It seemed like not so long ago when Wanderlust Hotel first opened in 2010 as a whimsical boutique hotel in Little India with rooms characterized by bright colors and neon lights. It was one of the most recognizable properties of Unlisted Collection’s hospitality arm – the group that arguably started the trend of housing boutique hotels in shophouses in Singapore.
In the last two years or so, Wanderlust Hotel quietly revamped itself with a new look emphasizing co-living and even long stays – a concept propagated by its new owners, 8M Collective. Officially, it is now known as Wanderlust, The Unlimited Collection by Oakwood. Gone are the loud colors – the interior has now been replaced with warm and earthy tones while the boutique property also now markets itself to those staying for weeks or even months. Given this emphasis, it is perhaps no surprise that the owners have teamed up with Oakwood to manage the property. After all; in-room cooking utensils, communal laundry areas and even a staggered housekeeping schedule are more in keeping with a serviced apartment proposition than a cookie cutter boutique hotel.
The lobby is perhaps the only part of the hotel where a semblance of color remains. To blend in with the inhouse Sri Lankan restaurant – Kotuwa – the lobby sees a splash of colors, albeit not in the same bright style as during the hotel’s Unlisted Collection days. The furnishings are characterized by long couches, lounge chairs and even a small bar counter to emphasize that idea of co-living.
The property has just 4 floors and 29 rooms. There are 3 room categories in Wanderlust. I stayed at their Studio Loft which is their highest category room.
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Loft rooms are especially popular for staycations. I have seen this happening at M Social Singapore and was curious to see how Wanderlust managed to execute the concept. Entering the room for the first time, one is greeted by a walkway that leads to a reasonable-sized living space with a couch and writing desk.
The kitchenette is at the center and includes a microwave, induction cooker, sink with a filtered water tap and plenty of cupboards. Within these cupboards, one find a reasonable set of pots and pans, cutleries and plates.
The centerpiece of the room is a tall wooden block which acts to support the upper level of the loft, conceal the bathroom below as well as store the wardrobe cabinet. In this way, the location of the bathroom does not become immediately apparent. The door is of a similar construct as the rest of the wooden block and slides open to reveal the wash area within.
The wardrobe cabinet, which is well integrated with the rest of the “wooden block” is well designed and contains a few compartments including a shoe rack at the very bottom. In the main cabinet, one finds a safe, iron, ironing board, hairdryer, luggage rack and a flashlight. Do note that disposable slippers are not automatically provided. It is chargeable at S$4 each.
Although the bathroom is fully enclosed, the usage of warm lighting and white and gray tiles create a soothing effect. In the Studio Loft, the bathroom is neatly divided into two parts – half is occupied by the shower area with rainshower from Grohe while the other half is comprised of the toilet and sink.
Toiletries are from Ashley and Co. and while I imagine a lot of guests would be tempted to bring some of their body wash home, it has to be noted that the toiletries here come in bottles that are locked to the wall and are of the dispenser type.
As mentioned previously, the upper level of the loft is wholly supported by the towering wooden block. To access it, one climbs a rather steep set of wooden stairs. After having tried a few loft rooms in various hotels, I would have to say Wanderlust’s loft concept is a lot more spacious than the rest. Even at the upper level, the ceiling was more than high enough to allow me to stand.
The upper level contains the bed with a decent headboard with charging outlets and small holding areas for phones and gadgets. While there is sufficient space across 3 of the bed’s corners to walk about, the upper level can be thought of purely as a place to rest. Entertainment and everything else happen downstairs.
One of my usual gripes about boutique hotels is that there is barely any soundproofing, if at all. However, I did not hear any external noise at all during my stay at Wanderlust – neither from the corridor outside the room or from outdoors. I stayed during a rainy weekend but the room was so quiet I could hear a pin drop.
For those who would rather not climb a flight of stairs to get to their beds, the Studio Premier is a worthwhile option. At 22 square meters, it is only slightly smaller than the Studio Loft and also comes with a kitchenette. The same warm tones permeate the room with earthy shades of brown going nicely with the yellowish lighting choice. To save space, there is a compartment below the bed which can store one of those carry-on baggage. I also spotted a foldable luggage rack neatly stored inside the wardrobe.
The entry-level room at Wanderlust has a similar layout as other shophouse boutique hotels with a platform bed directly next to the window and the TV directly above the bed. Similar to the Studio Premier, there is a luggage compartment tucked away below the bed to save space. This room category does not have a kitchenette.
All guestrooms at Wanderlust come with bluetooth speakers and that includes the entry-level Deluxe Room.
As a boutique hotel, Wanderlust has a good number of facilities for a hotel of its type. On the second floor, one finds a laundry room as well as a coffee making machine. There is also a small outdoor area with lounge chairs and a square-ish dipping pool which is good for a soak during warm days.
At the ground floor, the hotel’s restaurant – Kotuwa – is a tenant with a different owner. While the venue was booked out during my stay, a quick inquiry with the restaurant staff revealed that they don’t do takeaways. They also don’t work together with the hotel to offer in-room dining which I thought was a waste but I suppose the restaurant is already popular enough that they don’t need that side of the business to sustain them.
Also, do note that this hotel does not offer breakfast service. Kotuwa is open only for either lunch or dinner. However, I did not find this to be an issue at all as there are plenty of decent hipster cafes within a 100 to 150 meter radius from the hotel. I had my breakfast at Steep along Dunlop Road which serves good coffee and wallet-friendly breakfast items. I enjoyed their Mac and Cheese.
Wanderlust also has a “Mama Shop” on the ground floor with a selection of snacks and toys that aim to bring about a sense of nostalgia. This is not really meant to be a bona fide snacks store – the snacks don’t really satiate any late night hunger pangs – but can be thought of as being part of the hotel’s quirky side.
While most of Singapore’s boutique hotels tend to embrace the country’s traditions or the heritage of the very area that they are situated in, Wanderlust differentiates itself with its thoroughly modern SOHO vibe. The look is a timeless one – nothing over-the-top or too colorful. While it is a boutique hotel by any sense of the word, this is probably one of the exceedingly few in Singapore that also offer extras like a kitchenette and even cooking utensils. That being said, there are a few things to take note of such as the housekeeping schedule but this should not matter if you are on a staycation. The property may not fall under the luxury segment (and its price point shows) but I genuinely love the design. I would not mind checking out a different room category during a future stay here.
Wanderlust currently has a promotion for its rooms where 1 night goes for as low as S$99 net for a Deluxe Room and S$129 net for a Studio Premier. You can also use your SRV for bookings which means that you can pay as little as nothing for your staycation! You can check out their staycation packages here.