Then & Now: The Fullerton Hotel

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Aug 01, 2015

by AKASH ARORA, Features Editor

One of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in Singapore, The Fullerton Hotel is not where it used to be.

When it first opened in 1928, The Fullerton Building was home to Singapore’s General Post Office. While it’s hard to imagine now, it was also by the sea, its Collyer Quay location ideal for transporting mail to waiting ships and its lighthouse used to guide vessels safely into the harbour.

Then Singapore changed. In the mid-20th century, the territory-hungry city-state expanded, land was reclaimed and waters shrank away. Today, the majestic white hotel sits about 2km inland of the sea. The skies around the building have changed, too, with glossy skyscrapers transforming vast open spaces into a jagged urban jungle.

The building itself, however, is largely unaltered. Though a $380-million-plus restoration (completed in 2001) has given it a new life as The Fullerton Hotel, its soaring Doric columns and coffered ceilings still transport you to another era. In fact, different sections of the hotel offer insight into varying aspects of its history.

The spot where hundreds of employees once sorted mail is now The Fullerton’s ground-floor Post Bar, with a quaint red mailbox as its centrepiece. And when the building was home to the Chamber of Commerce, also from 1928, high-profile merchants had their Monday meetings in what are now the hotel’s conference rooms.

The Fullerton’s top floor – once that vital lighthouse – is a restaurant and rooftop bar. For a hotel with such solid Singaporean roots, the choice of “authentic Italian” as The Lighthouse restaurant’s cuisine is slightly puzzling – but all is forgiven when the sun sets and the soulless skyscrapers of Singapore turn into a spirit-lifting display of twinkling lights.

At bedtime there’s no shortage of extravagant options, from two-storey Loft suites to the Governor suite with a private verandah. But our pick is the Post Master room with stellar city views.  

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