Suite Life: JW Marriott offers arts and heritage thrills plus million-dollar city views

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So many staycays, so little time. What makes this hotel special?

Arts and heritage buffs will love the funky blend of old and new at this swanky hotel.

The development incorporates the old quarters that once housed the Singapore Volunteer Corps, including the beautiful Art Deco drill hall, designed by architect Frank Dorrington Ward and built in 1933.

The project was helmed by legendary designer Philippe Starck and architects Foster + Partners, so the sleek vibe reverberates through the contemporary spaces.

The modular structure of the heritage buildings is echoed in the hotel's architecture, with the rooms and amenities split across two wings.

Sitting in the middle of the civic district, the location is perfect for packing your itinerary with theatre shows, museum hopping, heritage hunting and, of course, more foodie haunts than you can shake a chopstick at.

First impressions?

I love the arty vibe. The lobby entrance bedazzles the second you step in, thanks to the psychedelic colours and abstract bobbing shapes of Korean artist Lee Lee Nam's 7m by 6.5m video installation.

Scupltures by Fernando Botero and Ju Ming line the corridor to the reception desk. A giant Lim Tze Peng river scene as well as three of his smaller works hang along the second-floor corridor.

Even the elevators are an experience, lined with Italian design duo Carnovsky's RGB wallpaper whose sea creatures mutate with the shifting lighting scheme.

Please tell us there is a spa

Spa By JW eschews the usual tinkly tropical spa atmosphere in favour of a cosmopolitan plushness that is very welcoming. The treatment rooms are spacious and the couple's room boasts the luxury of an en suite shower and toilet.

I opt for the stress relieving massage ($160) - complemented by the choice of a Revive massage oil scented with pink grapefruit, geranium and juniper berries - and emerge relaxed and refreshed.

What else is there to do?

Too many artsy venues, too little time. The Esplanade is just a five-minute underground stroll away.

A little further afield, pop into the Asian Civilisations Museum for its trio of new shows, or check out the fabulous Georgette Chen show at the National Gallery Singapore.

There is also Kampong Glam to explore, with its vibrant collection of hipster shops and the Malay Heritage Centre.

Foodies will bewail their limited stomachs because the area is brimming with eateries both old and new.

On the hotel premises is Beach Road Kitchen, which provides a decadent breakfast, as well as Madame Fan, which is set up by London-based restaurateur Alan Yau and which dishes up refined Chinese cuisine by way of London in a luxe, dimly lit setting.

If you are in the mood for something retro, head to Chin Chin Eating House on Purvis Street, or down Beach Road to Prince Coffee House.

If Instagram is your thing, Singapore Coffee at the Raffles Hotel arcade is fully togged out with brass fixtures, cane chairs and gently waving palm fans as well as hipster takes on old school kopi such as Frozen Kopi and Kopi Shake.

Things that made you go "whoa"?

Rates for a premier king room start from $379 for the Ultimate Getaway package. PHOTO: JW MARRIOTT

Even a jaded traveller like me had to ogle, and take plenty of photos of, the million-dollar view from my room.

The cloudy weather did not mar the spectacular cityscape on the morning I checked in. The night-time view is almost Blade Runner-esque.

Equally spectacular is the view from the pool on the 18th floor. Never mind the modest size of the lap pool.

It spans one side of the building and looks out over the Marina Bay area, providing endless Instagram moments. Just remember to book a pool time when you check in.

Verdict: Bliss or miss?

The cloudy weather did not mar the spectacular cityscape. ST PHOTO: ONG SOR FERN

A great escape for those who love the buzz of being in the middle of the city, with plenty of nightlife and food options at their fingertips.

Hot tip

For couples and singles, this is a great time to book a stay as the family vacation crush is over.

That means a kids-free zone and super attentive service from the staff as the ratio of staff to guests is higher.

With the Light To Night festival (Jan 22 to 31) coming up and more live events filling the arts calendar, this is a good excuse to plan an arty weekend in the city.

• This staycation was hosted by JW Marriott Singapore South Beach and is part of a weekly series. For more staycation reviews,go to

JW Marriott Singapore South Beach

WHERE: 30, Beach Road, Singapore 189763

INFO: JW Marriott Singapore South Beach's website

ROOMS: 634

RATES: Various deals and room types available, including those for families. Rates for a premier king room start from $379 for the Ultimate Getaway package which comes with a $50 return stay voucher and $50 dining credits.

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