Hi all! I am back with a new post! This time, I will be doing a review on Hotel Fort Canning, a 5-star boutique hotel located within the famous Fort Canning Park in Singapore. Fort Canning Park is well-known for being the military headquarters of the British army during World World Two. After the fall of Singapore to the Japanese Occupation in 1942, the Japanese occupied the buildings above and below the ground for its military until the end of the Japanese Occupation in 1945. My memories of Fort Canning Park stopped at Primary 5, when we had to tour the underground bunker as part of our Social Studies curriculum. In fact, if it is not for my stay in Hotel Fort Canning, I would probably not have explored Fort Canning again, purely because I am too lazy to climb 😀 (someone should consider building a boutique hotel in Bukit Timah-MacRitchie area) Another reason is because a Christian cemetary used to exist on the hills, and I am pretty sure many British soldiers were executed during WWII in this hill, so that kind of gives me the creeps 😀
So how did I end up booking this hotel? Mr J and I were looking for a place to celebrate our 3rd anniversary. A quick google search showed us that Hotel Fort Canning was ranked the top 10 most romantic hotels in Singapore. In normal circumstances, we would be crazy to book a 5-star hotel in Singapore because of the EXORBITANT price. Being the kiam siap (stingy) me, my normal budget for a hotel stay is between $50-$80 per night per person. However, my citibank rewards points allowed me to claim up to $200 (which ended up as a failed attempt, this can take up another blog post by itself grrr). Furthermore, we found an online 15% promo code for Expedia, and Expedia mobile application was having promotion too. So altogether, we would have only paid $57.79 for the room (but I ended up paying $257.79), which I think is considered reasonable for Singapore 5-star hotel.
As mentioned, Hotel Fort Canning is located in Fort Canning Park, which is a stone’s throw from many of the tourist attractions in Singapore. The nearest MRT is Dhoby Ghaut mrt station, which has 3 connecting lines that will take you practically everywhere in Singapore. From Dhoby Ghaut mrt station, you will be able to see the YMCA building. Cross the small road (Fort Canning Road) behind the building and take the flight of steps up to the hotel. Note that it is quite a climb, so for people carrying heavy luggage, do consider taking taxi from the mrt station.
Just one MRT stop down is Orchard Road, the largest shopping belt in Singapore (or you can also take a short 5 mins walk there). The National Museum is located at the foot of the hill. If you are game for a hike, you could walk to the opposite side of the hill to Clarke Quay, dine and stroll along Singapore River to City Hall area, where the famous durian structure (Esplanade) and lotus flower (Art Science Musuem) are located. In fact, you could also visit Gardens by The Bay behind Marina Bay Sands. Other tourist areas such as Chinatown and Bugis are nearby, and Uber should not cost you more than $10 per ride. I reckon that you will need at least 2 full days to cover all these places.
According to the description I found in the hotel room brochure:
Once used as a base for the British Far East Command during World World II, the property has been restored to preserve its colonial heritage
Indeed, for lower-than-middle-class citizens like us who cannot afford a night in the more upscale Fullerton Hotel and Intercontinental Hotel, this is probably the next best heritage hotel to stay in. The deciding factor for us was the huge bathroom with floor-to-ceiling window facing the park. It is highly unusual for hotel rooms in Singapore to spend half the room space on bathrooms, so we decided that we have to give this place a try!
There are 3 swimming pools within the hotel vicinity, which again I feel is unusual in Singapore as most hotels will have at most 2 pools. One is a small wading pool, another is a free-form pool that is 0.9m deep and one lap pool which is 1.2m deep. The pools contains purified mineral water, so no dreaded chlorine smell!
There is one in-house restaurant called The Salon and a bar called Tisettanta Lounge at the lobby area. There is also a gymnasium near the lap pool, but due to time constraint, we did not have the chance to use it, so no comments here.
What makes the hotel outstanding is the services provided. After check-in, we were personally guided by the receptionist right up to our hotel room. There were map and brochures of Fort Canning Park with detailed description of walking trails and activities available, such Yoga sessions on Sunday morning (surcharge applies). There is even a pillow menu to choose from – Silent Night (Anti Snore), Posture Perfect, Medi Rest, Up in the Air and Caress. You can contact the housekeeping anytime to change the pillow. Mr J claimed that it was the best sleep he had in ages.
Biscuits, water and magazines are available at the lobby area for guests to chill and relax. From 6-7pm everyday, FREE FLOW wine and canapes are available in the lobby. That more than makes up the cost of the room! I was very impressed at the diligence of the hotel staff for topping up the canapes constantly throughout the 1 hour so that there were enough to go around. The wine and champagne provided were of quality too, as Mr J told me the champagne brand was recommended by his lecturer in Germany.
Activities to do
At Hotel Fort Canning, you will hardly run out of things to do. Bring your kids along and have some cultural time together visiting historical sites such as the ‘Battlebox’, musuem-hopping or simply taking a walk around the park, which will take at least 1.5 hrs to complete.
If you are tired from walking around in the hot weather, just hop back to the hotel for some free drinks and snacks at the lobby, or make your own expresso or tea in your room. For me, soaking in the deep bathtub or chilling around the pool is enough to spend one whole afternoon 😉
True to all the awards it had received, Hotel Fort Canning has lived up to its 5 star ranking in my opinion. Its strategic position within the Fort Canning Park provides a sanctuary among the hectic city life. I doubt there is a second hotel in Singapore that is surrounded by greenery and yet located within walking distance to most tourist spots and eateries. After just one night, Hotel Fort Canning has indeed raised my standard of staycations in Singapore.