The Vagabond – a Tribute Portfolio Hotel in Singapore

On one of my last visit to Singapore, I had the chance to try out The Vagabond, which is branded as a Tribute Portfolio property in Singapore. As such, I was able to earn and redeem Starpoints at this hotel and being a new boutique style hotel, I decided to try staying here since I have previously stayed at the St. Regis, Sheraton, Wanderlust and the W Sentosa Cove in Singapore. The Vagabond is located in Syed Alwi Road, near Jalan Besar and the Sultan Mosque neighbourhood which has evolved from a purely commercial district to an area filled with niche boutiques and cafes.

Entrance to the property
Entrance to the property

The property is made up from a historical building nestled within an area full of old shophouses, thus do not expect any grand entrance. Guests travelling with lots of luggage should note that there is an elevated pavement by the roadside and sometimes taxis might not be able to drop guests directly outside the door. And unlike a traditional hotel with check-in desks, guests are seated in a cosy lounge while the receptionists would do the check-in procedures.

Lobby lounge
Lobby lounge

Upon being seated, one of the hostess offered a welcome drink of water, chai tea or Arabic coffee. This kind of welcome is definitely refreshing for a Singapore city hotel and I have to say the eclectic hotel lobby is outstanding even if it might not be to everyone’s taste. Even though this is a Tribute Portfolio property and a full fledged SPG property, my room was upgraded only to a courtyard room as there are limited suites. I opted for the bonus points as I wanted to get my favourite Singaporean hawker dishes for brunch. However SPG Platinum guests get to enjoy an evening happy hour in the lobby lounge daily.

Reception desk
Reception desk
Sofa in the lobby
Sofa in the lobby

Room No: 208 Category: Classic Courtyard Room

Access to the rooms are via small sized elevators since this is a pretty small hotel and we were assigned a room in the corner at the end of the corridor. It was only entering the room did we realize how small the room was.

Courtyard Club Room
Courtyard room

On the left side of the door was the wardrobe with a cabinet that holds the Nespresso machine and the minibar. And the bulk of the room’s floor plan was occupied by the double bed. As far as hotel rooms go in Singapore, this was the smallest I have stayed in. There was barely any space for me to place my luggage, or even for 2 people to walk around the rooms.

Classic room
Classic room with queen size bed

Across from the bed there was a console with a flatscreen TV with the other half occupied by the minibar snacks. Two large lamps occupy the rest of the space such that all the accessories blocks part of the TV.

TV Console
TV console

As a boutique hotel, I do have to praise them for the choice of snacks since they were appealing and are snacks that I might want to try.

Minibar snacks
Minibar snacks

Due to how little space there was, the access to the bathroom is not by conventional doors. Instead it was a flipping partition that could not be locked as seen on the left part in the picture below.

Bathroom door
Bathroom door

The bathroom itself has a vanity countertop at the end and two enclosed compartments housing the toilet and the shower respectively.

Bathroom with enclosed toilet
Bathroom with enclosed toilet

Since there was a lack of space, they opted with a shower stall and no bathtub here. As it was my preference for city hotels, I do like the clean and well designed bathroom. (Just the lack of a lockable door bothers me a bit…)

Shower stall
Shower stall

Inside the bathroom, Etro-branded toiletries was supplied and this was the second time I saw this brand aside from the Lufthansa First Class Terminal. However the scent of the toiletries seems quite different and was not as over-powering.

Etro bath amenities
Etro bath amenities

As I mentioned earlier, when I checked in, they mentioned an upgrade. Well in my opinion this room was not really an upgrade. The only difference it seems was this room opens out to a small courtyard that overlooks the street. On a work day, the courtyard can be noisy due to the traffic and the fact that it was a workshop next door so it was not an urban retreat that I envision. This space is also shared with the room next door so while the courtyard is large and furnished with 2 tables, it is not truly your own private space.

Outdoor balcony
Outdoor balcony

As a small hotel, there was not much facilities to speak about though the common areas are all beautifully designed. The ground floor of this hotel hosts a restaurant that turns into a club and lounge at night. Guests opting for breakfast can enjoy it in the lobby.

Dining area at the lobby
Dining area at the lobby

In the evenings, light snacks and drinks are served in the lounge as well, so it is a nice space that can be enjoyed by guests between noon and dinner time.

Executive Club in the afternoon
Executive club in the afternoon

During the happy hour, there was liquor in the buffet counters that guests can help themselves to.

Liquor in the bar
Liquor in the bar

For the food, there was cold cuts like chorizo and salami with assorted cheese, crackers, dried fruits and nuts.

Cheese buffet
Cheese buffet
Dried fruits and nuts
Dried fruits and nuts

There was fresh apples, more nuts inside large jars and mixed salads in bowls. A variety of canapes was prepared as well. The food in the lounge was decent enough but I do not expect it to be a replacement for dinner since there was nothing substantial. I think of it more as a way for guests to enjoy the beautiful lounge space in the evening when its quieter.

Snacks in jars
Snacks in jars
Salad bar
Salad bar

The other facility in the hotel is a fitness centre, but it is not exactly connected to the building as it is located across the street in one of the shophouses. Guests can access the fitness centre 24 hours daily using their room key and it was a nice space with relatively new machines and equipments. The fitness centre is also fitted with a flatscreen TV so guests can tune in to the news while working out.

Fitness centre
Fitness centre

During check-out, I actually met the owner of the hotel as she was visiting in the lobby and she asked me for my feedback, even going so far to welcome me again to the hotel in the future. Room rates here was around S$200++, though I have seen it go for around S$160++. Considering the size of the room and the lack of any upgrades to a larger room size, I would perhaps just stay at the Wanderlust which would have cheaper room rates if I am wanting to be economical. Otherwise I would rather top up a bit more to stay at the Sheraton which in my opinion has a better location as it is beside an MRT station and has much more facilities and a club lounge with more food. Thus sad to say, I did not really find this property to be a useful addition to the growing number of SPG/Marriott properties in Singapore.

Elephant in the lobby
Elephant in the lobby
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