It’s challenging enough to put together “cheap”, “comfortable” and “Singapore” in one sentence, but when you’re looking for ideal 3-night accommodations for a family of 5 — 4 adults and 1 toddler — you ought to know you’re taking “challenging” to a whole new level.
Ideal, of course, is a matter of preference. For our particular party of 5, the perfect lodgings would have had these specs:
- A spacious family room or 2 connecting rooms
- En suite bathrooms
- Located in a central, interesting, respectable neighborhood
- 5 minutes or less walking distance to MRT
- Free breakfast, preferably buffet
- Free WiFi
- Pool and play area for kids
- Good reviews from previous guests
(Yeah, that last one blew the bubble.)
Cheapos can’t be choosers, I suppose, but I also think that some amenities are worth paying more for. With that in mind, I spent the better part of a week scouring Booking.com, Airbnb, other hotel booking engines, various hotel websites, and Google Maps in search of a happy medium. Here’s what I got.
The Short Lists
For a detailed comparison of hostels/inns, budget hotels, and apartments/houses, read:
- Affordable Singapore Accommodations for a Family of 5: Private Rooms in Hostels/Inns
- Affordable Singapore Accommodations for a Family of 5: Budget Hotels
- Affordable Singapore Accommodations for a Family of 5: Airbnb Homestays
You can simply click on the name of the hotel/hostel/property above to be taken to its booking page. See the “Top Ten” section below (you can skip the italic “Notes” part if you want) to learn why these accommodations made it to the short list.
- Search parameters:
- 4 adults, 1 child
- 1 room or 2 rooms
- 3 nights (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) in November
- Distance to nearest MRT was obtained through the Directions feature of Google Maps. Allow for a variance of a few meters, since the actual exits of a train station might not be in the exact spot marked in Google Maps.
- Many Airbnb properties have no ratings, so I noted instead the amenities offered: B – Breakfast | W – WiFi | P – Pool.
- To get the average rating, I converted the Booking.com score into percentage, added it to the TripAdvisor rating (as of 8/9/14), and divided by two. Although these ratings give you an idea of quality, do remember that what’s acceptable or essential for one person might not be acceptable or essential for another. Before you go ahead and book, it would be best for you to read the actual comments/reviews from previous guests.
- Exclusion Criteria — Places that met any of these conditions were automatically excluded from consideration:
- Less than 50% average rating;
- Extremely negative reviews in TripAdvisor or Booking.com, even though the average ratings were acceptable;
- Rooms that we would have to share with strangers, e.g., 12-bed dorm rooms;
- Total price of over PHP 22,000 for hostels and over PHP 30,000 for hotels and Airbnb.
- Since I used Booking.com to do the preliminary search, places that were not available during the dates I entered were not included in the subsequent evaluation.
Among the short-listed hostels/inns, Footprints Hostel is the only one that has an ensuite bathroom, while the Blanc Inn seems to be tops in aesthetics and maximization of available space. Both Joyfor and Gusti Bed & Breakfast are consistently well-reviewed and a walkable distance away from the MRT.
Fragrance Hotel Ruby is one of the cheapest in the budget hotels category and is reasonably well-reviewed. Santa Grand Hotel Bugis costs much more but offers a buffet breakfast — always a good thing — and a pool. The Strand Hotel is the most expensive, but its family room can accommodate 5 persons, the breakfast sounds filling, it’s a stone’s throw away from the Bras Basah (CC2) exit, and the busy Dhoby Ghaut interchange is nearby as well.
If you’re after a “home away from home” feel, and you’re not traveling with young kids, the 3-room apartment in Geylang is a shoo-in: it’s relatively cheap, comes with breakfast, and has a pool. Both Breezy East rooms have stellar reviews; Plumeria appears to be the bigger of the two and is thus the room of choice. The apartment in Woodleigh Close, though not cheap, ticks most of the other boxes, including the pool and playground, and seems to be the best choice for families with young children.
If you haven’t signed up for Airbnb yet, use this INVITATION — you’ll get $25 credit right off the bat, and I’ll get $25 credit when you make your first Airbnb booking. You can sign up without an invitation, of course, but you won’t get your $25 credit, so it’s really a win-win for both of us.
What will fit you best?
In the end, it’s going to boil down to what you consider non-negotiable — whether it’s an ensuite bathroom, a central location, or something else — and what you’re willing to give up or pay more for. Set a price ceiling, then prioritize. When traveling with children, think of things like bottle sterilization, nappy changes, and sleeping space. Think of possible problems too: if there are, say, torrential rains the whole day, will you be okay with staying in? And try to remember past travels: what was it in previous hotels that you remember fondly, and what was it that you absolutely never want to experience again? When choosing accommodations, in Singapore or elsewhere, it’s best to consider not only your budget but the people you will be traveling with, your expected routine and itinerary, and the little things and comforts that will make for a memorable vacation.
“Affordable Singapore Accommodations for a Family of 5” | LSS | Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.
Traveling abroad? Read these articles: