Raffles Hotel Singapore is one of the few remaining great nineteenth century hotels in the world. How lucky we are still to have it. Hence it was with great trepidation that we revisited the hotel after its latest, two year long, renovation. Over $150 million in petrodollars – courtesy of the latest owner, the Emir of Qatar – has been ploughed in to the restoration. This is a vast amount considering that in the Raffles Hotel Singapore there are only just over 100 rooms.
It turns out there was absolutely nothing to worry about and much to be celebrated. This is a stunning renovation which has taken all that was good about the ravishing hotel, and made it even better.
The huge marble lobby has been cleared of all excess to show off the 60ft high area to its regal best. Even reception and check in desks have gone, replaced by an impeccably polite besuited butler simply who guides you straight to your room. Do not worry though, the old grandfather clock is still there striking an the quarter, as is the vintage opium bed.
The restored Raffles Hotel Singapore bedrooms each have beautiful hardwood floors, fourteen foot ceilings, persian rugs, and antique furnishings. It all beautifully reflects the style and ambience of the hotel’s colonial heyday.
The rooms remain traditionally styled, but are brighter, with off-white walls, rich dark woods and traditional Perakanan tiling. Many pieces of existing furniture were restored and re-used. – these are easy to spot: bearing identifying brass crests signifying that they are part of an illustrious past dating back to 1887 when the Sarkies Brothers – owners of the Eastern and Oriental in Penang – decided to open a hotel and name it after Singapore’s founder: Sir Stamford Raffles.
Modern technology is there, but is discrete and comes with the reassurance of Raffles tradition. A touch on the room’s iPad will bring your personal Raffles Hotel Singapore butler. He/she will pack and unpack your suitcase, press your clothes, deal with any restaurant reservations, sightseeing advice and even run your bath. There are forever some things no modern technology can do…
Regal elegance wafts along its breezy verandahs, through the spacious tasteful suites and settles in the fragrant gardens. In fact tropical gardens cover more than a quarter of the entire estate, acting as a welcome buffer to the the bustling city beyond. Just sitting quietly at your private table on the verandah, you can tune in to a melody of enchanting birdsong and watch giant Swallowtail moths as they gently flutter by.
We stayed in a delightful Raffles Hotel Singapore Courtyard suite which was divided unto four separate areas. There was a parlour and dining area, bedroom, dressing area and en-suite bathroom. In the bathroom was most glorious Victorian tiled deep bathtub complete with all the original fittings.
Even when it’s an oppressive 30 degrees outside, there’s always an airy calmness to the hotel. There is always plenty of personal space in which to sit and relax undisturbed in the public areas. There are also still some fifteen restaurant and bars. The Tiffin Room, adjacent to the lobby, continues as the main dining room and is where a scrumptious buffet breakfast is served every morning and then the space transforms again for lunch, high tea and dinner. But it’s the Tiffin Curry Buffet served daily, featuring traditional Northern India and Asian favourites that has become a thing of legend.
The Long Bar is almost unchanged and is still the busiest. Home of the Singapore Sling it is thronged with tourists sampling the house cocktail and sprinkling peanut husks on the floor. The Writers Bar has had a traditional style revamp with books, writing boxes and typewriters. It honours the great literary luminaries who have stayed, including Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham and Noel Coward.
More relaxation opportunities are provided by the beautiful rooftop pool with its expansive city views and a good sized spa with top quality treatments.
The hotel is located right in the heart of the city with everything it offers close at hand. But then again why would you ever want to leave the hotel? The Raffles Hotel is more than ever the perfect hotel – a place where no stay is ever long enough.
The Raffles Hotel & Resorts portfolio currently comprises 13 luxurious properties, from secluded resorts to chic hotels in key locations around the world. Currently: Singapore, Cambodia, China, UAE, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Warsaw, Phnom Penh, Jakarta, Maldives, Shenzen, and Paris.
To book the Raffles Hotel at the best rates visit Raffles Hotel
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To book any Singapore hotels at the best rates visit Singapore Hotels
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CELLOPHANELAND* was a guest of Raffles Hotel
All images by CELLOPHANELAND* and Raffles Hotel