Hotels Reviews

Review: Raffles Hotel Singapore

Has a two-and-a-half-year renovation successfully modernised the original iconic Raffles Hotel, while maintaining its heritage and charm?

Hotel Front

History

Raffles Hotel Singapore needs few introductions. Established as a 10-room beachfront property in 1887 and named after the founder of Singapore, Stamford Raffles, it quickly gained a reputation for the highest service standards, attracting wealthy clientele.

Many extensions and acquisitions of adjacent buildings then occurred as the hotel expanded. The main building as you see it now actually replaced the original beach house hotel, and was completed in 1899.

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The main Raffles Hotel building is 120 years old. (Photo: Raffles Hotel)

In 1987 Raffles Hotel was declared a National monument of Singapore, 100 years after first opening.

A previous restoration was conducted from 1989 to 1991, when the hotel closed for approximately two-and-a-half-years.

The hotel is operated by AccorHotels under a long-term management contract, though Accor does not own the property. Katara Hospitality of Qatar is the current owner of Raffles Hotel.

Today Raffles has emerged fresh from its latest renewal, another two-and-a-half-year revamp from December 2017 to July 2019. We visited during the opening month to see if the newly modernised property has successfully maintained its long-standing heritage and elegant charm.

Pre-arrival

Our butler contacted us by email several days before our stay to check on our arrival arrangements, while offering to make dining reservations and spa appointments in advance.

Limo transfer

Rates at the hotel are inclusive of a one-way limousine transfer, designed to collect guests from Changi Airport.

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Raffles limo. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Since we were on a ‘staycation’, the hotel was happy to pick us up from our home address instead.

I was travelling alone to the hotel initially, as Eddie was planning join me straight from work later in the afternoon.

I noticed that the Raffles limo arrived at our address 15 minutes before the scheduled pick up time, however I was not quite ready to leave.

At exactly 2pm, the arranged pickup time, the driver called the doorbell, then assisted me with my luggage and whisked me on my way in the brand new Mercedes S Class.

The ride was very comfortable indeed, with complimentary New Zealand ‘nakd’ water and cold towels provided.

The limo, which appeared to be brand new, was Wi-Fi enabled. As a Singapore resident, it was really not necessary for me, but this is certainly a useful feature for those arriving from overseas.

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If you’re arriving at Changi Airport, for example, it’s a 20 to 30 minute drive to the hotel, depending on traffic. I tested the Wi-Fi speed on my short 15-minute journey and the speed was impressive.

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It’s unusual to see such fast connections at airport lounges or hotels in most of the places we stay, so this definitely rates as a fast and useful service.

Arrival

Drop off is at the main hotel entrance at 1 Beach Road. With luggage taken care of by the porters, you are escorted into the Grand Lobby. This is an impressive airy space with a large brand new chandelier taking centre stage.

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Grand Lobby. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This is the public area of the hotel, where you can access the Writers Bar and two of the restaurants. At the back between the two staircases is the guests only section, which leads through to the reception area and the lifts.

Between the front doors is a grandfather clock.

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Grandfather clock. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

No one seems to know exactly how old the clock is, but it has apparently been in the hotel since inception in 1887, making it at least 132 years of age. It is wound by hand each morning and still chimes every 15 minutes.

There was even a Harpist playing when I arrived.

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Harpist playing in the Grand Lobby. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The reception area is an intimate space. There are two desks with chairs and some sofas to relax on while the formalities are completed.

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One of the reception desks. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

I was offered a glass of Billecart-Salmon Champagne on arrival, which of course I accepted (it’s six o’clock somewhere!).

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Check in time is set for 2pm, however the bad news was relayed that due to an issue with our proposed suite an alternative one had to be prepared, but was not currently ready.

The hotel offered me a complimentary drink and lunch at the pool bar while I waited. Due to the delay, a late checkout to 4pm on our departure day was guaranteed for us, without me asking.

