1 August 2019 marked a new era for the Raffles Hotel Singapore, which was declared a National Monument by the Singapore government a century after the hotel first opened on 1 December 1887 as a 10-room bungalow that was leased by the Sarkies Brothers from Armenia.
The hotel has undergone a multi-million dollar renovation since February 2017 led by interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud and architecture and design firm Aedas and has reopened its spaces its phases, with the hotel rooms being the last to unveil receiving its first paying guests on 1 August 2019. The hotel had gone through a refurbishment between 1989 and 1991 where it was closed for 2 1/2 years.
31-year-old lawyer Shawn Loh was picked up in one of the hotel’s two white limos early in the morning on the hotel’s official opening day even before the national anthem was played on the radio, usually at 6 in the morning.
Shawn is a luxury hotel hobbyist who enjoys being the first guests at newly opened luxury hotels and a glass or two of Negronis. He pens these self-paid experiences on his website Secret Life of Fatbacks. He had booked himself into a Palm Court Suite for the night and spent the day exploring and enjoy the amenities including dining in the hotel and having a drink at Long Bar and the Writer’s Bar. He shares his experience here.
The Raffles Butlers and service staff are very attentive and proactive. There is always a smile on their faces…. without fail.Shawn Loh
Table of Contents
Nine Suite Categories
The all-suite hotel has nine distinct suite categories with an increased inventory from 103 to 115 after the restoration. Suites here start from S$1,300 a night.
- 6 x 46 sqm Studio Suites int he hotel Main Building featuring a verandah with views of the Palm Garden
- 67 sqm State Room Suites in the Bras Basah Wing. Most have two separate entrances leading tot he parlour and bedroom. A verandah overlooks Fern Court
- 31 x 58 sqm Courtyard Suites with direct and easy access to the Main Building
- 35 x 70 sqm Palm Court Suites located in the main building’s historic Palm Court wing overlook the Palm Court
- 12 x 79 sqm Personality Suites pay tribute to renowned guests including British playwrights Somerset Maugham & Noel Coward, Actress Ava Gardner, American actor Charlie Chaplin, author Joseph Conrad, actress Elizabeth Taylor, English writer Rudyard Kipling, French novelist Andre Malraux, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist James A Michener, Chile’s most influential contemporary poets and winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize for Literature Pablo Neruda, John Wayne and award-winning journalist and travel writer Gavin Young who have visited Raffles over the last century
- 5 x 150 sqm Residence Suites feature either one or two bedrooms with a living and dining area, a pantry, office space, powder room and bedroom. Each of these suites come with private access
- 2 x 85 sqm Promenade Suites are nestled in the front-most corner of the Main Building that used to face Singapore’s beachfront in the late 1800s. Each suite is named after a prominent female figure of her time in Singapore (Countess of Burma and wife of Lord Louis Mountbatten – Lady Mountbatten and wife of Sir Stamford Raffles – Lady Sophia and features a parlour, dressing room and luxurious bedroom with a king bed
- 4 x 150 sqm Grand Hotel Suites in the Main Building evoke all the romance of voyages to unknown lands. Each suite (Straits Settlement, Cathay, Padang & Temasek) features one or two bedrooms, a spacious living and dining area, a walk-in wardrobe and a private verandah
- 2 x 260sqm Presidential Suites (The Sarkies and Sir Stamford Raffles suites) are located in the Main Building overlooking the Palm Court and the porte-cochère. The suites feature a private verandah, living room, dining room, bedrooms, walk-in wardrobe and a personal pantry
The Raffles Hotel Singapore website indicates that only the State Room Suites, Courtyard Suites, Palm Court Suites, Personality Suites and Residence Suites are available for reservation for stays from 1 August 2019.
I visited one of the Courtyard Suites two weeks back. The 58 sqm suites are cosy. The suites are designed to make you feel right at home.
The Living Room
When you enter the suite from the wooden-floored verandah, you walk into the living room space which features a two-seater sofa that faces a Philips television, the minibar encased in a leather trunk and a round table where you can get some work on the laptop done.
