The Wanderlust hotel in Singapore’s Little India breaks all the rules. No two rooms are alike and the colours are straight out of the colour wheel. It’s chic, radical and very, very, fun.
When corporate lawyer-turned-hotelier Loh Lik Peng decided to build a hotel in Singapore’s Little India, not everyone was convinced it was a good idea. Little India is home to a large community of Indian settlers. It is a busy, colourful area but not very popular on the tourist map. Loh Lik Peng wanted to give people a really good reason to visit the locality, a “little gem of an enclave”. And so, the idea of Wanderlust was born.
You would never guess that the chic 29-room boutique hotel is housed in a former 1920s schoolhouse, the Hong Wen School. Apart from the sensitively restored original façade, there is not much evidence remaining of the swish of uniforms or the stampede of school shoes after a day behind the desks. Indeed, the desks in Wanderlust are a lifetime away from the ubiquitous wooden school desks. Each floor of the hotel was designed by a different award-winning Singaporean design agency. As a result, no two floors are identical, neither are any two rooms the same.
The lobby sets the tone for the unconventional hotel, which describes itself as a place for “guests with a sense of adventure.”
Designed by Asylum, the lobby dons an ‘Industrial Glam’ theme. A feature wall with a montage of vintage print ads attracts the eye right away, as does the Frank Gehry sofa and recycled road sign furniture by Trent Jansen. A bright purple vintage barber’s chair (from Loh Lik Peng’s personal collection) is the star of one corner.
On the second level, ‘Eccentricity’ rules. Designed by Phunk Studio, this floor has more saturated colour than your neighbourhood sari shop. Eleven rooms on this floor are each rendered in a distinct colour, taking their cue from the Pantone colour system. The rooms have neon-lit song titles taking based on the room colour. Yellow Submarine (Beatles), Red Light (U2), Pink Triangle (Weezer), Purple Rain (Prince) – choose your rooms by song or colour.
If the colour gets too much for you, head to the next level instead, where black and white rooms soothe your senses. And because this is no ordinary hotel, there’s a twist here, too.
The ‘Is it just Black and White’ level by DP Architects uses paper as its inspiration. Each of the nine rooms has elements inspired by either origami or pop-art. In the Origami rooms, the ceilings resemble paper folds and an innovative lighting system allows guests to choose a colour of their choice for the predominantly white rooms. Like your ceilings orange, blue or green? Play around with it; that’s what Wanderlust would like you to do.
In the Pop-Art rooms, stencilled illuminated installations add another layer to the décor. Mae Noor of ‘The Unlisted Collection’, the company that runs Loh Lik Peng’s hotels and restaurants says, “The pop-ups were done using different animated scenes of stencilled art installations, and there are lighting fixtures behind the cut-outs to illuminate them.”
On the top floor, lonely travellers (or others who don’t mind visitors in their rooms) can cosy up with friendly monsters for company. The ‘Creature Comforts’ floor, designed by fFurious, has nine loft rooms with different themes such as ‘Bling’, ASCII’, ‘Space’, ‘Tree’ and ‘Typewriter’. Choose a fantasy adventure in a tree or rocket (with a moustachioed alien or two) or sit on a giant typewriter sofa while you consider your plans for the day.
On this floor, Loh Lik Peng’s desire to “let guests reconnect with a part of their childhood” comes to life perfectly in enchanted rooms that invite guests to be a little more playful and adventurous.
In addition to the unusual rooms, Wanderlust also hosts a French restaurant called ‘Cocotte’, which serves ‘rustic cuisine in a communal setting.’
Restored timber flooring with wine crates on the walls flank a large communal table topped with a Moooi chandelier. With surprises in store on every floor, this radical and fun hotel might be just the place to give your wandering feet a well-deserved break.