Art Deco buildings from the colonial era line Jalan Besar, but the intimate 41-room Hôtel Vagabond along the stretch offers a Parisian boutique hotel experience on a grander scale. It’s all due to celebrated French designer Jacques Garcia, whose influences abound throughout the space: a shiny, bold rhinoceros doubles as a reception desk, and opulent banyan trees, which collectively took 100 craftsmen to complete, branch out from the shophouse’s pillars. But central to the red and black palette are, of all things, elephants – some peek out from armrests and table legs, while others guard the lift lobby.
Thrice a week, the multi-functional Salon – that’s Vagabond’s lobby – transforms into a music venue featuring jazz quartets and up-and-coming musicians. It’s more than a space for meals, with sofas set against a backdrop of eclectic artworks curated by British artist Peter Millard. The hotel also has an artist-in-residence programme, with regular live demonstrations of a featured artist’s work. So the next person you meet at Hôtel Vagabond might be a DJ, dressmaker or filmmaker polishing his latest project before your eyes. Alternatively, pop by the Executive Club Lounge for a business meeting in style: there are wines, cheeses, and even a gin and whisky trolley.
Whether you're feeling peckish or ravenous, Hot Buns and Thunderballs – the hotel’s newest East-meets-West restaurant – will fix your cravings from 12-3pm, whether with a juicy burger and fries or dark soy and spice braised Iberico pork belly. And for the lucky ones with Club access, treat yourselves to free flow wines and spirits over at the Vagabond Executive Club Lounge from 4.30-6.30pm daily. Come evening, shimmy over to the bar to get your fix of spirits and Asian-inspired cocktails.
Choose your level of opulence, starting with the Classic room (from $329/night). Lounge on a goose-down feather bed surrounded by mahogany furniture and yet more art pieces adorning the walls – you won’t even realise that the room’s short on space. And don’t forget to bring along the Handy mobile – you can surf the internet and make calls for free – when you go out exploring Singapore. Tourists may also take the complimentary walking guides in each room: the charm of every neighbourhood lies in its secret spots, and are well outlined here with accompanying illustrations.
The arthouse films screened on Saturdays after 5pm, when the Salon is turned into a makeshift cinema set with red velvet curtains and plush seats.
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39 Syed Alwi Road
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