Once up at the pool bar, I ordered a beer and chose the beef sliders for a late lunch. It was an excellent dish.

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Beef sliders by the pool. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Eddie then joined me but unfortunately when we came back down to reception the room was still not ready and it was around 5.30pm before we were escorted there.

While this isn’t the first impression you expect from such an expensive hotel, it was their first near-100% capacity weekend since the reopening and that was clearly taking them off guard a little.

The staff were very apologetic and in addition to the complimentary lunch our room rate for the first night was switched to the day rate (50% off).

When we reached the suite they had also arranged a complimentary bottle of Champagne and some snacks, which was a kind and appreciated gesture.

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Welcome Champagne and snacks in our suite. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The Champagne was extra special as it was one of only 3,000 bottles of Billecart-Salmon commissioned for the re-opening of the hotel.

Room types

There are 115 Suites in the renovated hotel, an increase from the 103 prior to the latest revamp. The room types are as follows:

No. Type Size
6 Studio Suites 46 sq m
18 State Room Suites 67 sq m
31 Courtyard Suites 58 sq m
35 Palm Court Suites 70 sq m
12 Personality Suites 58-79 sq m
5 Residence Suites 120-150 sq m
2 Promenade Suites 85 sq m
4 Grand Hotel Suites 150 sq m
2 Presidential Suites 260 sq m

Note that the six Studio Suites are not for public sale, they are designed to accomodate staff of VIP guests.

Palm Court Suite

35 of the hotel’s 115 suites are Palm Court Suites, and we opted for this category during our weekend stay.

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Table and chairs on the verandah outside our Palm Court Suite. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

As their name suggests, these overlook the Palm Court in a peaceful setting with a table and chairs on the verandah outside each room.

Parlour

The parlour is the space that you enter from the verandah. It’s laid out as a small living room with a plush sofa, armchair, side tables and plenty of soft furnishings. As with the rest of the room, the ceiling is double height with beautiful cornicing that is effectively accentuated by hidden uplighting.

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Living room side of the parlour. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Across from the sofa is a small dining table, which you can also use as a desk. There’s a large wall-mounted TV on this side, plus the bureau – dressed up as leather trunk. This contains the minibar, glassware, coffee and tea making and a selection of snacks and drinks.

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Dining and TV in the parlour. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The windows either side and above the door allow plenty of natural light in. Privacy is maintained by sheer blinds for the eye-level windows beside the door. All the blinds are automated and can be operated by wall switches or either of the two iPads in the room, which we describe in more detail below.

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Parlour overview. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There is an abundance of small decorative touches throughout the room such as small vases, local artwork, curated books and ornaments, all of which have some relation to Singapore, the region, or Raffles itself. This sort of attention to detail is rare even in the most luxurious hotels. During our tour, the staff told us that even amongst rooms of the same category there are different items, books and ornaments to make every suite unique.

Two smaller windows and double door, all equipped with folding wooden shutters, lead through to the bedroom – allowing for natural light to flow through during the day.

Minibar

The bespoke chest next to the front door alongside the parlour’s dining table contains the suite’s minibar.

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Minbar chest. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Tea and coffee making (Nespresso) facilities are provided, with a chiller drawer containing soft drinks, beers and wines.

Soft drinks, tea, coffee and snacks are all complimentary and replenished daily. Alcoholic beverages are chargeable, with a more extensive list of options available in the room service menu.

Bedroom

An extremely soft and luxurious king-size four-poster bed is flanked by bedside tables and Chinese style lamps. The end of the bed features a wooden bench where you can find some additional butler services such as laundry, dry cleaning and shoe polishing instructions.

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The plush four-poster bed. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The opposite wall features another large television and dark wooden bookshelves creating a mini-library. The corner armchair makes this the perfect reading nook.

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A TV, armchair and bookcase on the opposite bedroom wall. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The high ceilings continue through the entire room giving a light airy and spacious feel, accented by the recessed uplighting.

