The fluorescent lights beat down. The shops have long since closed their shutters. In the distance is a mechanical drill working its way into a store’s wall, tradesmen busying themselves through the night when there is hardly a soul about.
Singapore’s Changi Airport has ceased its flight arrivals for four hours in the dead of the night and many of its passengers have disappeared. An Indian man sits, alone, jabbering on his phone and gesturing with one hand, the other tightly clutching the mobile to his ear. I wondered who he could possibly be talking to at 3am. Surely India was asleep? Singapore’s time difference wasn’t that dissimilar.
It was another irrelevant thought that needn’t enter my brain when I was trying to get some shuteye. Admittedly, it wasn’t simply my racing mind that was preventing sleep, it was also partly due to the fact Dave and I were lying on carpet in a hallway, hiding behind a giant teacup display. The display had barriers on three of its four sides, providing a kind of cubby house for us to rest.
Unfortunately, the air-conditioning had been turned up to Arctic like conditions and my thin cardigan wasn’t keeping me warm. As I shivered, blurry-eyed, plugs jammed in to my ears and Dave curled up beside me, I asked myself again whether this was worth a saving of $150.
My plush bed at Grand Mecure Roxy rocks me to sleep
At 6am, I wake Dave with a nudge, and we clamber down to the airport’s front doors, picking up our luggage and grabbing a coffee. Before long, we’re being whisked away in the hotel’s shuttle bus to the Grand Mecure Roxy, where luxury awaits.
Check in is seamless and despite the ungodly hour, we’re shown to our room. The suite is plush, decorated in neutral tones and so clean I can eat off the floor. But before I can even think about food, I draw the black out curtains and Dave and I collapse on the soft king size bed, slumbering taking us over.
Destination Grand Mecure Roxy
We wake to light shining through a crack in the curtain. I open them wide and the bright light of the day blinds us. In the distance I can make out the shoreline. We are in the historical Katong district, about a 15 minute drive in one direction to the airport, and another quarter of an hour the other way in to the heart of Singapore.
The friendly Marketing & Communications Manager, Genevieve, explains to us over dinner that night that Katong’s residents are mainly Peranakan, a unique ethnic group in Singapore that is a mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian cultures.
Expats live elsewhere, which to me is a surprise because the neighbourhood is vibrant without being hectic and adjacent to a beautiful parkland that stretches along the beach. As we eat local Singaporean food in the Breeze Bistro Bar of the hotel, she explains about the culture of the Singaporeans – they work hard, often long hours during the week, but love to spend time dining and exploring the city on the weekends.
A taste of Singaporean food
We dine on Asian delights of laksa, fried prawn noodles and nasi goreng, toasting the chef and his authenticity for getting the foods tasting delicious and full of flavour. We finish the meal off with Western delights – bitter chocolate orange, caramelised walnut cake, Maltese cheesecake and what’s appropriately named ‘banana delight’.
As we bid goodbye, we feel full to the brim. I eye the pool out through the window and imagine belly flopping in to it at this moment. It would be sure to cause a wave!
A new day dawns
The next morning, we’re up bright and early, making the most of the facilities at the Grand Mecure Roxy. The gym is first class and we sweat it out before coming back to our room to shower in the lush bathroom with huge rainwater showerhead.
The good food continues, because we decide to head to the Singaporean hawkers market in the centre of town. In the middle of the business district is a first class market full of food stalls. We end up visiting twice during our five days in Singapore, because the food is cheap, fresh and delicious. Both times it was heaving with tourists and locals alike, queuing for trays of aromatic curry and perfectly steamed dumplings that full apart in your mouth.
I leave him and head down to the pool, lounging by the water, cocktail in hand and book in the other. It’s the perfect place for some R&R before we head back to Australia and move back in with the olds.
Singapore – not just a layover city
Our time in Singapore really changed my view of the city. Previously I considered it a place that was simply where you stopped for a few hours during an onward flight to Europe. Now, rather than a layover city, I see it as a destination in itself.
It’s the place for a romantic getaway where you can shop until your hearts content. Or a family holiday destination, with its Universal Studios, Safari and Bird Park to keep the kids occupied. Singapore is clean and extremely safe, making it the perfect jumping off platform to start a holiday deeper in to the heart of South-East Asia.
Have you stayed at a Mecure hotel before? Where was it and what was it like?
What you need to know:
Cost: Rooms at the Grand Mecure Roxy start from about US$150 a night. We stayed in a Junior Suite which is one of the more expensive rooms. You can book online here.
When to go: Singapore has a relatively consistent temperature year round (hot and humid!) but try and avoid large events such as the Grand Prix if you don’t want to pay silly prices.
How to get there: A free shuttle bus runs to and from Changi Airport. You can check the schedule here.
Thank you to the Grand Mecure Roxy for hosting us. As always, our opinions are our own.