One Tablet Does It All
What I found pretty useful are the new tablets in the suites. These tablets let you control the window shades, lights and also airconditioning temperature amongst other functionalities. The one that is most useful for me is the television channel page. There is no more need to figure out which number is for which television channel.
Inside the Mini Bar Trunk
The mini bar is well equipped. You don’t have to step out to enjoy alcoholic beverages. The exclusive Billecart-Salmon champagne bottled just for Raffles Hotel Singapore and wines is available in the minibar. Mix your own cocktails with Sipsmith Gin, or a selection of Taiwan’s Kavalan whiskies or Thailand’s Chalong Bay Rum. The non-alcoholic beverages, Nespresso coffee and organic gluten- and allergen-free snacks are compliments of the hotel. The Organic Gula Melaka and Pandan Nut Mix did look pretty interesting.
Otherwise, you can also take a short walk to Long Bar and enjoy the Original Singapore Sling as well as other sling concoctions and enjoy peanuts while tossing empty peanut shells on the floor.
A door separates the living room from the bedroom. Most of the suite features an exposed wooden flooring with carpeting around the bed. Love the feeling of the smooth wooden flooring on the soles of my feet.
The round vanity mirror enclosed within the dressing table in the bedroom can be lifted to reveal a lighted mirror great for putting on make-up.
The vintage light switches from the hotel’s colonial past have been retained to preserve the colonial heritage past.
Peranakan tiles in the ensuite bathroom pay homage to Singapore’s rich culture. The bathroom has a separate shower and WC area. The sitting area in the Shower room is a thoughtful touch. Enjoy the Isfakrand scented bathroom amenities that are made exclusively for the hotel by British perfume house Ormonde Jayne. The Isfakrand scent has a top note of lime, mandarin and bergamot, with a heart of pink pepper and soul of cedar, vetiver and moss. There is a special range of toiletries for children.
And if you enjoy a soak in the bathtub, there’s one in every suite’s bathroom. The marbled bathrooms are equipped with double vanity with different amenities for women and men.
Thinner bathrobes suitable for Singapore’s climate are hung in the bathrooms. The thicker terry cloth bathrobes are available on request.
The outdoor pool is inviting but because of the hotel’s low rise structure, you may just get curious stares from folks staying at the Fairmont Singapore or the Carlton Hotel Singapore or from office workers at Odeon Towers. There is a bar here.
Food & Beverage Options In the Main Building
The Writers Bar is an expanded bar with bespoke craft cocktails, wines and spirits that pays tribute to the hotel’s literary luminaries. We did not manage to try the cocktails here or take a look at the menu. We’ll just have to come back another time but we hear the cocktails here are priced at over S$30 each.
The Tiffin Room serves authentic North Indian cuisine in tiffin boxes over a refreshed semi-buffet lunch and ala carte dinner.
La Dame de Pic
La Dame de Pic is a French fine-dining restaurant serving Michelin-starred chef Anne-Sophie Pic’s signature creations. The peach coloured space used to house the Raffles Grill.
The other food and beverage concepts in the hotel complex including BBR by alain ducasse, yì by Jereme Leung and Butcher’s Block are expected to open in September or October this year.
Opening and Staycation Packages
Raffles Hotel Singapore is offering an opening package till 31 October 2019. Top up S$120++ per night to enjoy the special Raffles Opening Package with privileges such as breakfast for two in the suite, on the verandahs or by the poolside or at the Tiffin Room; S$100 daily experiential credit at the Raffles Spa or at one of the ten dining experiences; receive a commemorative Raffles Heritage Souvenir and guaranteed late check-out until 3pm.
Singaporean residents can take up the Staycation Package with a 50% reduction on an adjourning suite for families to stay together. The package includes daily semi-buffet breakfast for two adults at Tiffin Room and two children under 12; S$50 Raffles Spa Credit per adult per stay; Raffles Children customised programme; complimentary souvenir for children from Raffles Boutique; guaranteed late check-out till 3pm; early check-in at noon and 10% off Raffles merchandise at the Raffles Boutique.