The Hotel Fort Canning’s Amenities
General Arthur Percival (the commanding officer of the British forces in Singapore during World War II) was likely not served by adjutants bearing iPads. That’s a privilege reserved to present-day Hotel Fort Canning guests, who enjoy concierge service around the clock from iPad-equipped staff.
Other amenities the old general likely never had during his time at the old HQ: two swimming pools; an Italian restaurant (Gattopardo) and a cocktail lounge (Tisettanta) on the first level; a Thai-inspired spa; and a fitness center.
Swimming pool: located at the southwest end of the building, the pool area is accessible via an exit on the second level or via the Glass House (more on that later). The main pool platform includes a kiddie pool and a large round pool for grownups; the pool’s depth tops off at six feet at the deep end. Just off the main pool platform, a few steps down, you’ll find a lap pool for serious swimmers.
Both pool areas are lined with deck chairs, and a pool shower stands on the far end of the main pool platform. The pool’s water filtering system uses technology based on NASA filtration systems.
Gattopardo: opposite the guests’ private lounge stands the Hotel Fort Canning’s Southern Italian restaurant. Gattopardo’s kitchen is helmed by Chef Lino Sauro, who put together a menu rich in pastas, wood-fired pizza, and fresh Sicilian seafood, all accompanied by a premium wine list predominated by Italian wines.
Tisettanta Lounge: Borrowing from Gattopardo’s Italian charm, the lounge opposite the main entryway provides a cool, understated space where guests and walk-in visitors can unwind and chat over a cocktail. Tisettanta serves cocktails that are infused with a variety of Mediterranean-inspired flavors: from fresh herbs to citrus to nuts, even chocolate.
The Hotel Fort Canning’s Glass House
For all the space the old military headquarters had, the building simply didn’t have enough real estate to house everything the new owners had in mind. To solve the space problem, the architects renovating the Hotel Fort Canning struck on an I.M. Pei-style solution: build an all-glass structure next to a historic landmark.
The reflective glass box adjoining the Hotel Fort Canning lends itself to a proliferation of uses: it houses the hotel’s fitness center, THANN Spa, a number of ballrooms, and an Asian-inspired bistro at the lobby level, where guests also take their breakfasts.
The Glass House bistro’s interior features floor-to-ceiling glass curtain walls that make full use of the park views and the city skyline beyond the trees. Your guide enjoyed his breakfast in this space, where staff ply guests constantly with coffee and eggs, while the buffet provided cereals, bacon, fresh honey from the comb, and noodles.
For the rest of the day, the bistro serves an Asian-themed menu with dishes from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. The bistro’s menu is available to hotel guests as a room service selection – dishes are brought up to guests in traditional bamboo tiffins.
An elevator in the Glass House takes guests to the hotel’s other amenities:
a THANN Sanctuary with four Thai-inspired rooms and one couple suite that come with a wide range of spa treatments derived from THANN’s considerable wellness repertoire;
a fitness center that features equipment from TechnoGym - guests are given free rein to use the facility;
ballroom/conference facilities that come with contemporary A/V equipment and lighting controls; the Legends Ballroom seats 460, and the smaller Lavender Ballroom seats 230. Three smaller function rooms – Jasmine 1 & 2, and The Living Room – are also available at the top floor, and come with floor-to-ceiling windows that maximize the view.
The top floor of the Glass House provides an exit to a platform overlooking the lap pool, which literally leads you back to the main building.
The Lowdown on the Hotel Fort Canning
The Hotel Fort Canning’s fidelity to history makes a few compromises necessary. The elevator, for instance, is counter-intuitively located in the building’s exterior, to preserve the structure within. The whole complex is set at a considerable remove from metropolitan Singapore.
But the building’s (re) designers have turned these into assets: the additions to the infrastructure have actually preserved or enhanced the building’s unique character without detracting from the original. The central staircase’s new wooden railings and green shag carpeting provide a luxurious patina over the robust, authoritarian touches carried over from the building’s military days.
The solid concrete and the angular traces about the building betray its past as a military complex, but the current management has successfully remade it into something far more encouraging for diners, drinkers, and hotel guests.
Everything about the hotel is geared for relaxation – from the lounge music playing in the lobby, to the coffee machine and juice in the private lounge, to the cocktail hour that encourages guests to meet and mingle, to the confidently relaxed vibe of the Tisettanta Lounge. The rooms are much the same, a picture of relaxed luxury: heavenly soft bedlinens, sophisticated electronics, and a mood music selection on the interactive TV.
A friend of the guide called the Hotel Fort Canning Singapore’s “best kept secret”, and a few nights’ stay bears this observation out: it’s a little bit of history and a whole lot of comfortable luxury, set at a refreshing distance from the busy-ness that Singapore’s become.
The Hotel Fort Canning at a Glance
Location: 11 Canning Walk, Singapore. Location of the Hotel Fort Canning (Google Maps). Five-minute walk from Orchard Road, a 10-minute stroll from Clarke Quay/Boat Quay, one hour from Changi Airport by MRT; thirty minutes by taxi.
Rooms: 86 rooms and suites across 3 levels, divided into the following room classes: Deluxe Room, Deluxe Garden Room (on ground level), Premium Room, Premium Luxe Room, and Suite.
Amenities: Two swimming pools, THANN Sanctuary Spa, Fitness Center, and Conference Facilities. Dining outlets include Gattopardo Italian restaurant; Glass House bistro; and Tisettanta cocktail lounge.