Cover Wanderlust Hotel

Tatler checks into the charming boutique hotel in Little India, which reopened in March as part of Oakwood's new brand, The Unlimited Collection

Staycations have been our form of escape for more than a year now, and it's for this reason we've become more discerning in choosing the right hotels that will suit our preference. Some of us prefer a getaway within the city while others (like my partner and I) would rather go for boutique hotels situated in districts that are worth re-exploring.

That's what the recently reopened Wanderlust hotel is all about. It's right smack in the centre of Little India, which means you won't run out of foodie gems to rediscover no matter the time of the day. And now that it is part of The Unlimited Collection by Oakwood, a new brand that allows for curation of independent properties that retain their unique positioning while leveraging Oakwood's hospitality management style, the boutique hotel has plenty more new experiences that ensure a memorable stay.

Find out more about our staycation experience below.

Related: Capella Singapore Sentosa: Hotel Staycation Review With Pets

First Impressions

Upon arriving at Wanderlust, located right in the heart of the bustling Little India Conservation Area, my partner and I immediately felt like we had been transported out of Singapore. Gone were the skyscrapers and huge malls that were—for us, at least—stark reminders of the city island. Instead, we were welcomed by a charming 1920s heritage building surrounded by shophouses, that would be our home for the next three days.

After undergoing a major renovation and reopening in March of this year as part of The Unlimited Collection by Oakwood (which includes Kēsa House and Ann Siang House), the boutique hotel has become a somewhat grown-up version of its previous self after shedding its loud and almost jarring design and replacing it with a more contemporary and sophisticated look softened by warm and earthy colours.

What remained was the same friendly and helpful staff, who made check-in a breeze. Before we went to our room, they brought us to their mini ‘mama shop’ where we could choose one item from their selection of nostalgic snacks and toys from our childhood, including pick-up sticks, five stones, ice gems and haw flakes.

Do Not Disturb

Wanderlust welcomes all kinds of guests such as staycationers, business travellers and tourists (when borders re-open). That's why the 29 rooms across the four floors are split into different categories, including spacious lofts and welcoming studios. We stayed in the latter, an apartment-style room complete with a fully furnished kitchenette, living room and bedroom loft.

Naturally, it's designed with indulgence and comfort in mind, which I could immediately tell once I laid down in the queen-sized bed fitted with linen sheets and soft-as-clouds pillows. The large bathroom was also equipped with the sweetest-smelling toiletries from Ashley & Co, and as simple as it sounds, we appreciated the thought that came into planning everything from the décor to bathroom amenities.

The Extras

If you check into the Wanderlust, it's a good idea to take advantage of the new experiences it offers. At least, that was what we did when we signed up for the leather crafting workshop in collaboration with homegrown brand, Crafune. Its studio is located in Haji Lane, which was just a 15-minute scenic walk from the hotel. During the workshop, there was a dedicated staff who patiently taught us how to score, cut and fashion the leather into the souvenir of our choice—and I'll be honest: it was not easy. I chose to make a business card holder as it had the simplest template (and I needed a new one, too), while my partner decided to challenge himself with the more complicated coin purse complete with a tassel. We also got to customise them with our names and bring them home as a memorable token of our staycation.

Food and Drink

While the boutique hotel doesn’t have its own F&B concepts, you will find chef Rishi Naleendra’s Sri Lankan restaurant Kotuwa here. It's always booked out in advance, and we were not able to score reservations at the last minute. Nevertheless, it gave us the opportunity to explore the neighbourhood full of culinary gems. We headed to The Wired Monkey for our morning pick-me-up served with light bites, attempted to have dim sum at Swee Choon Tim Sum (but gave up halfway because the line was too long), and savoured biryani at Mr. Briyani.

It's indeed the place to be for gourmands, and we did not mind exploring the vicinity and eating at places that caught our fancy. But for guests who prefer to plan in advance, the hotel has an itinerary of recommended eats in the vicinity.

Tatler Tip

Not into leather crafting? Wanderlust hotel offers a host of other experiences designed for food lovers. Sign up for the heritage food trail, curated by Singabites, and go on an educational and mouth-watering tour of Little India and Chinatown. This includes five stops at cultural attractions and signature eateries in the neighbourhood, where you will get to savour sumptuous hawker fare. If you have time to spare, also join the kombucha workshop by local business Le Vyr. During the 1.5 hour session, you will learn the basics of making kombucha at home using locally sourced ingredients.