Wanderlust

Little India, Singapore Book from S$161

Outlandish design hotel with excellent French restaurant, on a bustling corner of Little India
What is your favourite colour? What were your childhood dreams? Do you like origami? These questions could help narrow down the perfect room for your stay at funky Wanderlust. Set on an incense-filled street of Little India, the interior of this futuristic hotel contrasts sharply with the neighbourhood, although it retains its original 1920s schoolhouse façade. It attracts a young-at-heart crowd, who enjoy cutting-edge design in a playful, inventive setting.

By giving free rein to 4 Singaporean designers, hip hotelier Loh Lik Peng (who also owns the stylish New Majestic and 1929) has produced 4 differently themed levels, and within these, each of the 29 rooms has a unique décor. First prize for imagination goes to the 'Whimsical' loft rooms on the top floor, which include a leafy ceiling treehouse, a space rocket set in LED stars, and a typewriter-themed room. In stark contrast, 'Mono' rooms on the floor below are bright and white with geometrical neon lights, while the 'Pantone' rooms are vividly day-glo coloured. If this all sounds too bizarre, be assured that the design is also practical and comfortable, while staff are exceptionally helpful. Topped off with an alfresco jacuzzi set around a verdant deck and a yummy rustic French restaurant, Wanderlust is a veritable adults’ playground.

Highs

  • The authentic French restaurant. Book well in advance because it's hugely popular with locals
  • Unique and quirky design, with novelty in every nook. The industrial-chic lobby features barber's chairs, a foosball table, and disused street signs fashioned into stools
  • Fabulous service with friendly and knowledgeable staff
  • High quality in-room features: iPod docks, cast-iron tubs, Nespressos, Shanghai Tang toiletries and the fluffiest fleece dressing gowns
  • All guests receive a 'passport' to the local area - hand-drawn maps of Little India's shops and restaurants

Lows

  • If you find some of the decor too eccentric and surreal, go for the soothing and stylish Mono rooms
  • The up-and-coming Little India area lacks the polished finish of Orchard Road or Clarke Quay
  • Pantone rooms are compact; it is worth upgrading to Mono
  • Few electrical outlets in rooms and not much work space
  • Noise from the all-night Thai restaurant next door carries to the rooms facing the street

Best time to go

Singapore has hot and humid weather all year with slightly more rain falling between November and January. These months are also the busiest, peaking around Christmas and during Chinese New Year (normally January or February). In September the Formula 1 also makes Singapore very busy. During these times, it is advisable to book early.

Our top tips

Singapore is the place to explore your palate. Directly adjacent to the hotel is Spicy Thai, a popular, inexpensive Asian which spills out onto the pavement from 6pm until 6am. The Tekka Centre, next to the Little India MRT station, has a variety of stalls selling meals for under S$2, such as wanton noodle soups and Masala Dosas, and is a great way to try lots of different dishes. Back at the hotel, don't miss the homemade ice creams and sorbets, such as creamy lavender, herby basil and zesty blood orange.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
City Style
Family
Foodie
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Design Hotel
  • 29
  • Restaurant (closed Tuesday); more nearby
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Plunge Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

When choosing a room, you specify your category but not the actual room - and they vary hugely, so keep an open mind!

Pantone rooms (Level 2) are the cheapest and brightest: 10 coloured jewels set in a rainbow corridor and matched to a song title which hangs as a neon sign above the beds. They're very compact with a double bed at the far end, though the Pantone Deluxe (‘Yellow Submarine’) is larger, with a cast-iron tub. We preferred the more muted hues of Green to the rather lurid Orange.

Mono (Level 3) has 8 black-and-white rooms inspired by the themes of origami and Pop Art, which work surprisingly well together. We loved the playful backlit stencils, and the clean homely feel; ‘Flower’ and ‘Princess’ are perhaps the prettiest. ‘Directionless’ offers a topsy-turvy world which could be a little disorientating. Features include folding chairs and ceilings undulating with ‘choose-your-own-colour’ neon lines. Again, the Mono Deluxe room is larger and has a glass-encased tub.