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Looking back towards the parlour from the bedroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
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Bedroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The very clean, minimalist bedside tables initially made us wonder if they had forgotten the most modern essential – device charging, with a wall of switches and plug sockets usually found in new hotels.

They haven’t been forgotten of course, these functions are cleverly concealed in the top bedside drawer on either side, with multi-standard power sockets, USB ports and some room lighting functions.

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Bedside power sockets. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

We not only found the bed extremely comfortable, but the location of the bedroom between the bathroom at the rear and parlour at the front, coupled with the doors, shutters and blackout blinds, meant almost no light or noise pollution at all. That’s ideal for those easily disturbed once the sun rises.

Dressing room

Beyond the bedroom, through sliding doors, is a dressing room. The back wall is decorated with beautiful traditional dark wallpaper. Both sides of the room feature a large, well-lit wardrobe and in the centre is a dressing table with a built-in compartment containing a vanity mirror and hairdryer.

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Dressing room. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

If you wish, your butler will unpack your belongings. That’s not normally a service we would use but given that we wanted to head down to the Writers Bar for pre-dinner drinks we took advantage during this stay.

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Your butler will unpack for you should you wish. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

I think we can safely say our clothes have never been so immaculately organised in any hotel room before!

Bathroom

At the back of the suite is the bathroom, a superbly equipped marble-lined affair with a large roll top traditional free-standing bath taking centre stage.

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Bathroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
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Bathroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The floor is tiled with a stunning colonial print. Two sinks with separate dressers are equipped with a dizzying array of towels and amenities. Toiletries are specially created for Raffles Singapore by London-based perfume house Ormonde Jayne.

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Ormonde Jayne toiletries. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Natural light flows through from windows at the very back of the bathroom, one alongside the sinks and the other in the WC.

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Windows in the bathroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This provided great morning light in our suite.

There are two frosted glass doors either side of the bath, one leading to the WC and the other through to the shower room – which is equipped with a large rain shower head and a small bench.

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Shower and WC. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

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Shower. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Attention to detail is very high, with the bathroom brought right up to date in technology terms too. There are adjustable lighting and sound controls, and even a switch to activate the suite’s ‘do not disturb’ sign in the WC, in case the doorbell rings at an inopportune moment!

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Bathroom controls. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

iPad

Two iPads, one in the parlour and the other next to the bed, provide a range of suite and television controls. They can also be used to order in-room dining and other butler services.

Aside from controlling the blinds, both televisions, all of the lighting and the air conditioning, additional hotel information can be accessed.

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iPad functions. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

For a more traditional style, guests aren’t forced to use these devices and significant effort has been made to keep the traditional style wall switches that all still function as expected. You can also contact your butler directly at any time by phone.

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iPad functions. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
Ipad 3
iPad functions. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Butler service

Your butler is the point of contact for any service requests during your stay. Ours was excellent, not only unpacking for us but taking care of all the little touches too.

She noticed that we had brought our own bottle of Champagne from home to enjoy during the weekend and kindly offered to keep this chilled for us until we wanted it. When we asked for it on the Saturday evening it was delivered with an ice bucket and two Champagne flutes and served on our verandah as requested.

Our butler even came to our room to escort us to our Spa treatment on Saturday morning, and arranged our verandah breakfast on Sunday even though we only remembered to order it just after midnight!

From these services right down to running you the perfect bubble bath, your butler is sure to look after you during any stay at Raffles.

One butler is responsible for every two to three suites.

The hotel

A walk around the hotel confirms the very high standard of the renovation work conducted with close attention to detail.

New artwork by Lotus Arts de Vivre and lighting design by Tino Kwan complement new furniture lining the corridors in the main building’s impressive atrium, with plush carpets on the staircase.

Palm Court Wing

The Palm Court is a quiet, private wing that may only be accessed by hotel guests. It’s an L-shaped two-storey structure, that is connected to the main building just to the right of the lobby.

This was the first extension to the original Raffles hotel, and opened in 1892.

