A decent bed, warm shower and mildly friendly reception. That is perhaps as pared down as it gets in respect of hotel fundamentals. Yet, it rarely is those aforementioned basics that take guest experience from somewhat memorable to eloquently outstanding. That immense disparity lies therein the innovation, service and amenities to boast, whether it be an over-the-top suite or verdant treehouse villa.
For Singapore‘s Wanderlust Hotel, it is its progressive design mishmash that makes a strong and lasting impression. Outside, the unassuming property by hip hotelier Loh Lik Peng retains its old-world charm with an unchanged façade left behind from the history-rich Hong Wen School established in the 1920s prior to the building’s refurbishment in 2010, whereas inside, an unorthodox yet unparalleled experience awaits those who seek.
Think of the eccentric 29-room boutique hotel as a tangible portfolio of a handful of Singapore’s most renowned design agencies’ first ever hotel project, namely Asylum, phunk studio and fFurious, alongside DP Architects. Should you be a returning guest, ready yourself for a surprise upon every visit as no rooms, or for that matter, floors within the property are identical to one another – a rare idiosyncrasy completely distinct.
Expect a stark shift in setting right as you step into the hotel lobby with a chic industrial allure, brought to you by Asylum. In sight is a montage of vintage print ads that adorn a feature wall and retro barber chairs speckled across the muted grey and brown toned space flanking a foosball table on each side. Unique to the space is also a snack cart offering guests complimentary nibbles like muruku and kacang putih at any time of day.
As if that wasn’t enough of an enticing teaser, even looking out the glass elevator was a spectacle – it was a courtyard permeated with greenery and a zen fish pond. Arriving on the kaleidoscopic Eccentricity floor by phunk studio instantly exhilarated our inner child. 11 capsule-like rooms are rendered in various pantone hues and bestowed apt neon signs mirroring the whimsical colours, not to be missed by those who thrive on all things vibrant and bright.
Is it just Black and White by DP Architects sits on the other far end of the spectrum on the third floor. Sure to please minimalists of sorts, the nine monotonous room design inspiration hails from paper – Origami and Pop-Art to be exact. The former showcases rooms with ceilings symbolising paper folds and special mood lighting avail in four colours, whereas the latter is akin to an art installation complete with 3D illustrations.
This adult playground didn’t end there. We finally arrived at Creature Comforts by fFurious on the fourth floor where the loft rooms in the building are housed and though photos online are abundant, we were promptly enthused by our Typewriter loft, one of the five varying themes available. Expansive and aesthetically contemporary, the focal point of the space was inarguably the giant typewriter which spans from floor to ceiling.
That aside, the loft was more than inviting. Two cubicles with the toilet and shower are adjacent to the vanity and hanging closet space, while a bathtub occupies the living area where the coffee machine, Handyphone, desk area, LCD television and sofa sits. A careful ascend up some steep steps then reveals the bedroom area boasting yet another LCD television and ultra comfortable double bed extending effortless shut eye.
Amenity-wise, a modest jacuzzi with sun chairs is at one’s disposal, on top of its sole 50-seater F&B joint wine and bistro bar Winederlust where daily breakfast is offered. It is unfortunate that its previous successors Cocotte and then Audace have ceased operations as we found Winederlust neither here nor there. Breakfast was uneventful as the kitchen limits each guest to one egg, and as a purveyor of wines, opening hours that last only up to 11.30pm is unusual.
The location of the property however is unrivalled in contrast. Situated in the heart of the old ethnic enclave of Little India, accessibility literally cannot get better than this – the hipster neighbourhood Haji Lane and affordable shopping district Bugis are both walking distance away, aside from the Jalan Besar MRT station on the Downtown line, only two minutes away by foot yet enables commute throughout the whole of Lion City.
The same can be said about Wanderlust Hotel’s surrounding sights, smells and sounds. Instead of the cosmopolitan stretches of Orchard Road, we would highly recommend for first time visitors to Singapore to immerse themselves in this bustling, culture-rich district for an authentic taste of real Singaporean heritage and its humble beginnings. Hidden gems to uncover in little nooks and crannies are aplenty, as well as countless delicious delights.
Minor shortcomings aside, Wanderlust Hotel by Unlisted Collection presents a quirky breath of fresh air in an otherwise time-honoured district and pushes boundaries as to what a conventional hotel stay should feel like. It’s safe to say that we would happily return.
PS: Aimed to resurrect the long-lost tales of Little India, Wanderlust Hotel has partnered with LASALLE College of the Arts and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) for a public art initiative set in Little India. Don’t miss taking a peep at the little corner behind the building to check out the love letter wall mural that is a part of ARTWALK Little India!
2 Dickson Road,