Is The Great Madras Singapore’s answer to The Grand Budapest Hotel? We think it comes pretty close!
Hiding in the back alleys of Little India and at the edge of Jalan Besar, The Great Madras is not the type of hotel you’d expect see here – a pale pink building with exposed brick walls and bold black letters that read, “The Great Madras” – it’s one of those intriguing buildings you simply can’t ignore.
What was once a no-frills budget hotel for backpackers, has since transformed into a quaint staycay spot with smitterings of whimsy, wit and cool. We’re glad the owners of the hotel had to retain the facade of this URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority)-protected building. Instead of reviving the building’s past, the owners – together with the folks from creative agency FARM – took a different approach for its facelift. The result? A Wes Anderson-esque playground of quirky touches and Instagrammable spots.
It’s the attention to detail that had us swooning over the boutique hotel. Take a closer look at the customised wallpaper at the open-air reception and try to spot bits and pieces of Singapore’s iconic buildings, food, public transport and even a caricature of the owner and his sons. It’s a great conversation-starter while waiting to check in.
Inside, three vintage brass cinema seats from the old Capitol Cinema, a reading corner, laundromats with tropical wallpaper and an in-house barber make for a cosy little hangout spot.
Oh, and how can we forget that huge neon sign that’s a hit with avid Instagrammers?
And those blue-green herringbone titles? It’s the perfect #ihaveathingwithfloors (and walls) photo op.
Albeit the tight space, all 34 rooms, as well as the all-female and mixed hostel rooms, are artfully decorated with fun prints of ferns with artsy decor in a sea of pastel hues. If you’re looking for a bigger space, the great suite comes with an ensuite bathtub.
Even the room numbers at the front of each door are specially hand-twisted with wires. Talk about personal touches!
We’d rather make a splash at the retro pool that welcomes guests with a cute neon-sign of a ballerina, pool tiles that read “when the sun shines” and a circular arch that would satisfy all symmetry purists. Bliss.
Worked up an appetite? You don’t have to travel far for a bite. The Great Mischief serves up a good mix of Catalonian bites and creative mocktails.
Try the Lloret De Mar, a lychee mocktail for a refresher and Carne Desmechada beef sliders for a quick burger fix. Yes, the name of the dishes are a mouthful but they’re big on flavour.
With chill-out vibes and a lovely airy feel that makes you want to drop everything and just watch the world go by, The Great Madras is probably one of Singapore’s best-kept secrets, waiting to be explored.
The Great Madras, 28 Madras Street, Singapore 208422.
Psst: The cafe is open to the public every day at 6 pm but you can also catch brunch there on weekends between 12 noon to 4 pm.
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