I admire the illuminated skyline from my waterfront jacuzzi, where I am taking a near-midnight dip after stepping out of a monogrammed bathrobe at The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore.
The en-suite jacuzzi on my deck is a little infinity pool under the sky, with the warm bubbly water seeming to overlap Marina Bay.
Alone with that illusion, I see Singapore in a new light and am travelling again. In my vacation-deprived mind, the hot tub evokes an outdoor onsen somewhere in Japan, while the skyline carries the mystique of other great global cities like Paris, Shanghai or Rio de Janeiro.
The location of the 99-room city-resort, a luxurious bubble amid Central Business District skyscrapers and nature, makes it easy to escape elsewhere.
Last month, TripAdvisor ranked it Singapore’s best hotel two years in a row. I want to discover why it is tops during a one-night staycation that begins the languorous Friday before the National Day weekend.
Before my early check-in at noon, a 60-minute aromatherapy massage is arranged across the road at sister property The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, which also shares TripAdvisor’s best-hotel accolade.
Scented and soothed, I slide into a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, circa 1961, for the transfer between hotels. It is a plush 10-minute jaunt through the CBD, with its emerging sense of normality, and the chauffeur obligingly detours past the Padang even before I finish my wistful sentence: “The Padang. My dad used to take us there.”
The cocooning continues at the hotel. I imagine my Premier Bay View Room is a jewel box that juts into Marina Bay. With two all-glass walls, the sun-lit room seems afloat.
The bathroom is stocked with Balmain toiletries and an LCD television is poised at the bathtub, which I have no time to soak in.
Bedroom slippers come in his and hers sizes. I slip into my pair of silken champagne clouds, still unused to luxuriating during the pandemic or the liberating sense of doing little, but meanwhile savouring tunes from the Harman Kardon Bluetooth speakers and the panorama of the bay front.
For the best wraparound views, I head to the rooftop pool – after having booked my socially-distanced sunset slot from 6 to 8pm in my pre-arrival form – and, at night, the promenade of The Landing Point lounge, where cocktails and bites are served.
THE FULLERTON BAY HOTEL SINGAPORE
Where: 80 Collyer Quay
Rates: Various staycation packages, including Love Singapore By The Bay, starting at $600. Includes breakfast for two, $100 credit for Fullerton Experiences such as afternoon tea and a vintage Vespa sidecar tour, 2pm check-out and a pair of Fullerton teddy bears
From the rooftop, the Singapore River and Marina Bay enclaves encircling the hotel come into dreamy view. It is a visual narrative of the Singapore Story that combines the colonial past with futuristic architecture and ambitions.
At night, the triple towers of Marina Bay Sands across the water are an immersive colour-changing show, and it is definitely better with a Greenwich Sour, a cocktail of whisky infused with chamomile tea, lemon juice, egg white and sugarcane syrup.
This drink was recommended by the hostess who, like her colleagues throughout the hotel, briefly appears robotic with her full-face visor.
But at the best hotels anywhere, the service attitude cannot really be masked. Here, the smiles do shine through the face shields, and the service is consistently indulgent and discreet.
The hotel stays so discreet about its guests that it is only when I wander into the glamorous lobby that I spy Olympic swim champ Joseph Schooling checking in with his parents, safely.
There is a clear shield at the reception counter and, since this is a pandemic staycay, I ask myself how safe I feel and whether social distancing is a barrier to the good life.
There are air purifiers everywhere and slots for breakfast, the gym and the pool must be pre-booked at the hotel, which reopened in phase two on July 16.
I hesitate about committing to a schedule, since I like spontaneity within some structure when I travel, and have only 24 hours to maximise this staycation.
Still, I am not churlish. And the hotel is not unaccommodating when I linger past my one-hour slot for breakfast at The Clifford Pier – and there is time to enjoy my plated nasi lemak and flat white (no more buffet line) and soak in the Instagram appeal of the subtly gold-hued restaurant.
The stylish interiors of the hotel were designed by Hong Kong-born Andre Fu, while rooms were fashioned by his studio, Afso. His design brief was to pay tribute to a bygone era while tailoring a new, refined, sensuous heritage.
Like the places around it, The Fullerton Bay Hotel seems like a rare portal in time where old and new Singapore converge.
- Hot tip: Stretch your staycation by bookending it with a mini-itinerary that includes exploring or dining in the Marina Bay and Singapore River enclaves. Book popular restaurants like Jade, Kinki, Monti or Vue in advance – though the savvy concierge may be able to shoehorn you into a full house.
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