Hotel Vagabond Review: how does Singapore’s first Tribute property stack up?

Art Meets Hospitality at Hotel Vagabond

A very different stay from the usual.

Stayed November 2016
Published November 2016

This was a really last-minute decision as there is a promotion for Starwood members to stay at all 11 brands by the end of 2016.

Our nearest Tribute Portfolio hotel was in Jakarta and naturally I was happy that I could instead do a staycation and not travel to the Indonesian capital.

The hotel opened in 2015 and joined the Starwood family this month in the Tribute Portfolio as mentioned.

Located in Little India, the hotel is made up from 6 historic shop houses, reminiscent of Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam.

Thankfully the service was much better than at the Waldorf which was my main gripe.

Please note that some of the artwork can be explicit and may be seen in some of the pictures.

I have to admit I didn’t read the online reviews before the stay and so my expectations were pretty mild.

Upon entering the hotel, I was warmly greeted and given a choice of a welcome drink.


Being a boutique hotel, the place was understandably small, but somehow the space was utilized to the max.


The hollow Rhinoceros functions as the front desk, and is very impressive.

Front Desk


The elevator is decorated with a pair of half-elephants with ropes across their breasts.

The ropes seem to attract some criticism of animal cruelty, but I felt that it was instead a stark reminder that such cruelty still exist.

My room was located on the 4th floor, but the elevator only goes up to the 3rd.

I was told that this was because the conservations laws preserving these historical houses prevented gross modifications to allow the elevator to reach the 4th floor.

I was upgraded to the theme suite named the “Writer’s Room” which was really sweet of the hotel.

So from the 3rd floor, one has to climb a flight of stairs to reach the top floor, on which all the suites are located.

The suite was still pretty small, but having been to Europe, there was definitely ample space to move around.

The bedsheets are of Egyptian cotton and the towels are from Turkey apparently.

The marble in the toilet was unexpected, adding a fine touch of luxury during private matters.

The red tiles of the bathroom is in keeping with the red theme of the hotel but was too garish for me.
My personal favourite rainforest shower head is installed in the bathroom and I was glad.

In the suite was a kitchenette, but I seriously wonder if anyone ever attempted to cook something in the hotel room.

Being on the top floor, skylights were possible and they were marvelous.


Shades were controlled by a remote with 4 possible configurations.

A handy phone allowing data calls overseas and free local data are available in every room as well. However, be careful not to lose it as one of the other guests did, which I overheard in the lobby.

Mr Rafik the hotel staff is the model here showing me the phone.

The amenities are from Etro and are heavily scented.

Two bottles of water were placed on the shelf labelled with the hotel name.

The phone was a great throwback to earlier times as well.

Other items on the shelf include the in-room menu, the maps to the nearby areas and, I reckon, a serving tray. I’m not sure of the function of the last item so can anyone be so kind to enlighten me.

The artwork in this suite was really beyond my ability to appreciate them and I do not think I shall comment more.

Selected movies are available free of charge, but those looking for recent blockbusters will be disappointed.

I am surprised to see ‘Citizen Kane’ which has topped the original and revised list of AFI’s top 100 movies.

I ended up watching one of my all-time favourite Sunset Boulevard one more time.

The minibar items are quite different from the common M&Ms and Pringles as well.





I was given a tour of the hotel by Ms Abigail later in the day and she was able to show me the other rooms.

The classic room is really quite small. However, the décor is so wonderful and of course Ms Abigail did not fail to mention it (and the entire hotel) was the work of award-winning French designer Jacques Garcia.

The rooms on the 2nd floor may share a common terrace as well which definitely make the room feel bigger.

Pictures by the owner Mr Satinder Garcha



Shared Terrace

The Deluxe Room has a little bit of extra space for the table.

The crown jewel is undoubtedly the Vagabond Suite.

In particular, this photo in the suite by Marcos Lopez, Amanda, caught my eye.



The sofa can be re-assembled into a bed to sleep 4 in the Vagabond suite.


This would also be the only room with a bathtub in the hotel and comes complete with sheep legs/feet.

The lounge on the ground floor is the place for all the meals, including the evening cocktails.

The Banyan Trees serve to mask the conserved building pillars artistically and turn out beautifully in pictures.

The evening spread was more than passable but I would have liked a hot dish or two. The cheeses were great and I had plenty of that. Ms Faezah took good care of us during this time.

Breakfast was a choice of “A bite, A Sip and A Squeezed’. Ms Elizabeth, the hotel manager, was up and about, taking orders and entertaining guests.

I choose the (local) Kaya Toast and my friend, the full breakfast.


The Bar is to the side of the lounge and also holds several art pieces of interest.

Bar beside the lounge with a monkey statue


Elephant Legs

One of the more interesting items including the folding screen from Pretty Woman.

Be sure to check this one out in the restroom.

Another controversial piece hangs at the bar as well. Western civilization and Christianity by Leon Ferrari.

One thing I forgot to mention earlier was this video playing in the elevator, featuring scenes from various movies and makes one want to stay in the elevator a moment longer!

The area around the hotel was not too great, with quite a number of bar and nightclubs. In perspective, ‘shady’ in Singapore is probably many times brighter than in many countries.

One of the highlights would be my favourite Dim Sum shop Swee Chun which is just at the nearby junction and was great for supper.

Unfortunately, the hotel does not have a gym to work those calories off.

Checking out of the hotel was hassle-free too.

Basically, I was really impressed by the service and friendliness of all the staff, and would like to thank Mr Rafik, Ms Abigail, Ms Faezah and Ms Elizabeth again for their warmth and great service.

Sadly I’m not that into art and feel that I am unable to appreciate many of the artwork here.

In conclusion, I would say this is a good hotel to consider for art lovers, but just keep in mind the rooms are understandably small.

Happy and healthy travels to all!

Fred Ee
Fred Ee
Dr Frederick Ee is a medical doctor, author, blogger and traveler. He discovered his passion for travel on his first long-haul trip to New York City in 2012. His quest for premium travel experiences started on that very same flight as he endured a smelly foot beside him from the passenger behind him for the 24 hours of flight from Singapore to New York. He blogs at, focusing on hotel experiences. His most memorable moment of travel was to participate in the resuscitation of a collapsed patient during a long flight to Paris. Feel free to add him on Facebook with a message and his Instagram at @drfrederickee. He would like to thank MileLion for having him as a guest writer and hope readers would enjoy his writings and musings.

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Whats the promotion for spg members.that you mentioned ?

Aaron Wong

stay 11 brands get 11k bonus points. i mentioned it upfront in my element hotel review



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