Never judge a book by its cover. It's a maxim that could readily apply to many a hotel these days in the age of Airbnb as the major hotel brands struggle to become more relevant to the so-called millennial market. Hotel Jen Tanglin, a case in point, is a spin-off of the Shangri-la stable of hotels and is built inside the shell of a former home of the group's rapidly-dating Traders brand.
Hotel Jen Tanglin is tucked away a five-minute or so walk from Singapore's famed Orchard Road shopping strip. The hotel is a result of a $S45 million refurbishment of the aforementioned Traders, which first opened back in 1995, and while the façade was retained its interiors were totally transformed for the 21st century in March last year.
Hotel Jen's attractive boutique hotel-styled lobby belies the fact that, at 565 rooms, this is quite a sizeable establishment. Unapologetically pitched at millennial travellers, Hotel Jen and its lobby includes an excellent café (albeit with a clunky name), called Jen's Kitchen On-the-go, which wouldn't feel incongruous on your average Australian coffee strip. A travel and bicycle theme pervades the hotel (bikes are available for rent by guests), with a table in the café supported by one and others attached to walls while the reception counters are composed of vintage luggage pieces.
It's obviously been decreed by today's hostelry planners that gadabout millennials don't require large rooms since mine is decidedly compact though extremely well-designed and decorated. This 25 square-metre, 17th floor "Club Room" features well-located universal power sockets and USB outlets for the incessantly charging and recharging modern-day traveller. Wi-fi is, as you might expect from this style of hotel, commendably free throughout the establishment. There's a bay window sofa for relaxing, a welcome, good-sized "writing" desk and an equally-appreciated high-pressure shower. The Club Room includes access to Hotel Jen's inviting Club Lounge where breakfast and afternoon tea is served along with a cocktail hour. The hotel's designer has striven to inject the rooms with a homey, yet cool, apartment theme which includes white-painted faux-brick feature walls.
Hotel Jen Tanglin offers numerous dining destinations, such as J65 just off the lobby. The hotel is also connected to the mid-market Tanglin Mall which features a range of affordable dining options, including the Singapore branch of Brunetti's, a notable Melbourne Italian café and pastisseria chain. And, of course, there's no shortage of eating options along the whole Orchard Road strip.
Hotel Jen Tanglin, by virtue of its location, is perfectly positioned for retail therapy while for a stroll, a jog or perhaps a pedal Singapore's Botanical Gardens are nearby. The hotel's website features an informative 24-hour guide to things to do in Singapore, most, if not all, of which are eminently accessible via the city state's world-class and affordable Mass Rapid Transit (MTR) metro system.
For those yet to be converted by the global couch-surfing cult, the enjoyably laid-back and well-equipped Hotel Jen Tanglin offers some interesting insights into the hotel industry's response to the Airbnb threat.
Hotel Jen Tanglin, 1A Cuscaden Rd, Singapore. Phone: +65 6738 2222. Doubles from $S230. See hoteljen.com/tanglin
If only every overseas hotel had such a good, fair dinkum café in its lobby we fastidious Australians would never have to search the streets of foreign cities for a decent caffe latte again.
Even though Hotel Jen Tanglin is close to Orchard Road, its location is at the less desirable end of the strip and it can feel just a tad too removed from the action.