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Palm Court Wing. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

It features an immaculately manicured lawn with tropical flower beds, frangipanis and palm trees.

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Palm court in the evening sun. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Considering the busy main road just beyond the perimeter and its CBD location, this really is a very pleasant oasis of calm. A patio outside the main hotel building, located alongside La Dame de Pic, features some tables suitable for catching the afternoon rays whilst enjoying this idyllic garden.

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The Palm Court Wing viewed from the main building outside La Dame de Pic restaurant. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

If you are wondering how they keep the grass so green in Singapore’s burning heat, especially during the recent dry spell, the answer is near constant attention and watering by an army of garden staff.

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Palm Court Suites. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
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Palm Court in the evening sun. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Swimming pool

Originally the swimming pool at Raffles was in the Palm Court, however it was relocated to a rooftop position in 1989. This location has been retained in the newly renovated hotel.

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Rooftop swimming pool on level 3. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The pool bar has a full range of drinks and a food menu. As you would expect, there is poolside service provided.

The waiters were really friendly and courteous and were working very hard, but we couldn’t help feeling another pair of hands especially on the busy weekend afternoons would have made the experience better for everyone.

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Water and cold towels are provided poolside. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

For example, we waited for a good 10 to 15 minutes after sitting down at our sun loungers with no service offered, then even had a swim before heading up to the bar to ask for a drink.

Of course, the staff then brought our welcome chilled water and cold towels, but at a five star luxury hotel, we would have expected this to be a bit more proactive.

Every guest at Raffles is entitled to a complimentary signature Singapore Sling, a cocktail famously invented at the hotel in the early 1900s by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. Since we hadn’t taken ours yet, we decided to have it at the pool bar.

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The legendary Singapore Sling, served poolside. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

After that we decided to share a Club Sandwich for lunch. Like the sliders the previous day, this dish was very nicely prepared.

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Club Sandwich. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

In the afternoon these cute little chocolate ducks were served by the pool in a mango jelly.

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Chocolate duck in mango jelly. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Gym

The gym is located on the 3rd floor, the same level as the swimming pool. It is well lit, with some sections also benefitting from natural light (though there is no view to speak of) and has an extensive range of equipment, spread across three distinct sections.

One area has free weights and some weight machines.

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Gym. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Another area focuses mainly on cardio equipment, with treadmills, cross trainers and exercise bikes.

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Gym. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

A small section at the entrance, which we initially mistook for the entire gym, has some additional equipment.

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The small gym area near the entrance. The other sections are further down the corridor, as we discovered! (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Here there is also a small outdoor terrace and a selection of towels, chilled water, fresh fruit and headphones.

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Some amenities at the entrance to the gym. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Spa

The Raffles Spa has not only been significantly expanded in the renovated hotel, it has a completely new location – in the adjacent Raffles Arcade.

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The Spa is now located in the Raffles Arcade. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This brand new facility looks extremely smart and has a high-end finish. It’s open to the general public as well as hotel guests, so if you do wish to have a treatment during your stay make sure you arrange an appointment through your butler sooner rather than later.

We booked in for a late morning treatment on the second day of our stay.

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Raffles Spa reception. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

We were invited into the waiting area for a drink while we chose our treatment from the spa menu. Currently, the spa is offering a limited selection of treatments, with additional options planned in due course once it becomes more established.

Treatments include:

  • The Traveller’s Interlude – dry brushing, a deep tissue massage and a pressure point facial. 120 mins
  • Urban Bliss Dream – botanical scrub with a head and back massage. 120 mins
  • Full Body Massage – a customised Swedish massage. 75 mins or 105 mins
Spa Corridor
Corridor to the changing rooms and treatment rooms. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The changing rooms are vast and superbly appointed. There are lockers where you’ll find your bathrobes and slippers, toilet facilities and private vanity / powder rooms (yes, even for men!).

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Changing rooms are very well appointed. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There is a relaxation area accessible directly from the changing rooms where you wait for your therapist to collect you and take you through to one of the treatment rooms.

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Treatment room. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There are seven treatment rooms in total, plus a VIP suite.

We both opted for the Full Body Massage which was excellent. As you might imagine, prices are on the steep side, ranging from around S$230-$420. The serenity of the spa and the facilities available do however make it a cut above many other luxury hotels.

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Sauna and pool in the spa’s male changing rooms. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

We made use of the onsen-style pool, steam room, sauna and showers after our treatments, which was a very relaxing way to start a Sunday morning.

Wi-Fi

An essential element in any hotel these days, especially for international visitors, is a fast Wi-Fi connection. Raffles Hotel provides complimentary Wi-Fi for guests throughout the hotel.

Connecting to the Wi-Fi is simply a matter of entering your room number and last name. There is also a connection option using a voucher code, for example, if you’re waiting for your room or have already checked out. The staff will provide this for you.

We tested the Wi-Fi a few times throughout the hotel and it was consistently very fast, even by the swimming pool.

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Wi-Fi speed test

You should have no issue getting some work done during your stay with this connection.

Breakfast

Breakfast is served daily from 6.30am to 10.30am in the Tiffin Room, or in your suite or on your verandah if you prefer.

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The Tiffin Room. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

On our first morning, we went down to the Tiffin Room, where there is a buffet and an extensive à la carte menu.

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The Tiffin Room breakfast. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

À la carte selections include some signature dishes like the Raffles Omelette, eggs, Asian options like Mee Goreng, Dim Sum and Congee, plus some sweet alternatives such as waffles or crêpes.

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À la carte breakfast menu (click to enlarge)

The buffet selection may not be as extensive as some other properties but the quality was superb and in combination with the abundance of choice on the à la carte menu there is no shortage of options available.

We ordered a cappuccino then enjoyed a few items from the buffet (the DIY blini station is a must!), before ordering a dish each from the menu.

I went for the Classic Eggs Benedict with cooked ham.

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Eggs Benedict. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Eddie opted for the Nasi Lemak.

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Nasi Lemak. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Both dishes were well presented and very tasty – a perfect start to the day. The restaurant was busy when we arrived and remained so during our stay, but the staff remained friendly and attentive.

Verandah Breakfast

On the second morning of our stay we decided to have breakfast on our verandah, arranged through our butler the previous evening.

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A simple Eggs Benedict and Omelette for breakfast on our verandah. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The omelette was spiked with masala spices and tasted excellent. The Eggs Benedict, again, was superbly cooked.

The service from our butler was timely, immaculate and professional. The tranquil setting overlooking the Palm Court made a pleasant change to the slightly crowded Tiffin Room the previous day, the only trade-off being the buffet selection.

This is certainly an option we’d go for again during subsequent stays.

Bars

Long Bar

The famous Long Bar at Raffles, home of the Singapore Sling, has had a refresh in the new hotel.

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The Long Bar. (Photo: Raffles Hotels)

It’s open from 11am to 11pm daily but be prepared for a queue to enter, especially in the afternoons.

Raffles Courtyard

This bar is located in the Raffles Arcade, accessible from the hotel or the North Bridge Road entrance.

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Raffles Courtyard. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Open from 3pm to 10pm daily, it will offer a food menu in due course.

Pool Bar

We mentioned the rooftop pool bar earlier in the review, where we had our complimentary Singapore Slings and ate lunch a couple of times.

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The Pool Bar. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This bar follows the swimming pool opening hours and has a full drinks and dining menu available.

Writers Bar

The front corner of the hotel lobby houses the Writers Bar, a tribute to the many authors who have stayed at Raffles Hotel over the years. It’s open from 5pm to midnight each day, and is an adults only venue (18 years and above).

Reservations are required, particularly for non-residents.

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Our espresso martinis at Writers Bar. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There’s a specially curated cocktail list, which the mixologists will introduce to you on arrival, though they will also happily go ‘off-piste’ and prepare anything to your linking. As you would expect, there is also a range of wines, spirits and Champagnes available if you prefer.

