Our World The hotels at Lion City's heart

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MOGENS JOHANSEN mixes history and luxury

If the walls at the Fullerton building in Singapore could speak, I’m sure they would reveal many interesting tales.

The Fullerton building was commissioned in 1924 as part of the British colony’s centennial celebrations. The building was opened in 1928 and it signified the importance, power and confidence of the British colony.

It contained the General Post Office and a number of important government offices including the Ministry of Finance and the Economic Development Board. It was where the big decisions were made that directed and drove Singapore to be the economic power it is today.

In 2001 the historic building, gazetted as Singapore’s 71st National Monument, began another chapter of its rich history when it was transformed into a luxury hotel.

The Fullerton Hotel takes its role as custodian of the heritage building very seriously. The hotel is a beautiful example of how to restore a heritage building while at the same time providing guests with the latest technology and comforts.

It has the feel of a truly grand hotel with friendly staff who go out of their way to make you feel welcome. It’s located in a prime location on the Singapore River in the heart of the financial and arts districts — right across the river from the excellent Asian Civilisations Museum and the National Gallery.

Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, Gardens by the Bay and many other Singapore attractions are within easy walking distance.

Despite it being a big hotel, it has a boutique feel about it with welcoming restaurants and luxurious facilities including a spa, a well-equipped gym and a 25m infinity pool overlooking the Singapore River.

The rich history and its reputation for excellent service and facilities means it is often the hotel of choice for foreign heads of state and royalty when they visit Singapore.

I dine at Jade, one of the Fullerton’s five restaurants, which specialise in Singapore Cantonese-style cuisine. My host Cathy Chia, director of corporate communications, explains that each of the restaurants has its own personality thanks to long-term chefs who contribute their own style and menus.

Executive Chinese chef Leong Chee Yeng has been at Jade for 10 years and his pride and creativity in his craft shines through not only in our delicious lunch, but also in the creative way the meals are presented. Some of the meals are accompanied by beautifully made figures of Chinese mythical creatures and animals also created by Chef Leong.

Another restaurant in the hotel is Town Restaurant which has a waterfront terrace making it the perfect place to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The Courtyard which is located in the big atrium lobby offers all-day dining options, including a signature Japanese or Indian curry buffet.

Post Bar was once the transaction hall of the GPO but now it has been transformed into a very cool and sophisticated bar frequented by business people who like to clinch a deal over a glass of fine wine or a Fullerton Merlion Cocktail.

The Lighthouse Restaurant and Rooftop Bar sits at the apex of the building where the lighthouse keepers used to guide ships in. It offers diners authentic Italian cuisine while taking in the panoramic views of the city skyline and Marina Bay.

The small rooftop bar is a lovely place to enjoy a Singapore Sling cocktail which I do while chatting to Adelaide couple Terry and Anne Sullivan who are spending a couple of days in the hotel after a four-week holiday in Asia.

I stay two nights in a newly renovated premier marina bay view room with a big balcony. It is decorated in classic colonial style but with all the modern comforts you can possibly imagine.

The room is equipped with a big comfortable king-size bed, chaise, office table and chair, big-screen television, minibar with a Nespresso machine and kettle, a big wardrobe, iron and ironing board. There is also a Handy Phone you can use, not only in the room but also around town.

It allows you access to unlimited mobile data and IDD Calls back to 15 countries including Australia. The very luxurious bathroom includes a big bathtub, separate shower and high-tech toilet with heated seat and bidet that, much like the rest of the hotel, make you want to stay longer than needed.

Hotel sitting on the dock of the bay

MOGENS JOHANSEN gets another view of the Lion City’s luxurious hospitality offering

The classic art deco facade of the Clifford Pier hides what lies beyond when I arrive for a stay at Singapore’s Fullerton Bay Hotel.

The Clifford Pier dates back to 1933 — it was Singapore’s main arrival and departure point and it was a hive of activity until air travel gradually took over as the main mode of transport. Now, it has been reborn in a new form as part of the vibrant Marina Bay precinct.

The hotel is a six-storey diamond-shaped glass structure that reaches out over the water at Marina Bay, nestled between the historic Clifford Pier and Customs House. The glass facade of the hotel is a stark contrast to its historic neighbours but in true Singapore style, it successfully blends modern and heritage architecture into something beautiful.

The giant concrete arched trusses that span the wide hall inside the Clifford Pier and a big cylindrical chandelier are the first things that catch my eye as I enter a warm and welcoming space that includes the hotel’s Clifford Pier restaurant. Guests are guided along a wide promenade that includes one of the hotel’s other restaurants, The Landing Point, where you can enjoy drinks and light meals either in air-conditioned comfort or on a big outside deck stretching between the Clifford Pier and the hotel.

The lobby gives more of a clue that this is a new and modern hotel, it is a big 18m-high atrium bathed in sunshine with views of the pier area and Marina Bay.

The interior spaces and the restaurants are designed by renowned designer Andre Fu who has used a clever blend of historic nautical maps and contemporary art to reflect and pay tribute to the heritage and fresh new architecture of the Lion City.

I stay in a beautifully appointed 50sqm Marina Bay view room with a floor-to-ceiling window and a big balcony with uninterrupted views over Marina Bay. There is a king-size bed, office desk, two compact lounge chairs and a big flat-screen television and several cool gadgets. The best one is a Handy Phone you can use not only in the room but also around town. It allows you access to unlimited mobile data and IDD calls back to 15 countries including Australia.

The modern bathroom’s main feature is a big bath from where you can look out through the room and enjoy the views of the bay.

The Fullerton Bay has 100 rooms including five suites and a presidential suite and there are four dining options in house — The Clifford Pier honours the diverse hawker culture which was part of the pier in its early days with the best of Singapore’s delicacies and re-interpretations of Asian and Western classics; La Brasserie offers a menu of French brasserie classics; The Landing Point is the place to pick if you are after a light meal, coffee, tea or a cocktail; and The Lantern on the rooftop is recognised as one of the best hotel bars in Singapore. It offers gourmet tapas and cocktails.

The rooftop is also home to the 25m pool and is a perfect place for kicking back while taking in the 360-degree views of Marina Bay and the Singapore CBD.

I particularly enjoyed my early morning swim in this little inner-city oasis.

Fact File

Visit fullertonhotels.com for details and bookings

Disclaimer

Mogens Johansen was a guest of Fullerton Hotel who have not seen or approved this story.

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