M Social Singapore is a cross between a contemporary art gallery and an avant-garde science lab

The boutique art hotel is designed by cult designer M Philippe Starck

AS my taxi pulls up at the driveway of M Social Singapore, I’m fronted by a larger-than-life installation of an unshelled peanut finished with a bronze, rust-like patina. The driver chimes, “Wah, this hotel look very art.” 

The automated doors slide open to reveal a lobby like no other in Singapore – the sleek communal tables accompanied by tall, space-age chairs; the plastic playhouses displayed behind glass like precious specimens; the Talavera tiles clashing against loud marble prints; and raw concrete pillars as an edge to the moody colors. At once, it’s both playful and dramatic.

The hotel lobby is a dramatic blend of printed tiles and art displays

The newly operating hotel on Robertson Quay is an art hotel designed by the cult boutique hotel designer M Philippe Starck, the man responsible for some of the most iconic hotel interiors, including Delano in Miami, Sanderson in London and Faena in Buenos Aires.

This time, Starck used his magic wand to cast upon M Social the gift of electrifying prints and colors co-existing in perfect harmony. It’s designed with the millennial traveler in mind, the digitally-led guest who prioritizes experiences over luxury purchases.

The Alcove

I check-in with one of the friendly staff and head up to the Alcove Cozy Room (formerly known as the Nice room), a cozy, compact option that makes up for its size with a unique glass-lined archway leading to the entrance into the bedroom.

Interestingly, the sink sits in the bedroom next to the dresser, designed for the busy traveler to jump out of bed in the mornings and straight to the sink for a face wash. Starck himself described M Social’s rooms as the best he’s ever designed, akin to those of a “small townhouse”, despite the minimal footprint.

Lava lamps help to set the mood at Beast & Butterflies

But you shouldn’t be spending too much time in the room if putting up in a hotel with as good a restaurant as Beast & Butterflies. M Social’s in-house restaurant turns out to be my favorite part of my stay. It’s a stimulating space of giddy colors, mixed prints, and unusual textures, and on your first visit, it’s hard to decide where to look first.

I particularly gravitate towards the iPads on the walls, their screens plastered on the walls, their cables snaking down towards the seats like intravenous tubes. Each chandelier up above – majestic in their own right – is different from the other, and a bouquet of LED lights attached to dangling wires are motion-censored and become brighter as human traffic increases.

Cocktails at Beast & Butterflies are as bold as they are exciting

It’s easy to get lost in the cornucopia of installations, but dinner is just as much on my mind. I zero in on the spiced rack of lamb with steamed glutinous rice and Sichuan peppercorn jus; the meat is perfectly blushing in the middle while the jus is an unusual take of the more customary bone jus or brown gravy.

Aptly, the bar’s cocktails too are as bold and exiting as the hotel’s aesthetic suggests. The Beast Skully – gin, cherry-infused brandy and bitters – is brought to the table in a glass skull, while the daintier Butterfly Kisses is a concoction of chamomile-infused gin, rosehip and hibiscus tea. The cocktails here are definitely not an afterthought, and it’s worth opting for something that veers from the classics.

Because as you’ve probably noticed by now, M Social is hardly about the classics. But do note: For a hotel that doesn’t take itself seriously, it seems to be serious about you having a good time.