Room Service: Dazzling design, confused comfort

Wanderlust, Singapore

In a city that teems with upscale hotels, this boutique venue stands out from the crowd for its originality. Its location also offers an alternative to a hyper-modern city centre that heaves with corporate-class luxury and glass-on-steel skyscrapers.

Wanderlust sits in the heart of vibrant Little India. The four-storey building was built as a school in the 1920s and converted into a 29-room hotel in 2011 by the award-winning hotelier, Loh Lik Peng. Loh is the man behind the new One Leicester Street (opening in London on Wednesday), together with London's Town Hall Hotel and the New Majestic in Singapore. With Wanderlust, his ambition was to create an "experimental boutique hotel". The colonial exterior is a stark contrast to the modernity inside. Each of the four levels has been designed by a different Singaporean design agency: "industrial glam" by Asylum; "eccentricity" by Phunk Studio; "is it just black and white" by DP Architects; and "creature comforts" by fFurious.

The lobby's industrial glam look comprises a mix of retro and contemporary furnishings – mismatched chairs and tables and plenty of metallic surfaces and mirrors. A rustic-chic French restaurant, Cocotte, sits at one end, with an open kitchen that serves up generously portioned brunches (homemade pancakes with maple syrup, French butter and streaky bacon, or fruit with honey and a chardonnay dressing). The lobby segues into a bar, serving drinks and an assembly of scrumptious cakes in the evening but on my visit, last orders for food were at 10pm (it closes officially at 11pm most weekdays, 3pm at the weekend) and it was so over air-conditioned that it felt very nippy. Meanwhile, a large outdoor Jacuzzi rather unglamorously backs on to next door's rooftop generators.

Location

Little India lies on your doorstep. Turn right onto Upper Dickson Road to hit the first of the panoply of Indian shops, restaurants and spas that lead up to the adjacent central drag of Serangoon Road.

A gloriously calming Ayurvedic salon (amrita. com.sg) is a short walk away, where therapies include the traditional Indian shirodhara: hot oil dripping onto your forehead from a large urn overhead, which leaves you floating on air.

Also close by is Lagnaa (lagnaa.com) a charming, open-fronted restaurant celebrated for its low-cost, quality cuisine. Watch the world go by as you tuck into South and North Indian dishes, from chilli chicken to threadfin fish curry which comes as hot as you can take it (the restaurant prides itself on its "chilli challenges").

The up-and-coming district of Holland Village, a short taxi ride from Little India, has rows of bars and restaurants. Look out for the 2am Dessertbar (2amdessertbar.com) a dimly-lit, minimalist-style eaterie of extravagantly priced gourmet puddings that look like miniature works of art.

A 10-minute taxi ride will take you to the city centre's array of sprawling shopping malls, as well as Chinatown with its innumerable restaurants, temples and street markets that comprise a riot of smells, colours and tastes.

Comfort

There are 29 themed rooms, and as quirky or original as they appear in style, design sadly triumphs over function in some cases. The 10 Pantone rooms are designed in different colour swatches, as is the luxurious Pantone Delux, which includes a cast iron bath. Eight Mono rooms are inspired by origami and Pop Art, while the singular Mono Delux has a glass-encased bathtub. The nine mezzanine loft rooms are individually themed: Space sports black walls with tiny LED stars and a rocket structure along one side and a narrow ladder up to a futon bed. Conceptually, it's all very clever. In reality, it feels like you are stuck inside a theme park.

I spent the night in the modestly sized Space room. Its open-plan gave dominance to the bathroom, consisting of a shower cubicle, twin sinks and an iron tub, which ran alongside a narrow coffee area, an uncomfortable metallic stool and bizarrely, a leather swing chair. There was little overhead lighting so the room felt dim at night; the hotel staff eventually rustled up a torch so I could find my way to the loo without risk of breaking my neck while coming down the ladder.

A free non-alcoholic mini bar was provided as well as Kiehl's toiletries, Wi-Fi, a selection of teas and a Nespresso coffee machine. There was no room service and the fresh-faced front-desk staff seemed sweet, if callow.

Wanderlust aims for high-concept style but ultimately delivers a lacklustre experience.

Travel Essentials

Wanderlust, 2 Dickson Road, Singapore (00 65 63963322; wanderlusthotel.com).

Rooms **

Value **

Service **

Doubles start at S$280 (£150), including breakfast.

News
peopleChildren leave in tears as Santa is caught smoking and drinking
Arts and Entertainment
A host of big name acts recorded 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' in London on Saturday
musicCharity single tops chart
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall has become the eighth celebrity to leave Strictly Come Dancing
tv
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
News
i100
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Excellent opportunities are available for par...

    Investigo: IT Auditor

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: A global leading travel busi...

    Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie x 2

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
    Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

    Look what's mushrooming now!

    Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
    Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

    Oeuf quake

    Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
    Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

    Terry Venables column

    Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
    Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin