Singapore’s boutique king Loh Lik Peng collaborated with four local design agencies to create Wanderlust hotel, and boy did they let their imaginations run wild. Since the hotel occupies a heritage-listed former school, little could be altered on the outside, but stepping inside is like tumbling into a vivid dreamscape. Surreal themes from Pantone colours to pop art, origami and childhood fantasies inspired the 29 rooms, and no two are the same. Wanderlust is bold and idiosyncratic, but, due to Peng’s finely honed approach to luxury, it’s also authentically bespoke.
Original, quirky design, ideal for arty types.
Cocotte restaurant and bar for bistro-style Gallic comfort food and good wines.
The colourful Little India location, showing another side of this cosmopolitan city.
A welcome Singapore Sling cocktail each
In the know
Also need to know:
Wanderlust owner Loh Lik Peng is also the creative force behind Smith stablemate the New Majestic Hotel in Singapore, as well as more recent project the Waterhouse at South Bund in Shanghai.This was the debut hotel project for most of the designers involved and they were given free rein to create whatever fired their imaginations. It definitely shows.
Singapore’s climate can be punishingly hot and humid so lightweight and city-stylish threads should dominate your case. Vanessa Bruno, Bassike and Josh Goot are eminently suitable.
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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.
2 Dickson Road, Singapore, 209494
1.1 mi / 1.7 km from city centre
- Internet services
- Onsite laundry
Cocotte is a casual, bistro-style restaurant with a real communal vibe. This is the kind of place to invite a few friends and relax over a long lunch of unpretentious French comfort food. Many of chef Anthony Yeoh's dishes, including the signature roast pork collar with Dijon mustard, can be ordered to share among up to five people.
Cocotte isn’t a place for romantic tête-à-têtes – book the long table by the French windows and invite some friends to join you.
10.30pm at the restaurant; midnight at the bar.
You can't order from your room, so you're going to have to dress up and head out.
The large, well-stocked bar is reminiscent of a French tabac, albeit a rather glamorous one. Admire the quirky lamps made from Campari bottles as you sip a Kronenburg 1664.