Review – Hotel Vagabond Singapore: Where boutique luxury meets art

In its haydays or decades the Chelsea has inspired the likes of Andy Warhol, Mark Twain, Madonna, Jimmy Hendrix, Arthur C. Clarke, Pink Floyd and many more. One of the more recent inspirations of this property is the Hotel Vagabond. a luxury boutique hotel located many a miles away from the Big Apple in a quant side of the otherwise bustling Syed Alwi road in Singapore.

Elephant elevator_2
Stepping inside the lobby the first thing that caught my fancy was the classy amalgamation of red and black color themes with golden objects. Undoubtedly chic the interiors are the brainchild of renowned French architect / designer Jacques Garcia who among others has to his credit the interiors of the renowned Hotel Costes in Paris and the Hotel Nomad in New York. The elements in the lobby inspired by India include an elephant, banyan tree swirling around the pillars, a brass monkey sculpture and a brass rhino that doubles as a reception desk.

Art is everywhere and it finds a place in the elevator in the form of a very intriguing video installation by Marco Brambilla. The NY based artist has created a visual collage of the most iconic movies of our times. You may be surprised to see guests riding up and down the elevator just to guess the movies.

Boutique hotels are known to be different but the Hotel Vagabond takes different to a whole new level

There are 42 rooms across six categories – mainly differing in size and views – The Vagabond suite, the mini suites, deluxe terrace, deluxe, classic terrace and classic. Something common in all the rooms is Garcia’s decor wooing you with its Parisian charm and art-deco themed show-pieces.

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Hotel Vagabond Room Interior Jacques Garcia Design
My street facing classic room on the second floor was compact yet cosy. At 20 sq. meters it does have its fair share of sigh worth elements such as a rhino that doubles as a book stand, a Roberts radio that looks like an audio-piece from the yester-years but packs in Bluetooth streaming, polished wooden floors, floral themed upholstered screen that conceals the bathroom, a retro telephone, Etro toiletries and more. Photographs of exotic destinations clicked by the owner (Mr. Satinder Garcha) add a much refreshing personal touch to the room. Despite being in the boutique category the room does not fall shy when it comes to amenities – there is a well stocked minibar, safe, plush bathrobes, large flat-screen TV and a mini-writing desk. The turn-down service is accompanied by refreshing fruit infused water and an occasional sweet treat. Last but not the least top marks for the blazing fast complimentary Internet that can be used throughout the hotel.

Mushroom textures - Which was just layered with multiple flavors.
Mushroom textures – Which was just layered with multiple flavors.

5th Quarters which is the hotel’s only in-house restaurant is headed by the award winning chef Andrew Nocente. With a special liking and expertise in meats the vegetarian offerings are bit thin. Nonetheless as distinctive they are, the lip-smacking dishes are beautifully plated. Meat Lovers you have to try the Black Mash and Barramundi and Buckwheat paella. While waiting for the food you can glare at the rows of paintings and photographs specially curated by Jacques Garcia and Satinder Garcha.

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Just next is Bar Vagabond home to the quirky brass monkey installation and some unique handcrafted cocktails, artisan spirits, beers and wines. The balance of natural and mood lighting along with a tasteful collection of house and lounge music makes the place ever inviting.

Hotel Vagabond Salon Movie Screening
Drawing inspiration from the Hotel Chelsea, Hotel Vagabond also has an artist in residence program, a first of its kind in Singapore. Providing the rotating artists a live canvas or rather the means to interact and showcase their talent to the guests is the ‘Vagabond salon’. Comprising of the bar and the restaurant this is the beating heart of the hotel. Guests can have their meals and cocktails while mingling with the artists. The ‘salon’ also doubles up an event space, one of the evening’s, the dinner tables made way for sitting chairs, and we were screened a short film by the current artist in residence Julian Calfee to be enjoyed with Truffle flavored popcorn and champagne.

Spend more time at the Vagabond salon it starts to grow on you.

Hotel Vagabond is one the newest addition to Singapore’s boutique hotel scene. Unlike its peers it lacks a gym, in room / 24 hour dining but brilliantly stands out for its well appointed rooms, innovative and artsy interiors and courteous and competent staff. Easily accessible it would be a hit with international and local jetsetters and maybe someday like the Chelsea be an inspiration for artists and hoteliers alike.

Standard rooms start at S$ 249 ($ 180) ++ for double occupancy with breakfast.

Where : Hotel Vagabond Singapore
39 Syed Alwi Rd, Singapore 207630
Phone : +65 6291 6677

The luxe factor is

8 Rooms
9 Location
8 Service
7 Value for money
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