Short Breaks Travel

Asia’s hippest boutique hotels

Asia is stuffed full of captivating one-off boutique properties that offer so much more than just a bed for the night. We asked the team from Flight Centre to pick their top five hotels from around the region.

The Waterhouse at South Bund, Shanghai, China

Bringing a welcome dose of understated class to Shanghai’s often-glitzy hotel scene, The Waterhouse’s design team has repurposed a disused 1930s warehouse (formerly a Japanese army barracks) into an achingly stylish destination that draws a hip and in-the-know crowd. With just 19 sophisticated rooms and suites, many with views over the Huangpu River and beyond to Lujiazui’s iconic neon skyline, The Waterhouse offers a prime position from which to explore this city of two halves. Although Shanghai’s dining scene is legendary, save at least one evening for a meal at Table No.1, the hotel’s destination dining room, which was also Jason Atherton’s first post-Gordon Ramsay restaurant.

boutique hotels The Waterhouse

The Alcove Library hotel, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

The Alcove Library Hotel is the perfect base for book-lovers – and it executes its elegant literary-theme in truly charming style. Located in the quiet but still convenient Phu Nhuan District, the main draw of this elegant 29-room property is its stunning library in the lobby; filled with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, it’s a lovingly put together paean to the printed word. The bibliophile theme continues onto the rooms, where framed literary quotes hang on the wall and the nightly turndown service includes a bedtime story and complimentary snack for the evening. All room rates include breakfast at The Alcove’s lovely rooftop restaurant too, where a delicious range of both Vietnamese and international dishes awaits.

boutique hotels Alcove

The Cabochon, Bangkok, Thailand

Combining old-school colonial charm with the ultimate in contemporary comfort, The Cabochon is a standout for all the right reasons. This beautiful Bangkok bolt-hole on Sukhumvit Road feels like something straight out of a vintage Hollywood movie, with an iconic ivory-white façade studded with antique French windows and gloriously romantic balustrades, plus a palm tree-fringed courtyard, super-swanky rooftop pool and antique-stuffed drinking den to sweeten the deal even further. With only eight ultra-spacious rooms in total, hotel havens don’t come much more exclusive than this.

boutique hotels: The Cabochon Bangkok

Humble House, Taipei, Taiwan

A study in pared-back aesthetics and natural materials, Humble House’s rooms and suites whisper rather than shout their luxury credentials, with down-filled bedding, silk velvet robes and soothing neutral décor as standard. The hotel features its own on-site art gallery, displaying works from a wide range of local and international artists throughout the building; the result is reminiscent of a private collector’s home – warm, welcoming and accessible. With excellent dining options, a spa and a heated rooftop pool with stunning views over Taipei 101, your only struggle will be leaving this tranquil city-centre retreat.

boutique hotels Humble House

Wanderlust, Singapore

Wanderlust’s owner said that he wanted it to be “a playground for grown-ups” – and with an adventurous spirit in spades, this quirky 29-room hotel most definitely delivers. Housed in a historic 1920s building (formerly a school) in the heart of Little India, each of Wanderlust’s four floors is the creation of a different design agency, giving the space an eclectic and dynamic vibe; take your pick from rooms with pops of neon colour on level two, origami-inspired minimalism on level three or whimsical fairy tale-esque interiors on level four, while the ground-floor lobby boasts a groovy industrial-glam aesthetic that’ll have you whipping your phone out for photos quicker than you can say #designgoals.

boutique hotels Wanderlust Singapore

Planning a stay in one of these hotels or others? Contact the experts from Flight Centre Hong Kong at 2830 2730, or visit

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This article first appeared in the February/March 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.