If not for the Covid-19 pandemic, cyber security consultant Kenneth Lim, 30, would have taken a trip to Osaka and Kyoto in Japan with his fiancee this year.
Instead, the couple spent a night last month exploring buzzing Keong Saik, while staying at the boutique Hotel Soloha, where they had coffee and pastries at bakery Bread and Hearth and Peranakan fare at Blue Ginger.
"You cannot replace the vacation feel 100 per cent, but there is some excitement because I've never roamed around Keong Saik before. On a holiday, the thrill is in exploring new places, which we still got to experience," says Mr Lim.
With travel on hold, millennials like him are forming the bulk of staycation guests at boutique hotels in cool neighbourhoods on the city fringe.
Mrs Eileen Lim, director of Hotel Yan in Jalan Besar, says about 70 per cent of guests since it reopened for staycations in July are in their 20s - a mix of couples and groups of friends celebrating birthdays.
At Hotel Soloha, founder Josh Hu says the bulk of guests have been couples aged between 27 and 36 since it reopened in July.
Many properties are offering discounts of between 20 and 40 per cent to draw young working professionals hankering for now unattainable holidays abroad. Few mind that there is no pool, gym or free breakfast, when there is lots to do, see and eat in the neighbourhood, sometimes with tie-up discounts too.
Properties such as lyf Funan, located in Funan mall, offer up to 25 per cent discounts at popular eateries nearby, such as Tiong Bahru Bakery and Crystal Jade Go. The hotel has also paired up with tour companies Monster Day Tours and Tribe Tours to take guests around the surrounding neighbourhoods.
Its general manager Norman Cross says: "Guests will have the opportunity to find out more about Singapore's heritage and discover places off the beaten track."
The Sunday Times rounds up four hotels for an affordable staycation.
- All four writers' one-night staycations were hosted by their respective hotels.