An HR Executive’s Guide to Renting Serviced Apartments in Singapore

In recent years, serviced apartments have emerged as a viable alternative to hotels and other forms of accommodation, especially when it comes to housing foreign workers for short-term and fixed-term projects.

They are especially popular for short-term stays in Singapore, beating out hotels by being cheaper while still retaining the level of service you would expect to receive from your traditional business hotel.

But what exactly is a serviced apartment, and why are corporate travellers drawn to them?

What is a serviced apartment?

A serviced apartment in Singapore is a fully furnished apartment that’s available for both short-term and long-term stays.

Like a hotel, it comes with amenities for daily use, housekeeping, and other services to make each guest’s stay as comfortable as possible, all of which are included in the rental price. Taxes, utilities, and other surcharges may also be included in the lease.

Admittedly, the term “serviced apartment” or “serviced residence” is relatively unknown outside of the corporate relocation and business travel sectors. They have long been available on online booking websites, but are not usually placed in a separate category.

Instead, they are grouped together with regular hotel accommodations but labelled as an “apartment.”

You may also find a variation of serviced apartments under headings/labels such as:

Variation of serviced apartments

1) Serviced residences

These are self-contained flats within residential buildings, but with dedicated staff onsite or on-call. Operators may arrange to meet guests upon arrival or provide keyless entry using near field communication (NFC) technology or a smartphone app.

2) Aparthotels

These serviced apartments are typically found in a dedicated building and offer hotel-like amenities and a 24-hour reception or concierge. They may come with additional amenities, such as a fitness gym or lounge.

Explaining the appeal of budget serviced apartments

Aside from convenience, cost savings are an important factor behind the appeal of serviced apartments.

They are especially cost-effective for longer stays, employees travelling in teams, or employees bringing along their family with them to Singapore, allowing savings on room service or dining out and providing in-house entertainment.

Furthermore, a serviced apartment located in a residential area also allows guests to live like a local—a travel experience you can’t put a price on.

Whether you’re a corporate relocation executive, a business travel manager, or an expat moving to Singapore, you can expect the following amenities and features from a serviced apartment:

    • A kitchenette or fully-equipped kitchen, complete with a dishwasher and washer/dryer
    • Serviced apartments usually have plenty of room, with one or more separate bedrooms. In studio units, a serviced apartment will have specific sections for sleeping, cooking, and home office work.
    • A living room/area
    • A toilet and bath
    • Safety deposit box
    • A television (one or more), cable TV, wireless internet, and other modern in-room technologies such as keyless entry
    • All basic utilities (i.e. water and electricity)
    • Weekly housekeeping service. More frequent housekeeping services can be arranged upon request
    • Ironing board or clothes steamer
    • A 24-hour helpline

For HR executives planning their teams’ employee mobility strategy, looking for a serviced apartment in Singapore lets corporate travellers enjoy their stay with as little hassle as possible. There is a wide variety of serviced apartments in the city-state, some providing premium and luxury services, and others on the more affordable side of things.

Pros and cons of serviced apartments, hotels, apartment rentals, and short-term homestays

Of course, you’re probably thinking that the services provided by a serviced apartment make it sound like any hotel.

However, serviced apartments actually have a number of important qualities that make them unique.

Benefits of serviced apartments

1) Your own kitchen

Perhaps the biggest advantage serviced apartments have over hotels is the availability of a fully-equipped private kitchen, or, at the very least, a kitchenette.

Simply having the means to cook their own food can make a world of difference to expats in Singapore for work, making them feel that they have a home away from home. For avid home cooks, it also means being able to make the meals they want, whenever they want.

Of course, being able to cook your own food also translates to hundreds of dollars saved every month on your food bill compared to dining out or ordering room service all the time.

2) Private space

Privacy is another factor that can be a powerful draw for serviced apartments. Unlike hotels where you would get daily visits for cleaning, most serviced apartments include a weekly housekeeping service. This helps guests feel more comfortable with fewer intrusions.

If you prefer more frequent cleaning, a regular housekeeper can be arranged to visit your apartment, ensuring that you have someone you can be familiar with in your temporary home. You can even request for cleaning tools if you wish to do your own cleaning.

Other features and amenities found in serviced apartments but usually not in hotels include a washer/dryer, which allows guests to save money on laundry. A serviced apartment can also arrange for specialized laundry services like dry cleaning.

In addition, serviced apartments tend to have more floor space than hotels. A typical one bedroom apartment can be twice the size of a hotel room, complete with a living area, a sleeping area, separate nooks for cooking and unwinding, generous closet space, and a provision for a washer and dryer.

All these gives business travellers and their companies get more value for money.

3) Lower costs

Cost is another important factor that makes serviced apartments more appealing than hotels. For long-term stays (30 days or more), the rental price of a serviced apartment is usually cheaper than a hotel.

