Despite being an unassuming small boutique hotel from the outside, The Vagabond Club, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel is the type of property that you cannot help but pay attention to. While Singapore has no shortage of lodging options in this category, this property located at Syed Alwi Road is just… different. Perhaps it’s due to the gold elephant gracing the hotel lobby. Or the bar flanked by a brass monkey and banyan tree. Whatever it is, the images here create the impression of being in a far more glamorous time. Like a cross between Great Gatsby and a museum. When I first heard about this property, I told myself that I just had to check it out one day….
Singapore may have plenty of boutique hotel options but not a single one I have encountered possesses the industrial chic of Hotel Yan in trendy Tyrwhitt Road. Entering the lobby for the first time, I was greeted by grey, unfinished walls and reception counters contrasted against wood and glass. The brainchild of a husband-and-wife team who wanted to recreate Tyrwhitt Road’s past as a hardware store enclave, this property immediately stands out among the myriad of boutique hotels along the Jalan Besar area.
The lobby has some similarities with a hipster café which made more sense to me after I found out that a café called Nido is due to open to take up half of the lobby’s space eventually.
One of the most unique hotels that I’ve had the pleasure of staying in is the Hotel Q! in Berlin. In a city that is known for being cool and edgy, boutique hotels have essentially proliferated across town. Hotel Q! which is located in the Charlottenburg neighborhood, is one of the best known, having been designed by architectural firm GRAFT and a darling among the celebrity set.
lobby of hotel q! berlin
hotel’s fox bar
The unconventionality was apparent from the moment I stepped in the property. From the outside, it’s an unassuming white building on a side street of high-end Kurfurstendamm but the interiors tell another story. The lobby was decked in blood red with bold curves while the furnishings seem to have been inspired by The Jetsons. In the true style of a boutique hotel, staff members were dressed snazzily in full black and an iMac was available for guest use. It also helps that the hotel is just minutes away from the S-bahn – Savignyplatz station to be precise.
When I was planning my visit to the UNESCO World Heritage temples of Ayutthaya in Thailand, I decided I wanted to stay in this historical city despite being just an hour’s drive from Bangkok in order to beat the crowds and be able to explore early in the morning. It was most fortunate that I found Iudia on the River, one of Ayutthaya’s boutique options, for that one night stay. The town doesn’t have much in terms of chain hotels, and one’s best bet for a pleasurable stay would be with guesthouses or boutique properties that won’t break the bank.
Officially called Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, the town sits in an island and used to be the fortified capital of the Ayutthaya kingdom (Siam). Today, it is a fine example of the old and new. It is a functioning city by every sense of the word, with random temple ruins standing side-by-side modern buildings. Iudia on the River is located at the southern part of the island and separated from the mainland by the Chao Phraya river.