As soon as Emma and I walked through the doors of Hotel Fort Canning, we both simultaneously exhaled a sigh of relief and contentment. After an eight hour flight and an uphill trek with our luggage on a hot and humid evening, the cool and sweetly perfumed lobby welcomed us in, we knew we’d found our special home in Singapore for the next four nights.
Hotel Fort Canning is no ordinary boutique hotel, it’s history is part of the history of Singapore. Fort Canning Hill, originally known as Bukit Larangan (or “Forbidden Hill” in Malay), has been the exclusive address of many of Singapore’s rulers and colonial leaders dating back to the 14th century. The iconic building was originally built in 1926 as the Administration Building of the British Far East Command HQ, and saw quite a lot of action in WWII where it was occupied by Japanese invading forces. It’s story is interesting, and after major restoration and a sympathetic conversion in 2011, Hotel Fort Canning became the latest chapter in the sites rich history.
In a city where new shiny hotels are a dime a dozen, there is something very special about staying in a place that is so connected with Singapore’s past. As soon as I spotted the archeological pits in the lobby, I felt immediately connected to it’s history too.
It’s renovation has cleverly captured the essence of building’s heritage features, without compromising on modern luxuries. The recent modern makeover strikes just the right balance between new and old – luxurious without being flashy, intimate without feeling stuffy.
What we loved about Hotel Fort Canning
The architects had quite a challenge when designing the rooms as major structural changes were not allowed under the buildings heritage overlay. Each room was originally an office, and even though the size of our room wasn’t huge, it felt larger due to the original high ceilings (over 5m tall) and large windows with an amazing view of the city. The materials chosen to furnish the room, including the parquetry floor, are all a reference to it’s original colonial design.
The king size bed was one of the most comfortable hotel beds I’ve ever slept in, beds in Asia tend to be on the harder side, but this one was just the right firmness for me. The pillows were nice and firm too. Needless to say, I slept pretty well – Even with a 7 year old starfish sharing the bed!
‘Wow’ is all I could say when I stepped into the bathroom in our room. Originally part of the balcony corridor where the soldiers would march, the space has been cleverly re-imagined as a bright marble clad space which feels like 100% luxury. We couldn’t resist trying out the huge free standing bath, and I quite enjoyed the views whilst showering. If you are a bit shy there are curtains, but I must be an exhibitionist because (at least during the day) I left them open. The staff assured me you can’t see in due to reflections on the glass (and the neighbours are quite far away).
All it takes is free WiFi to keep me happy, and with Singapore’s super fast internet connection I was in heaven. With speeds around 4x faster than my home connection I was motivated to upload several videos to Facebook and Youtube, they took only minutes as opposed to the hours I’m usually accustomed to. With my work done quickly there was more time to enjoy some R&R.
Emma loved that everything was automated and controlled by a master touch panel which I let her be in charge of. Lights, climate control and even motorised blinds all sorted with the touch of a button. I must commend her restraint, I’m sure Mr Man would have fiddled with the buttons all day. Having an electronic key was super handy when I locked us out of the room, reception just programed another for us without any issue.
When choosing our stay here, I was immediately attracted to Hotel Fort Canning’s central location right in the heart of Singapore. Nestled within 18 hectares of lush greenery, yet only a few minutes walk from Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station, most of the cities attractions are within easy reach. It’s the best of both worlds, you feel like you are in a tropical retreat, not a concrete jungle.
If you feel like walking, it’s just a 5-minute walk from Orchard Road, a 10-minute stroll from Clarke Quay and 20 minutes to Little India.
We were treated to a lunch of local specialties at The Salon, as well as a buffet breakfast every morning. Lunch was tasty and menu items were reasonably priced for a hotel of this caliber, Emma thoroughly enjoyed her Chicken Rice (it was a pretty fancy version of a local favourite). I’ll be sharing the rest of our lunch meal in a dedicated food post, coming soon.
Breakfast was fine, but didn’t blow me away. I’ve been pretty spoilt when it comes to breakfast buffets so it takes something really special to get me raving. In saying that, I enjoyed that there was local food options, of Nasi Lemak, Roti Canai, congee and dumplings, as well as a Western selection. I’ll always choose a local breakfast wherever I am, and enjoy starting my day as a local would.
Emma really enjoyed being able to serve herself and got quite friendly with the breakfast chef who made her special orders of extra pancakes. I had to nip it in the bud when she started ordering 5 pancakes at a time. She ate them all though, along with a bowl of cereal and fruit! I don’t know where she puts it.
Ask Emma what she enjoyed the most in Singapore, and the hotel pool will be right up there. I made an effort to fit in some pool time every day, which came at the expense of some sight-seeing. Traveling with kids sometimes means prioritising pool time, but it’s an easy compromise to make.
You can see how much fun we had in the video at the top of this post. We practically had the pool to ourselves every day, so we had lots of fun mucking around.
There’s actually three pools in total, a toddler pool, a free-form pool and a lap pool. They are all chlorine and chemical free mineral water pools, cleaned by a the same filtration technology that NASA uses on the International Space Station. I like to call them the ‘space pools’. No chlorine smell, itchy skin or red eyes, it was awesome.
Some Tips to Enhance your stay
- Catch a taxi from the airport – The hotel is on a hill (because that’s where they build forts), so the hike up from the MRT station with all our luggage was a bit much after a long flight. The fare back to the airport was only around $30 so it’s worth it to arrived rested.
- Enjoy Aperitif Hour – in the evenings hotel guests are invited to enjoy complimentary canapés and drinks in the lounge. We were out every night so I missed them, but if you are in, make sure you partake and meet your fellow guests.
- Explore Fort Canning Park – ask guest services about a walking trail map. If you are lucky you may even get your own guided tour.
- Ask about late checkout – Make the most of your last day to enjoy the hotel facilities if you are flying out in the evening.
As the taxi pulled up to take us to the airport, I quickly snapped this final photo and reluctantly bid adieu to the place that had made our stay in Singapore just that extra bit more special. We’ll be back for sure.
Hotel Fort Canning
11 Canning walk, Singapore 178881
t: +65 6559 6776
Emma and I stayed as guests of Hotel Fort Canning for the purpose of this review – As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.