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Following a two-year refurbishment, Raffles emerges transformed and renewed, ready to delight guests again.
By Kristen Shirley | October 15 2019
When Raffles Singapore closed in 2017 for a complete renovation, its dedicated guests were worried. Would the hotel retain its colonial charm? Was it possible to respect its heritage and compete with the slate of new-build hotels that tower around it?
Two years later, Raffles emerged transformed and renewed, ready to delight repeat guests with its historic sense of place and enchant new visitors with its unique location and ambience, now coupled with incredible dining and all of the modern amenities expected in a high-tech hub like Singapore.
Each of the 115 suites feels lighter and more spacious, with a contemporary feel after the renovation, while still maintaining the old-world magic its repeat visitors demand. There are 12 new suites in the main building, some that allow traveling staff to stay closer to the crown jewels of the hotel: the two Presidential Suites.
Located on the second and third floors of the main building, the Sarkies and Sir Stamford Raffles Suites are named in honor of the most important people in the hotel’s history: the hotel’s founding family and the founder of modern Singapore.
Each is 2,798 sq ft and has two bedrooms with a separate parlor, dining room, living room, all-marble bathroom and pantry, as well as a stunning private veranda overlooking the Palm Court. A stay here comes with a private butler on call 24 hours a day, access to the hotel’s Mercedes-Benz fleet and flexible check in/out times. Both are perfect for entertaining, and the hotel’s chefs or bartenders can execute customized in-suite evenings.
It’s difficult to imagine, but when it opened its doors in 1887, Raffles was just a 10-bedroom, beachfront bungalow. It quickly gained international acclaim and expanded with two wings, which remain the property’s oldest buildings, and in 1889 architect Regent Alfred John Bidwell designed the iconic main building, which transformed Raffles into one of the world’s most recognizable hotels.
As you meander through the expansive grounds, the stately neo-Renaissance facade and verandas will transport you back in time. The white buildings and Carrara marble floors are offset by black wood, incredibly lush tropical foliage and the signature gray, cast-iron porte-cochère. Through the years, the property has expanded and reimagined itself many times. The best way to learn about its history is with a tour from the resident historian, Leslie Danker, who has worked at the hotel for 47 years.
With five restaurants and six bars, visitors and locals alike have plenty to choose from. The beloved Long Bar still serves Singapore Slings, but they’ve been refreshed for modern palates — they are less sweet and feature some artisanal ingredients, including a special grenadine made from pomegranate juice. The Writers Bar honors the property’s illustrious literary guests, and Raffles Courtyard is a perfect place for an al fresco aperitivo.
For dining, the Tiffin Room’s decor has been reimagined, but it still serves incredible North Indian cuisine in the charming lunch boxes used throughout India, as well as a dreamy breakfast buffet. Anne-Sophie Pic, whose restaurant Maison Pic in France holds three Michelin stars, opened her first restaurant in Asia here, La Dame de Pic. Expect cuisine that wouldn’t be out of place in France, but with local ingredients ingeniously woven into the dishes.
Alain Ducasse loosens up from fine dining with BBR by Alain Ducasse, where he reimagines the historic Bar and Billiard Room with a Mediterranean-inspired menu in a fun, casual space. The legendary Raffles Sunday brunch will be held here. Yì by Jereme Leung, who is very well-known in his native China, will showcase contemporary regional Chinese cuisine.
Head to the serene rooftop pool for a languid afternoon under Singapore’s hot sun. Order a light lunch and a cocktail from the Pool Bar as you relax listening to the sounds of trees blowing in the wind (it’s certainly the only rooftop pool in the city where you can hear trees!). Revive tired muscles at Raffles Spa, which offers plenty of decadent options, including the Traveler’s Interlude, a 180-minute treatment combining dry brushing, a deep-tissue massage and a pressure-point facial.