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Blog: Hotel Jen at Tanglin’s hipster revival

Hotel Jen at Tanglin gets a hipster makeover and wins hearts of their hardcore regulars from the days when it was still Traders’ Hotel. (Photo gallery at the end of article)

It’s an amazing feat that my husband and I not only live but work together. We are both headstrong; my former army man husband is older than me by nearly 20 years and accustomed to laying on his acerbic wit when push comes to shove, while I am a go-getter saleswoman whose circumstances as a fresh graduate have driven her to build her career out of a shophouse cubbyhole. Although we have learnt to compromise and recognise and validate each other’s strengths, juggling home and work life does take a toll on our relationship. And that’s when we know it’s time for a timeout.

From before we married, Bali has always been our ideal getaway to reconnect as a couple when we have at least two weeks to spare. However long vacations in Bali are out of the question when looming deadlines make it impossible to get away, let alone relax.

So when we received the invitation to enjoy a one-day staycation Hotel Jen at Tanglin (HJT), formerly the Traders’ Hotel, we jumped at the opportunity, hoping to find a place closer to home for our timeouts.

It’s impossible to ignore how Instagram-able the hotel truly is. Expect pretty and quirky details, murals and installations from the reception and lift lobby all the way to your room that would easily fit into Instagram’s distinctive square frame and win the thumbs-up of the quintessential hipster.

If you had been a regular at the Traders’ Hotel, you might wonder if the hotel’s new youthful quirkiness would grate on retirees and corporate folks. On the contrary, according to Juliana Jauw, the hotel’s assistant communications manager, their old regulars have been coming back and  – in my very humble opinion – the Club Lounge on the 17th floor is reason enough to!

The Club Lounge serves breakfast and all-day charcuteries, cheeses and sweets, and from 530pm to 730pm you can indulge in the free-flow wine, beer and spirits. If you are a regular drinker of red wine, you will be chuffed to discover the lovely and highly quaffable Merlot housepour which is also served with the Sunday champagne brunch buffet at the J65 restaurant downstairs. As a guest of the HJT, you are entitled to enjoy the sumptuous dinner buffet at J65 at only $45 nett a head; a steal by Orchard Road hotel buffet standards!

Instagram-able as ever, even the dessert layout is photogenic

Both the dinner and Sunday champagne brunch buffets are value for money for seafood lovers; there are lobsters, oysters, crayfish and prawns in the cold section and the chilli crab and mantou buns in the hot section. The noodle section offers Sarawak and Penang laksa in addition to the usual local favourites of prawn mee and Singapore laksa while hot food section boasts an intercontinental spread from Western roasts, North Indian curries and the DIY Peranakan “kueh pie tee”. J65 interior designers were especially aware of the camera phone when conceptualising the dessert display: cubed cake, panna cotta and jellies are put in little jars and assembled row by row in see-through drawers.

My husband and I travel for business and leisure and have found that while space and tasteful furnishings are good-to-haves, nothing beats resting our tired bodies on a quality mattress after a long day. So the main highlight in our Club Room on the 17th floor was not the lofty view of Tanglin or the quirky murals but the quality mattress; it was nearly as comfortable as our own mattress at home, although far from being as worn out! HJT belongs to Shangri-La group, a renowned brand in hospitality, and all HJT guests enjoy the same mattresses as guests of other Shangri-La hotels and resorts. The bathroom was small but adequate and well thought-out; housekeeping definitely had their long-haired female guests (like me) in mind when deciding to provide complimentary hair bands.

If not for the 10am we had that Monday morning with an important client (we checked out on Sunday afternoon), my husband and I would have stayed another night (or two) and very happily paid for it. All pictures are my own except when otherwise stated.

Help yourself to a welcome drink at the Hotel Jen at Tanglin’s reception!

Hipster bicycles make an Instagram-able installation in the lobby

Instagram-able as ever, even the dessert layout is photogenic

The big mural on the ground floor above the J65 restaurant

A good, proper salad spread at J65 dinner and Sunday champagne brunch buffets


Fishy mural in the Club Room on the 17th floor

The highlight of the picture is not the mural but the fab mattress which is also enjoyed by all guests Shangri-La resorts – photo by Hotel Jen at Tanglin

A gorgeous view of Tanglin from the 17th floor Club Room – photo by Hotel Jen at Tanglin

The Club Lounge is where all the pre-dinner free-flow is – photo by Hotel Jen at Tanglin

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