If you’re looking for a staycation made of unfettered five-star luxury, you’re in the wrong place. Villa Samadhi doesn’t believe in the overuse of whizz-bang amenities. Instead, this property is a calm, rustic-chic oasis that harkens to the Singapore of yesteryear. And its very simplicity means this might just be the ultimate staycation destination.
You may have a fractious few minutes on arrival. The property is hidden inside the 22-hectare Labrador Nature Reserve, and with very few signs and directions, the hotel is tricky to find if you don’t know exactly where you’re going. But therein lies its charm. It’s well hidden away from the hectic modern world.
Making the sharp turn on the narrow, forest-fringed road, guests are greeted by the hotel’s reception portico. Coming face-to-face with the low-rise, whitewashed bungalow which houses the hotel, it’s easy to believe in time-travel. A heritage-listed 20th century building, the bungalow is a former army garrison and was once home to colonial army officials. From the first glance, it’s obvious that Villa Samadhi pays tribute to the area’s history and heritage in every facet.
There are just 20 guest rooms here, including the quiet Sarang room set at the end of the building. Inside, simplicity and colonial-inspired aesthetics are at the forefront. Cement and parquet floors recall the building’s history, while plenty of antique-look furniture add to the turn-of-the-century vibe.
The colonial-era design extends to the expansive bathroom. Rendered with white subway tiling, vintage taps and showerheads, and a traditional-style wooden vanity, all that’s missing is some Cole Porter tunes playing on a gramophone. It’s the little touches that really bring everything together, though. The vintage army trunks and copper water urn and tumblers give off distinctly old-world charm. The port and Asian snacks left on the counter every evening are a great nightcap. And a subtle nod to a more elegant era.
Mornings here are lazy, allowing for plenty of sleeping in and indulgences. The Labrador Nature Reserve was once an enclave for the British military, and exploring machine gun posts and secret tunnels that are – supposedly – still around would be a wonderful whiling away of a morning. You are, however, more likely to encounter plenty of fresh air, chirping cicadas, and lots of lush tropical greenery. Back in the room, a cup of tea in the indoor private Jacuzzi is ideal for recovering from the mornings’ exertions and leaves me refreshed and ready for breakfast.
Which, incidentally, is served in another bungalow. Hiking up the private jungle boardwalk to the Tamarind Hill restaurant – which is how guests get to breakfast – is almost enough to put one off their feed. Luckily, breakfast is good. And, exclusively for hotel guests. The buffet is stocked with the usual yoghurts, fruits, and breads, but don’t make the mistake of overlooking the small packages wrapped in banana leaves. They’re the standout here.
Fresh, authentic – and incredibly delicious – Malay-style Nasi Lemak and Mee Siam; when paired with freshly prepared dishes from the list of hot meals – the roti cennai is a treat - they set you up well for full day of…well, doing nothing, really.
The crown jewel here, though, is a quiet enclave on the second floor. The Library. A communal space reserved just for hotel guests, it’s actually a library, lounge and bar, all rolled into one well-dressed package. Deep wood panelling and furniture is set off by rich red drapery and vintage chandeliers, and – bless those few conscientious guests who’ve contributed – there are even a few paperbacks sitting in the glass-enclosed bookshelf. Afternoon tea is served here, as are a freshly-made cocktails at the convivial daily happy hour.
All too soon, the staycation ends and you’re thrust back into the fast-paced, maddening modern world. It’s only then that this property’s true purpose becomes obvious. With its hidden-from-the-world location, colonial-esque allure, and distraction-free austerity, Villa Samadhi is a portal of escapism. It gives busy, stressed Singaporeans serenity from the city, respite from the rate race, and some good old fashioned R&R.
For more details or to make a booking visit www.villasamadhi.com.sg