Singapore’s original boutique, the Scarlet, boasts that it is “vivacious and uninhibited”—which may at first sound like a bit of hyperbole, but turns out to be quite accurate. Located in the city’s historic Chinatown, the hotel occupies a row of preserved shop houses dating to 1868, and an original 1924 Art Deco building, all joined together and converted into a quite delightfully over-the-top boutique.
Interiors are heavy on black and gold, with generous helpings of (what else?) scarlet red, and the style is equal parts Art Deco and a sort of Victoria’s Secret boudoir fantasy. In fact the overriding atmosphere is one of seduction, perhaps surprising in prim and proper Singapore, and not in a subtle way either—the restaurant, for example, is called Desire, and the dishes are given double- (or even single-) entendre names like Skinny Dipping, G-String, and the disturbing Cuckold.
Overall the feeling is not unlike that of some of London’s boutique hotels, with more emphasis on decadent creature comforts than immediate visual shocks. It’s a new venture, and the prices are still rather low, so it’s quite a value if you can tolerate the occasional rough edge. There’s a private gym, called Flaunt (one hopes the exercise machines aren’t creatively named), as well as an outdoor jacuzzi and a meeting room called Sanctum. Another bar and restaurant is also open, but even now, the neighborhood offers plenty to do—and there’s a chance the rates won’t stay this low.