For a city getaway set in the middle of nature, we headed to the historic Hotel Fort Canning. This hotel is full of history, once used as a base for the British Far East Command during World War II and most recently converted from a country club to the current hotel. Completed in November 2010, the architects from local architecture firm DP Architects maintained and restored the building’s charm into a grand hotel full of modern touches.
Upon arrival at the hotel my husband Tom and I were quickly reminded of its uniqueness at the sight of 4 archaeological pits set into the lobby floor. The pits house artefacts from the 14th and 19th century unearthed in Fort Canning Park including locally-made 14th century cooking pots and imported 19th century English Porcelain. This was only the start of our east meets west history as our host Rachael took us for a tour around Fort Canning Park in the hotel’s buggy. Fort Canning Hill was originally known as Bukit Larangan (or “Forbidden Hill” in Malay) and was venerated by Muslims as it is thought to house the resting place of the last Malay king of the island in the Keramat Iskandar Shah; which Rachael pointed out at the foot of the hill. Through the greenery of the park Rachael showed us herbs planted throughout and told us when Stamford Raffles made residence on the hill in the early 1800’s, he had nutmeg and cloves planted along with Singapore’s first botanical gardens. The tour continued through huge Banyan trees and more 19th century military buildings including the Fort Canning Bunker or Battle Box, where the decision to surrender Singapore to the Japanese was made by the British. The most fascinating part of the tour for us was seeing out of commission canons pointed at what was once the ocean and is now reclaimed land that makes up Singapore’s Central Business District.
With our heads still swirling from all of the history the area holds, it was time for Tom and I to head to the Glass House bar to ponder our thoughts and try some creative concoctions. One look at the drink menu and we had to try The Battle Box and The Legends cocktails. Both creative drinks using a mixture of fruit juices and liquor varieties that the bartender painstakingly mixed, shaked and poured for us. Delicious.
For those looking for a more healthy afternoon activity, we highly recommend taking a dip in one of the two outdoor pools. Using a high-tech filtration system there is minimal chlorine. Another option is to make use of the expansive 240sqm gym. With only 86 rooms in this boutique hotel, the facilities are rarely crowded.
When the sun begins to set, it’s time to head to the private guest lounge where complementary coffee and cookies are served all day and complementary evening drinks and canapés are offered from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. A great way to meet other guests of the hotel and enjoy the beautiful patio or lounge.
For dinner the hotel offers the option of 2 restaurants – The Glass House and Gattopardo Italian Grill & Pizza Bar – or room service which we hear is served in charming bamboo tiffin carriers. We opted to head to The Glass House which serves Asian cuisine with a contemporary twist or during our visit, a special buffet. This 75-seater bistro boasts floor-to-ceiling glass walls designed to maximise views of the park and the city skyline. Signature dishes to look out for include Fried Mee Siam with Boston Lobster, Singapore Laksa and Thai Style Prawn Bolognaise Pizza.
After a day of exploring and relaxing we headed up to our Deluxe Room. The Deluxe Room is the first tier in the room categories but is more like the top end of many hotels. The uniqueness of the deluxe rooms is the open concept between the bathroom and the bedroom. With only glass walls dividing the two, lots of light fills the room and sets a romantic mood for couples. The pedestal sinks in the centre of almost wall to wall windows allows you to brush your teeth while looking over the city below. When it’s time for a bit more privacy, just push a button to close the blinds.
The premium facilities in the room continue with a free-standing soaker tub, rain shower head in the separate shower, Nespresso machine and TWG teas, internet enabled TV, complementary WiFi, iPod docking station, and best of all a big comfy bed that is really hard to get out of in the morning. To think this is only their entry level room. The hotel also offers Deluxe Garden Rooms with their own private patio complete with sunbed, Premium and Premium Luxe rooms with separate seating areas and more private bathrooms, and expansive Studios and Suites that we hear are very popular for traditional Chinese wedding tea ceremonies and business men.
With the help of freshly made espressos in the morning, we made our way back to the glass house for breakfast. The included breakfast buffet is not an overwhelming selection, instead high quality ingredients crafted into tasty dishes. Tom had his fill of pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sautéed mushrooms, potato gratin, roasted tomatoes topped with cheese and dahl with roti, while I enjoyed natural yoghurt, fruit, pastries… okay and some potato gratin and pancakes covered with syrup. I’m not perfect. We found the manager and staff to be very friendly and helpful making for an even better breakfast experience.
The Battle Box
Intrigued by our history lesson from the day before, we decided to take a closer look at the Battle Box located just up the hill from the hotel. Inside a huge underground bunker we were lead through different rooms filled with examples of what life was like in the bunker. Everything from how the phone system worked, how planes were tracked and the very room where the British decided to surrender Singapore to the invading Japanese on February 15th 1942. Scenes are brought to life by scarily realistic wax figures of the people involved in operating the bunker.
We had a truly memorable stay at Hotel Fort Canning where we could learn about and stay in Singapore’s history all while being pampered with the most modern luxuries.
- 10 minute walk to the shops and restaurants of Orchard Road
- 15 minute walk to Clarke Quay through park
- Located in the urban Fort Canning Park.
Food and Drinks
- Complimentary Breakfast Buffett
- Complimentary evening canapés and cocktails from 6-8pm
- Asian cuisine with contemporary twist at The Glass House
- Italian Grill & Pizza Bar at Gattopardo
- Italian inspired cocktails at Tisettanta Lounge
- Buggy tours around the park between between 9am-4pm daily
- 1-hour guided walking tours available on certain days
- Two outdoor swimming pools using a filtration system based on NASA technology allowing for minimal chlorine
- 240sqm gymnasium
- Spa (Opening soon)
- Complementary wireless internet throughout hotel