My first Design Hotel stay – a review of Wanderlust Hotel in Singapore

It was with joy that I greeted the news of Design Hotels becoming an affiliated member of the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program. As I collect the Starpoints and perks of becoming an SPG Platinum, I chose to stay at Wanderlust Hotel for my week-long stay in Singapore. I did stay a few days at the Sheraton Towers prior moving to the Wanderlust as I like a bit of variety when staying so long in a city just so I get to explore different parts of the city.

Glass elevator
Glass elevator with an atrium at the Wanderlust Hotel

Growing up in Singapore, I rarely ventured into Little India and this is where the hotel is located at. Not many taxi drivers might be familiar with the spot though I have been taking Uber during my stay to get even more points to my SPG account. The hotel is located along a row of shophouses in an area cited as a heritage district, and is 2 blocks away from the blue Downtown Line station of Rochor. Its siting makes it convenient for tourists as it is close to attractions like Sultan Mosque, Little India, and the Kwan Im Temple. It is also close to Sim Lim Square, which is a centre for buying all sorts of electronic gadgets.

Wanderlust Hotel
Wanderlust Hotel exterior

Entering the hotel, there is a set of stairs with a ramp by the side. A small lobby cluttered with vintage items greets guests on arrival. From a pair of old barber chairs to the foosball table gracing centre stage, the lobby is like a funky aloft hotel with a bit of hipster flair.

Lobby lounge
Lobby lounge with a foosball table

There is a small reception desk where I awaited for the check-in process which took a while as we arrived earlier than noon-time. As such they had to check which room was available and to check if it was clean. As a small boutique hotel with less than 30 rooms, there are not much facilities on the ground floor with only a restaurant called Cocotte occupying half this space. I do have to admit the lobby is a pretty cool space to hangout in in the afternoon or evenings and the reception provided us with cold bottled waters as we waited in the lobby which was empty in the morning.

Lobby foyer and reception
Lobby foyer and reception

SPG Platinum members only get their bonus points here, and no upgrades were given. Neither were there any mention of extra amenities. This was to be expected since Design Hotels are mainly independent hotels that are self-managed and considered affiliate members of SPG rather than full-fledged members.

Category: Pantone Room

The first room we stayed in was the most basic rooms on level 2. Guests could go up via the sole elevator in beside the reception or take the staircase. The hotel has 10 of these rooms and they have different colours and theme for each. In order to ensure guests feel comfortable, the receptionist did ask what kind of room we would prefer to be in, and it turns out we were assigned to the Pantone Green room.

Pantone room
Pantone room entrance view

With a basic rectangular layout, the open concept of the room meant everything was within sight upon entry. Two glass enclosed cubicles form the toilet and shower respectively and a translucent layer was applied in the main panels to allow privacy. Guests would not feel comfortable sharing these rooms with strangers though and they are definitely not for families either.

Open bathroom
Open bathroom concept

Bathroom amenities are similar for all 3 rooms with the shampoo and shower gel branded by Argan, a relatively obscure label. Like other Asian hotels, they provide a full range of toiletries from vanity kits to toothbrushes. A neat feature is that the toothpaste is made in Singapore by a local brand instead of the usual Colgate. All the toiletries were also packaged in a box with the hotel’s branding.

Toiletries in the bathroom

A queen sized bed is located at the end on an elevated platform so guests need to go up a ledge to sleep there. This makes it difficult for egress when one is sleeping at the extreme end. What it provides is cosiness and a nice use of space for the limited width.

Pantone Green room
Pantone Green room bed and toilet inside the glass cubicle

The wall mounted flat screen television forms the rest of the amenity while the window ledge on the other side allows the storage of the Nespresso machines, capsules and coffee cups. Our Pantone room is probably one of the best as it is located in the corner which gives it more natural light and I would dread to stay in one of these rooms with the window facing the elevator atrium.

TV and minibar ledge
TV and minibar ledge

Room No: 308 Category: Mono ‘Origami’ Room

Hotel layout
Hotel layout

Because of how small the Pantone room was, we switched to the Mono room for the remainder of the stay. These rooms are larger and feature more conventional layouts and are located on the 3rd floor. However our first Mono room was located just right by the elevator. That meant the only window in the room has a view of the courtyard and the opposite window.

Enclosed bathroom
Enclosed bathroom

Upon entering the room, there is an open closet with hangers and a small minibar. One perk of staying here was that the minibar is complimentary with juices and canned soft drinks replenished daily. It is not much but it was a nice touch and when I asked for more apple juice, they were willing to add to the minibar without any qualms.

