On a recent stopover to check up on Smith’s boutique hotels in Singapore, we remembered why we first fell for the south-east Asian city’s buzzy mix of stylish stays, fabulous food and cocktails with a view…
It’s not often you get a rocket in your room – or a monster soft toy. This is Wanderlust hotel though, a topsy-turvy world where fantastical themes and dreamy decor are the norm. It’s the surreal brainchild of Singapore’s boutique hotel king Loh Lik Peng, creator of sister Smith stay, the New Majestic Hotel.
Even approaching Wanderlust is bewildering, as it’s set in the city’s Little India quarter: you could almost be in Delhi or Mumbai. Indian food, flowers, fragrances and folk spill out from every stall in the surrounding streets, a colourful chaos that contrasts with Singapore’s more pristine, ordered Colonial District or designer-boutique drag Orchard Road.
Once inside, I feel like I’m on another planet altogether. I’m staying in one of the eccentric Whimsical Loft rooms, with a wacky space theme (hence the red rocket and lofty mezzanine bed set under the stars).
Having checked into my quirky inter-galactic boudoir, I settle into the hotel’s French bistro Cocotte (right), where rainbow-bright metal chairs, spider-like black pendant lamps and simple Gallic tableware set a hip but unpretentious mood. After sampling a couple of delicious appetisers (pear and blue cheese salad and pan-fried scallops with fennel and orange), I’ve still got room for the zingy citron tart, washed down with a Cocotte No 2 cocktail (vodka, cassis and grapefruit, darlings).
Outside, Singapore’s calling. After swinging by Little India’s Jothi Store & Flower Shop at 1 Campbell Lane, a one-stop Indian accessories shop, and the crazy bargain emporium that is the Mustafa Centre (145 Syed Alwi Road) – a multi-storey throng of saris, watches and beauty booty – I’ve worked up a thirst.
It’s a tourist cliché, but I can’t resist quaffing a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar at classic hotel Raffles (left), on Beach Road. Loving the old-fashioned ceiling fans; not so sure about the sickly-sweet pinkness or the hefty price tag. A far better bet is the seventh-floor Lantern rooftop bar nearby, the stylish vantage-point atop Smith stay The Fullerton Bay Hotel (below right). Dreamy day-beds plus killer Marina Bay views equals happy traveller. Sipping a Red Lantern cocktail, I ogle the triple-legged behemoth that is the sci-fi Marina Bay Sands Casino opposite.
My next port of call is perched atop the summit of the SkyPark: Singapore’s ultimate rooftop bar, Ku De Ta, sister to the more famous Balinese bolthole of the same name. A speedy taxi and lift ride and I’m there, soaking up beyond-jaw-dropping views of the city skyline, skyscrapers and boats offshore. New, sexy and sophisticated, this is the place to party with the beautiful people, whether you’re perched at the curvy white outdoor bar or dining alfresco. Book ahead, though, as this is velvet-rope territory and attracts a keen party crowd (+65 6688 7688; email@example.com). Vertigo is just part of the thrill…