The Raffles not only impresses with its heritage architecture and the charm of another era, but also with timeless elegance, such as in the Writers Bar.

The Raffles not only impresses with its heritage architecture and the charm of another era, but also with timeless elegance, such as in the Writers Bar.
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Historic luxury oasis: the secrets of the Singapore "Raffles"

Modern Singapore with its high-rise canyons has surrounded the Raffles Hotel. However, the iconic colonial-style hotel remains a luxurious retreat in the global metropolis - including excellent cuisine and a butler service for all guests. At the same time, the hotel is full of history. Not only did a tiger once get lost under a billiard table here. The classic Singapore Sling cocktail was also invented at Raffles.

Although the Raffles Hotel is located on 1 Beach Road in Singapore, there is not a beach in sight. Swimming is therefore out of the question - unless of course you cool off from the sultry Southeast Asian heat in the saltwater pool on the roof. It is hard to believe that things were completely different in this exact spot almost 140 years ago. But when the Armenian-born Sarkies brothers welcomed their first guests in 1887 with a much more modest ten rooms, the hotel was a beach resort with the promenade in front of its doors and the waves crashing. Since 1932, however, the coast has shifted due to extensive land reclamation and is now kilometers away.

Since then, the global metropolis has become almost unrecognisable. After the British colonial period, it not only became independent as a city-state, but has also developed rapidly to become one of the most successful economic nations with the second largest port in the world. And the Raffles? Even without a sea view, it has survived all the turbulence, ups and downs as a historic hotel oasis from another era, surrounded by modern high-rises. If the striking "Marina Bay Sands Resort" is something like the Lamborghini of Singapore's hotels, the "Raffles" is probably the Rolls Royce. Today, this hotel jewel, which was declared a national monument in the 1980s and is named after the founder of modern Singapore, is one of the world's most prestigious addresses. It was recently voted the 17th best hotel in the world in a ranking by "The World's 50 Best".

Feed at the "Raffles"!

The gleaming white houses of the colonial-style hotel complex, which has been extended several times over the years and where it is easy to get lost at first, take up an entire block. Some areas are reserved exclusively for guests, who will find quiet, idyllic retreats like the Palm Court. In any case, Raffles is surrounded and overgrown by tropical greenery, with the tree of travelers, the Raffles symbol, in between. There will be around 50,000 plants.

Raffles also has exquisite restaurants, bars, a garden lounge, a stylish spa and an arcade with jewelry, watch and designer stores as well as the hotel's souvenir store. Rudyard Kipling who was already a guest at Raffles in 1889, found the hotel to be an excellent place to dine. "Feed at the 'Raffles'!", recommended the author of "The Jungle Book" back then - and this still applies today. "La Dame de Pic" from the exceptional chef Anne-Sophie Pic is certainly the gourmet spearhead of "Raffles" cuisine. Her first restaurant in Asia has been awarded a Michelin star for its French gourmet cuisine.

What's more, the choice of restaurants is as international as Singapore itself. The Tiffin Room, the oldest restaurant in Raffles and today also a breakfast restaurant with an exquisite buffet, serves fine cuisine from northern India. The exciting newcomer "The Butcher's Block" pursues a zero-waste approach with a focus on sophisticated barbecue creations, with the meat being cooked over a blazing fire in the open kitchen, which is displayed for guests behind a window. Jereme Leung's "yì", on the other hand, serves delicacies from China. The artfully arranged dishes are eye-catching - just like the photogenic entrance area with a sea of white paper flowers.

The first bar at Raffles was the Writers Bar, which was built in 1899 and still serves excellent cocktails in a stylish ambience right next to the lobby. However, the "Long Bar", the second oldest in the hotel, is a particular magnet. Even before the door opens at midday, a queue forms in front of it. Most guests come for the one eternal cocktail classic that was invented here over 100 years ago: the Singapore Sling, a fruity, sweet cocktail. "It was unusual for women to drink alcohol back then," says bartender Viganis Ramu. That's why bartender Ngiam Tong Boon invented this cocktail back then, which also got the women tipsy. It's disguised as a pink fruit punch, but the gin and liqueurs make it really special.

Mixing is done on a daily basis these days: up to 900 cocktails a day. While you watch the hard-working bar staff, peanuts are placed in small bags on the table. The bowls? They are thrown on the floor - which is even encouraged in this traditional way. "The only place in Singapore where you don't get fined for that," says the waiter with a wink.

The hotel itself is much more elegant. Even before you enter the lobby with its impressive chandelier, the journey into the past begins. Because the famous "Raffles" doorman is waiting on the red carpet at the main entrance: an Indian Sikh with a turban and uniform, who had to chase a wild boar out of the lobby in 1904. Above all, however, he is a "Raffles" ambassador who He is always ready to help and is the most photographed man in the hotel for souvenir photos.

Tradition is also evident everywhere else at Raffles, as is the history full of colourful anecdotes that are told to guests by the hotel's own historians on included tours. Not all of them are as exciting as the episode when a tiger got lost in the hotel and hid under the pool table in the "Bar & Billiard Room" until it could be killed. However, as you can see in a photo gallery, the hotel has hosted numerous aristocrats, political figures and world stars - from Charlie Chaplin and Queen Elizabeth II to Michael Jackson, who played with an orangutan from the Singapore Zoo by the pool. Twelve of the suites - after all, there are no rooms at Raffles - are named after celebrities who have stayed here several times. Photos and other decorative memorabilia are reminiscent of Liz Taylor, John Wayne or author Kipling.

Butler service for all guests

It was only before the pandemic that the building was extensively renovated over several years. This has not detracted from the old colonial charm. On the contrary: since then, Raffles has once again stood out among the surrounding glass and steel-concrete buildings in Singapore. The interior of the suites is also steeped in history. They are spacious, airy and tastefully elegant, with dark wood, high ceilings and many details from the past alongside touches of modern art: from the minibar to the Victorian fittings in the bathroom. The charming light switches have also survived. Comfort, meanwhile, is at the cutting edge. In the suite, many things are conveniently and intuitively controlled via a tablet: from the TV to the air conditioning.

The personal butler can also be called or ordered to the suite. After all, Raffles has always been famous for its butler service for all hotel guests. 25 butlers under the leadership of head butler Jeremy Cheah are on duty for every guest: shining shoes, ironing clothes, taking reservations or even turning brown shoes into black ones to match the evening wear in no time at all, as Jeremy explains. They also pay great attention to the fine details that make your stay even more enjoyable. "For us, it's all about emotional luxury," he says. And you can feel it everywhere.

Incidentally, none of the furnishings in Raffles are older than the Grandfather clock, 1853made in England", in the lobby, which you can hear beating not only when you are sitting at afternoon tea. Every evening at 8 pm, you can also hear Noël Coward, once a guest at Raffles, singing the song "I'll see you again". See you again? With pleasure.


Luxury hotel and national monument

Since its opening in 1887 and throughout its eventful history, the Raffles Hotel in Singapore has been extended and renovated several times. There are no rooms in this historic hotel jewel, only suites - 115 in total and all including butler service. Raffles also has several restaurants, such as the Michelin-awarded La Dame de Pic. The "Long Bar", where the classic Singapore Sling cocktail was once invented, is a tourist magnet. The Raffles in Singapore is no longer the only one; well over a dozen other hotels now belong to the global chain.

1 Beach Road
189673 Singapore
T: +65 6337 1886

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Sascha Rettig
Sascha Rettig
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