfect place to go for a drink with a beautiful view of the famous Singapore skyline. On weekday evenings you can take the lift up from Marina Bay Sands Hotel Tower 3 for free but an entry charge applies on weekends. So worth going up to take in the view, sneak a peak at the famous infinity pool and enjoy balmy evenings with a good cocktail. Dress smart, meaning proper shoes and trousers for men, though shorts and slippers (Singlish for flip flops) are the non-official national uniform, this isn’t somewhere you can get away with it. I much prefer the view from Ce La Vi to 1 Altitude (though the latter boasts being the highest bar in Singapore). 1 Altitude view is high up to the point of not being able to see everything in all its glory and the music is way too loud (note to management), you can’t have a proper conversation, so it’s not the place to go if you’re wanting to catch up over drinks.

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Yes, that’s a 28 embossed into the ice cube, this place is the real deal. Image: 28 Hong Kong Street 

 

28 Hong Kong Street

Love this speak-easy bar (which has no signage, so just look for the blank, nondescript shop house with a number 28) for seriously good cocktails and a really good vibe. Much recommended to book a table in advance, which can be a little tricky, but I’ve also walked in before, it’s just a bit of a struggle to find a seat sometimes. Brownie points for being a little different from your average bar and not as bait as some of bars in the vicinity, I think I’m a sucker for a little secrecy. The bartenders are incredibly knowledgeable and lovely, it kind of reminds me of le Sherry Butt in Paris where they recommend you cocktails according to your mood (in the Marais neighbourhood).

Atlas, Parkview Square (600 North Bridge Road) 

I’ve actually never drunk at this bar as for some reason I’ve always been there during the daytime, but it’s crazy beautiful so would definitely recommend paying a visit for the interiors alone. The decor is Art Deco-inspired though I was told by the barman that it was built in 2002. Dreamy, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time to 1920s New York and Jay Gatsby might come down in the gilded lift.

Lantern bar at The Fullerton Bay hotel

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Fullerton Bay’s Presidential Suite. Image: Jennifer McGeever

Definitely the best bar to go to if you’re looking for a low rooftop from which you can take in Marina Bay Sands in all its glory. I prefer the Fullerton Bay to its older nearby counterpart, The Fullerton in terms of vibe and views.

The Fullerton Bay, 80 Collyer Quay

 

 

Other great spots with beautiful views: Esplanade roof top. A top tip if you’re not looking to spend money, take the escalators up and out to the rooftop of the Esplanade theatres, it’s a seriously beautiful view of the iconic Marina Bay Sands and has a really nice ambiance. If you want something a little more luxe, walk a little bit to the left and you’ll see the bar/restaurant Orgo, the same view plus dinner and drinks if that’s what you’re looking for.

Where to brunch

There are a lot of brunch spots in Singapore as the American past time has gone global. Most cafes will have a similar price range but the quality of food and service can vastly differ, so the places best worth your time and money investment are below:

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Have you tried our Nitro Coffee yet?

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Chye Seng Huat Hardware store: This is literally a converted former hardware store so it is incredibly trendy/hipster etc. But the coffee lives up to the hype! And the interiors are nice to while away an afternoon in. The banana bread with coffee butter and in-house cold brew are much recommended.

150 Tyrwhitt Rd, Singapore 207563, closed on Mondays

Open Farm Community

I love this place as it’s the kind of cafe which only works in a tropical climate. They have gardens where ingredients are grown right outside the indoor seating and the interiors are light and airy. Singapore is a tiny tiny country with little farmland but this restaurant makes the most inventive dishes out of predominantly local produce, so it’s one of the only farm-to-table places in the city. The outdoor seating is lush and they also hold monthly farmer’s markets which are well worth a visit.

 

130E Minden Rd, Singapore 248819

Group Therapy Duxton

I love this chilled spot in the CBD for their AMAZING coconut latte (super rich and creamy coffee blended with coconut oil) and fluffy pancakes. This branch is convenient as it’s in the heart of Tanjong Pagar, but the original flagship is in Katong.

49 Duxton Rd, #02-01, Singapore 089513

I am going to do a whole other post on local food and drink (as in the best places to go for certain delicacies) but for now I will pass on my favourite local chain for local-style coffee, Ya Kun, they’re all over the island. My order is ‘kopi C peng siu dai’ (pronounced ko-pee see ping soo tai) which essentially translates to iced coffee with evaporated milk (local coffee is never made with fresh milk it’s either evap or condensed!) and less sweet (meaning less spoonfuls of sugar). They also do amazing Singaporean breakfast which consists of kaya toast (kind of like coconut jam), runny eggs and a sinful French toast version of their kaya toast too. Wow I miss this.

 

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Ya Kun Kaya Toast

 

Sunday Folks

If you’re looking for dessert, specifically waffles with homemade ice cream, look no further, Sunday Folks is the OG. Found in the Holland Village neighbourhood, the founders are also behind Creamier in Toa Payoh (my old hood).

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Sunday Folks’ famous waffles. Image: Jennifer McGeever

44 Jalan Merah Saga, #01-52 Chip Bee Gardens, Singapore 278116

 

Where to feast

As I said above, if people are interested, I’m going to do a separate post for the best places to go for local delicacies, but for now I’ll just put down two firm favourites.

East Coast Food Centre is famous for its seafood. There a hundreds of stalls to choose from, so bagsy a table and then order from nearby stalls. Must tries: chilli crab with mantou (fried bread), cereal prawns, otak otak, black pepper crab and fish head curry. Also whilst you’re in Southeast Asia, you should consume as much fresh coconut water as humanly possible, order the Thai ones (white in colour) as they are sweeter than the local/Malaysian ones (green in colour).

Ah Chew Desserts is the BOMB for local desserts. There are a couple of branches, my most-frequented was in Novena neighbourhood but they also have ones in Bugis and Chinatown. I guess Chinese desserts can be an acquired taste (I kind of forget after growing up with them) but those who like mango should try the mango sago pudding, or mango sago pomelo. Another fave of mine is yam in coconut milk, Ah Chew is so good as it opens till late and is super affordable – the best place to go after a long day of exploring.

Bar eating and drinking, there are actually fun things to do in Singapore (though some will have you believe otherwise). I love walking in cities but the humidity can prevent that from being a fun activity in SG, if you’re smart just dress in athleisure as trust you will SWEATING within 10 minutes and do a walking tour of Chinatown area. Keong Saik Road is really beautiful if you want to see another architectural side of the city beyond glass and steel modernity (which is seriously stunning and can be appreciated for what it is). If you are organised enough one of my favourite things I did whilst living there was tour Baba House, an original Peranakan home with the furnishings and architecture intact. It is so incredibly beautiful and they only take booked tours of 13 people at a time so you need to email and reserve your space in advance.

 

 

Where to go dancing

I’ll be real and say that clubbing is not Singapore’s forte, I am the kind of person who goes out to dance, not drink and dally, so the only places which really passed that litmus test for me were Refuge (now moved to Chjmes complex) for good old-school R&B and hip hop, as well as Bang Bang in the Pan Pacific hotel for more commercial music and a good layout. Zouk is a Singapore institution (with another outpost in Kuala Lumpur) so worth going if you’re more into house and techno, but the crowd tends to be more teenage! Wednesday nights are Ladies Night so if you’re female and don’t need to be up early on a Thursday morning, you will basically have a free night of drinks and dancing, head out to Clarke Quay (an area with lots of bars/clubs/good vibes).

Where to keep fit

If you’re in town for a longer period of time e.g secondment, life move etc. Some of my favourite places to work out were WeBarre (for, obvs, a really good Barre class); Wings to Wings (the founders here are SO lovely, incredible teachers and all round boss babes) for seriously good dance classes ranging from ballet, lyrical, contemporary and more; Physical Abuse (which from what I can see has changed its name to BIG Fitness) for a fun hip hop/commercial class if you’re in the mood to get your inner diva on, it’s also a gym but I can’t vouch for that side (I’m not a gym kinda gal). GuavaPass is the Asian equivalent of ClassPass if you’re looking for something like that (you can use it in other Asian and UAE countries too).

 

Where to get outdoors

The weather can be schizophrenic (insanely sunny one minute, torrential rain and lightning like you’ve never seen it before the next) but the one constant is humidity. When it’s super sunny out, I would take advantage of the weather with a good bike ride in East Coast or Punggol Waterway park (you can hire them most parks) or a walk. A few of my favourite places to walk below:

MacRitchie Reservoir

Famous for its treetop walk, I would start on the Venus Road drive entrance and take a 2 hour walk from there. It’s a really nice spot to get out of the urbanity of Singapore and be surrounded by vegetation for a while.

Southern Ridges Trail

This is a fun walk that takes you through about five different parks and along the Southern coastline of Singapore. It’s super organised and you get to walk through what would have been rainforest (albeit now tamed) and along the trippy Henderson waves bridge.

Kallang Stadium walk

This is lesser known apart from those who live in the vicinity, but it’s an incredibly beautiful and romantic spot to go for a sunset stroll. You can cross the bridge to the stadium side of the river and they have a boardwalk which is really chill and well-designed.

Botanic Gardens

Some of the most beautiful gardens in Singapore and an absolute must for flower-lovers, the Orchid Gardens are actually a UNESCO World Heritage site and boast the largest variety of orchids in the world.

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Singapore Botanic Gardens. Image: Jennifer McGeever

 

Last but by no means least, for those who have never seen, Gardens by the Bay near MBS is a must to experience the Super Trees. OCBC Sky Walk is fun, as well as the various Cloud domes, but even just a walk around the gardens themselves will allow you to understand the city which Singapore is now and the rapid growth of this 51 year old country.

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Overlooking Gardens By The Bay. Image: Jennifer McGeever

 

Hope you enjoy these faves of mine, please do let me know if you pay any of them a visit! I would love to hear your experiences, and if you want any specific recommendations or suggestions for Part 2, let me know!

Jenn x

Women of Style & Substance: Alice Trow

Feature image: Jack Sain

 

Alice is a fireball of energy and light. It’s hard to describe unless you have met her in person, but she one of those rare people whose energy brings warmth to a room and radiates positivity. Funnily enough myself and a good friend who doesn’t know Alice very well but has met her a few times (via me) mentioned how incredible an aura she has just the other day. I think you will see what I mean via her words on this page.

As a general rule of thumb, I avoid saying what people ‘do’ in a 9-5 sense in this series as I think we tend to place too much value today upon the identity of someone through their doing rather than their inherent being. However, in this unique case, Alice’s passions and personal interests overflow so much into her work life that I couldn’t help but mention them. She is an incredible actress who I love watching in her element, an inspiring yogi (check out her classes at Blok, Frame and more via ClassPass where she unsurprisingly has rave reviews), part-time fairy (yes, wonderfully and seriously) and a full-time giver who sprinkles a little glitter and fairy dust wherever she goes. She inspires me as she is beating her own path and breaks every and any preconception you may have of how life and work should look and intertwine. She has the hardest work ethic of anyone I know and her energy is effervescent.

 

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Image by Naina Bajekal. Taken at the amazing art-deco era Bouillon Racine bar in Paris
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Alice and I in Paris, 2012 (I remember that spectacular skirt or hers made her the subject of a fashion blogger’s street style pics that day!)

 

We met through mutual friends way back when we were about 16 (!) and were also in some of the same dance classes, becoming sisters in a friendship that has endured, deepened and blessed my life in countless ways ever since. Crazy to think that it’s been almost a decade since our stars aligned, but she is most definitely someone who I know in my bones I was meant to meet, a kindred spirit, fellow fighter and a woman who has blossomed and flourished before my very eyes. She is someone I can enjoy getting my nails done with as much as I can sharing a bottle of wine and an intense DMC (deep, meaningful conversation). We’ve shared many adventures together and she’s graced me with her presence in my adopted homes of Paris and Singapore over the last few years. My love and respect for this woman are ever-growing; I hope the little and large things that shape her thinking below will resonate and inspire you. She is so generous and giving in every way, that I am truly privileged to be able to honour her in this small way.
SS: What did you last Google?
AT: The actress Emma Thompson. I was explaining how amazing she is to someone who knew little of her. She is definitely one of my idols. Infectiously adorable and powerful on and off screen/stage. She’s one intelligent woman, effortlessly beautiful and elegant. She’s managed to balance an incredible career with family life that I feel is in itself so impressive and inspirational.

