Experience: The Raffles, Singapore

Singapore
April 14 - 2017


What a splendid property, if I must say so myself!  I did my research on the Raffles prior to my visit here, and didn’t realize how much of a part it played in Singaporean history.
Without further ado, here are some facts:

  • 1. It was founded in 1887 by the Sarkies brothers, who hailed from Armenia.  They decided to name the hotel after the Founder of Singapore (rather than themselves) – Sir Stamford Raffles.  Back then, it was only a 10 room beach house.
  • 2. The Singapore Sling was invented at the Raffles, by bartender, Mr. Ngiam Tong Boon in 1915.  It is now housed in the Long Bar.  This is the National drink of Singapore.  It was invented primarily for the ladies, who at that time were frowned upon for drinking alcoholic beverages in public.  The pink color was supposed to disguise the color of the alcohol.
  • 3. The same Grandfather clock in the lobby has sat in the same place for 40 years.
  • 4. Many celebrities, political and public figures have stayed in the Presidential Suite.  This includes Michael Jackson, Jackie Chan, Beyonce, former U.S President Barack Obama, Prince William and Princess Kate.  The list is endless.  The higher the profile the guest is, the more likely they will stay on the suite’s second floor.
  • 5. The Raffles hotel is officially a National Monument of Singapore.
  • 6. 300 Japanese soldiers committed suicide in the hotel during the Japanese occupation.
  • 7. There are twelve personality suites, named after many iconic residents who have stayed at the hotel. Charlie Chaplin, and John Wayne – just to name a few.
  • 8. The Writers Bar is a tribute to the many writers who have stayed at the hotel, including Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, and Noel Coward.  They still have original writing memorabilia kept in the bar, to this day.
  • 9. The Raffles’ lobby and the Spa is exclusively for guests only.
  • 10. The Raffles is the first hotel in Singapore to have electric lights.
I had five days to get in three hotel stays, so I went with the Raffles for the first night.  When I arrived, I was immediately greeted by who is probably the most photographed gentlemen in all of Singapore.  This gentlemen was dressed in a full Imperial Indian Soldier uniform, and this my friends, was the beginning of my Raffles experience.

After being graciously handed off to another member of staff in the lobby, I was offered a welcome drink while they checked me in and all that good stuff.  I decided I wasn’t going to waste any time, so I opted for the Singapore Sling (why not?).  My check in was swift and breezy, and shortly after, I was ushered  to my suite with my butler.  My butler was female, which may sound a little strange but fairly common at the Raffles.  I wasn’t used to having someone on their back and call for me, so that felt pretty luxurious. The butlers are responsible for all the guests needs, and to notice all the minor details.  For example, if they see that the Nespresso capsule box is empty, they will ensure that they will place extra ones while the guest is out. This is fabulous.

I stayed in one of the Palm Court Suites, on the second floor, just a turn from the hall of fame..  My suite consisted of the following:
 
** Room Size: 646 - 850 sqft / 60 - 79 sqm

**Room Features
- Separate bedroom with one king or twin beds
- Spacious living and study area
- Dressing area and en-suite bathroom
- Common veranda

** Bathroom
- Spacious marble-tiled bathroom
- Separate walk-in shower and bathtub
- Dual washbasins
- Plush terry robes
- Designer toiletries

** Technology
- Complimentary high-speed wireless Internet access
- DVD player

** Services
- 24-hour Raffles butler service
- Daily turndown service
- Pillow menu
- Complimentary welcome fruits
- Daily newspapers
- Express laundry service
- 24-hour in-room dining
 
** Source:  http://www.raffles.com/singapore/rooms-suites/palm-court-suites/

I will also like to add that there was a wonderful tea selection, and much to my delight, a Nespresso machine in the suite too.  If you have travelled from another country, they also have adaptors that are plugged into ‘some’ of the sockets.
The TV was quite small, but let’s be honest… you’d be an absolute moron if you are planning on staying in and watching TV.  Aside from the mini bar, they also had a drinks tray which did not disappoint either.

That night I was tired from traveling, so I decided to dine at their famous Tiffin Room specifically for their North Indian Buffet.  I can easily say that this was the best Indian food I have ever had in my life.  These words carry weight, coming from a person who has never been a big lover of Indian cuisine.  So after three plates, a garlic naan, and a Pinot Grigio later, I was tucked up in bed.

The following day, I made my way to Raffles City Mall for a croissant and a coffee (I had finished the two Nespresso Capsules in the suite).  This mall has such a vast selection of food, and instantly I was having that FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). I only really get this feeling with food.  But had to remind myself that this was no time for the ITIS, and I still had a full day ahead of me.

After my solo tour of the magnificent property, it was time for my history tour with their Historian.  We were a small group of seven, and as we walked around, we were informed of all the historical events that took place in the hotel.  You can do your own research and read so many articles.  But what the tour allowed us to experience could not be compared with any article or website.  We even entered the Presidential Suite where Michael Jackson, the Duke and Duchess of York, Beyonce, and Queen Elizabeth II (to drop a few names) had stayed.

My stay may have been a short one, and I would recommend a two - night stay if you are planning on visiting Singapore.  This way, you won’t have to feel like you are trying to squeeze everything in after arriving, and during the following morning.
I say this because the Raffles Singapore is not comparable to other luxury hotels.  Spending time here in all its glory, is like stepping back to the British Colonial times, and reliving the magnificence and splendor of the architecture, décor, and service that is seldom found today.  So having said that, I’m very much looking forward to another visit there in the near future!

QUICK TIPS
1.Pre book the history tour. 
The history tour is less than an hour long, and our historian was fantastic.  I learnt more from this tour than I did from reading articles online.  You will also get the chance to take a tour inside the Presidential Suite if it is not occupied.

2.Dine at one of the exclusive restaurants.
No stay is complete without experiencing a meal at one of their notoriously divine restaurants.  I’ve never been a huge fan of Indian cuisine, but not one bit do I regret trying out the North Indian Buffet at the Tiffin Room.  It was one of my favourite meals I had in Singapore.  There is no quality compromised in this buffet.  The selection of vegetarian dishes was outstanding to say the least.  Also, order the garlic naan.  Just. Do. It.

3. Sip on a Singapore Sling and crack peanuts at the Long Bar, because you know… ‘When in Rome.’ But if that’s too sweet for your liking (as was for mine, but again, ‘When in Rome’) then order something else.  But for goodness sake, make sure you experience it.  There is ALWAYS a queue for you to get in.  So, make sure you tell someone at the Front Desk and they will escort you in.  No waiting in line – provided you are a resident at the hotel of course!

4. The closest MRT station is City Hall (take exit A) and is literally a 3 minute walk away.

 5. If you’re after a simple meal and perhaps a cup of coffee, make your way across the street to the Raffles City Shopping Mall.  Turn right when you exit the front entrance and cross the road.  There is a Marketplace grocery store there too for everyday needs.  I was ecstatic as I found instant Bisto gravy, and Birds custard (if you are a Brit, you will understand the importance!).  

YOU SHOULD ESPECIALLY CONSIDER STAYING AT THE RAFFLES, IF:
  • -You appreciate history.
  • -Bespoke or nothing.
  • -You love the finer things in life.
  • -You have a love for the great writers.
  • -You appreciate good architecture.

Have you guys visited the Raffles in Singapore?  What was your take on it?  What other hotels do you recommend that hold as much significance?

Thanks for reading friends!

*****

The Raffles, Singapore
1 Beach Rd, Singapore 189673 
Phone: +65 6337 1886 
http://www.raffles.com/singapore