If you’ve ever dreamt about living in a black-and-white house in Singapore, a staycation at Villa Samadhi is probably the easiest way to tick that off your bucket list. Nestled in the lush greenery of Labrador Nature Reserve, it’s one of the few hotels in Singapore that actually brings you closer to nature, rather than separating you from it with glass and concrete. This, we find, is as alluring as the building itself, an architecturally nostalgic ex-garrison built in the 1920s.
Villa Samadhi Singapore’s parent hospitality company Samadhi Retreats also owns Villa Samadhi Kuala Lumpur, Japmala Resort on Tioman island, and Thai fine dining restaurant Tamarind Hill here (which also serves at Villa Samadhi Singapore’s kitchen), so they’re no stranger to running luxury, boutique properties. It took them three painstaking years to restore the building and the grounds, which included building the ground floor since the old garrison was originally built on stilts. You can almost feel the labour of love, as well as the history of the space, when you step into the threshold.
With a dull vermillion tiled floor, dark wooden furnishings, and a small Buddhist shrine, the starkness of the lobby contrasts heavily with the most commonly used communal space, the Library. Located on the second level, the latter is inspired by a softer old world charm, a high-ceilinged room where windows framed by red curtains open to a view of Banyan trees, and furnished with a mix of wooden and leather furniture in different hues of brown. Breakfast and evening cocktails are also served here, so you’ll certainly be spending some time at the Library (so named because of their wide selection of books available for borrowing).
There are four room categories spread out across 20 rooms and we were lucky enough to get upgraded to the Luxe Sarang, which is the largest and the only one of its kind in the hotel. At 56 square metres (602 square feet), it’s located adjacent to the main building for more privacy and is bigger than my room and living room combined, even excluding the space taken up by the private plunge pool and the small garden.
Both the rustic luxury theme and dark-wood-and-white colour scheme continues in all the rooms, with details like copper water jugs, old-school lamps, and even white-and-blue porcelain containers for shampoo and the shower gel (which also saves the earth from excessive use of plastic packaging). That said, the bathroom of the Luxe Sarang is exceptionally luxurious with space, featuring dual showers and vanities. You can let the natural light in through the glass doors that open directly out to the pool. Just be careful to draw the blinds if you’re expecting some of the hotel staff to come by. The only drawback of the bathroom for us was that the shower was a tad too short for my partner (who stands at 1.85m), but they’ve promised to rectify the issue.
The bathroom might not be so large in other room categories, but you might like to know that all the Sarang (35 square metres, 376 square feet) – there are six of them – are equipped with a private indoor or outdoor whirlpool for an extra indulgence. The entry-level Crib is the most basic, but even then, each of the 11 rooms are 27 square meters (290 square feet) and comes with all the perks of staying at Villa Samadhi Singapore.
In other hotels, you might get food-for-thought quotes or tips on better sleeps on the bed after your room has been turned down for the night, but here, turn down service includes a small decanter of port, local snacks like kacang puteh, and dark chocolate – all the sleep aids I actually want. All guests are also welcome at the Library for evening cocktails 6pm-7pm daily. For people spoilt by the craft cocktails scene in Singapore, rest assured that the cocktails here are of some standard since Tamarind Hill’s bar is well equipped. Go for their signature, refreshing Samadhi Sour Spritz (tamarind juice, Aperol, Prosecco) or the Bobbi’s Early Grey (earl grey infused vodka, lemon juice, maple syrup, and ginger ale). Tamarind Hill has been infusing fruit with spirits for awhile now, so give the Passionfruit Gin & Tonic a try if it’s available.
With so many reasons to stay at Villa Samadhi so far, it’s necessary for me to mention some of their teething pains, since the hotel only started accepting visitors in January 2017. While we appreciate the 11am cut-off time (for me, staycations mean sleeping in), breakfast can certainly be improved. The continental side of the breakfast buffet displays the typical: bread, pastries, cereal, cheese, and muesli etc. The Asian side usually has a congee (this needed to be kept hotter as it was clumping at the bottom) with condiments like salted egg, shallots, and shredded chicken, as well as banana leaf nasi lemak, fried beehoon (our favourite), or even chicken rice.
Breakfast also affords you an a la carte selection daily, with items like Kway Teow Beef Soup and Poached Eggs with Hollandaise on Rosti. The hot food didn’t come off as well as we hoped it would, since its most likely affected due to the distance that it has to travel from the kitchen at Tamarind Hill (a two-minute stroll away) before it reaches you. Though the broth of the former was robust with chunks of tender beef, the rice noodles were overly soggy. The latter featured a soggy potato cake in place of the crisp rosti I had expected, but the eggs were perfectly poached. Whether you drink coffee or tea, we reckon you’ll be happy with the breakfast beverage selection, which also includes smoothies, juices, and lassi – yum.
Given that I was staying at Villa Samadhi for this story, it was a little irksome that the wifi was quite weak in the villa (uploading hi res photos wasn’t an option) and that there weren’t enough power points in the room to charge the plethora of electronics I had to bring with me. That said, if I had a choice, I wouldn’t want to be working in a place where I fall asleep to the nocturnal sounds of a nature reserve and where I wake up to birds chirping. The hotel and staff are accommodating and welcoming, which makes it feel more like an old-school B&B than a modern luxury hotel.
Our verdict? Villa Samadhi is a real haven if you’re seeking a much-needed respite from the urban pace. If you need more incentive to check in already, the folks at Samadhi Retreats are running an opening special of 30% off rack rates till 30 September 2017. Prices after discount range from $277 a night for the Crib to $693 a night for the Luxe Sarang.
Villa Samadhi Singapore is located at 20 Labrador Villa Road, Singapore 119193, p. +65 6274 5674, e. email@example.com.