From Rags to Riches, A Review of Singapore’s High-Class Haven, The Fullerton Hotel

All Images Credit Fullerton Hotels

Singapore is the epitome of a rags to riches story. This small country at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula is a tale of triumph over adversity to become an uncontested success story. Smaller in size than New York City, this quaint country was ruled by the British, occupied by the Japanese during World War II, handed back to British rule until forming an independent union with Malaysia. Singapore then went its own way and struggled from its independence in 1965 and through the 1970s with rampant unemployment and poverty. 55 years later, Singapore is the polar opposite and has become one of the world’s most stunning jet-set cities with glitzy skyscrapers, one of the busiest shipping ports in the hemisphere, and sparking malls filled with the most opulent luxury goods that money can buy. Singapore is, after all, the homeland of Crazy Rich Asians. One landmark and national treasure has laid witness to Singapore transformation over the last century is today one of the country’s most opulent grand dame hotels, the Fullerton Hotel.

This rich history is the foundation of makes  Singapore so special. The city embraces its past with buildings from the turn of the last century mixed with brand new shiny towers. In front of the Fullerton Hotel is a curious looking iron marker is set in cement with the annotation, ‘Mile Zero’. Mile Zero marks the place where the postal system of those early days began to measure the distance from the central post office outward to where the country’s letters and parcels traveled to their final destination. Today that marker is a remnant of an era gone yet the grand Palladian-style edifice adjacent to it, which was once Singapore’s central post office, is today one of the city’s most opulent hotels.    

This former mail depot turned respite for the well to do is a national treasure and UNESCO World Heritage site. The Fullerton Hotel is a five-star hotel located in literally the center of Singapore and faces the Singapore Bay in the front and the financial district and colonial-era section at its rear.  

Built in1928, the building reminds one of a stately government building with neoclassical façade, massive Doric columns, and soaring portico. The welcoming atrium lobby is a five-story, sunlit courtyard, a buzz with activity. Singapore’s high society and hotel sophisticates take their afternoon tea there while others in nattily business attire are engrossed in business negotiations. It is a posh setting with elegant furnishings, fresh cut flowers, and sparkling marble floors. From a second-floor balcony, a live harp plays as the musical notes waif through space adding to the refined ambiance. 

In 2001, the former government building was transformed into a national icon and one of Singapore’s most highly regarded luxury hotels.  The facilities are extensive with 400 elegant accommodations, two top-notch restaurants, a spa and a suite of first-class amenities such as the 80 ft infinity edge pool that overlooks the Singapore River and the historic part of town.

On the second floor of the hotel is an outdoor terrace and an outdoor bar ideal for taking in the panoramic sights and sounds of the bay. The hotel is just across the road from the Singapore Bay and the One Fullerton, Esplanade with shops and cafes and bars. The waterfront area is a 10-minute walk through an underground tunnel which also takes you to Singapore’s version of the Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower, the Merlion statue. The Fullerton Hotel is walking distance from many tourist favorites such as the historic trading houses that are now repurposed into swanky restaurants and bars of Boat Quay and the nightlife and happening hotspot of Quay Clarke.

The hotel offers a range of services that appeal to the upmarket traveler. Well-heeled guests will want to choose accommodations that provide access to their Straights Club. This is a VIP Lounge that provides a cadre of indulgent services including exclusive check-in, concierge services, clothes pressing, as well as business services.

The Straights Clubs most cherished perks are of course the meals served throughout the day from a robust Chandon champagne breakfast to high tea service and gourmet canapés and cocktails in the evening.  The Straights Club also makes an ideal place to relax and read the paper or work away from your room.  Attentive service is also the norm from a caring staff that goes out of their way to ensure guests' comfort and needs are met.

The opulent 371 rooms and 28 suites feature classic architecture, finely crafted interiors, a calming color palette, elevated ceilings, and an exquisite décor with Peranakan style touches. The accommodations range from entry-level rooms to the magnificent presidential suite that is more like a pied-à-terre than a hotel room.

A fine option is the Straits Club Premier Quay Room with a lovely balcony overlooking the Marina Bay waterfront. The posh interiors include a kind sized bed, top notch electronics with 50’ inch television and a bedside room controls that dim the lights and close the curtains. The marble tiled bathrooms are luxurious as well with marble floors, soaking bath, separate shower, and designer bathroom amenities.

The Fullerton Hotel boasts several dining outlets and signature restaurants such as the upscale Chinese restaurant, Jade and the formal Italian fare restaurant, the Lighthouse. Dinner at the Lighthouse is set in what was once a lighthouse overlooking the Singapore straight before reclaimed land, where the Marina Bay Sands now sits, made it a bay. The views are stunning from the restaurant as well as the restaurant’s upstairs terrace and outdoor bar. The Lighthouse perennially ranks as one of the top Italian restaurants in the city. The head chef hails from Milan where he worked at Michelin star restaurants before coming to Singapore so expect cuisine on the level of European standards.  Dinner at the Lighthouse is an intimate, formal, and truly the highest echelon of dining in Singapore.   

There’s so much to do in the area which makes the hotel and an ideal base to explore the city. There’s plenty to do there as well without venturing outside of the hotel. The second-floor pool scene is a great place to start with attentive service, views of the city below, and the imposing Palladian façade of the building as a backdrop.

The Fullerton always has a series of revolving exhibits as well from artist and other interesting topics. There’s also a museum that showcases the history of the building and Singapore as well as regularly scheduled guided tours with talks about the hotel and city’s colonial history and transformation.

The Fullerton Hotel has a beautiful story that parallels Singapore itself. Take something old that is not working and transform it into a masterpiece for all to admire. For an opulent stay, close to everything, look no further than Singapore’s grand dame hotel and a stay in the Fullerton Hotel.


Glenn Harris

Glenn Harris is an accomplished journalist focusing on international travel, fine dining, and luxury lifestyle events. His wanderlust has taken him to over 105 countries where he is constantly straying off the beaten path uncovering new and exotic finds. He particularly enjoys seeking out lesser known travel gems and places to stay, dine, or experiences to capture. ...(Read More)

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