Lucky are the tourists who occupy Singapore budget hotels in the Katong or Joo Chiat area in the eastern part of the island - they're in for a treat. The enclave encompassing Katong district and Joo Chiat Road cover ground traditionally occupied by the Peranakan, a tribe of assimilated Malayan Chinese whose culture lives on in the shophouses massed along the district's roads. The streets of this part of Singapore - particularly the area where East Coast Road meets Joo Chiat road - are full of cheap eats and interesting sights - with easy transport to the rest of Singapore.
The Fragrance Hotel offers 90 guestrooms on Joo Chiat Road, with as many creature comforts as the budget rates allow: color TV, air conditioning, small en suite bathroom, in-room WiFi (available upon request, and it's not free), plus mini-fridge and DVD player in selected rooms.
The hotel's location places it in the middle of gracefully-restored Peranakan shophouses, now occupied by hawker centers and karaoke bars. Nearby, the Malay Cultural Village offers visitors an insight into Malay life before the world wars. Guests can go further afield easily, as Joo Chiat Road has plenty of public transportation options.
The Hotel 81 Joo Chiat sits between Joo Chiat Road's restored pre-war shophouses, offering visitors a front-row seat to one of Singapore's most interesting historical areas. Rooms have windows, although the rooms themselves are cramped - they come with private toilet/hot shower with complimentary toiletries, air-conditioning, cable TV, and telephone.
The hotel does not serve breakfast in-house, but the wide assortment of restaurants and hawker centers surrounding the hotel more than make up for this shortcoming. Go further afield to East Coast Park (ten minutes' walk away) to enjoy the best seafood dining in Singapore.
Stay at Hotel 81 Opera, and enjoy Joo Chiat Road's taste of local cuisine and examples of well-preserved Peranakan architecture. The hotel itself is a four-storey former shophouse, refurbished to provide 84 guestrooms for budget travelers. For guests who want to explore the rest of Singapore, Paya Lebar MRT station is a fifteen-minute walk away.
Hotel 81 Sakura offers clean and cheap (if cramped) accommodation for budget tourists on Joo Chiat Road. Most of the rooms have no windows, but have air conditioning to save visitors from the awful humidity and warmth that Singapore throws its residents most days.
No meals are served, but the surrounding area has plenty of cheap eats courtesy of the hawker centers on Joo Chiat. The MRT station is quite a walk away, but there are bus and taxi stops nearby.
The Le Peranakan Hotel is a moderate/budget hotel on 400 East Coast Road in the Katong District. The hotel strives to live up to its name, filling every corner with peranakan-style furnishings - from carved and polished wood trimmings to fine porcelain table settings.
Rooms are about as big as you'd expect from a Singapore budget hotel - cramped, with barely sufficient closet space. Beds are comfortable, though, and friendly staff more than make up for the space deficiencies. Amenities include 22-inch LCD TV, in-room safe, mini-fridge, and WiFi.