Orchard Road’s fall from grace has been sudden and unceremonious. It seems like just yesterday when the shopping belt was the coolest place in Singapore, and new malls like Somerset 313 and Orchard Central were sprouting up like mushrooms in a mouldy bathroom.
There is no question that Singaporeans prefer to shop elsewhere these days. But there are still a few reasons even the laziest person would drag themselves out of the house to go to Orchard Road, such as the following.
One of Orchard Road’s strengths is that it is home to many karaoke joints, some of which offer rather competitive rates.
You’ve got everything from the luxurious K Suites at Orchard Parade Hotel, the cutesy Manekineko outlets at Cineleisure and *SCAPE to Cash Studio at Ming Arcade and hostess karaoke Dynasty Karaoke at Peace Centre.
While tai tais might no longer want to shop at the luxury boutiques on Orchard Road, preferring to head overseas or hit up Marina Bay Sand’s much more luxurious mall, Orchard Road’s high tea options are second to none.
The concentration of high end hotels and malls means ladies-who-lunch are spoiled for choice when it comes to high tea options. Some favourites include The Rose Veranda at Shangri-La Hotel, the Marmalade Pantry at ION Orchard, L’Espresso at Goodwood Park Hotel and D9 Cakery at the Hilton.
While Orchard Road cannot really compete with nightlife hotspots like Clarke Quay or Club Street, there are some very successful nightspots with loyal regulars.
The bars on the iconic Peranakan Place strip like Alley Bar and No. 5 Emerald Hill are extremely popular amongst locals and tourists alike. The al fresco area at Somerset 313 is also buzzing on weekends.
The Selegie area is home to LAN shops that, despite their prime location, charge very reasonable prices.
Most of these LAN shops are concentrated in the area in and around Parklane Shopping Mall, and their clientele hang out till late at night, grabbing a drink or supper on Prinsep Street or Middle Road.
Bookshops struggle to survive in Singapore, with some of the biggest names such as Borders having closed down over the years. But Kinokuniya’s huge unit at Ngee Ann City continues to be the sole reason some shoppers head to Orchard Road.
Kinokuniya’s strength lies in its massive range of books, particularly those in foreign languages. Many expats make the trip to Orchard Road just to buy books and magazines in Japanese, French, German and Chinese. They also have an extensive art, design and music section.
Library@Orchard may be just one of many public libraries in the National Library Board’s extensive network, but is unique in its focus on design, making it extremely popular amongst students in nearby SOTA, NAFA and Lasalle.
The premises of the library are stunningly modern and cosy reading pods make it a great place to while away a couple of hours.
As anyone can see from the crowds on Orchard Road every weekend, there is still a healthy amount of human traffic in the area during peak periods. It appear landlords’ woes stem not from the fact that nobody is going to Orchard Road anymore, but rather that those who do go there aren’t there to shop.