SINGAPORE - Hotel Soloha in Teck Lim Road provides an excellent base to explore Keong Saik, one of Singapore's hottest dining and drinks stretches, as I discover on my one-night staycation at the boutique hotel.
I am no stranger to this neighbourhood, which I find myself at every week, either for dinner, cocktails, or both.
But experiencing the luxury and convenience of being able to go back to a chic and comfortable hotel room, with a spa-worthy rain shower and bed, after a night of bar hopping - instead of fighting with the masses to get a cab home - might have ruined me forever.
The year-old hotel with 45 rooms is among those that have reopened for staycations since mid-July.
Here, eclectic and eye-catching designs take centre stage.
The lush, jewel tones of its Instagram-friendly tropical modernism and urban jungle theme extend from its lit-up bar-cum-reception area to the menagerie of animals painted on the lift shaft.
Built across three adjacent heritage shophouses, the rooms are small, ranging from 11 sq m for a deluxe single room to 28 sq m for a family loft. That said, the space feels more adult and better-suited for couples or a solo stay. Probably too much of a squeeze for a family.
But an illusion of space is achieved via large windows, which let plenty of light in. There is also the option to roll down dim-out or black-out blinds for privacy.
Mirrors in the room add to the expansive effect, complete with space-optimising touches like safes built into drawers.
The space feels luxurious, thanks to the marble fittings and a German-engineered shower, which is the highlight.
My loft room ($168++) has a sturdy ladder which climbs up to a surprisingly comfortable bed with a Sony flat screen, but I would probably not want to mount a fiddly ladder after a night out.
After my check-in on a rainy Saturday, I have lunch at the in-house Takeshi Noodle Bar, with its standout, rich tonkotsu broth. Then, it is on to planning my night out on a street with both world-class watering holes and traditional favourites.
When I say spots are a hop, skip, and a jump away, I am not exaggerating. It takes me less than a minute to saunter to Spanish restaurant Olivia for a cheeky mid-afternoon cocktail and dessert.
I am also a short stroll from Duxton Hill, Chinatown and Tanjong Pagar, but I decide to drink in Keong Saik, which has a calmer energy in the daytime than when it fills up at night.
I even contemplate doing a burnt cheesecake taste test, since Keong Saik Bakery, No Sleep Club, Olivia and Esquina, which offer it, are all within 100m of the hotel.
But I save the space for beers and grub at the newly opened Heart Of Darkness brewpub at the head of Keong Saik Road, which is the starting point for my drinks-fuelled night. It includes a stop at Ernest Hemingway-themed The Old Man, ranked No. 38 on The World's 50 Best Bars list.
Frankly, I am spoilt for choice. The stretch bursts with meal options at all times of the day, whether it is a traditional kaya toast and kopi breakfast at Tong Ah Eating House; African fare for lunch at Kafe Utu; an escape to a Milan- style taverna at Bar Milano for aperitivo hour; or a one-Michelin-star meal at Burnt Ends - just two doors away from the hotel, if only I can snag an elusive reservation.
Options also abound in Kreta Ayer Road, where supper awaits at Mount Faber Nasi Lemak, open till 4.30am daily.
However, the hotel's concierge service leaves much to be desired. Unlike high-end hotels, it does not seem to have tie-ups with its neighbours and is unable to help secure a booking at the plethora of restaurants surrounding it.
This just means that your staycation will require a little extra planning, but at least you will have a comfortable bed to return to after a night on the town.
Hot tip: Even though you are staying within walking distance of the hottest restaurants and bars, do not count on rocking up to one at the last minute. Always make a reservation because places get booked out quickly, especially on Friday nights.
Where: 12 Teck Lim Road
Info: Hotel Soloha website
Rates: Starting at $98++ for a standard room to $198++ for a family loft (above), staycation rates valid until Sept 30. Breakfast service at Takeshi has been paused with the pandemic.