A grand neoclassical building with colossal Doric columns, the Fullerton Hotel is one of Singapore’s national monuments. So it seems fitting that it’s now also recognised as one of the world’s most important hotels.
The hotel was included in the list of 23 most iconic hotels of the last century by influential magazine Architectural Digest last week (Nov 7).
The Fullerton Hotel was the only Singapore property that made it, joining others such as Ett Hem Stockholm, Royal Mansour Marrakech, Le Bristol in Paris, Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles and Sujan Rajmahal Palace in Jaipur, India.
It’s quite a feat for an “18-year-old” hotel, which only opened in 2001 after a S$400 million restoration project – but with a history that stretches back to 1928.
Named after Sir Robert Fullerton, the first Governor of the Straits Settlements, the Fullerton building was once home to the nation’s General Post Office, The Exchange, Chamber of Commerce and The Singapore Club. Fullerton Square, on which the hotel now sits, was also the site of many election campaign rallies since the 1950s. Today, the homegrown brand luxury hotel comprises 400 rooms.
Cavaliere Giovanni Viterale, general manager of The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts told CNA Lifestyle that they are “delighted and very honoured to be the only Singapore hotel on this very exclusive list”.
“And above all, to be custodians of such a storied building,” he added. “The Fullerton Building has a rich history that is deeply interwoven with that of the nation’s. Many people know that it was once the General Post Office (GPO) of Singapore. Fewer know that it was built in 1928 on the site of what was once Fort Fullerton, one of the earliest forts in Singapore. Fort Fullerton even pre-dates Fort Canning. It sits at the mouth of the Singapore River, and was constructed by the British to protect the ships in the harbour. When the building was acquired and renovations commenced to transform it into a hotel, many of the building’s architectural features were retained and restored.”
According to Viterale, not only were the building’s neo-classical columns and high-ceiling verandas retained during restoration, the hotel’s present day Straits Room, with its high coffered ceiling and wall motifs, are also all original design elements retained from 1928.
“We hope to share the building’s vibrant history with everyone, be they hotel guests or general public, through our complimentary heritage tours,” he added.
Offered to in-house and city guests alike, the Fullerton Monument Tour is conducted by the hotel’s resident guide.
“Recently, we also hosted our inaugural Golden Treats in partnership with Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru CCC Social Programme Committee, where we invited 25 Pioneer Generation senior citizens for a heritage lunch at The Clifford Pier,” said Viterale. “It was an opportunity for the elderly to socialise and reminisce, especially in such a landmark as The Clifford Pier at The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore.
“Most of the guests were familiar with Clifford Pier as Hong Deng Ma Tou (Red Light Pier), and had visited it in its past incarnation. We wanted them to see its transformation, which mirrors that of the country, and to share in it.”