Rainshower cubicle
Rainshower cubicle
Bath amenities
Bath amenities

The bathroom is more private here though it is still an open concept with no doors. It is more shielded from the rest of the room but only a glass door with the same translucent layer providing guests with privacy while they shower and do their business. A surrounding ledge functions as a storage shelf and to support the washbasin which is in full view from the room.

Mono bedroom
Mono bedroom interior

Another Nespresso machine can be found on the ledge. Along with the kettle, cups and glasses, it basically occupies the ledge to the extent that it cannot be used as a table. The extra space in the room generally equates to more comfortable space for getting out of the bed with the bed placed in between with space on both sides. Only one side of the bed has a side table where a useful Handy phone is provided free of charge. In fact the handy phone provides free data and calls while on the go, adding an extra perk to staying here for the week.

Nespresso machine in the room
Nespresso machine in the room

On the other end of the room, an armchair is the extra furniture with the TV still wall mounted with no other cabinetry. It looks like the design hotels certainly wants guests to work on the bed or from the armchair. This Mono room has a cool blue hue and because it faces the elevator atrium, the room is usually dimly lit throughout the day. And that made me request to try out the other version of the Mono room which has a ‘pop art’ style.

Mono cyan room
Mono ‘Origami’ room in cyan

Room No: 306 Category: Mono ‘Pop Art’ Room

Floor plan
Floor plan of the 3rd floor

The last room we moved into was perhaps the most photogenic. Whimsical pop-up panels adds a layer of ‘furnishings’ backlit with LEDs that creates a visually striking room. While the bathroom layout is nearly similar to the other Mono room, the washbasin is partially shielded behind the mirror.

Mono bedroom
Mono bedroom in ‘Pop Art’ style

In fact this room has the most conventional layout but is less private for the shower areas. There is an open closet beside the door with the minibar fridge located below it. Luggage racks were available like in other rooms for guests to use and the foyer area in this room has more fancy pop art by the wall adding some zest.

Washbasin with open wardrobe
Washbasin with open wardrobe

The rainshower cubicle and toilet are similarly enclosed with a glass door clad in translucent panels, while bath amenities remains the same.

Rainshower and toilet
Rainshower and toilet

And this room has a small console table below the wall-mounted TV that could perhaps function close to a work desk for guests who need some space to use the laptop. Though they need to use it with the Nespresso machine and coffee cups in the way. There is a chair included by the desk too, so it was the most functional of the 3 rooms we were assigned. The bright warm lighting certainly made this the most comfortable room as well.

TV console
TV console with chair

I would even say the design here is just nice to make it interesting with neat themes that adds style to the normally staid queen bed in the room. Though the bedside still only has one table to place and charge your mobile phones. The occupant of the other bed will just have to settle with charging their devices on the floor. This room has a nice view though since it is located higher up and in the corner, and I was able to see out to the skyscrapers along Beach Road from here.

Queen bed in the Mono room
Queen bed in the Mono room

Aside from the restaurant and bar in the lobby, the hotel also has a small outdoor deck with a hot tub on the second floor. This is just right outside the Pantone Green room which I stayed in for the first night. Though the hot tub is not used considering how hot the weather in Singapore already is.

Hot tub in the deck
Outdoor hot tub in the deck

This little outdoor space does have some places to sit and I can see it becoming a smoking corner for guests since there is a lack of other public spaces inside this boutique hotel.

Outdoor deck
Outdoor deck with seating

Without much facilities, the price I paid of S$169++ (~$124) for the Pantone room and S$209++ (~$153)for the Mono room was an average value considering no breakfast was included. Furthermore, I have to mention the internet and wifi in the hotel is awfully slow and the internet speed was usable only for basic surfing and practically useless for video streaming. Inside the room, there is little entertainment too since the TV channels are limited as well. Granted that Singapore-based hotels are quite expensive and provides less value. But on my next stay in Singapore, I do not see myself staying here once again since the Sheraton Towers sometimes have nearly similar rates and it is much more comfortable and provides club access for SPG Platinum members. In the end this stay was just nice for the refreshing design inside the room and to try out my first Design Hotels. Unfortunately, boutique hotels does not really provide function with form, and that has been usually my source of disappointment with them.

Hotel exterior
Hotel exterior

3 thoughts on “My first Design Hotel stay – a review of Wanderlust Hotel in Singapore

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