Quirky, artsy, and totally one of a kind. That’s how I’d describe the Vagabond Hotel Singapore. The color scheme is like a donkey kick to the groin and it’s easily the first thing you notice. The décor might be out there but it certainly makes the property memorable and a talking point from the moment you step in.
Located just on the outskirts of Little India, this small boutique hotel is a lot to take in. Greeted by deep red and sparkling gold, this hotel looks something out of a genie bottle. The staff is friendly and extremely helpful in providing information to the surrounding neighborhood.
Location and Check in
The Vagabond Club is located on the outskirts of Little India and is about a 5 minute walk from either the Lavender or Jalan Besar MRT stations. It’s right next to a 7-11 as well so if you get any midnight cravings for a snack and don’t want to eat anything in the hotel, the 7-11 is right next door.
A few blocks down from the Vagabond Club is a hawker center with the Michelin Star winning stall Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle . I’ve heard the line to get food here can really be long so being so close can definitely be an advantage. Another Michelin Star winning eatery Putien is also located just a few blocks in the opposite direction. Finally, if you’re willing to walk, Chinatown with it’s many award winning restaurants is just a 15 min walk or a quick 2 stops on the MRT.
From the outside, the Vagabond Club doesn’t really look like much. To be honest, as I was walking to it, I almost walked right by it since it doesn’t look like a traditional hotel. From the outside, it looks more like a restaurant or a nightclub than a hotel. Once inside though, you immediately notice the gold tree growing from the center of the lobby and the gold rhino shaped check in desk.
Check in was a breeze and I was immediately shown my room. As you walk toward the elevator, you’ll notice the bar with a giant golden baboon overlooking a sea of red chairs. You’ll also notice the seemingly endless glass cases holding countless bottles of whiskey. You could almost argue that it is a type of whiskey library of sorts with each one proudly displayed.
I was given room 211 on the second floor and it was an upgrade to a regular room since it had a shared balcony. It was a nice touch but in the Singaporean humidity, I really can’t see anyone really enjoying the space outside. But I guess it was nice to have.
The room itself was a little on the small side and as well intentioned as the designers were, I don’t think they really though about the functionality too much. There was a small closet as you walked in with the usual safe, umbrella, etc. Then there was a desk with all the outlets any traveler could need. What was also nice about the outlets was that they were universal so if you had forgotten your universal adapter, you were fine.
On the desk was a snack tray. However, unlike a normal minibar snack tray, these were filled with hand packed dried fruits and nuts which I thought was a nice touch. It also had the small airline sized bottles of booze but they weren’t the normal brands you’d typically find which added to the boutique feel of the hotel. The bed was huge and had USB ports on either side so staying charged was not an issue in this room.
Now on to the bathroom. So there was a stand alone shower and toilet and they were separated which is great if there are 2 people in the room so they can be used at the same time without disturbing the other. However, there was no bath “room” per se. It was more of a water closet without a wall that closed on one side. Now they had these panels that blocked the bathroom area and a door that could be closed. However, the panels only provided some privacy. Obviously for me, it wasn’t a big deal at all since I was the only one there. But for others, it may be an issue. Also, in case you’re curious, no the panels don’t block the sound. How do I know? Cuz I could easily hear the TV.
However, my biggest complaint with the room wasn’t with the bathroom but with the desk and chair and the size of the bed. If you were siting at the desk or had the chair pulled out, you couldn’t get by without either pushing in the chair or climbing onto the bed. Again, not that big of an issue for me but if I were here with my girlfriend and I needed to get up in the middle of the night, I’m not sure if I’d be able to do it very quietly or without disturbing her. I just thought it was so odd to have a desk and chair located where it was with a bed that size. Now I’m not sure where they would have put the furniture to make it all fit, but it just wasn’t very usable in that configuration. I guess I just hated having to constantly push my chair in and out to get around the bed.
Bar and Restaurant
The bar and restaurant of the Vagabond Club has this modern day Harry Potter’s Hogwarts look to it. It seemed like every inch of wall space was taken up by artwork, each unique and quirky as the hotel.
During their cocktail hour they had some finger foods and different drinks available but it was really cool to just sit there, get some work done, and look up at the artwork or the bottles of whiskey surrounding the room when needing a break. It was pretty cool, not gunna lie.
I had breakfast there in the morning and had the eggs benedict. It was ok but I don’t think it was life changing in any way. And with so many food options in Singapore, it might just be better to go elsewhere for breakfast. I don’t know what kind of food was served there at night.
The Vagabond Club is also an actual whiskey club where membership will get you perks. I don’t know all the perks that members get but I do remember one of the perks being that for $3000SGD/year, you get 10 free nights at the hotel. In USD, that works out to about $2200/year so if you think you’ll be in Singapore at least 10 times a year, you could pretty much purchase a hotel for $220/night. In an expensive city like Singapore, that could work out to your benefit (but obviously you’d have to do the math yourself).
The Vagabond Club is certainly not your typical “run of the mill” hotel. It’s loud in a rock and roll kind of way. It screams at you to notice it and everything about it will leave you talking about it from the moment you enter to the second you leave. The room could be better in form and function but the location really can’t be beat. I know a lot of first timers want to stay by the marina but quickly find out that there really isn’t much to do there at night and a lot of great hawker stores are a bit of a trek to get to from the marina. The Vagabond Club is located in the heart of Singapore where there are a myriad of hawker centers and restaurants to choose from. A few blocks down is Little India where you can enjoy some great Indian cuisine so it’s really in an unbeatable spot for foodies. Check it out and avoid the “basic” hotels the next time you’re in town. It’s pretty cool.