Just a four-hour flight away, Singapore is a perennial destination for Hongkongers, either for business or a quick weekend getaway, and it’s perfect for those seeking a change of scenery without giving up the big-city vibe. When it comes to accommodation, most of us planning a trip to The Lion City will likely rely on classic standbys such as Mandarin Oriental, Singapore, flashy juggernauts like the Marina Bay Sands, or design-centric newcomers including The Warehouse Hotel.
What you may not know, however, is that Singapore is home to several small-scale hotels in colonial-era buildings, one of which is the charming Villa Samadhi, part of the Samadhi Retreats hospitality group. In Sanskrit, samadhi refers to the highest level of meditation, when one’s mind achieves a state of stillness and meditative consciousness. Samadhi Retreats’ properties aim to provide guests with transcendent experiences and a relaxed ambience. As a result, Villa Samadhi Singapore has received accolades from regular travellers and professional travel publications alike.
To scope it out for ourselves, we stayed at Villa Samadhi on a recent trip to Singapore to see if we could find relaxation and peace of mind at this 20-room boutique hotel.
Hidden away inside Labrador Nature Reserve, at the southern edge of Singapore, Villa Samadhi is surrounded by trees and not much else, all the better to give guests a chance to rest and recharge. The property is roughly 30 minutes from Changi International Airport by car, and it’s about a 15-minute drive from the Downtown Core. If you’re looking to be close to the action or walking distance from a wide assortment of restaurants and bars, this isn’t the place for you. However, if you’re seeking out a rejuvenating, restful experience, you’ll find that the location is perfect.
Labrador Nature Reserve was once occupied by the British military, and the hotel is housed in a two-storey, black and white building that formerly served as a garrison when it was built in 1920. With a look and feel that might best be described as rustic luxury, Villa Samadhi channels its colonial history in its decor. Meticulously restored over a period of three years, the property has 20 rooms featuring king-size beds and traditional teak furniture. In addition, all rooms include vintage centrepieces sourced from across Southeast Asia, high ceilings, spacious bathrooms with rain showers and wooden bathtubs, and modern amenities such as Wi-Fi, cable television, Bluetooth-enabled speakers, and air conditioning.
There are four room types available: Crib, Luxe Crib, Sarang and Luxe Sarang. I chose to stay in the Luxe Sarang, the property’s most luxurious room, which is housed in a separate building adjacent to the main villa and occupies roughly 600 square feet. Surrounded by its own private gate, the Luxe Sarang is a haven of privacy, and it’s distinguished by its large living area, private garden, and outdoor plunge pool. The first thing I noticed was the sheer amount of space I had to myself; between the indoor and outdoor areas — combined, larger than most Hong Kong apartments — I truly felt like I was living in a house of my own, which quickly put me in a relaxed state of mind.
Overall, I found the Luxe Sarang to be very comfortable, with a plush bed that made me hit the snooze button on the alarm clock more than once. I personally enjoyed the rustic look and furnishings, which possess a sort of vintage charm that transported me to another era, but the room is not designed for the travelling businessman, which I learned when trying to use the too-tall desk as a workspace. (I ended up typing in bed, which was fine for short stretches of time.) Of course, given the property’s raison d’etre — relaxation — I can’t fault them for not catering to business travellers; they’re simply not the target audience.
Unsurprisingly, the feature I liked most in the Luxe Sarang was the private plunge pool, which is accessible from outside the room but also directly from the bathroom via a sliding door. At the end of a long, hot Singapore day, it was refreshing to swim by moonlight in the privacy of my own abode. And there’s just something fun and carefree about jumping from an indoor shower directly into an outdoor pool.
Drinks & Dining
Singapore is a food lover’s paradise, packed with more exciting bars and restaurants than can be experienced even over several long weekends. If you want to take it easy, however, and skip the big-city buzz, Villa Samadhi has two on-site options for your dining needs. The first is Tamarind Hill, located two minutes away from the hotel via an elevated jungle boardwalk. Housed in a standalone colonial bungalow, the restaurant specialises in contemporary Thai and Burmese cuisine, with an extensive selection of over 140 wines available by the bottle, and more than 40 available by the glass.
Inside Villa Samadhi is the Library, an all-day lounge where guests go to enjoy the breakfast spread in the mornings. You can also stop by to enjoy a handcrafted cocktail from the bar, or sit back with a pot of tea and enjoy the surrounding views of banyan trees.
For a short stay, or if you don’t mind a simple routine, these dining options are entirely sufficient. If you crave variety, however, or want to tap into Singapore’s vibrant F&B scene, you’ll want to make some reservations outside Villa Samadhi.
Health & Wellness
There are no on-site spa or fitness facilities, so you’ll have to make arrangements elsewhere if you’re looking for a massage or a workout. That being said, the Luxe Sarang comes with its own private plunge pool, and the Sarang rooms offer indoor or outdoor whirlpools. Of course, if you’re simply looking for low-key exercise, you can walk around and explore the surrounding Labrador Nature Reserve.
A haven of peace and calm in bustling Singapore, Villa Samadhi is ideal for travellers seeking a non-flashy, relaxing stay, one that allows for quiet contemplation and a chance to connect with nature. While not ideal for business trips or family getaways, solo travellers and couples drawn to Singapore’s colonial charm will find much to love at this property. Even if you’re looking to hit the town a fair amount, staying in such a peaceful place may provide a rather welcome (or even needed) contrast — especially if you have a plunge pool all to yourself.
Villa Samadhi, 20 Labrador Villa Road, Singapore 119123