Everything shouts deviant from the moment you enter the sliding glass doors of Wanderlust Hotel. Every form, shape and function that you would expect to see in a hotel lobby takes on a whole new character. Old leather-bound barber chairs, a foosball table, old fashioned strobe lights and a suitcase over flowing with coiled pipes and two eyes made out of bowls staring at you, is not the kind of welcome you would expect.
This sense of peculiarity soon turns into curiosity and wonder. It was my first visit to a member of the Design Hotels Collection. I was eager to uncover the story of Wanderlust from the time I heard about it – the name itself perked my interest. I could barely stop myself from being distracted by the copious funky furniture as the front desk staff went through the regularities of checking me in. The story of Wanderlust is a whirlwind, so continue if you’re up for a thrilling read.
Wanderlust is the brainchild of Loh Lik Peng, a self-made hotelier and restaurateur, ‘Peng’ as he would prefer to be called is a dare devil in the tourism scene. It all started in 2003 when Peng bought over a former brothel in the red-light district of Singapore’s Chinatown and transformed it into what was then known as the first boutique hotel in Singapore – Hotel 1929. Boutique or designer hotels were unheard of at that time and Singapore’s tourism scene was just booming. 1929 took off on a great start and three years later, the New Majestic joined the hotel series. The latter is an up-market boutique hotel with 30 individually designed rooms enough to keep guests returning for another inquisitive stay.
Once Hotel Majestic was up on its feet, it was time for another hotel project. By this time, Peng was already known to push boundaries of conventional middling hotels. The question was, “Which building and what concept was Peng going to take with this new project?” When the call was made to design Wanderlust, Peng basically said, “Go crazy!” The hotel was conceptualized by teams of creative designers who had no prior experience in interior designing. It was a designer’s dream come true – with a blank canvas and the opportunity to work across industries.
Wanderlust embodies a fun, creative and deviant living space. It’s a holiday escape that will entertain your wildest imagination. Occupying a row of four storey shop lots, the hotel is a re-furbished old school originally built in the 1920s. The outer façade holds an accented whimsical look while retaining the historical architecture with stained glass peep-through windows and ceramic tiles. Despite its eccentric interior, the hotel fits nicely into Little India’s bustling scene.
The Unfolding of Each Floor: Loud, Provocative and Eccentric
No two rooms are identical. Each features the innovative and creative freedom achieved by the designers. The lift opened to a bright orange wall with colourful cubed words – “Eccentricity – Phunk Studio” on the 2nd floor. Every door is painted a different solid colour and the same colour follows through into the interiors of the room. With a fairly small space to manoeuvre, the capsule-like rooms on the 2nd floor demonstrates smart use of space with hidden storage spaces and clever configurations. A mood affecter, this floor definitely dabbles with your disposition depending on the colour of your room.
The 3rd floor takes on a different appeal with black washed walls and a prodding question staring right at you, “Is it just black and white?” by DP Aarchitects. Imagine peeling walls resembling origami paper and larger than life pop-art with glowing neon lights in your room. Predominantly in a white theme, the Origami rooms come to life with special lighting glowing from behind paper-like folds on the wall and the Pop-Art rooms are animated with stylish cartoon pop-arts.
Finally, if you hit the 4th floor of Wanderlust, it is quite certain that your stay will be the most, if not one of the most bizarre hotel stays – ever. A glamourous hallway with grand steel lamps hanging overhead and in cursive words, “Creature Comforts – fFurious” greets you. This floor features loft rooms in five varying themes and the idea of having a friendly ‘monster’ accompanying you on holiday. These ‘monsters’ are in the form of a spaceship, a whimsical tree, a gigantic typewriter or a massive wall giant. The massive king-size bed on the split level is perhaps the only ordinary furniture in these rooms. Everything is styled to fit the theme from tiled pictured flooring of the tree roots to the scattered stars comprising of mini LED lights on the black washed wall in the spaceship themed room. This floor truly is a wanderers dream comes true.
Wonders of Wanderlust
Despite its unconventional hotel look, the hotel doesn’t skim on comfort for guests. Each room comes with extremely soft and plush beds, huggable cotton robes, an ipod dock, designer amenities, free minibar, fine teas and your very own Nespresso machine to make a good cup of gourmet coffee.
You are encouraged to venture out of your hotel room. Guests are given a handy passport-like book upon check-in. This cool momento gives useful information about the hotel and serves as a helpful city guide with MRT routes and a map of Little India. It also has recommendations for best places to eat, drink and shop. Best part is that the book contains several empty pages for travel scribbles!
On a hot afternoon, lounge on the open deck on 2nd floor in the rainbow tiled Jacuzzi. The bright rainbow tiles and playful furniture is ideal for anyone who’s up for some serious sun soaking. Or dive into a hearty lunch plate at Cocotte, the hotel’s very own cozy café. Cocotte is an affirmation of the hotel’s adage – an unlikely restaurant in the most improbable place; a French restaurant in the heart of heritage Little India, where curries, tandoori and briyani overflow. How deviant is that?!
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