The longer your stay, the cheaper the rates become, due to a number of factors including:

  • Less frequent housekeeping service compared to a hotel
  • Most serviced apartments don’t have a restaurant
  • Hotels have to include the cost of breakfast into their daily rate, hence the higher cost
  • Serviced apartments tend to have a smaller staff than hotels
  • Accommodating long-term stays allows the serviced apartment to save on taxes, which drop by a significant percentage after a certain number of nights

Business travellers themselves, especially those on long-term assignments, are increasingly being drawn to serviced apartments over hotels. According to a study by serviced apartment platform Homelike, 30% of business travellers to the UK prefer a serviced apartment over a hotel for business trips over 30 days.

Meanwhile, the GSAIR 2018/2019 shows that corporates choose serviced apartments over a hotel due to factors such as brand recognition, traveller reference, convenience, and length of stay.

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Benefits of hotels

Hotels are ideal for short visits when things like cooking your own meals is not relevant.

Although hotels are more expensive on a per night basis, you also get the hotel’s signature brand of service, access to exclusive hotel amenities, and personalised guest experience.

1) Convenient location

With hotels, business travellers can rest assured knowing that they’ll be staying in a hotel with a great location.

Most business hotels are strategically located near accessible public transport, a shopping mall, and/or the central business district. Conversely, hotels can also be located in remote areas, where a serene environment away from the hustle and bustle of the city is the hotel’s unique selling proposition.

2) Personalised service

Luxury hotels may charge an arm and a leg, but they will also go out of their way to deliver a personalised service to their guests.

That could mean anything from making reservations at popular restaurants (where tables are hard to get by), arranging transport to and from the airport, and creating itineraries for travellers looking to explore the city. 

3) Easy access to necessities

Access to food and drink is also another important benefit of hotel accommodations.

For business travellers looking to maximise their trip, things like breakfast and room service are important because they can’t waste time looking for a coffee shop in the morning or looking for a place to have lunch or dinner. A hotel’s restaurant can also be one of its primary selling factors, along with access to entertainment and nightlife within the hotel premises.

4) Rewards

Lastly, some business travellers and their employers may find that access to loyalty and incentives an important benefit of staying at a hotel.

According to a study commissioned Carlson Wagonlit Travel, three in ten business travellers prioritise loyalty points and rewards above security.

Benefits of home-sharing

The rise of Airbnb has been one of the most disruptive trends in the world of leisure and business travel. According to Airbnb, “nearly 700,000 companies have had employees sign up and book with Airbnb for Work.” Of this number, over 275,000 organisations work directly with Airbnb to manage their employees’ business trips.

Airbnb has also observed a number of trends in the way people travel for work on their platform. For one, business travellers on shorter trips (i.e. no more than five nights) look to Airbnb as a low-cost alternative to short-term stays in hotels.

Airbnb guests also prefer to book their stays over a weekend, a sign that the company says shows a growing preference for “bleisure,” or mixing business trips with leisure stays.

Airbnb appeals to business travellers who care most about value for money. They may not get personalised services like housekeeping, transport on demand, or custom itineraries made for them, but in exchange, they only pay a fraction of the cost of staying at a hotel.

Airbnb operators also compensate for a lack of luxury services by offering informal but no-less valuable services, appealing to travellers who wish to live the locals do.

But the relatively unregulated home-sharing economy also comes with risks for business travellers.

With Airbnb, it’s not uncommon to move into someone else’s home and take a risk in terms of the accommodation’s standard of health and safety. Companies and business travellers can only rely on the feedback of previous guests to determine whether it’s worth staying at an Airbnb accommodation.

There’s also the issue of renting out private property on Airbnb being technically illegal in Singapore. The government requires a minimum stay of three months in private residential properties. However, there are no laws prohibiting guests from staying in Airbnb properties in Singapore, but travellers are strongly advised to book at their own risk.

Benefits of short term apartment rentals

Apartment rentals are perhaps the cheapest option for business travellers staying in Singapore for several months.

However, relocation executives and HR departments must be ready to face the challenges of finding an apartment, especially if they aren’t familiar with different locations in Singapore. Granted, this is a small country and the central business district is usually a brief train ride away.

Travel and HR managers also have to do the heavy lifting of looking for property agents who can show them a selection of properties in their desired location and within their price range per square foot. There will be some paperwork involved, including a Letter of Intent (LOI), condition report, and contract of lease among others.

The variety of accommodations available to expat workers can make it difficult for the HR manager to settle on one option. If you do end up choosing a serviced apartment, there’s still the question of how to go about doing it.

If you are looking to accommodate a large team of expats in Singapore, you need a trusted corporate accommodations provider who can serve as your single point of contact in the country.

This is where Expat Corporate Apartments comes in.

Why book with Expat Corporate Apartments?

With a background in the real estate industry going back 12 years, Expat Corporate Apartments is a one-stop solutions provider of corporate housing options for expats and expat teams in Singapore.

We specialise in affordable yet premium serviced apartments in Singapore, with a range of units available in one-, two-, and three-bedroom units across:

    • Central
    • Clementi
    • Jurong East
    • One North
    • Queenstown
    • Redhill

Choosing a serviced apartment in Singapore for your expat workers is a quick and easy process when you book with Expat Corporate Apartments.