Whimsical Rooms (Level 4) are boldly themed and fun - not for everyone, but popular among younger couples on short stays. We loved the 2 ‘Space’ rooms: black walls dotted with LED stars, a red or silver rocket and a cuddly alien sitting on an egg chair. We also liked ‘Tree’: felt leaves on the ceiling and tree trunk wallpaper to imitate sleeping in a treehouse. All have a double bed up a ladder, and a sitting area plus bathroom at entry level.

Wherever you stay, expect bespoke furniture, from hanging chairs to a typewriter sofa, a shower and separate toilet unit encased in glass, plus an iPod dock, Nespresso and minibar with complimentary soft drinks.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar
  • Phone
  • Plunge pool
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Wifi internet
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Cocotte, the hotel’s French restaurant, combines sleek industrialism - bright metal chairs, a vast chandelier made of office desk lights - with Gallic touches such as checked napkins, wine crates piled with fruit, and a heavily laden cheese trolley. It works well, and creates a fun ambiance. Many ingredients are imported from France, so it's authentic but high on food miles.

The breakfast has sticky French pastries in the buffet, and homemade crepes with bacon on the cooked menu. Lunch is a good value 3-course set menu - perhaps pear and blue cheese salad or soupe du jour, sea bass and fennel or the French staple, steak frites. Dessert might be crème brulee or a rich Valrhona chocolate mousse. You can also go a la carte for classics such as escargots, steak tartare and daily fish specials.

Dinner sees the restaurant come to life - its rustic-chic fare is a great hit with Singaporeans, with shared platters and colourful Le Creuset crockery. We enjoyed the tender pork collar with a Dijon sauce served with Brussels sprouts, amadine and tasty girolle mushrooms. Other sharing dishes are roast chicken with herb butter, stewed lamb and poached beef. Although expensive, the cheese trolley is worth investigating for its tempting Blue D’Auvergne and Mont D’Or. There's an extensive wine list too: mostly French, but also some familiar names from Australia, Chile and New Zealand.

Nearby is a wealth of eating opportunities, especially if you follow the locals to street-side cafes and hawker stalls.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Food and wine
  • Minibar
  • Restaurant
  • Walk to restaurants
Eating:
Activity: Residence of Tan Teng Niah

Activities

  • On your doorstep is Little India, with fragrant temples and inexpensive Indian cuisine; nearby is the Arab Quarter for evocative calls to prayer and shisha pipes; Chinatown's busy street markets are a train or taxi ride away
  • Shop ceaselessly at the many designer shops and malls on Orchard Road, 20 mins' walk away. Find discounted perfumes and watches locally at the 24-hour Mustafa Centre
  • Dress up to visit Raffles Hotel and take a Singapore Sling at its Long Bar
  • Get an eye for the geography of the city on the Singapore flyer, similar to the London Eye
  • Go on a night safari at the Singapore Zoo to watch its residents' nocturnal activities
  • Ride to Sentosa Island by cable car and relax on the (often crowded) white-sand beaches
  • Take a taxi to the 150-year-old Botanic Gardens founded by Sir Stamford Raffles, free of charge and open until midnight. Visit the Orchid Garden for a small charge
  • Eat great-value satay and other Malay and Chinese dishes at the Lau Pa Sat Festival Pavilion in Raffles Quay
  • Admire Singapore’s architecture including ‘The Helix’ bridge (a twisted version of London’s Millennium Bridge), the spiky twin mounds containing the Esplanade mall, and the Marina Sands complex which balances a boat shaped skypark on the top of a triple-columned hotel

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Food and wine
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife

Kids

Kids are welcome at Wanderlust although the hotel is not especially geared up to be family friendly. Mono rooms can take 1 baby cot or extra bed. If coming with young kids, avoid the Loft rooms, which have steep stairs.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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