The name alone gets the imagination whirring. Nestled in the back streets of Little India, and quite hard to find even with the help of a local cabbie, is Wanderlust, a whimsical hotel with hip design credentials.
Decked out with cool trimmings and eclectic furnishings, Wanderlust is a designer’s happy place. It’s the latest offering from Loh Lik Peng, the lawyer-turned-hotelier behind Singaporean sister property New Majestic Hotel, and cutting-edge haunts in Shanghai and London. For this project, he teamed up with four local agencies to create fantastical rooms with an upbeat, funky vibe.
As soon as you step through the front door you know you’re not in for a run-of-the-mill hotel stay with a marble-clad lobby and standard-issue uniforms. On the contrary, here the walls are adorned with Indian food labels, a barber’s chair takes centre stage in the lounge area, and the staff are kitted out in tailor-made threads.
Check-in is effortless, thanks to professional yet laid-back staff who make the whole process a breeze. We’re whisked up to our room by a young woman who seems just as excited about the concept as we are, and takes the time to explain what we can expect from our stay.
Even with this introduction, it still comes as a surprise when we enter our Mono Deluxe Room – I can’t help but wonder whose idea it was to craft a hotel room inspired by Pop Art, but whoever it is I’d like to shake their hand. As the name indicates, the colour palette is a simple black and white, which is a stark contrast to the vibrant Pantone rooms, and the spaceship and forest scenes found on the Creature Comforts floor. Here, the visual interest comes from furniture cut-outs that protrude from the wall as backlit reliefs.
The room isn’t as big as I expected, but it’s well laid out, with slick finishings including a bed that’s so comfortable I debate the merits of trying to smuggle it home. The bath and shower hit the nail on the head, too, offering an unobstructed view of the TV, and a bevy of Kiehl’s products with which to lather up. A well-deserved lie-in thanks to the late check-out we’d been granted, followed by shot of coffee from the Nespresso machine, make for the perfect start to the day.
Things only get better when we rock up for lunch at the hotel’s restaurant, Cocotte, which serves authentic French bistro fare in an unstuffy, stylish space. Even if you couldn’t bag a room at Wanderlust, I’d recommend jumping in a taxi and coming here for your Gallic fix.
I choose the pork rillettes and my wife opts for the mussels in cider cream. The rillettes is just as it should be: nice and pink, served at room temperature, and with enough residual fat to spread smoothly on the bread. To be honest, I prefer the classic cornichons that accompany the dish in France, but the marinated olives served here cut through the richness nonetheless. Mrs Smith’s mussels are perfectly cooked and super-fresh, albeit a little sweet from the cider, and are demolished within minutes.
Next up are the mains – I can never resist beef bourguignon, and although the portion is a tad small (I wish they’d encouraged me to order a side or two), it’s very well executed and bloody tasty. Mrs Smith orders the sole à la meunière, a lemon sole that comes with fresh vegetables and just enough beurre noisette drizzled over the top. Now that’s my happy place.
Compared to other hotels in Singapore, Wanderlust is on par when it comes to the high standards of service and quality, though it does tend to take a more artistic approach. Where it really stands out from the pack is in its cool appearance, that quirk factor, and Cocotte, which make it a must for art-seeking, food-loving Smiths.
Anonymously reviewed by Ryan Clift (Young-gun gourmet, Tippling Club)
Whenever you book a stay at a Mr & Mrs Smith, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what real-life guests had to say in Wanderlust's guestbook below.
The location of Wanderlust is great being about a 5-10 walk from two train stations so it was easy to get to after catching the train from the airport. Staff were friendly and as promised, a drink was made for us at the bar while we waited to check in and our bags were brought to our room. We stayed in the treehouse room which was quirky and fun with great wallpaper and felt leaves hanging from the ceiling. The bed was really comfortable and exactly what we needed after being on a plane for 7 hours. The included breakfast was delicious with fresh croissants made on the premises and quick service. We didn't get a chance to eat at the restaurant for dinner which had a delicious French menu but it was always busy when we returned to the hotel in the evening. Overall, it was a lovely hotel to stay at for our quick Singapore getaway.
While the room is definitely quirky and fun, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who can't climb a ladder as the bed is upstairs on the mezzanine level. Not all the rooms are like this I believe but the Treehouse room isn't for someone who is heavily pregnant or frail! Minor frustrations: there were not enough power points; there was only one in the whole room making it hard to keep a lamp on and charge a phone, and there is nowhere to hang used towels — a couple of hooks would have been great.
sarah, SilverSmith stayed on 18 Apr 2013
Wanderlust is characterized by its sense of fun. There are lots of colors and just as many surprises, from the shopping trolly chairs in the lobby to the delicious Kleins bathroom products and the in-room Nespresso machines. The pantone rooms are a bit on the squeezy side so if you're after something a bit more spacious, opt for the level-four lofts. To find cheap delicious food, download the iPhone app 'ieathawker' – a great way to locate top quality dirt-cheap hawker stalls within walking distance of the hotel.
Fiona, SilverSmith stayed on 5 Feb 2012