Raffles Singapore turns 135 in 2022. Photo/Grant Bradley
Estelle Sarney stays in a Palm Court suite at Raffles Singapore.
Location: 1 way from the beach. The hotel covers an entire city block with a maze of walkways between its various wings and courtyards. We found our way to the lobby, where we were warmly greeted by liveried Sikh doormen in their white turbans. Check in was done in our room – a nice touch after a long trip.
Raffles overlooked the sea until land was reclaimed for hotels, roads and office buildings. Its rooms now focus on lush courtyards.
Style: Large-scale British colonial. Inaugurated in 1887, the regent architect Alfred John Bidwell in 1899 transformed the main building into a three-storey atrium in the Renaissance style with a Carrara marble floor. A central staircase allowed first-class travelers to descend into the dining room dressed in their finery, as they would on a ship. A two-year renovation completed in 2019 restored that sense of grandeur.
Price: Suite prices start at around $1500. A free one-way airport transfer by limousine and a $58 Raffles boutique voucher are often included.
Perfect for: A luxury romantic vacation. If children are welcome, adults will feel more at ease in the hotel’s subdued elegance.
Story: The opening of the Suez Canal and the advent of steamships in the late 1800s saw tourism take off in the “East Indies”. Four brothers from Armenia, the Sarkies, have landed in Singapore and taken over a former boys’ boarding house at a school across the road. They turned the 10-bedroom bungalow into a hotel and named it Raffles after the founder of Singapore. After many extensions and renovations, the hotel now covers an entire city block. It has retained its exclusive reputation everywhere, hosting celebrities, royalty and famous artists and writers. Somerset Maugham allowed Raffles to claim his description of it for their marketing: “Raffles represents all the fables of the exotic Orient.”
Rooms: With a 14-foot (4.3 m) timber frame, cream-colored paneled walls, and dark hardwood floors, the decor is the last word in traditional sophistication. The description of our 70 m² Palm Court Suite suggested breakfast on the veranda and cocktails in the living room, served by a butler just that. The living room was a great idea – a separate room in which to relax, have a coffee or work. Every hotel room should have one. The refurbishment has subtly and elegantly brought the hotel into the digital world with plenty of plugs and sockets for your devices.
The king bed was luxurious and with a huge double wardrobe and plenty of drawers there was plenty of space to unpack.
There are also Personality Suites named after some of the writers and celebrities who have stayed here, and of course, a 260m² Presidential Suite with its own dining room, pantry, walk-in closet and private veranda. .
Bathroom: As spacious as the bedroom and the living room, the black and white tiled bathroom has double marble vanities, a central clawfoot tub and separate shower rooms and toilets. Toiletries were from Ormonde Jayne of London.
Food and drink: Tiffin on the ground floor stretches from the Grand Lobby through its own beautifully decorated room and up to a terrace by a fountain shipped from Ireland. Named after the Indian English word for a light meal and the tiered boxes in which they are transported in India, the restaurant started life serving Indian food. This is now the breakfast room and moves on to afternoon tea.
Michelin-starred chef Anne-Sophie Pic has one of her restaurants, La Dame de Pic, located in the hotel. This is the place to go for a special occasion, to experience its tasting menu paired with wines from around the world, Singapore beer and saki.
The Long Room is where the famous Singapore Sling cocktail was invented in 1915 (apparently disguised as a fruit punch to allow ladies to drink alcohol in public). He still makes dozens of Singapore Slings every night to serve a lively crowd, who are encouraged to throw the shells from the free peanut bowls on the floor – a tradition that dates back to when the hotel was surrounded by peanut plantations. .
The Writers Bar is an elegant space named after the many famous writers who have stayed at the hotel, including Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad.
Facilities: The rooftop pool is a cool sanctuary from the busy streets below. Staff at its indoor bar rush to set up your chosen lounger with towels and water and to take your drinks order.
The Raffles Spa offers a full suite of treatments, including yoga, sound therapy, and meditation.
Or simply take a relaxing stroll through the hotel gardens to the shopping arcade, anchored by the Raffles boutique, which offers a range of creative souvenirs.
In the neighborhood: Arab Street and Haji Lane are a 15-minute walk away. Here you’ll find carpets, silks, stained glass, Middle Eastern restaurants, tattoo studios and bohemian bars, watched over by the impressive Sultan Mosque.
Accessibility: Specific suites are accessible to people with disabilities.
Friendly and family: The Raffles offers connecting suites for families, and its one- and two-bedroom suites would also suit those traveling with children. There are amenities specifically designed for children, and butlers can arrange activities for younger guests. There’s even a selection of children’s stories.
Sustainability: Trust Raffles to choose a symbol of its heritage and opulence, its signature cocktail, the Singapore Sling, to announce its sustainability efforts. He makes dozens of cocktails every night, and now each saves 200g of CO2 emissions thanks to the hotel’s use of ecoSpirits and other ingredients delivered in sustainable packaging. The hotel also plants a native tree in the rainforest of Kalimantan or Sumatra for 25 Singapore Slings served, “leaving a lasting legacy of carbon reduction and reforestation of endangered wilderness areas.”
Summary: This is a destination hotel – a stay here is a stay in its own right. It’s worth saving up to experience old world luxuries that we simply don’t have in New Zealand. We loved it and would definitely come back.