Our digital editor travelled to the Little Red Dot for a quick getaway and stayed at the stunning hotel in the middle of Fort Canning Park
I occasionally like to skip town from time to time, usually to another big city. I booked a quick getaway to Singapore and stayed at Hotel Fort Canning in the middle of the luscious greens of Fort Canning Park. If you’re travelling to the lion city, here are five reasons to stay at this stunning boutique hotel, which opened in 2011.
(Psst… don’t forget to check out our sister site Sassy Mama Singapore for more on what to do in the Lion City!)
1. Hotel Location
Situated in the middle of Fort Canning Park (and up a hill!), Hotel Fort Canning (HFC) is truly a home away from home. You’re about an 8 minute walk to Dhoby Gaut MRT station, and another few minutes away from Plaza Singapura and Orchard Road. Walk to the bottom of the hill and around the park and you’ll hit Clarke Quay, which is full of places to eat and drink. Easy.
I got into the habit of taking taxis back to the hotel in the evenings for two reasons: a) I’d been out all day in the heat and was more tired that you can imagine and b) I’ll happily admit I was too lazy to walk up all those steps to the hotel entrance.
History buffs will love this old colonial building. A former British Military Administration Building, the hotel was built in 1926 and transferred to the hands of the Japanese before going back to the British. The Singapore Armed Forces took control of it at the time of independence in 1965. In the 1990s, it was a country club before turning into a hotel in 2011.
Walk through the hotel lobby and you’ll see artefacts from days gone by literally in the ground, showcasing the history of the inhabitants of the Park and highlighting the ancient glory of this once “Forbidden Hill”.
A few minutes out of the hotel and into the park is the Fort Canning Bunker (Battlebox), where the British made the decision to surrender Singapore to the Japanese. If you’re interested in visiting the bunker (I’d highly recommend it!), book a tour here. Adult tickets are SG$18, and the tour with the lively, engaging and knowledgeable guide lasts an hour (or more if you’ve got questions!). More details, including tour timings are here. Definitely something worth doing for a snippet of Singapore’s culture and history, and something in the park!
On the whole, the service was good. The regular hotel staff were extremely polite, greeting us by name (with one consistently offering me birthday greetings even though we were checking out on my big day!) and taking action on a broken phone charger and correcting a breakfast booboo on the first morning. With a 24-hour front desk, we were well looked after at all hours of the day and night, including when we arrived past midnight to check in.
Speaking of breakfast, the morning spread is incredible: local fare such as roti prata, dim sum delights, congee and of course eggs any which way. I spent a handful of mornings
indulging getting a taste of the full breakfast.
Find yourself in the hotel in the late afternoon, needing respite from the tropical heat? There’s complimentary canapés and refreshments in the lobby lounge – totally catering to sweaty guests needing to quench their thirst.
Take a dip in one of the three pools at Hotel Fort Canning, set amongst the lush greenery of the park. The water in the pool is chlorine and chemical-free. Keep up with your fitness routine and head to the gym, equipped with TechnoGym, or unwind at Chinois Spa, a comprehensive health and wellness spa on site.
The hotel’s location makes it popular for weddings and banquets. There was a wedding expo the weekend I visited, with marquees and beautifully-decorated tables and chairs set up around the grounds to showcase the different parts of the hotel you could have your ceremony. So if you’re thinking of getting hitched in the little red dot… *wink, wink*.
By far the best reason to stay at the hotel is its serene surroundings. Like Hong Kong, Singapore is a (flatter) concrete jungle, and whether you’re visiting for leisure, pleasure or work (I was there for a combo of all three!), you’ll sleep like a baby tucked away amongst the 18-hectares of glorious greens in the park.
A few of my favourite things to do in Singapore outside of the hotel:
- Botanic Gardens, in particular the Orchid Garden. Tickets are SG$5 for adults at the Orchid Garden.
- Visit the Sultan Mosque, the oldest mosque in Singapore which is near…
- Haji Lane, the coolest area to check out local and quirky boutiques.
- Singapore River Cruise. For SG$18, you’ll be treated to a gorgeous view of the skyline, especially in the evening.
- Visit Little India for Teh Tarik (tea with condensed milk that’s pulled until it’s frothy and deliciously creamy)
A few of my favourite places to eat and drink:
- Ding Dong along Amoy Street for Southeast Asian favourites
- P.S. Café for brunch classics (the Dempsey HIll one is notably stunning)
- Common Man Coffee Roasters for hipster coffee and brunch food
- Have a drink at Lantern Rooftop Bar at Fullerton Bay Hotel, named for Clifford Pier’s historical Chinese name of Red Lantern Pier. It was a key landing point for those arriving on boats and was lit with red lanterns to guide the way.
- Selfie Coffee, a hipster coffee shop on Haji Lane
- Bengawan Solo, the best chain in town for Pandan Cake, a fluffy Indonesian and Malaysian cake. (Psst… there’s a branch at Changi Airport if you’re looking to take a cake or three home for loved ones!)