There is a local saying: “While at Raffles, why not visit Singapore?” which perfectly sums up the stature of arguably Southeast Asia’s most famous hotel. It is a premier landmark in its own right and has long since transformed into much more than a mere hotel. A stay at Raffles Hotel is a one-of-a-kind experience of colonial era glamour and despite the constant flow of tourists it is hard not to be captivated by its timeless atmosphere and architecture.
Located on Beach Road, Raffles was in fact a beachfront hotel when first opened in the late 19th century; land reclamation over the years has now taken it some 500 metres inland. It nevertheless still affords a prime spot alongside most of Singapore’ other colonial era landmarks and within easy reach of modern Marina Bay and the CBD. To get around town, simply head to nearby City Hall MRT interchange, which also houses a huge shopping mall and fashionable dining.
Raffles is now an all-suite hotel, offering 103 spacious units with abundant personality. Indeed, the 12 “Personality Suites” are the big draw – individually styled accommodation named after famous former guests such as Rudyard Kipling, Noel Coward and Charlie Chaplin. All suites feature dark polished teak floors, original four metre-high ceilings, a parlour, dining area, a veranda and period furniture. Modern technology is not forsaken either – flat screen TVs, wireless Internet and multimedia docking stations are subtly placed to blend in with the period surroundings.
Bars and Restaurants
Although you may be rubbing shoulders with sightseers throughout the day, you are guaranteed authentic nostalgia at the Raffles’ historic restaurants and bars. The main attraction is the iconic Long Bar, birthplace of the Singapore Sling and home to just about every other alcoholic concoction known to man. Showcasing the hotels’ glittering literary past is the Writers Bar and at the Bar & Billiard Room you get more of the same old world elegance along with Champagne Sunday brunch and lavish seafood buffets. For romantic al fresco dining among swaying palms and lush greenery, Raffles Courtyard is the place to go.
The” Grand Old Lady of the Far East” offers all the requisite five-star amenities you expect at this price, including an array of opulent function and meeting rooms and an old world spa, complete with outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and VIP treatment rooms. Over 25% of the hotel’s land area is given over to its famous tropical gardens and courtyards – a veritable green oasis in the heart of the city. For history buffs and a never ending stream of curious sightseers, the Raffles Museum and the Victorian-style Jubilee Hall theatre offer plenty of nostalgia. More modern tastes can be satisfied browsing the exclusive fashion boutiques in the hotel shopping arcade.
There is no doubting the old world charm and atmosphere here and the level of service is flawless with personalised butlers. However compared to other five-star properties in town, you are paying a hefty premium just for its unique history and décor. There are more suitable and better value options for a luxury family weekend break, but for a romantic one-time splurge, a honeymoon or simply to tick it off the bucket list, Raffles Hotel is pretty unbeatable.