HIGHLIGHT: The courtyard position gives the hotel a village feel unusual in the Lion City.
LOWLIGHT: Major roadworks next door when we visited but, hey, that's Singapore!
Village Hotel Albert Court
This 210-room hotel is right in the middle of the Straits Chinese enclave of Bugis – which has the Bugist Street market and mega shopping malls of Bugis Junction and Bugis+ to explore – and the bustling streets of Little India. Stroll the Albert Mall past the modern La Salle College of the Arts or get a plate of chicken rice from respected Sing Ho Hainan Chicken Rice (270 Middle Road). Also nearby is expat favourite Wing Seong Fatty's Cantonese restaurant (01-31 Burlington Square, 175 Bencoolen Street) that started life as a hawker stall in nearby Albert Street.
Guests enter the hotel via a pedestrian courtyard lined with traditional pre-war Singaporean shophouses. This theme continues inside with a central atrium with shophouse window shutters covering the windows. An external glass lift gives you a view over the street on the way to your room and the jacuzzi deck on the fourth floor has two four-seater jacuzzis side by side to chill out after a day of pounding the pavement.
This is Singapore, so the rooms are a little on the snug side, but the ten-foot-high Play School-like windows in the newly refurbished superior rooms give the bedroom a colonial-era charm and the illusion of more space. The queen-size bed keeps the old-world charm coming with a high, dark wood bedhead, crisp white sheets and pale bedside lamp; the business desk also looks like it could have come from Singapore's past.
The Albert Café is the simple all-day dining option in the lobby. Casa Latina on level one reflects Singapore's growing fascination with Mexican cuisine with street food such as soft tacos and tamales. Shish Mahal is located on level one, is housed in one of the old shophouses, and spills out onto the courtyard. It offers a good range of Indian curries but there is some stiff competition as you can see the Tekka Centre eateries of Little India from where you sit.
Little India is just a poppadum's throw away so make sure you visit the Tekka Centre hawker stalls for some of the finest Indian for under $5. Try a breakfast prata (Indian flatbread and dipping curry) from Prata Saga Sambal Berlada (shop No. 01-258) where the owner theatrically throws dough on the open grill for the prata and murtabak. Nearby is also the famous Banana Leaf Apolo (54 Race Course Road), which claims to have invented local delicacy fish head curry (but it is not alone in this boast).
Top affordable stay in one of Singapore's prime spots, with shopping, great eating and exploring on your doorstep.
Superior rooms from $240. 180 Albert Street, Singapore; see stayfareast.com
Paul Chai travelled to Singapore and stayed there as a guest of the hotel.
Tripadvisor Traveller Rating: 4
Our Rating: 3.5