Living in pandemic times hasn’t put us in the highest of spirits: a recent study by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Harvard Medical School revealed, perhaps unsurprisingly, that 55% of participants reported being more stressed in May of this year as compared to January. Trying to draw the lines between professional time, family time and alone time all within the confines of your home and city doesn’t make for a strong sense of equilibrium either.
While it’s certainly not a cure-all, a weekend dedicated to self-care and reconnecting with yourself can uplift your spirits and refresh your senses. And although travel is on hold for the time being, there are plenty of places in Singapore where you can take a break from the daily grind, indulge a little and enjoy the pleasure of your own company.
Kick off your morning and energise your body with a stroll at your nature park of choice. For a solid workout coupled with lush greenery, we recommend scaling the 163m hill at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. There are a few different trails of varying difficulty you can take to the summit, so check the signage at the base of the hill before you begin your trek. It gets increasingly crowded as the day goes on, so come extra early for a serene solo walk.
For a post-hike brunch, stroll to the nearby Bukit Timah Market & Food Centre, and take your pick from over 80 hawker stalls selling everything from wanton mee and carrot cake to prata and kaya toast with perfectly runny eggs.
Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for Western-style food and are a fan of sourdough bakes, hop on a quick bus or MRT ride over to Micro Bakery & Kitchen at Serene Centre. You can tuck into delicious scrambled eggs served on a thick slice of toast, or enjoy a cinnamon roll with a cup of coffee. Be sure to grab a loaf of bread to-go for the week ahead.
After you’ve headed home to wash up, it’s time to check yourself into your hotel for a one-night staycation. Plenty of places have once again opened their doors to guests, and you can find the most updated list of approved hotels here. Among the options are PARKROYAL on Beach Road for those looking to stay close to the centre of the city; The Barracks Hotel Sentosa if you’re feeling like a secluded heritage retreat; and The Warehouse Hotel for a boutique stay in well-designed digs on the Singapore River.
After you’ve settled into your room, it’s time to feed your mind and soul with a trip to The Moon. This independent bookstore in Chinatown specialises in inclusive literature and retails works by writers from marginalised communities, women and people of colour. Over 50% of their tomes are written by women authors, and span genres from fiction and poetry to politics and cookbooks. Once you’re done perusing the colourful shelves, you can enjoy your new read over an afternoon pick-me-up at their in-house café.
Once you’re done, drop by ETTE Tea Company along Kreta Ayer Road to browse their impressive collection of both classic and creative blends. The Mango Sticky Rice tea is composed of genmaicha, black tea, roasted barley, diced mango and candied coconut; while the Nasi Lemak tea features hojicha, genmaicha, coconut flakes, dried pandan and dried chilli.
Head back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner and make your way to Burnt Ends along Teck Lim Road, which placed fifth on the most recent Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020 list. Their counter seating is perfect for solo diners, and you can watch as a team of expert chefs whips up signature barbecued meats in a custom-made wood-burning oven.
Cap off your evening at new bar Sago House, also in the Chinatown area. The menu specialises in six core drinks based on classic styles such as the Daiquiri, Highball, Martini and Old Fashioned, but flavours switch up every week. Grab a seat – be sure to check out the couches that were upholstered using upcycled coffee bean sacks – take in the ambience and indulge in a well-deserved cocktail.
Since Saturday was action-packed, make the most of your hotel room and take it easy with a lazy Sunday morning lie-in. Once you’re ready to greet the day, grab breakfast at the hotel – many are offering packages that include a complimentary breakfast or discounted rates at in-house F&B outlets – before spending a couple of hours either lazing by the pool or exploring the other facilities.
After checking out, head to Dempsey Hill for a spot of lunch at one of two recently opened restaurants: Tuga and SPRMRKT. The former, originally established in Taipei, offers Portuguese cuisine in a relaxed environment, with dishes such as spicy sautéed mushrooms with black pig ham; grilled padron peppers; and octopus fillet.
Meanwhile, the latter is the latest outlet of the homegrown hospitality company (with outposts at Robertson Quay and Cluny Court) and offers inventive café-style fare such as wild honey farro grain bowl (farro, black barley, roasted cauliflower, eggplant, blistered tomatoes and a wild honey dressing) and blackened fish & chips (squid ink battered sea bass with kimchi slaw and fries).
After walking off your meal by exploring the area’s retail stores – Dover Street Market is always worth a visit for the streetwear-inclined – and meandering through its lush pathways, head off to the spa for some afternoon pampering.
With a plethora of options, it all comes down to the kind of experience you’re looking for. If you want to feel like you’ve been transported to a Zen Japanese ryokan, opt for Ikeda Spa in Bukit Timah, which features Singapore’s very first onsen made with hinoki (cypress wood) from Japan. There’s also Passage New York in the CBD should you want to indulge in a Caviar Anti-Aging Face Spa treatment – which makes use of caviar extracts to speed up the natural production of collagen – or St. Gregory Spa, which has a few locations downtown, for a range of options including Ayurveda treatments, Thai massages and sound therapy treatments.
After a relaxing afternoon, head home to chill out before the week ahead. For dinner, support a local restaurant and have some hands-on fun in the kitchen while you’re at it by whipping up a delicious pasta dish. Pasta Bar at Keong Saik Road offers freshly made rigatoni, tagliolini and tagliatelle for delivery, which you can cook up with your sauce of choice; while Bar Cicheti has pasta-making kits that include one to two servings of fresh pasta, sauce, condiments and even a set of instructions to guide you along in your culinary adventure.
End your weekend of self-care by getting comfy on your couch and doing some exploring of the virtual kind. Although attractions around the world have slowly started opening again, many top museums – including the Louvre in Paris and Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum – are still offering online tours of their collections, so you can view masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa in situ without leaving your place.