Singapore can feel so densely packed and swathed in concrete that it's hard to find a place that's truly tranquil.
The moment we stepped out into Lantern, the rooftop bar at the newish Fullerton Bay Hotel, however, we knew we'd found one. The 360-degree view of the city — with the Marina Bay waterfront on one side and Singapore's towering skyline on the other — was breathtaking. The blue glow emanating from the hotel pool was immediately calming. I could almost feel my heartrate slowing as I heard the sound of the live band's strumming guitars drifting over.
Just minutes before, I was outside the hotel, tiptoeing between cars and nudging my way past financial district pedestrians to get to the hotel. But now, just minutes later, my friend Vino and I found ourselves in idyllic waterfront bliss.
We decided to stay for a moment to check out the scene…
The setting at Lantern is sort of South Beach, Miami, meets Hong Kong. All around you, the neon lights and the frenetic pace of the city are on display — though, at a distance. On this rooftop, however, you have candlelight and canopied beds …
… and a gleaming bar in the middle of it all.
We were curious about the pool — "Can we swim in it?" Vino asked hopefully.
Unfortunately, it's only available to hotel guests. And besides, our hostess pointed out, a glass-panel allows you to see right into the pool, as you can see in the photo below.
Having my bikini-ed body on full view for surrounding, fully clothed bar patrons? It'll take some serious gym time before I'll have the chutzpah to put on that display.
Even though it's late, even though we've had big dinners and even though we're both jetlagged from the long journey from the U.S., we're persuaded to stay for a drink.
The cocktails include standards as well as Singaporean-themed concoctions. The Red Lantern (USD $14.50), for example, combines tequila, watermelon, cointreau, lime and cucumber and is a nod to Clifford Pier, on which the hotel is perched. In the early 19th Century, the pier was known as Red Lantern Pier — it was one of the first landing points for immigrants and traders and red lanterns used to hang all along it as a guide for incoming ships.
It's feeling like a one-cocktail evening so the choice has to be carefully made. In the end, a Merlion (USD $14.50) it is. The cocktail combines rum, lime, pomelo, honey and angostura bitters and is a reference to Singapore's national mascot, an animal with the head of a lion and the tail of a fish. (Sang Nila Utama, the Sumatran prince who is credited with discovering Singapore in the 11th Century, supposedly encountered such an animal when he first landed on the island nation's shores — so the story goes.)
The drink was very light, with just the slightest of kicks — a refreshing beverage for a sweltering evening such as this.
As we looked out at the water before us and the shimmering Singapore skyline behind us, we quickly realized that the calm and the quiet, it's all starting to have its effect on two travel-battered bodies. Thankfully, the yawns only started coming on as we made our way out.
The visit has been all too brief, alas, but that's OK. With a setting like this, I had the distinct feeling that we would be back before too long.
Lantern, Rooftop, 80 Collyer Quay, Singapore; +65.6877.8911; http://www.fullertonbayhotel.com/dining-en.html