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Best-kept travel Secrets in Singapore

By Joanne Brookfield

There’s plenty to see in Singapore – and plenty you can’t miss. Known as the Gate to Asia, Singapore has beauty and intrigue in abundance.

The city is teeming with hidden beauties and luxuries sure to provide a sensory sensation.

Nestled between the Malacca and Singapore Straits, the ‘Lion City’ offers sweeping vistas of downtown subterranean delights. Here the character of a post-colonial Asian is mixed with modern elegance, charm.

Here are ten of the best things to see and do.

1. Operation Dagger

Named after a 1950s police blitz intent on eradicating the darker underground culture in the Ann Siang Hill neighbourhood, these days it is a vibrant entertainment precinct within Chinatown; Operation Dagger lives here, its door unadorned.

Instead, there’s an obscure hand-drawn symbol that looks like an inverted crown.

Take the stairs down, and then down again and you’ll find Luke Whearty’s cutting-edge cocktail bar. The Aussie expat will treat you to his innovative creations that push the boundaries of both composition and presentation – their signature drink, a salted egg yolk liqueur, is served with swirling smoke.  Or if you’d prefer, experience their omakase menu, where you will be asked what flavours you like and be given a series of cocktails inspired by your own palate.

The details:

Operation Dagger

7 Ann Siang Hill

operationdagger.com

2. D Bespoke

For the fine-dining equivalent of cocktails, a visit to D Bespoke is a must. Rich timber panelled walls and ceilings match a long, leather-lined bar and plump leather chairs reminiscent of a bar of the Orient’s well to do. There’s no menu here, rather your Japanese host Daiki Kanetaka will discuss your palate’s preferences and create something truly bespoke as per the “monozukuri” way, which places great emphasis on craftsmanship and perfection. D Bespoke uniquely tailors your experience to your desires. The bar is stocked with everything from premium Spanish Sherries, French Calvados and Armagnacs to rare vintage Rums – no detail is overlooked. From the moment you enter expect something unique.

The details:

D Bespoke

2 Bukit Pasoh Road

dbespoke.sg

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3. Chye Seng Huat Hardware

As the third-wave coffee movement sweeps through Asia, you could be deceived by the exterior of this happening hang out. From the street, Chye Seng Huat Hardware looks like a rundown art-deco shophouse but don’t let that throw you off the aroma. Once inside you’ll be met with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Located in the emerging Jalan Besar neighbourhood, Chye Seng Huat Hardware offers a range of brews, coupled the spectacle of on-site roaster; The Annex, selling all things bean-related, a coffee school upstairs and even a private tasting room. At Chye Seng Haut Hardware, a short trip from Downtown will be rewarded by exceptional coffee decadence.

The details:

Chye Seng Huat Hardware

150 Tyrwhitt Road

cshhcoffee.com

4. Tea Bone Zen Mind

For the connoisseur or weary traveller who simply needs a good cuppa, Tea Bone Zen Mind will please both. The beauty of Art-deco and Chinese Baroque architecture combine in these century-old three-storey shop houses where Chinese, Japanese and English teas are traditionally served. Founder Carrie Chen scours the globe sourcing brews, which you can take with you when you go. If you are a Club InterContinental guest a call ahead from the staff at Club InterContinental will lock in the luxury, tranquil koi pond and private rooms for your unique tea experience

The details:

Tea Bone Zen Mind

98 Emerald Hill Road

teabonezenmind.com

5. Artisan baked goods

Glittering glass, concrete and steel structures feel ubiquitous in the modern city of Singapore, but in amongst all the skyscrapers, there’s still some history to be found. Sing Hon Loong Bakery is one of the oldest and few remaining traditional bakeries; in 2012, Singaporean based newspaper, The Straits Times could identify only eight remaining bakeries. It’s not glamorous, and workers still hand cut the charred crusts, but this family owned business (which is also known as Ghee Leong) has been pumping out the fresh loaves – up to 1000 a day – for the past five decades in Whampoa.

The details:

Sing Hon Loong Bakery

6 Whampoa Drive

6. Antoinette patisserie

For a totally different type of baked-goods experience, there’s Antoinette. Named after the French queen, Antoinette is a Parisian patisserie and salon du thé (tea room) serving meticulously crafted French desserts and savouries. Velvet Louis chairs and chandeliers bring a touch of eternal European elegance to this sweet spot; just off Lavender Street in Jalan Besar neighbourhood.

The details:

Antoinette

30 Penhas Road

 

7. Tippling Bar

Relaxed yet elegant, Tippling Bar offers several options. Spanning three shophouse units in Downtown, there’s a bar, dining room and private upstairs dining room complete with its own bar and lounge. Chef-Owner Ryan Clift showcases his avant-garde, fun, playful and fresh modern gastronomy. With an open kitchen you can watch chefs in action, and see the magic happen. Cocktails here are also on the experimental and progressive side, which is why Tippling Club is no stranger to “Best Bars” and “Restaurant of the Year” accolades.

The details:

Tippling Club

38 Tg Pagar Rd, Singapore

tipplingclub.com

8. Odette

Such is the popularity of award-winning chef-owner Julien Royer’s first restaurant, they advise you book up to a month in advance to make sure you can get a table. Named after his grandmother, Odette opened in November and is located in the National Gallery. Foodies have been in an absolute flurry to sing praise and predictions for Michelin star status for his modern French cuisine, served in chic surrounds of neutral shades. Book ahead to experience this sought after fine dining experience.

The details:

Odette

1 St Andrew’s Road

www.odetterestaurant.com

9. The General Company

A short trip up a flight of steps on Tyrwhitt road will bring you to this hidden boutique, a treasure trove of beautiful handmade objects. The premier craft and design studio agency in Singapore, The General Company is focused on the artisanal movement, with an emphasis on consummate design and traditional techniques. Leathercraft, metalsmith, woodwork, printmaking, calligraphy, shoe making and more are all represented on the shelves here; presenting pieces from both local and international makers. The General Company is sure to provide a treasure for even the most discerning eye.

The details:

The General Company

150a Tyrwhitt Road

thegeneralco.sg

10. Divine Bar

For a little touch of whimsy, there’s a bar where you can be served by a fairy. Divine Bar is an instant trip back in time, to the opulent era of art deco, with gilded balconies, inset frescoes and domed ceiling. Rising in the centre of all this grandeur is a 12-metre high wine tower, home to up to 3000 bottles of wine. Rather than wings, the Wine fairies use electric hoists to ascend the stack and retrieve your chosen bottle, which might appeal to your inner high-flier.

The details:

Divine Bar

600 Northbridge Road

divinewinesingapore.com

 

The city that waits

To experience all these travel secrets and truly give your trip that feeling of grandeur, stay at InterContinental Singapore where if you book Club InterContinental, you will enjoy a number of benefits, including stunning Club InterContinental rooms, complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea delights and sophisticated cocktails in the evening at the exclusive Club InterContinental lounge as well as personal service and attention from a dedicated Club InterContinental team.
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