LOH LIK PENG'S WANDERLUST
ADVENTURE BY DESIGN
“I like to think of hotels as playgrounds for grown-ups. The biggest mistake a hotel owner can make is to take himself too seriously."
When Loh Lik Peng, the Irish-Singaporean hotelier behind some of Asia's most exciting properties, dubbed his latest hotel 'Wanderlust', we hit the nail right on the head. After all, one would have to have a sense of adventure just to choose the hotel's location: a former school and charity administration building set amid the hurly-burly of Singapore’s Little India, a churning immigrant and commercial district. The early 20th-century structure has an amazing facade, adorned with a colorful Art Nouveau mosaic that first caught Loh’s attention. Walking inside, he discovered that the whole building was flooded with sun- shine from a giant skylight.
“Singaporean buildings are usually so dark,” he says. “I knew instantly that I could do something amazing with this.”
That “something amazing” was to hand over each of the building’s four floors to a different design firm – not interior designers but
graphic designers and architects with no hotel experience. The goal was to create fresh, outside-the-box takes on 21st-century hospitality for the hotel’s public spaces and 29 guestrooms.
The design studio Asylum created the industrial-chic lobby and restaurant, Cocotte, which serves rustic French cuisine. One flight up, the rooms – designed by Phunk Studio – are like walk-in swatches from a paint factory, with each room a study in just one vibrant color.
The all white-and-black third-floor rooms by DP Architects have cheeky cartoon furniture and other details added to the wall, while the top-floor duplex suites by fFurious are all one-off fantasy chambers with themes like space travel (friendly stuffed aliens included).
“I like to think of hotels as playgrounds for grown-ups," Loh says. "The biggest mistake a hotel owner can make is to take himself too seriously."