At a Glance
Like the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok and the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong, the Raffles Singapore is a legendary hotel property that clears the high bar when it comes to Asian hospitality. And after a top to bottom refresh in 2019, its historic past combines with flawless modern technology and design to provide an extremely luxurious base for visiting bustling modern Singapore.
- That each of the 113 sumptuous accommodations are suites, of different categories
- The hotel’s commitment to maintaining the character of its historic buildings, some dating to its founding in 1887
- The renovated spa’s private treatment suite for couples, including a steam shower
Tucked among the gleaming skyscrapers of downtown Singapore, Raffles takes up an entire city block, with restaurants, bars, coffee shops, spa, gym, outdoor pool, hair salons, art galleries and a shopping arcade. The property’s famous Sikh doormen in their flawless white uniforms and turbans provide an atmospheric, if slightly anachronistic, arrival to the hotel. Throughout the compound are numerous tropical gardens with age-old trees and ferns, surrounding elegant whitewashed wings that accommodate the majority of the property’s suites. But the heart and soul is the iconic main building, with its elegant wrought-iron-framed entrance, soaring lobby with teak balustrades and balconies, and Art Deco light fixtures. A grandfather clock that may predate the hotel is the site of a nightly ritual when, at 8 o’clock, Noel Coward’s “I’ll See You Again” is played in the grand lobby. It’s not difficult to picture guests dancing the night away (the hotel used to host lavish balls in the spacious lobby) during its heyday in the 1930s.
As its address on Beach Road indicates, Raffles was originally on the coast, however through sea reclamation, Singapore has grown to the south leaving the hotel wholly landlocked. Guests should note that the hotel is an easy 20 to 30 minute walk from the Marina Bay Sands Resort and Shopping Center which is currently the center of the tourist experience in Singapore, with the associated crowds, lines and tour groups. Due to the fact that Raffles is only three to four stories tall in this business district, the rooms have primarily courtyard or city views.
The seven grandest suites are in the main building, with fine period furnishings, fourteen-foot ceilings, sumptuous fabrics and an old-world vibe (you wouldn’t be shocked to see Somerset Maugham reading in a corner). The remaining suites are clustered in wings that connect to the main building and are centered around two landscaped garden courtyards. Interiors throughout are grand, with antique furniture, teak floors, crystal chandeliers and marble-clad bathrooms. Raffles is known for its unparalleled service (each suite comes with its own dedicated butler, who is on call twenty-four hours), attracting everyone from royalty to Hollywood stars.
There are no fewer than nine restaurants and bars on the premises from the formal French restaurant, Le Dame de Pic, from Michelin starred chef Anne de la Pic to the more casual Bar & Billiard Room with its turn-of-the-twentieth-century pool tables and the Long Bar, , home of the Singapore Sling, which hosts jazz ensembles in the evenings. The intimate Writer’s Bar, celebrating authors such as Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling, is perfect for an after dinner cocktail. In keeping with its history, the hotel currently has a writer in residence program. Recently, while serving as writer in residence, Pico Iyer, wrote a must-read small book about Singapore and Raffles’ place in its history, This Could Be Home, Raffles Hotel and the City of Tomorrow.
The shopping arcade, spread across two stories, features such shops as Hublot, Minotti Furniture and Patek Phillippe, as well as a well-curated Raffles Gift Shop. In sum, the Raffles is a small universe in and of itself, but instead of gong the way of New York’s Plaza, another iconic property that thoroughly lost its way during the course of renovations, this Singapore grand lady has emerged with her heart and soul intact.
Additional intel included from Indagare Ambassador Jim Klaus
Who Should Stay
Raffles is a good choice for travelers who love historic, luxury properties, demand top-notch service, and want to be slightly removed from the crowds and Las Vegas feel of the Marina Bay Sands area of Singapore.
Written by Simone Girner