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
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
  • Get to the point
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

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitness Manager

    £20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Manager

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...

    Recruitment Genius: Learning Team Administrator

    £17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence