I describe The Cameron Hotel to fellow road-weary travellers as Singapore's second Raffles.
Redolent of the country's colonial past, it was once the spiffing digs of British Airforce Officers, only scrambling distance from their Spitfires at the nearby Changi airfield.
At the Cameron they could relax from the rigours of winning wars with a gin of tonic under the slowly circulating ceiling fans, playing hands of cribbage and having their mustaches waxed.
A local legend even has it that one of them successfully shot Singapore's last surviving wild boar under the hotel's ping pong table late one night in 1958 having mistaken it for an Indian burglar.
Much has changed around the Cameron. The thriving suburb of Simei has shot up. Now, instead of Jap Zeros and Betty bombers, high-rise apartment blocks dominate the skyline. Speedy modern trains ferry the vibrant populace in minutes to the teeming city and beyond. And multi-level shopping malls throb with bustling tropical commerce.
But the Cameron has remained unchanged. It's as if time itself has passed it by. Or, more likely, as though the Cameron does not want anything to do with the 21st century.
Who needs it anyway? There's enough of that around.
The staff at the Cameron Hotel are 20th century friendly. You know, the way people used to be? Welcoming and warm. Nothing is beyond their request. When my lovely wife Beryl wanted her ashtray emptied the staff were at our door in minutes with a fresh one.
And the facilities? We'll, what do you want? A shower and toilet, a cupboard to put your clothes in, a bed ( with pillow and sheets) and air conditioning to give you a comfortable night's sleep. Somewhere safe to return at night to repair from a long hot day of sighting the sees.
If I wanted to watch colour TV or Monopoly I'd have bloody well stayed at home.
Breakfast is included in the hotel's modest tariff. And, to me, this was a highlight. I am something of a boiled-egg connoisseur, and the eggs at the Cameron are among the finest I have encountered anywhere is South East Asia. There is also Green Cake and toast and jam, as well as tea and coffee for those who don't wish to start the day with an alcoholic libation.
The Cameron Hotel is perfectly located - just minutes by foot or rickshaw from bus and train and close to major tourist attractions. Stroll into Simei for a haircut or lunch at the excellent food stalls in the town centre.
The infamous Japanese POW camp at Changi - a place of torture, starvation, boredom and hardship for a lot of men in the 1940s - is close by. And, for me, staying at the Cameron provided a unique opportunity. Most hotels only offer you a chance to visit history but at the Cameron you get to live it first hand.
Fellow time travellers I recommend this hotel highly.
- Terry Towelling
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- Also Known As:
- Cameron Hotel Singapore