Raffles Hotel

Raffles Hotel (38)

Since its construction in the late nineteenth century, this hotel has become a true icon of the city. Few century old hotels can boast of such attention to detail as well as having had such distinguished guests.

Not only does the Raffles Hotel have lovely suites, lounges and a spa, it also has a very interesting history.  It was four Armenian brothers -Martin, Tigran, Arshak and Avier Arkies- who founded the hotel in 1887. At first, there were just 10 rooms facing the sea, owned by the Arab businessman Syed Mohamed Alsagoff, but soon there were many more. Designed by architect Alfred John Bidwell of Swan and Maclaren the current building was completed in 1899 and has continued to expand over the years with a ballroom, a billiard room, a bar and, of course, more buildings and more rooms.

During World War II, these rooms housed several Japanese officers and they say that, after the liberation of Singapore on 12 September 1945, more than 300 soldiers committed suicide here. Later, the hotel was even used as a temporary prisoner of war camp. Still, the hotel survived all these setbacks and in 1987 was declared a national monument, which prompted the owners to undertake a very large and very expensive restoration project that lasted from 1989 until its reopening on 16 September 1991.

To learn about all of this in detail, we recommend you visit the Raffles Hotel Museum, which is free. Old photographs, unique pieces in silver, works by its most famous guests, handwritten letters, old postcards, ... as well as countless snapshots of celebrities who have passed through here, including Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Charlie Chaplin, Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor.

If, like them, you are lucky enough to stay at this hotel, you will find luxury with a capital L.  From the famous and exotic Sikh who opens the front door for you, to a theatre designed by the prestigious New York designer Charles Cosler. Great attention is paid to even the smallest detail. 

Even if you are not staying at the Raffles we recommend that you at least come visit its Long Bar for a classic, local cocktail: the Singapore Sling. Gin, brandy, Cointreau, grenadine, pineapple and lemon juice. Furthermore, it is standard practice here when eating the peanuts that come with your drink to throw the peanut shells on the floor. Yes, the floor. In a city where you can get a heavy fine for throwing a cigarette on the street, this Raffles custom is another clear example of the eccentricities of the rich.

Finally, if your wallet allows, go to the store and buy some souvenirs. Because if you've been here, you’ll need a memento.

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