Amid the flurry of shiny new lifestyle hotel brands, I’m loving the Asia-based Hotel Jen: It’s smart, design-minded, and easy on the wallet. Look elsewhere if you’re in the market for over-the-top butler service or a life-altering spa treatment. This growing collection of 10 properties, launched by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts in 2014, focuses instead on easing common travel woes through services that range from affordable laundry to free Wi-Fi and shuttle services. Jen hotels also let their destination’s personality shine, thanks to partnerships with local designers and culinary concepts that tap into homegrown flavors. I recently checked into the Hotel Jen Tanglin in Singapore—read on for why I loved my stay.
The Smart Design
In its previous life, the Hotel Jen Tanglin was Shangri-La’s business-y Traders brand. The corporate look is gone, and bright colors and geometric patterns dominate in the lobby and in the 565 guest rooms upstairs (with whimsical wallpaper themes of goldfish, orchids, and traditional Singaporean shop houses). And while rooms are on the smaller side, they’re designed with comfort and convenience in mind: Side tables double as writing surfaces, and you’ll find universal travel sockets and USB outlets in all the right places. I started each day seated at a bay window sofa, sipping coffee from my in-room espresso machine while gazing out at the lush city and checking international headlines with the hotel’s free PressReader app. I took a peek at the Executive Suites, and they’re a lot more spacious, with residential-style touches such as pull-out sofa beds, microwaves, and retro-style SMEG fridges stocked with house-made chocolates and freshly cut fruit, among other goodies. Rooms start at US$140, and in most cases, breakfast is included.
The Killer Breakfast
And speaking of breakfast, my morning repast—a sprawling buffet of Eastern and Western options—was the highlight of my stay. Every morning I was greeted with a slew of well-executed regional dishes, such as nasi lemak and dim sum, along with eggs and noodles made to order. When I needed something quick, I stopped by the lobby’s adorable Jen’s Kitchen On-the-Go, which serves locally roasted coffee, juices, craft beer, sandwiches, and other snacks. The café doubled as a hangout space when I needed to hop on Wi-Fi to check email between meetings. I didn’t have time during my short trip to try the two in-house restaurants (J65, with its Southeast Asia–inspired menu, and the Singapore-focused Ah Hoi’s Kitchen), but if breakfast is any indicator, I can imagine they’re delicious.
The Lifesaving Amenities
Each of Hotel Jen’s amenities is built to eliminate a common travel woe. Case in point: laundry. You can fill the big laundry bag in your room to the brim, and it costs just $20 to have everything inside washed and folded. And if you don’t want someone touching your knickers, you can do a load for a nominal fee in one of the hotel’s DIY laundry rooms. In addition to free shuttle services that take you to centrally located Orchard Road, loaner bicycles are on offer in case you want to do your urban exploring on two wheels. And then there’s the Club Lounge. Rooms start at $195, and in my opinion, it’s worth the splurge: You have access to the sleek, wood-clad 17th-floor lounge space, a quiet all-day respite with city-facing views through floor-to-ceiling windows, where you can enjoy breakfast, afternoon tea, and evening cocktails and canapés. I retreated to the Club Lounge every afternoon to escape Singapore’s oppressive humidity and felt fully recharged before heading back out for a night on the town.