More Singaporeans are choosing staycations over holidays abroad, because there are less hassles and travel downtime. But Singapore hotels are not the cheapest in the region, so it makes sense to do a bit of research and choose wisely.
We had a chance to experience the Hotel Fort Canning, and were absolutely stunned by the rooms and facilities. It is truly a plush oasis in the middle of the city cocooned by verdant greenery and the stillness of nature. They took three years to convert this colonial building into an 86-room heritage boutique hotel.
I particularly loved the sense of space you get from the high ceiling (you don't get this often in newer buildings). This is the Deluxe room (above) which opens out to a bathroom set against a picture window offering you panoramic views of the park or city. There are 43 of these rooms measuring 30-35sqm. Six of these at Level 1 open up to a private garden and patio.
The Premier rooms are bigger at 40sqm, and the "verandah" is a separate living area specially designed for relaxation with a gorgeous view of the park.
Oh yes, sink back into a Poltrona Frau designer chair and feel the city stress melt away from your soul.
The Deluxe rooms also get a very comfy reading chair with ottoman. Kick back and relax with a book or magazine.
Elements of nature are built into the fabrics and furnishings (like the headboard). The Premier rooms have a bigger work area behind the bed, and a separate bathroom.
I still prefer the bathroom that's out there overlooking the greenery. I think it's a smashing idea to extend the room out this way onto the verandah. Every room has a large bathtub to remember the 14th century, when the royal family bathed in a spring on top of the hill.
But if a quick shower is all you want, you can still indulge in the monsoon rain shower set into the marbled walls. Premium bath amenities from Thann (nice 60ml bottles) add to the spa-like experience. The Thann Sanctuary spa also used to be at the hotel, but just shifted earlier this year.
Even the comfort robes and slippers bear a decidedly tropical feel.
Other in-room amenities include a Nespresso machine, TWG teas, a Zeppelin mini iPod docking station by Bowers & Wilkins, touch panel controls for mood lighting, curtains and aircon. Complimentary broadband and wi-fi are standard along with international plug extensions. A customised pillow menu is available too.
The spacious feel extends to the walkway too. Some hotels have such narrow walkways, it's almost a traffic hazard if someone has bulky luggage coming at you in the opposite direction. You won't get that here.
Now, all in-house guests get a private lounge where they can enjoy unlimited light snacks, Nespresso, TWG teas, plus complimentary wines, champagnes, juices and canapes during evening cocktail hour! They really do spoil you.
Outside, there is not just one swimming pool but a whole complex of several pools! Shallow ones, a long lap pool, and a irregular shaped pool - all fed with water that's filtered using NASA technology. The effect is amazing, because there is none of that awful chlorine smell so common at pools (and so damaging to hair and skin).
Already when I saw this, I wanted to come back again, even before I started my staycation here!
Fitness buffs will be glad there is a well-appointed 240sqm gym featuring the latest TechnoGym equipment. There was also an arcade room tucked away in the basement, but no one was using it.
Weddings are very popular here (it is just a stone's throw away from the Registry of Marriages, after all). The huge Legends (460-seater) and Lavender (230-seater) ballrooms can be partitioned into smaller rooms. Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) groups can also take advantage of the 1,000sqm conference and banquet space.
In terms of dining, there's Gattopardo for Italian fine-dining, Tisettanta Lounge for wines and Italian-inspired designer cocktails, and The Glass House which features contemporary Asian cuisine.
The Glass House, as its name intimates, is set in floor-to-ceiling glass walls for majestic views of the park with heritage trees as old as 90 years.
Breakfast with this view is so refreshing. Drink in the view, as much as you like.
Oh yes, the buffet breakfast has a bit of everything. From local favourites like dim sum and prata with curry, to bacon, sausages and eggs, smoked salmon, hams and breads. I liked the porridge too. Sunday brunch here is S$35++ per person (11.45am to 2.30pm). They also offer afternoon tea sets at S$12++ per set from 2pm to 6pm daily.
They also have selections for lunch, like this Chinese set menu (S$20) so beautifully presented in a bamboo tiffin carrier. Scallops in XO sauce with asparagus, with a healthy serve of vegetables (I normally hate nai bai cabbage, but this was really nice). The soup, however, is too much of an MSG salt bath.
Fried Mee Siam with Boston Lobster (S$24), which is a signature dish here. Oh I liked that this was not afraid to be spicy, but don't worry, it's not as hot as chili padi.
The check-in lobby is discreetly to the right side of the hotel entrance foyer, which also faces the private lounge.
What's interesting are the archaelogical pits containing actual 14th and 19th century artifacts unearthed at Fort Canning Park. Qing dynasty porcelain, Majapahit royalty household items, ancient cooking pots, storage jars, ceramics, red baked bricks, and even glass marbles - all these point to Singapore's prosperity in history and Fort Canning Hill's importance as a royal palace. There are many of these historical artifacts still enbedded - hubby did a school excavation during university and found some too.
Fort Canning was formerly the British Far East Command Headquarters during World War II. They have kept many of the colonial structures, like the grand staircase and the multi-columned facade. The property which dates back to 1926 has been sensitively restored by local award-winning architectural company DP Architects.
Parts of it has been given a modern touch, and the hotel is continuing to be enhanced with more facilities to keep up with demand.
Hotel Fort Canning overlooks the Civic and Cultural district, and is walking distance from the Orchard Road shopping belt. As an icon of colonial grandeur, it makes a very stately boutique hotel.
They are currently offering Weekend Treat staycation packages from S$320++ for a Deluxe Room, available from 1 April 2012 to 30 June 2012.
The package includes:
- One night (Saturday) weekend stay in our Deluxe Room (room only)
- Sunday Brunch for two at The Glass House
- Late check out till 4pm (subject to availability)
- Unlimited in-room selection of Nespresso coffee and fine tea
- Premium bath amenities
- Unlimited serving of Nespresso Coffee and fine tea served at the Lobby Lounge throughout the day
- Complimentary wireless internet access
- Complimentary evening drinks from 6pm to 8pm daily at Private Lounge
It is really worth it, for a hotel of this quality. There are other promotion packages like Bubbalicious (from S$368++, with sparkling wine and bubble bath with petals) and Privilege Room with all the perks (from S$520++).
I seriously would love to go back, and maybe bring the kids. Jolie saw the photos I was pulling together, and she just gaped. As she stared, she said pointing to the bedroom shots, "I want to go here, I want to go home here!" Me too, babe.
HOTEL FORT CANNING
11 Canning Walk
Tel: +65 6559-6770
Heartfelt thanks to GHC Asia and Hotel Fort Canning for making this stay possible.