From war bunker to monsoon shower

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