Following a three-year restoration, a small colonial bungalow nestled in the lush, 22ha Labrador Nature Reserve in Singapore has been transformed into an intimate hotel with just 20 guestrooms.
Opened earlier this year, Villa Samadhi Singapore occupies a former British army garrison building and later halfway house.
The building had been abandoned for more than a decade when Samadhi Retreats got its hands on it. Chief executive Federico Asaro oversaw the painstaking renovation, salvaging antique tiles and floor planks from demolished kampong houses and sending broken window shutters to Kuala Lumpur to be restored.
The chic, pared-back interiors channel a colonial vibe with lofty ceilings, four-poster beds, custom furniture fashioned from recycled teak, blue-and-white china and locally grown orchids. Fabrics have been sourced from indigenous communities in Malaysia and Northern Thailand.
Each room features a kingsize bed, minibar with wine, free Wi-Fi and a handy phone with unlimited data and free calls to selected countries. Turndown is especially generous with snacks, chocolates and a nightcap.
The 11 so-called Crib guestrooms provide direct access to the lounge or garden; the larger Sarang category chambers have a whirlpool while the premium Luxe Sarang features an outdoor plunge pool and private garden.
With its forested outlook, the hotel feels a million miles from the usual Singapore hustle and bustle but is only a few minutes on foot to the nearest MRT station and a 10-minute drive to downtown.
DON’T MISS: A Singapore sling or house-infused gin in the old-world library.
DINING IN: Housed in an even more venerable colonial bungalow, Tamarind Hill is accessed via a romantic jungle boardwalk, two minutes from the main hotel building. Executive chef Wanthana Nikonsaen and her team of Thai chefs turn out Burmese and Thai dishes prepared from scratch. Each of the chefs has contributed family recipes to the traditionalmodern mix. Try Tam Kah Noon (jackfruit salad with crispy pork) and Woon Sen Ped Yang (glass noodles with roasted duck).
DINING OUT: PeraMakan in the Keppel Club serves great Peranakan cuisine or try Prive Keppel Bay overlooking Keppel Bay Marina for brunch (there’s also an oyster bar).
ASK THE CONCIERGE: A morning tour of Labrador Park is a must. Once known as Fort Pasir Panjang, the area is a nature reserve, home to 70 species of birds, and historic landmark complete with machinegun posts and secret tunnels, all in mint condition.
CHECKING IN: From $S277 ($256) a night including breakfast, welcome afternoon tea and evening cocktails; four pieces of laundry a day are included with a minimum two-night stay. More: villasamadhi.com.sg.
ALSO TRY: Jawi Peranakan Mansion, Penang; Amangalla, Galle, Sri Lanka; Villa Samadhi Kuala Lumpur.
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