 

 

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Emma Thompson, image courtesy of Hamilton Hodell

 

SS: What’s one app you love that we might not know about?
AT: I have so few apps. I’m an old fashioned girl and try and embrace the ‘less is more’ approach to most of my life, including my phone. I avoided all dating apps, for example, for numerous reasons but mainly because I didn’t want or need another reason to look at my phone! I would say though that I’m a fan of ‘Y plan’. It gives you great, alternative day or nighttime ideas on how to spend your time. It’s also great for date inspiration too, for when you meet people in the actual flesh right?!

 

SS: What is your happy place?
AT: Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath have always been my happy places in London. So close but yet so far from all the hustle and bustle. I’m a born city girl but have a thirst for nature and need space to clear my head and simply breathe. Primrose Hill gives me a bit of both. A patch of serenity and space in what feels like a snow globe city.

 

 

SS: What book are you currently reading or did you most recently finish? Would you recommend it?
AT: The last book I bought but haven’t yet read is called ‘Assholes – A Theory’ by Aaron James. I bought it in America at the best bookshop I’ve ever been to – Powell’s in Portland. I was instantly drawn to it by the title and how there is a concept behind people’s behaviour that simply makes them assholes [Ed note: hilarious! Mental note, must visit this bookshop when in Oregon!] I was intrigued. I look forward to reading it. I’ve been studying a lot of yoga recently so my reading time has been taken up by that department [Ed note: Alice is always teaching me so much beautiful yoga knowledge from her learning and teaching. Most recently the sacred heart mudra which acts as a meditation by using a physical gesture to connect with your heart and consciousness.]

 

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SS: Who embodies style with substance for you?
AT: It would be a crime if I didn’t say Sarah Jessica Parker! Being the avid Sex and the City fan-since-birth that I am, it would be fundamentally wrong to not bow down to her on and off screen. She breaks the rules without trying to make a statement. It’s always done with grace and subtlety that I truly admire. You don’t have to be loud to be heard, you don’t have to push to make someone feel and I believe that is the same with fashion. When something grabs your attention for all the right reasons it doesn’t need to be abrasive or aggressive to get a message across. [Amen!!!] Her style is expressive but approachable. However not always affordable. The day I can easily afford 12 pairs of Manolo Blahniks will be a momentous day. [Yes, yes and yes again!]

 

 

SS: What is one lesson that you’ve learnt in the past year?
AT: Patience. Simple as that. Patience really is a virtue.

 

SS: Do you have a favourite podcast?
AT: Yes. Check out Greg Proops – ‘The smartest man in the world.’ I had the pleasure of watching him live in Portland at The Helium Comedy Club and he was both hilarious and fascinating. He’s a satirist and hands down gave me the best low-down of the US election I could have possibly wished for having been there at the exact time that sh!t was hitting the fan. He knows all the facts and is determined to spread them with laughter and anger running through his veins. A truly outstanding three hours were spent listening to the man hammer down on white supremacy, racism and misogyny.

 

SS: The first thing I do when I wake up is:
AT: Look outside.

 

SS: What is your guilty pleasure?
AT: Chocolate. I’m addicted. It’s a problem and I’m working on it. It’s all about control.

 

 

SS: If you could travel the world in a day, what pitstops would make and why?
AT: I would love to spend half a year ‘chasing the sun’. So I would start in Italy where I feel my heart belongs, in the summer (probably the Amalfi Coast) and continue eastbound through Asia and Indonesia. I’d have to spend Christmas on the beach in Australia and then find my way to the West Coast of America, drive all the way across until I find Manhattan and then back home. My yoga mat would be my companion.

 

SS: Any final words of wisdom?
AT: Have me as I am, or don’t have me at all—you are enough. That’s it.

 


I can’t think of a better thought to start the new year with (calendar and Lunar!) Wishing you all a blessed week wherever you are in the world, thank you Alice for sharing so honestly, hilariously and beautifully!

See Alice’s yoga blog and class schedule here. Follow her adventures on Instagram @alicetrow

Namaste,

Jenn

x