I often have friends asking me for recommended places to stay in Singapore. Although I am familiar with most of the hotels in the country, I’m not sure whether it’s a wise idea to rely on a local resident to provide this kind of advice (just kidding!). Seriously speaking, I think for now I do have one to recommend. I normally don’t write an entire entry about a hotel (in fact, I never have!) but I thought this particular one deserves a special mention. Also, if someone asks me again next time, I’ll have this to refer to.
I’ve stayed in all sorts of places. I’ve stayed in a hostel where all I got was a filthy bunk bed. I’ve stayed in one-of-a-kind boutique hotels and I have stayed in chain hotels. There’s one concept I haven’t tried though — that’s the capsule hotel which is found all over space-deprived Tokyo. If given the chance to go there next time, I would want to stay in one. When I found that Singapore recently opened a lodging that took inspiration from this concept, I knew I had to check it out.
exterior of wink hostel
The trendy and charming Wink Hostel in Singapore’s Chinatown has been open since October and I’ve known it for about just as long. Located just one block away from the Chinatown MRT station, the hostel is an easy 3 minute walk and is conveniently located right at the commercial area of Chinatown near the souvenir shops and restaurants, and about 8 minutes away from the bar district and Raffles Place (where I work!).
entrance to wink 😉
The hostel is situated in a colonial shophouse — that alone would rack up some plus points for those looking to experience something more Singaporean. A short climb up a flight of stairs takes you to the airy reception area. Once checked-in, guests are issued a key card (yes, a key card for a hostel!) which is tapped by the door of one of the various shared rooms in the hostel for access. How’s that for security?
why hello to you, too. i’d like my forty winks please…
Once in, I immediately knew which bed the key card assigns me to as the pod lights up. This is much less intrusive than the normal hostels, in my opinion. I wouldn’t want the room light to be turned on everytime someone new comes into the room so this was a better way to manage it – the light only gets turned on in my pod and in my pod alone.
the individual pods – yours get lighted up whenever you enter the room
This is where comparisons with capsule hotels start. Each guest gets his/her own private space with soundproof walls between pods. The area surrounding one’s bed is actually quite big and has more than enough space for someone to sit upright. The beds are also very soft and apparently have a very high thread count. This was a refreshing change – many of the hostels I’ve stayed in don’t even bother for such details. Also, since each pod is separated by the walls, there’s none of the usual disturbance coming from the creaking / shaking bunk beds caused by the tossing and turning of the person above or below you. There’s also an LED light inside each pod for those wishing to read and power sockets for those planning to use their laptops in bed. What I really liked though was that the beds are really clean and are of the type that don’t look out of place in full-fledged hotels.
the yellow flame room
Each room is named after a native Singapore tree, which is marked by a silhouette of that tree in the room walls. The dorms are large enough by themselves, with most having 6 to 10 pods per room. There’s also a separate all-ladies dorm in the upper floor of the shophouse. All rooms come with space for bag storage and lockers found right by the pods (you use the same key card to open the lockers). This is another key difference with normal hostels where there’d either be no locker or there’s a locker area setup somewhere in the room for storage which requires another key to open.
the all-girls dorm room
The washroom is located in the upper floor and looks large enough to support a full-occupancy scenario. Guests are pampered with a rainshower (in a hostel, yes you read that right!) to wash away the sticky feeling that one normally gets in sweltering Singapore.
the communal area
Wifi is also provided free of charge and accessible in the entire hostel. Alternatively, there are a couple of laptops available for use as well in the communal areas. In a world where even high-end hotels are charging extra for internet, I found this to be another welcoming change.
the home theater — how many hostels can boast of one?
If you do stay here, I must warn you, you may end up staying inside the hostel the entire day. The place is so relaxing, there are a lot of airy open areas to sit and talk to other travelers. The staff are very friendly and are on first-name basis with guests. Even the owner comes by to chat with guests occasionally. Movie buffs may also be tempted by the home theater area filled with countless DVDs. In fact, I think there’s better comfort and ambiance here than in some full-fledge hotels in Singapore (which I shall not name).
Total damage for a “pod” is S$50 (US$ 38) per night. Double pods (i.e. bigger pods that can sleep two) are also available for S$90 (US$69). Comparatively speaking, prices are a tad higher than in the standard backpacker places in Downtown Singapore which cost around S$26 – S$30 / night but for the added privacy, soundproofing, extra security, more comfortable beds, rain shower and generous individual space; it is definitely worth the extra S$20. For me, the avoidance of shaking and creaking bunk beds alone (too many bad experiences with this before) is already worth the extra few bucks. Nuff said. Considering the only other way for one to avoid creaking bunk beds in Singapore is to get a private hotel room and that average room prices for such is now hovering somewhere in the region of S$200, prices in Wink are only a quarter of that for singles and just under half for doubles. It’s very reasonable if you ask me since Wink offers many of the usual creature comforts of a hotel and the only thing that seems to be missing here is a private room / bathroom. One things for sure, it does live up to its tagline – “indulgence on a budget.”
8A Mosque Street