A heritage hideout in southern Singapore, the Barracks Hotel Sentosa is a history lesson in hotel form. This former British artillery outpost was built in 1904 and used during World War II, but you wouldn’t know it today: the soldiers’ quarters now have freestanding rolltop bath tubs, upcycled vintage-style trunks and desks with quills that will make you want to pen something profound. As for Sentosa Island, this is a holiday playground of golden beaches, mechanical crane dances (you’ll see) and other assorted attractions – they don’t call it the State of Fun for nothing.
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A 15-sachet tin of the hotel’s signature tea crafted by heritage Singaporean brand Pryce
We love the Premier Room with Pool Access, mainly for the very thing it’s named for: a patio that leads directly to the main hotel pool, which is a novelty, especially if you love a dawn dip.
Some of the rooms open out directly onto the 30-metre Barracks lap pool, which has a hot tub at one end. There’s also a deck with four more pools, shared by sister properties the Village and the Outpost: terraced, adults-only Pamukkale; Adventure (with day-beds on little island pods in the middle of the water); Lazy River (with inflatable doughnuts to drift on); and a children’s one (with slides, water features and a man-made beach).
The hotel doesn’t have a spa on-site, but there is a huge Espa one a five-minute drive away: expect 10,000sq m of Japanese onsens, Turkish hammams and regular massage-based rituals.
There’s lots to see and do on Sentosa Island, so you’re going to need to be comfy; bring trainers and cooling cottons.
The lobby is accessible for wheelchair users and there is one specially adapted option.
All ages are welcome – one child (aged 12 or younger) can stay for free if sharing a bed with parents.
Settle in for sunset at Pamukkale’s pool bar, or nab a squashy sofa in the Living Room.
Military nods: brass buttons, lace-up boots and, if you’re really taking it seriously, some nice gold aiguillettes.
There’s no restaurant on-site, just the Living Room lounge where guests convene for breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails. Native Kitchen, at sister property the Village Hotel Sentosa, offers Singaporean sustenance within an easy five-minute walk. Breakfast is a Continental spread, with à-la-carte options and artisanal coffees.
Head to the Living Room for pre-dinner drinks (house pours are free from 6-8pm daily), or settle in to the pool bar by the Pamukkale Pool for creative cocktails.
Breakfast is served in the Living Room from 6.30am to 10.30am.
There’s a dedicated in-room dining menu to choose from around the clock.
The hotel is on Sentosa Island, a well-connected landmass off the southerly coast of Singapore.
Changi Airport is around 30 minutes by car from the hotel; the concierge will be happy to hook you up with a transfer with at least 48 hours’ notice.
The city’s Harbour Front MRT Station, part of the obscenely proficient metro system, is five kilometres from the hotel; the drive shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.
The hotel’s about a 20-minute drive from Orchard Road, which is where to head for the city’s best shopping. There’s a car park at the hotel, but it’s easy to get around using the stranger-to-signal-failure metro, or taxis. The neighbourhood is also a great place to walk around, largely so you can admire just how clean the streets are. If you do want some wheels though, pick up a set at Changi Airport.
Sentosa is technically an island, but it’s connected to the rest of Singapore by cable-car, pedestrian boardwalk, monorail and plain old road, so you’ll by no means be stranded.
Worth getting out of bed for
These pools were made for lounging, so that’s just what you should do – but there are lengths to be swam at both sister properties the Outpost and the Village, too. If you want to get fitter yet, head to the hotel’s gym or sign up for one of the exercise classes.
Sentosa Island is popular with tourists: it receives a whopping 20 million visitors a year. The Imbiah Lookout is where you can swerve the hordes pouring out of cable cars and into Madame Tussauds before bombing downhill in a luge (yes, really), in favour of the Mount Imbiah Trail, which wends its way around the namesake hill, formerly used as a strategic military watchpoint to spy on passing ships. Stroll along Tanjong Rimau Beach in search of stingrays and hermit crabs, or pack up a parasol and make for Palawan Beach (but leave the picnic behind – take your pick from the food stalls near there instead).
Fort Siloso is a five-minute drive away: this preserved fort is a must for checking out some serious World War II artefacts, which include military structures and tunnels, coastal artillery and heroic waxworks.
For Singaporean star dishes (nasi lemak, Hainanese chicken rice and laksa), head to Native Kitchen on Artillery Avenue on Sentosa. For a beach-bar brunch, try Coastes, strung along a golden stretch of the island’s Siloso Beach. On Ocean Way, you can either shop for freshly caught fish at Greenwood Fish Market, or pull up a seat and let the family of fishmongers cook it for you. FOC Sentosa brings a little bit of Barcelona to Palawan Beach, along with a menu by a stand-out chef, lagoon views and beachside barbecues.
Join the Tanjong Beach Club, for day-beds, DJ sets and a palm-lined paradise on Sentosa’s shore.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this heritage hotel in Singapore and unpacked their trainers and tiger balm, a full account of their city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside The Barracks Hotel Sentosa…
This is not a drill: the Barracks Hotel Sentosa is the closest most of us are going to get to staying in a bonafide military basecamp, but this one skips the austere dorms. Instead, the reimagined rooms have Nespresso coffee machines, twin sinks and freestanding rolltop bath tubs. It’s come a long way since it was built in 1904 and used as a British stronghold in World War II, but there are regular nods to its colonial past: brass lamps, worn-leather chairs fit for a general and wooden desks with quills to pen letters home. Fans of vintage luggage will love the trunks repurposed as furniture: minibars in the bedrooms, the main desk at reception. Sentosa itself has a long maritime history, including as a British military base. But it’s a whole lot more fun these days, with some of the eye-popping tourist hotspots Singapore is famous for nearby: there’s the Skyline Luge, the Skyline Skyride, a waterpark, a Universal Studios, the Butterfly and Insect Kingdom and a Resorts World that would put Vegas to shame. Back at your Barracks, though, it’s all a little more peaceful. It’s time to close ranks.