The hotel was established by the Sarkies Brothers, in 1887 and named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore. The property, which had only ten bungalow rooms, built immediately its reputation for high standards in services and accommodations becoming the most fabled hotel in the Far East and a must destination for royalties, celebrities and wealthy clientele, all pictures in an impressive hall of fame. Legends as Charlie Chaplin, Maurice Chevalier, Jean Harlow, Noel Coward. Hollywood royalties as Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor.
HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,
in 2012 the Duke and Duchesse of Cambridge, just to mention few. There is no lack of anecdotes: Somerset Maugham, who visited several times and worked all mornings under a frangipani tree in the Palm Court, apparently wrote the gossip and scandal he overheard at Raffles dinner parties into his short stories.
For more than a century, Raffles Singapore has offered luxurious all-suite accommodations, where the original style is perfectly preserved, giving a mesmerizing blend of luxury, history and classic colonial design. Within its walls are more than a hundred expansive suites, framed by polished teak verandas and white marble colonnades, clustered around lush tropical gardens. Each is serviced by the legendary Raffles Butlers and offers every modern convenience necessary.
The enchantment started from the very beginning, right when I approached the entrance and I was welcomed by the smiling doorman elegantly dressed with an immaculate
crisp white Gieves and Hawkes military uniform decorated with a black satin sash and gold braid, I could clearly imagine reliving the era of sovereign hospitality in the early days.
My Butler Jeff, was waiting for me in the Suite 117, one of the historical bungalow-room. It felt like a furnished apartment with high ceilings that I had already lived in, not a room that I was staying for the first time. I stepped through the door into a small ante-room, decorated with botanical prints.
To the right was a round breakfast table with an orchid and a welcome fruit bowl on it, not to mention the delicious kaya truffles.
A Nespresso machine was on the counter next to a selection of alcoholic drinks including the iconic 1915 Raffles Gin. Giant yellow tied-back curtains partitioned the ante-room from the huge bedroom with its two-post bed, chaise long, suit stand, writers table and giant armoire wardrobe. And beyond there was the timeless green marbled bathroom with two rooms; one with basin and Raffles amenities. the other with toilet, shower, giant bath tub and ceramic elephant pot holders
In the morning, I enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast that included very traditional recipes such as prata (fried flatbread cooked over a flat grill. served with a vegetable and meat-based curry), nasi lemak (fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf) and chicken fluffy char sue pau, the most famous classic Cantonese dim sum..
In the afternoon I took a tour of the venue. There were signature restaurants and bars since the 1900s, Long Bar, where visitors and guests will be welcomed to continue the tradition of throwing peanuts on the floor as they sip on a chilled glass of hand-shaken Singapore Sling. Then I stopped by at the Tiffin Room, A part of Raffles’ history since 1892, and serving up delectable North Indian cuisine. This beautiful space is also known for its signature High Tea, served with a tempting selection of cakes filled with banana, strawberry and carrot compote, and delicious cherry madeleines (I loved them…)
The tea is open to public, upon reservation.THE NEW RAFFLES
Raffles is now going under a careful and sensitive renovation supported by award-winning interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud. The reopening is scheduled for the second half of 2018. The restoration will update its distinctive suites with new amenities and technology while maintaining the sense of space and colonial ambience. Raffles Singapore will have 115 suites, some named after local cinemas during the early to mid-1900s, as the famous Alhambra, Diamond Marlborough, Odeon and Theatre Royal. The venue will boast new events spaces, including a majestic 300-guest ballroom, named Jubilee Ballroom as a tribute to the Jubilee Theatre, originally a cinema in the 1930s at the same location. Elegantly sophisticated in hues of cream and gold, complimented with an air-conditioned pre-event foyer, the new space will be the ideal venue for weddings and social galas. Once reopened, the Raffles Arcade will showcase social spaces and a variety of lifestyle experiences. This includes a refreshed Raffles Gift Shop that will house a History Gallery to illustrate the heritage of Raffles Singapore. The Arcade will also be home to a brand-new Raffles Spa, a holistic sanctuary for hotel residents and the community to escape the bustle of the city. Writers Bar will be expanded to a full bar and be the place for bespoke cocktails, discreet elegance and intimate conversations. All event spaces will also have striking lighting elements and the latest audio-visual technology, to be relevant for today’s social galas and events.
A TRIBUTE TO THE GRAND DAMES
One new Promenade Suite will be named after Lady Mountbatten Countess of Burma and wife of Lord Louis Mountbatten who was the Earl of Burma, last Viceroy of India and also Southeast Asia’s Supreme Allied Commander during the Second World War. In September 1945, Lord Mountbatten was in Singapore to witness the surrender of the Japanese Forces.The other will be dedicated to Lady Sophia, wife of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Modern Singapore, and for whom Raffles Hotel Singapore is named after.
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