Once home to "the most important post office in the [Far] East", and still one of Singapore's most monumental colonial-era buildings, the Fullerton is a grand 400-room hotel perched above the island state's heritage waterfront. Named after Sir Robert Fullerton, the first British governor of Singapore who served in the post between 1826 and 1830, the building in which the hotel is operated first opened in 1928.
Impossible to miss, even nestled among prosperous Singapore's ever-burgeoning high-rise, the former General Post Office still looms over both the mouth of the Singapore River and Marina Bay across from which stands the vast casino and entertainment complex with its triumvirate towers topped with its massive roof.
Below the Fullerton is Clifford Pier, once an important arrival and departure point for ferry passengers and now an attractive restaurant and function space operated by the Fullerton Bay hotel, the Fullerton's newer and fancier adjacent sister property.
Officially listed by the Singapore Government as a National Monument, the Fullerton Building – occupied during World War II by the conquering Japanese military – was converted to a hotel in 2001, taking its place alongside Raffles as one of the city-state's most historic lodgings.
The Fullerton's main public areas are clustered beneath a large central roofed atrium space while the hotel itself is owned by the same company which last year controversially bought Sydney's own grand sandstone GPO in Martin Place.
I've been allocated a lavish yet conservatively decorated 109-square-metre loft suite. It's a two-storey "duplex-style" room with lofty ceilings and two split-level entrances from the upstairs bedroom and the main living area below.
There's a sun-drenched balcony-cum-terrace – with a pair of the old GPO's massive Doric columns occupying much of the space – along with knockout views, especially at night, across Marina Bay and the casino. Even the hotel's smallest digs weigh in at a rather generous 36 square metres so you'll hardly be cramped for space here whichever room type you choose.
Singapore is unquestionably one of the world's best cities for eating out but the Fullerton has plenty of gastronomic enticements to keep you in-house. For breakfast there's Town, where you can dine by the Singapore River, while for lunch Jade, with its Cantonese menu and prettily refurbished interior, is an excellent choice.
By night, there's the intimate, more formal and Italian-themed Lighthouse Restaurant & Rooftop Bar (named after the beacon which used to sit atop the Fullerton) with striking views of the city skyline and waterfront.
Heritage and architecture enthusiasts, aside from the hotel itself, will enjoy the Fullerton's location since it's a mere stroll from a collection of some of Singapore's most important and meticulously restored and converted colonial-era buildings such as the National Gallery, the Asian Civilisations Museum as well as the Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall. Directly outside the hotel, across from its busy driveway, is the wonderful 19th century Cavenagh Bridge suspended across the river.
The unpretentious yet sophisticated Fullerton is the Raffles you're having when you're not having the Raffles (and you definitely can't have Raffles at the moment since it's undergoing a major restoration with its reopening date uncertain). The ever-reliable Fullerton has been a long-time favourite among discerning Australian travellers to Singapore and after a few nights' stay here it's by no means hard to establish why.
Doubles start from $SGD368 a night. To mark the 90th anniversary of the opening of the historic Fullerton Building this year, the hotel is staging a series of commemorative events as well as offering special deals and packages. The Fullerton Hotel, 1 Fullerton Square, Singapore. Ph: +65 6733 8388. See fullertonhotels.com
The hotel's well-run and free to house-guests historical tours of the Fullerton Building and the neighbouring maritime precinct surrounding are highly recommended.
The Fullerton's a tad removed from the city's myriad famed shopping and eating precincts but underground stations on Singapore's magnificent metro system are nearby.
Anthony Dennis was a guest of The Fullerton and the Fullerton Bay hotels and Singapore Airlines.