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  1. #1
    Mid
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    Hotel Fort Canning

    From war bunker to monsoon shower
    September 3, 2011


    Heritage ... the Hotel Fort Canning swimming pool.

    SINGAPORE has developed quite the reputation for uber-hip boutique hotels: think Klapsons' sci-fi-like spherical reception desk; the Scarlet's theatrical chandelier-lit boudoirs.

    A world away from these and the city's hustle and bustle is the Hotel Fort Canning, an 86-room hotel in historic Fort Canning Park that blends colonial grandeur with 21st-century conveniences.

    Built in 1926 as an administrative centre for the British military, it was occupied by the Japanese from 1942-45.

    The British handed it over to the Singaporean military in the 1960s as the island-state moved towards independence.

    From 1976, the building lay empty until reopening as a country club in 1995. It reopened late last year, after two years of careful restoration and consultation on heritage issues which led, for instance, to room service being delivered in three-tier bamboo tiffins rather than heavy wheeled trolleys.

    Guests interested in military history can explore the park's underground wartime bunker, the Battle Box; those more interested in shopping can take a five-minute cab ride to Orchard Road.

    In keeping with the tranquil surrounds, the hotel's interior palette is muted and makes the most of natural timbers.

    However, one eye-popping feature in some rooms is the bathroom. Some have a monsoon shower and bathtub within what would normally be the balcony, while others have freestanding bathtubs surrounded by glossy black stones in the main room.

    Not everyone is enamoured of the liberal bathroom arrangements (despite privacy shades for the balcony bathrooms); some TripAdvisor reviews recommend guests request a room with a more traditional separate bathroom.

    Rooms are divided between city or park views and all guests enjoy free wi-fi, cocktails and canapes nightly at 6-8pm and the lobby's towering Nespresso machine.

    The lobby also contains reminders of the park's long history: four glassed-in pits display relics from the 14th and 19th centuries including Chinese and British porcelain, floor tiles, beer bottles and glass marbles.

    Rooms cost from $S320 ($254) a night, see hfcsingapore.com.

    smh.com.au


  2. #2
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    My wife and I stayed at this place during our last visit in January. Although the facilities were extensive I don't quite think the Premium luxe room justified the price of over 250 ++ tax per night - after all, a room is a room and despite tasteful furnishings and electronic this and that there's just so much you can get out of the experienc. Mind you, all the controls were in that touchlight format which is really nifty but challenging to operate if a tad pissed.

    Frankly, at that rate I expect to be impressed but this place just doesn't hit the spot at all.

    The grounds dwarf the actual accommodation as indeed do the extensive terraces which are curiously barren of any central theme or amenity. One has to walk from the main block to the breakfast room which is housed nearby in a separate building - the quality and variety of food was disappointing and the egg station was manned by a single octogenarian clearly having difficulty in keeping up with the 10 guests and their requirements. I helped the old chap out by collecting my own eggs when ready rather than have him shuffle over to us. There didn't appear to be any other staff except the coffee girl who obviously believed in strict demarcation of duties.

    The swimming pools were large but uninviting in that the grounds immediately surrounding them were barren of any cultivation save for a few sparse trees adorning the concrete paving. No one was using them and frankly the whole place had an abandoned air about it.

    They have obviously taken great pains to get the decor right but one could never shake off the feeling we were in a museum set in unimaginative gardens amid a municipal park. They were obviously underwhelmed by guests and thus the central bar area and free tiffin lounge were more or less deserted. There is no lobby area as such but we were checked in efficiently by a brace of personnel who lounged behind two office desks. In fact the guests lounge could have been the lobby of any corporate headquarters.

    All in all an anodyne, sterile experience and not one I would care to repeat. The E & O in Penang knocks spots of it as a heritage hotel.

    Next time I'll stick with the Mandarin.

  3. #3
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    I have always stayed at the Mandarin, good value and service and location

    I even had a romance with one of the lovely check-in girls years ago

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