From a recent rock concert to the upcoming Formula One night race, Singapore has been hosting hot events lately. ANIKA VENTURA discovers how two heritage hotels make staying in the City of Lions so inviting.
“When we go to Singapore, I think we should stay at a nicer place.” As I watched my six-footer boyfriend T.o. struggle to fit his legs in our tiny bathroom in Coron, Palawan, I had to stop myself from smiling, and agreed.
“Nicer” became an understatement. We went to Singapore last February to watch the Laneway Music Festival and were booked in Hotel Fort Canning and Fullerton Bay Hotel, both five-star heritage hotels.
Hotel Fort Canning is like no other hotel in Singapore—it sits on a century-old Natural Heritage Park known as Fort Canning. Botanical gardens, picnic spots, and a World War II bunker now known as the Battle Box surround the hotel building. But before you cast it off as only for the history and culture buffs, the park is a favorite pick for events for the young crowd. WOMAD, Singapore’s largest music festival, has been held in the park since 1998.
Indeed, as much as the park rocks, so does Hotel Fort Canning. A former British Military building, it won an Architectural Heritage Award for its successful revival. Imagine breakfast in their Glass House where floor-to-ceiling glass walls show off the park’s century-old trees. Then there’s the food. Try their version of local favorites like roti prata (flour pancakes with curry dip) and Hainanese chicken rice, which we found rivaled those served in Singapore’s popular hawker food centers. Over at their swimming pool, opt to leave your iPod so you can concentrate on the sound of birds and the rustle of trees in the background.
Back in my room, the views were pretty nice. Mine looked out to the garden and in the distance was the amazing Singapore skyline. My bathroom had the tropical elegance of earlier years (think Raffles Hotel style), as it bore the building’s original conservation doors. After a nice warm bath with amenities like THANN’s “Aromatic Wood” collection, I crashed on a soft bed—but it wasn’t as simple as that. Served with popcorn on the side, their “Blockbuster Stay-cation” package includes unlimited in-room movies. Would you believe they also have a pillow menu that offers five types of pillows to choose from? The only thing lacking was a butler to read me a bedtime story.
Ah, it’s a tough life, and I was off to another setting. This time, it was the Fullerton Bay Hotel, which sits right in front of Singapore’s Marina Bay. Here, they take full advantage of their location. What was once Clifford Pier in the 1930s, today the hotel’s arrival area seems suitable for those carrying Louis Vuitton trunks.
The Fullerton Bay’s lobby was something else. Upon arrival, you’ll feel like you’re about to board a luxury cruise ship. A dramatic crystal chandelier dangles from an 18-foot-high ceiling with vintage nautical maps serving as accents. The designer behind the lobby is none other than Andre Fu, hailed as an “Asian design sensation” by Condé Nast Traveler.
When I entered my room, voila! In front of my balcony was the spaceship-like Marina Bay Sands, below was a girl tanning on a sun deck, and to the right were Singapore’s skyscrapers that house top companies like Google.
With no way to go but up, my next stop was the hotel’s rooftop bar, Lantern, which was rated by CNNGO.com as one of the world’s best hotel bars—and when I sunk into one of their couches in what felt like the center of the city, I understood why. I wasn’t sure if I should have arrived in a bikini or a chic, lounge-y dress. Their 25-meter pool allows you to swim by the edge of the rooftop with the bay and city lights as your background. It looked like the cover of a magazine. When you’re ready to get tipsy, sip mojitos with the rest of the after-work crowd at sundown. Travel + Leisure once described Lantern as the place to be seen.
Now, just enjoy like no one’s watching.