Short stay: Raffles Singapore, Singapore

 

Raffles is an iconic, colonial style all suite hotel – with 103 suites in total – and was declared a national monument in 1987; in 1989 it was restored to how it looked in 1915 – renovations that took two and a half years to complete. Re-opened on 16th September 1991, today this historic hotel retains its status as Singapore’s most graceful landmark and continues to be one of the world’s most famous hotels, attracting Royalty from around the world as well as a host of famous personalities.

Raffles Hotel Singapore

The welcome

Although I was very happy to walk the short distance from my previous hotel, Raffles insisted on providing a transfer by car. On arrival I was greeted by one of the hotel’s Sikh doormen, complete with turban and military uniform and a reminder of its imperial past. On entering the main foyer – a very grand space littered with period furnishings and tasteful antiques – I was introduced to my butler who led me to my room.

Raffles Singapore doorman

The room

I stayed in room 219, a Palm Court Suite overlooking a tranquil, lawned courtyard surrounded by palm trees that takes you a million miles from the hustle and bustle outside of the hotel.

Raffles Singapore bedroom entrance

Raffles Singapore bed

Raffles Singapore Palm Court

The room had a small living space on one side as you entered, and a pantry on the other.

Raffles Singapore living space

Raffles Singapore parlour

The bathroom

The bathroom consisted twin basins, a shower and corner bath.

Raffles Singapore bathroom

Raffles Singapore bath

The facilities

The hotel has fifteen restaurants and bars, the most famous of which is undoubtedly the Long Bar. Although the exact location of the Long Bar has shifted with various renovations, it was here that the Singapore Sling was first developed by the Hainanese bartender Ngiam Tong Boon in about 1915. The bar has a unique atmosphere – boxes of monkey nuts can be found on the tables and you are positively encouraged to discard the shells on the floor, just as people would have done in times gone by. Yes, this is probably the only place in Singapore whre littering is positively encouraged!

Raffles Hotel Singapore Long Bar

I had Sunday Champagne brunch at the Billiard Room and Bar, reputed to be where the last tiger in Singapore was shot. Story has changed over the years, and the tale misconstrued to say the tiger was shot under the billiard table, but it was in fact on a floor that you don’t see that was below where you have brunch today.

It’s a European style buffet with a smart casual dress code, a fabulous atmosphere and free-flowing Champagne. In this beautiful, colonial-styled room with its chandeliers and marble floor, there were multiple food stations and a delicious line-up of fresh seafood, in particular, as well as meat and vegetarian options.

Raffles Sunday brunch

Raffles Hotel Singapore Sunday Brunch buffet

There was even a mouth-watering array of desserts with one or two creative items such as these miniature representations of the well-known Magnum ice cream.

Raffles Hotel Singapore Mini Magnums

Also on site at the rear of the hotel is the Raffles Gift Shop – the best seller here is the kaya spread, made from eggs, coconut milk and sugar, and flavoured by the unique pandan leaves. Look out for it at breakfast as it goes well with toast.

Raffles Gift Shop

Other nice touches

Having introduced me to my room, my butler offered to fetch me a drink and suggested the Singapore sling. Since the hotel is celebrating its 100th anniversary of the cocktail, it would have been rude not to sample one…

Raffles Hotel Singapore sling

Another nice touch was that when I returned to the airport using the hotel’s transfer service, ther was in-car WiFi – very convenient when you just want to fire off a few emails before catching a flight.

Cost

The Palm Court room that I stayed in is priced at 1,500 Singapore dollars per night, based on single or double occupancy.

The best bit

For me, the highlight was – without doubt – the Sunday Champagne brunch. It reminded me of the Sunday jazz brunch at Winchester Mansions in Cape Town (another experience you should try if ever presented with the opportunity) with its relaxed yet refined setting… a truly wonderful way to spend a Sunday!

The final verdict

You could be forgiven for assuming that this legendary hotel might be resting on its laurels and living on its history but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is every bit as good as you might expect, oozing with the sophistication and charm of a bygone era whilst still maintaining the levels of excellence that we have come to expect from the world’s top luxury hotels.

Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with ANA - All Nippon Airways. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of ANA.

Comments (10)

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  1. Erin says:

    I’ve always wanted to go.. for the Singapore Sling of course. Did you like it? Singapore is one of my favourite countries, I fall in love every time we go.

  2. Paul Johnson says:

    I’m not generally big on cocktails, but yes… it was good. :-)

  3. Whiskey/whisky/bourbon on the bed side table instead of water? Yes, Raffles is a class act. This is such an iconic place that they need to keep there image constantly on point, as they are. We also visited and it was a total experience, and what we wanted to experience, and a bit more.

  4. Helen says:

    Had a trip to Singapore last year, and spent the afternoon in the Long Bar, missed the lovely manicured lawns though as the monsoon arrived as we got out of the taxi.

  5. We love the rich history that you detailed behind the hotel’s grand aesthetic… There’s more to Raffles Singapore than meets the eye!

  6. Paul Johnson says:

    Thank you, Melissa… indeed there is! :)

  7. Thanks for this. It brought back memories reading your piece. I was in Singapore for a photo shoot in 2004, and stayed at another great hotel there – the Grand Hyatt. But we had a meeting at the Raffles Hotel and I was thrilled to be able to see it. We had lunch and left but it’s a beautiful place that’s stayed with me eversince.

  8. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks, David… glad it brought back fond memories. :)

  9. Bill Moroney says:

    Raffles Singapore is still my favorite hotel in the world. Thanks for stimulating some fond memories of past stays.

  10. Helen says:

    My husband left his phone in a taxi when we went to Raffles Long Bar. The doorman called the cab company, located the driver and he brought the phone back to the hotel within 20 minutes, despite a raging afternoon storm. Such great service, and the Singapore Slings were amazing.

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