Robert_Charlton - 9:56 am on Oct 19, 2010 (gmt 0)
I'm searching from Singapore, but using google.com (Not .com.sg)
Regardless of which tld you're using, Google is very aggressive about customizing geo-related searches based on where you're searching from, using IP and probably ISP information.
The second type of serp you show, for [paris hotel], have been the normal style of large [cityname business] results for a long time, and it's a style that's generally been independent of searcher location.
The style of serp you reported first, though, for [singapore hotel], which is a local search for you, was discussed in this thread, the title of which is something of a misnomer, as the Place flags confused the interpretation of what was seen....
Google Tests Local Search with NO Organic Results
In the US, around the time this was discussed in August, I saw brick-and-mortar-predominant results, as in your first [singapore hotel] example, for maybe 10-20 large US cities, but I haven't seen them recently. And I haven't seen anything like the number of results you report. It's almost as though they included the 7-pack map results in the middle column but shifted the map to the side.
What particularly raised my interest, though, is that I have been seeing hotel searches for some cities where I've felt the branding of the hotels was very strongly aligned with the [cityname hotel] query... so much so that it appeared that Google was on the brink of sorting data differently. Your post suggested this might be coming to pass.
Because of your location, though, I'm now interpeting what you're seeing as a further test of the local results discussed on the above thread... not a system-wide reinterpretation of queries.
The potential of what branding effects might do if taken this far has raised a lot of concern among many directory owners and ecommerce operators, and it certainly set off a bell in my head as I read your post and saw the screen capture.