The Great Madras hotel reminds us of a Wes Anderson film


The Great Madras hotel
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Photography: Hylman Suwandi

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.

The Great Madras hotel
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Photography: Hylman Suwandi

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.

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Photography: Hylman Suwandi

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.

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Photography: Nicole Nithiyah

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.

The Great Madras hotel
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Photography: Hylman Suwandi

Oh, and how can we forget that huge neon sign that’s a hit with avid Instagrammers? 

The Great Madras hotel
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Photography: Hylman Suwandi

And those blue-green herringbone titles? It’s the perfect #ihaveathingwithfloors (and walls) photo op.

The Great Madras hotel
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Photography: The Great Madras

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.

The Great Madras hotel
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Photography: Hylman Suwandi

Even the room numbers at the front of each door are specially hand-twisted with wires. Talk about personal touches!

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Photography: Hylman Suwandi

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.

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Photography: Hylman Suwandi

(Note: The Great Mischief is now closed) 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.

The Great Madras hotel
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Photography: Nicole Nithiyah

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.

The Great Madras hotel
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Photography: Hylman Suwandi

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.

Like this story? Check these out:

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