We understand that one of the more challenging responsibilities of HR managers with teams of temporary foreign workers in the country is the handling of their relocation. Things can get even more complicated when you have to take care of transitioning employees that have their families with them—now you potentially have to worry about the safety and security of children.

Expat Corporate Apartments is fully equipped to handle these challenges and more. Our fleet of serviced apartments in Singapore offers the following key benefits:

  • Freedom for expat staff members, and their families, to treat their apartment as a home away from home. Guests are provided amenities such as a fully-equipped kitchen, dishwasher, and washer/dryer, allowing them to cook their own meals, wash their own dishes, and do their laundry in the comfort of their temporary home. For anything else, the serviced apartment can make arrangements to handle special requests.
  • Our serviced apartments don’t scrimp on hotel-like services. We offer 24-hour customer support, housekeeping services, and laundry and dry cleaning among others.
  • We provide your expat employees with the ability to enjoy a regular social life as they would at home. Our accommodations are spacious enough and make it easy to invite people over or even have family members come for a visit.
  • We provide a wide range of serviced apartments in Singapore’s key neighbourhoods, creating a residential experience with great proximity to your employees’ offices.

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The Expat Corporate Apartments Guarantee

The fastest and most convenient way to help your expat employees transition into a positive environment is letting them reside in our serviced apartments.

We understand the importance of first impressions in a new city, which is why we strive to make sure that each guest and their family feel welcome and comfortable in their serviced apartment.

We do that by providing our services according to the Expat Corporate Apartments guarantee, which covers the following factors:

1) Cost

We invite HR managers to choose from our fleet of serviced apartments in Singapore, which are available at a fraction of the cost of staying in a traditional hotel. Our apartments are priced competitively, offering your company great value for money.

For expat employees, you can rest easy knowing that you are getting quality service and safe and secure housing, allowing you to fully enjoy your stay in Singapore.

2) Personalisation

Expat Corporate Apartments can provide personalised housing options depending on your company’s budget, number of expat staff members, desired location, size of the accommodation, number of rooms, and required furniture among others. We can and will tailor our apartment solutions to meet your corporate housing requirements.

For visiting employees, we can customise your serviced apartment’s layout to your desired requirements, whether it’s having a specific number of beds, having child-friendly room features, or accommodating young children and/or pets.

3) Single-point of transaction

Expat Corporate Apartments removes the hassle of having to deal with multiple providers, whether it’s utilities, the landlord, or homeowners’ association. We will take care of all the documentation, including turnover reports, contracts of lease, and stamping. Our end-to-end solutions also cover utilities, broadband Internet, and cable TV.

Expat Corporate Apartments also offers a 24-hour support hotline to our guests. If you have questions about your unit, have concerns such as weak Wi-Fi, or simply need directions to the nearest MRT station, we have these and more covered.

4) Flexibility

We understand that your organisation may have specific requirements for invoicing to comply with your accounting department’s protocols. Our invoices, contracts, and other important documents can be provided according to your company’s specific requirements.

For employees, you don’t have to worry about unanticipated extensions, which can happen when your assignments in Singapore are extended or your project experiences delays. We offer the option to extend your lease upon your request. Daily rates on extension will be prorated accordingly.

5) Comfort

For corporates, we guarantee that we will be with you through every step of the process of choosing a serviced apartment, from choosing a location to setting up each unit your expat employees will be living in. We will do the heavy lifting and take care of all the grunt work, allowing you to focus on other important tasks.

Likewise, guests will receive services and amenities to make their stay in Singapore as comfortable as possible. That includes laundry and housekeeping, as well as kitchenware, pillows and linens, towels, appliances, wireless Internet, cable TV, and utilities. Everything you need to live a modern and hassle-free will be here waiting for you.

6) Expertise

Expat Corporate Apartments is a proud member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) since 2014.

One of the most important advantages of being an SHRM member is being enlightened of the extremely complex nature of the relocation process. And over the years, we’ve seen this process become even more difficult. Our job is to work closely with multiple companies to ensure your company gets an all-in-one package that can easily be traced and tracked.

For apartment guests, our experienced teams are just a call or message away to handle all of your concerns, whether it’s something to do with maintenance, repairs, or housekeeping.

Provide a home away from home in Singapore for your expat employees

For HR professionals looking to house their expat employees in safe, secure, and comfortable accommodations, serviced apartments are the most practical option for many reasons.

For starters, serviced apartments are ideal for long-term stays, costing less on a per night basis than regular hotels.

They also provide the much-needed comforts of home, such as a fully-equipped kitchen, appliances for cleaning and doing the laundry, generous sleeping and living areas, and all the other modern amenities you would expect from hotels. special requests, albeit for a small fee.

However, it’s also important to look for a reliable one-stop shop that can handle all of your employees’ relocation needs under one roof. Expat Corporate Apartments is a trusted relocation partner that can handle your apartment selection, billing, and customer support for your employees.

Enquire today for more information.

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Enquire about renting serviced apartments for your expats.

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