After spending just 24 hours in Singapore we found ourselves asking – why had we not visited sooner? While the first night itself may not have been the most enjoyable (I’ll explain why shortly) our overall experience and what we did and saw in the first 24 hours showed us that Singapore is in fact amazing!
Following a stressful and hectic lead up to our flight and an enjoyable and (mostly) trouble free flight, we arrived at Changi Airport at around 4:30pm Singapore time. We breezed through the usual formalities: customs, baggage claim etc, and after a quick bite to eat, we headed to the MRT (train) station.
When it came to booking our first night’s accommodation in Singapore I thought I had been clever. Looking back, ‘clever’ is probably not the word I would use now……. I knew I wanted us to stay somewhere close to the airport as, due to ticket prices too good to pass up, I had gone completely against my biggest tip for flying long haul with kids, and booked a day time flight. So, knowing the kids would be tired and completely over travelling, I wanted to make the trek from the airport to our accommodation as short and pain-free as possible. Also, as we would be arriving just in time for a bit of dinner then bed, and leaving early the next day, I felt no need for anything too flash. Well, I certainly delivered on that one………!
Looking online, I came across what looked to be a pretty good hostel. We’re no strangers to hostels, have stayed in many and even written a post – Hostels With Kids (I will not be adding this one to the post…..). This particular hostel not only claimed to be a 10 minute train ride from the airport, but also had a family room on super special for 80% off the normal price! Even with such a discount it was still pretty pricey considering what it was and also had fairly good reviews (average of 8/10), so I figured it had to be pretty good. I was wrong…..
The MRT in Singapore is brilliant! We bought our tickets (which cost $8 SGD total) and found where we needed to be with great ease, and true to the hostels claim, after a less than 10 minute ride we were walking out of the station and down to the adjacent street that our hostel was on.
There were shops, restaurants, people, but no sign of a hostel. We walked up and down feeling lost and confused. Eventually Peter stopped someone and showed them the address we were looking for. They pointed across the road to a hand written sign saying ‘Inn’ beside a narrow flight of stairs leading up into a dark and dingey looking building above a shop……… It couldn’t be! Could it?
While I waited outside at the bottom of the stairs with the kids and our luggage, Peter ventured in to investigate. He returned minutes later followed by a man. Sure enough, this was our hostel and the man had come to help carry our pram and luggage up the many, many stairs. Anna and I exchanged looks which, to a stranger may have appeared to be a ‘who can open their eyes the widest’ competition……
After removing our shoes we were shown the communal bathroom (um……) and the communal kitchen (double um…… with a cherry on top!) before being taken to our room/prison cell. It was unarguably the smallest, dingiest hotel/hostel/anything room I have ever seen! 4 sets of joined bunks/capsules and just enough room to stand at the foot of each. Have I mentioned that I am claustrophobic? Poor Anna’s little face said it all……
Tired and hungry, all I could muster up was a nervous Marge Simpson style laugh and an “Oh well, there’ll be no cat swinging tonight!”. Luckily everyone else was just as tired and hungry so the expressions of shock and disgruntlement were kept to an impressive minimum. We dumped our luggage, had an uncomfortable toilet stop and headed out in search of food.
Within minutes our spirits were lifted as we walked through a buzzing night market and found ourselves in a bright and crowded hawker centre. The smells were amazing, and as we sat ourselves at a table, surrounded by people filling their bellies with all manner of tasty dishes, we couldn’t wipe the smiles and excitement off our faces. We’d heard so much about these hawker centres and the delicious foods on offer, and already, within hours of arriving in Singapore, here we were at one!
Peter left us at the table and went to buy our food. He returned minutes later with 2 big plates overflowing with a variety of amazingly delicious looking food. Noodles, rice, veggies, meat, all with different sauces and all smelling sooooo good. It all tasted even better and we devoured it in record time!
We washed our dinner down with some refreshing fresh juice and headed back to our palace. Once there, after a another quick and disturbing toilet stop, we literally just climbed straight in to bed. No teeth brushing, no catching up on work, nothing. Just straight in to our little compartments. And then we all slept like babies all night long! Haha, no way! There was tossing and turning and constant banging as every time any one did toss or turn they would bang some part of their body on the wall. As it got later in to the night, not only did the roudy noise of fellow hostel guests come wafting in to our room, but so too did their cigarette smoke.
The following morning we were up, dressed and packed in record time. There was no way we were spending even a minute more than we needed to in the place. (Let me just add that Peter, the eternal optimist, continues to tell me that it was not that bad! Obviously we have different taste/standards……). Despite lack of sleep and sore and stiff bodies, we were all in high spirits. We’d survived the night, were leaving our dungeon, and there was the promise of much awesomeness on the horizon. Sentosa Island here we come!
We headed to the MRT, eating breakfast (some breakfast biscuits I had brought with us) along the way. Peter has this inate ability to read and decipher maps, including train lines etc as if his life depended on it. Me? Well, let’s just hope mine never does…. Within minutes of looking at all the posters, maps and timetables, he knew exactly where, when and how we needed to get to our Sentosa Island hotel shuttle point. Two trains and a quick walk through a shopping centre, later, we were sitting waiting for the free shuttle to our first “real” hotel stay at the Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa. We were way too early for check-in but figured we would leave our luggage at the hotel and explore the island a little, while we waited for our rooms to be ready.
Driving on to Sentosa Island was surreal and completely not what I had expected. I had read, heard and even seen so much about Sentosa over the years that I was beyond excited to finally be going there.
But, like I said, it was nothing like what I had built up in my mind. It was so much bigger. I think I had pictured it to all be one, big open plan island, where you can see for miles around you, all the different hotels and attractions. Well, not at all. There are so many windy, tree lined roads, that everything is all almost hidden in their own private grounds. It’s like a little maze of secret places to discover. Lush, tropical and very, very well kept. We seemed to drive for miles before driving up the elegant driveway that leads to the entrance to the Sofitel.
I proceeded to reception where I was greeted by some very friendly staff who informed me that our rooms were in fact ready and we were welcome to check-in now, 3 hours early. Music to our ears! As I completed all the check-in formalities we were brought cold drinks and refreshing towels and the kids felt very special, being given their own check-in forms to complete.
We were shown to our two adjoining rooms and as we entered I had to do everything in my power to not run over to the king size bed and start jumping up and down like an excited child. Compared to the previous night’s accommodation, we had just discovered Utopia! The rooms were massive and luxurious and to top it all off there were personalised treats waiting for all of us. Big thumbs up from the kids!
After a bit of a chill out and much needed use of the free wifi, we got changed and headed for the pool. And what a pool it was! Surrounded by tranquil gardens overlooking the South China Sea, the setting was just exquisite and we spent such a long time there.
We could have stayed in the pool all afternoon if not for the promise of something extra special waiting for us elsewhere. We returned to our rooms, quickly got changed, and headed to ‘Le Bar’ – a gorgeous open air restaurant overlooking the pool. Here, we were treated to the most divine high tea, including an elegant and extravagant one for the adults and an extra special one just for the kids.
And that was the perfect end to our first 24 hours in Singapore!
Read our full review of Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa
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