12 Things We Didn't Expect To Find At This Luxury Hotel In Singapore, But Loved! #desigirltraveler

Nicole Teresa Juneja , 31 Jan 2016
Satinder Garcha & Joy Villa
Satinder Garcha & Joy Villa

Invited to attend the grand opening of Hôtel Vagabond in Singapore, we had a lot of expectations…and yet, this we did not expect.

It was like stumbling on to a moment in The Grand Budapest Hotel, during its glory days of course (love that movie!), but with a few desi touches. There was a certain ceremony in the way every little thing was done. Between golden brass banyan trees and red velvet curtains, the atmosphere itself is an experience. It’s quirky, but familiar, and you quickly feel like a part of the Vagabond family (big shout out to Ping Ping, Rafi, and Elizabeth)!

A luxury boutique hotel, designed by celebrated French designer Jacques Garcia, this property offers everything from unique experiences to thought-provoking conversations. The minute you step in, the theatre of art, food and drink takes over. Here are the unusually unique details that we loved most.

1. Art Of Living, In Art

Come join us at our salon!

A post shared by The Vagabond Club Singapore (@thevagabondclub) on

Lo & behold! Because every wall, and every corner has exquisite pieces on display. Even in the elevator, a video art installation by artist Marco Brambilla keeps guests entertained! And each piece has been sourced and commissioned by the owner, Satinder Garcha, himself. Talk about attention to detail.

2. Care To Meet The Artist?

Why, of course! The first to introduce the Artist-In-Residence programme, here, artists are invited to apply for residencies of up to three months. During their stay, the artists create special pieces just for the hotel.

During our visit, we were able to spend time with the current Artist-In-Residence, Julia Calfee (PS: loved her series of photographs titled Inside The Chelsea Hotel, shot in New York City), over Artist Cocktail Hour. That’s when hotel guests and other Vagabond folk mingle with the artists in residence (happens daily at 6pm). It was certainly some exceptional company over cocktails!

3. Hit The Salon

Hotel Vagabond Salon
Hotel Vagabond Salon

At Hôtel Vagabond, there is no lobby or coffee shop, but instead a Rhino reception desk and a Parisian salon. This is where guests mingle with the resident artists, watch live performances, film screenings, and sometimes even a live jazz quartet!

4. Hello!


Don’t you miss these beautiful black telephones? Well,  you’ll find one in every room! #throwback

5. Keep This Love In This Photograph

Wall Art
Wall Art

Also in our rooms were walls covered with framed photographs. Each an original, clicked by Satinder himself! Loved this one of his daughter, Zara.

6. Music To My Ears


Literally. Instead of the typical acoustic ‘lobby music’, you’ll hear a mix of billboard hits & classics playing in every corner and corridor. Made us smile every time we stepped out of our rooms.

7. (Almost) Too Pretty To Eat!

In the Vagabond Salon, you’ll find 5th Quarter. That’s where award winning Italian-Australian Executive Chef, Drew Nocente (the protégé of Michelin star celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsey & Jason Atherton) serves up a marvel of house-cured charcuterie and grills. Designed to share, the portions are small so that you can try more dishes…and we sure did! A feast for the eyes, then the taste buds, you’ll find so many textures, flavours and modern techniques on each plate. It feels like you’re sitting right at the Masterchef tasting table! #nomnom

8. No Monkey Business

The workmanship of French artist & sculptor, Franck Le Ray, this monkey sculpture is the centerpiece of the Vagabond Bar. Between the handcrafted cocktails, and exotic teas and coffees, you’ll find yourself here admiring this piece, quite often!

9. Pretty Woman!

Pretty Woman
Pretty Woman

Even the screens at Hôtel Vagabond are from the actual sets of the iconic film, Pretty Woman (bought by Satinder at an auction). As he says, “God is in the details,” Amen!

10. Man’s Best Friend

Walking in, or walking out, you’ll definitely spot the hotel dog, Ginger. She might be made of Bonsai, but she’ll still grab your attention!

11. Bring On The Elephants

And not just for show. Iconic to Jacques Garcia‘s style, these life-size elephants were made painstakingly in France by the artist Franck Le Ray, and were ‘hoisting’ up the main elevator.

12. Just Being A Vagabond!

As the time to leave arrived, their comment cards thank you for ‘getting into trouble’ with them. Adorable!

All the celebrations aside, we spent a lot of time exploring the hotel and the neighbourhood (heritage districts like Kampong Glam & Little India, as well as Raffles Place, Marina Bay, & Chinatown are all just five minutes away). So here’s our little photo diary.

With love, from Singapore!

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