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Writers bar. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Restaurants

La Dame de Pic

Our butler managed to secure us a dinner reservation at La Dame du Pic on our first night following a cancellation, which was great news as originally it seemed as though we were going to miss out during our stay.

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(Photo: MainlyMiles)

It’s safe to say the restaurant is very popular already and tends to be booked out weeks in advance.

After drinks at the Writers Bar it’s a quick walk directly across the lobby to the restaurant.

We were welcomed and seated near the middle. There is a range of tasting menus available, with or without the wine and sake pairing. Sake is an interesting addition you don’t see in many French pairing menus, and stems from Anne-Sophie Pic’s love of the popular Japanese rice wine.

Anne-Sophie Pic is one of the world’s most awarded female chefs, boasting no less than 7 Michelin stars. We’re also quite sure that another will be added to that list when the Michelin diners head to Singapore for the 2020 awards.

We opted for the mid-range set menu with the wine (and Sake) pairing. The presentation was spectacular. On most degustation menus we have tried, there is usually at least one dish that is not up to standard. That is not the case here. The wine pairing was also superb. The inclusion of Sake was an interesting and effective touch to break up the wines.

La Dame de Pic is open from Tuesday to Saturday and serves lunch from 12pm to 2pm, with dinner from 6.30pm to 9pm. Though it’s normally closed on Sundays and Mondays, public holidays are an exception.

The Grand Lobby

The Grand Lobby is where you can have afternoon tea, Champagnes and refreshments. This is offered daily from 12pm to 6pm.

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Grand Lobby. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Tiffin Room

We enjoyed a great dinner at the Tiffin Room on our second night. This Raffles institution has been around since 1892 and specialises in Indian cuisine. It still offers the famous lunchtime buffet, in addition to being the hotel’s breakfast venue and opening for dinner each evening.

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The Tiffin Room during dinner service. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The restaurant is decorated with traditional porcelain tiffin boxes (for the uninitiated, a traditional form of a lunchbox) and art deco glass chandeliers.

Despite full hotel occupancy, the restaurant was rather quiet. The service was exceptional.

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Our shared starter. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There’s a great selection of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters and main courses. After sharing a starter we went for the Mera Dabba, where you create your own Tiffin Box, two curries of your choice served with traditional accompaniments including Dal, rice, naan bread and a selection of chutneys and pickles.

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The traditional tiered Tiffin Box. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

All the food was excellent as was the red wine recommended by the waiter. We certainly didn’t have room for dessert!

Prices are on the high side, as you would expect for a restaurant within a luxury hotel like this. Starters ranged from around S$15-55 with main courses at S$30-65.

The Tiffin Box comes in at S$58, though you’d have to be quite hungry to do it justice by yourself. We managed to share it comfortably making it relatively good value.

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Tiffin Box contents revealed. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The Tiffin Room is open every day and serves breakfast from 6.30am to 10.30am, the lunch buffet runs from 12pm to 2pm and finally dinner hours are 6.30pm to 10pm.

BBR by Alain Ducasse

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Bar at BBR by Alain Ducasse. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The former Bar and Billiards Room (BBR) is now in the hands of chef Alain Ducasse, with a Mediterranean sharing and grill concept.

The restaurant serves lunch daily from 12pm, with last seating at 2.30pm. Dinner starts at 6pm, with last seating at 10.30pm (11.00pm on Fridays and Saturdays, 9.00pm on Sundays).

The restaurant also features a cocktail bar, perfect for pre- or post-dinner drinks.

We attended the opening event a couple of weeks after our stay in the hotel and the food quality and presentation was excellent, so we look forward to going back soon.

The famous Raffles Sunday Champagne Brunch will also make a return to BBR in late 2019.

兿 yì by Jereme Leung

Another celebrated fine-dining chef, Jereme Leung, returns home to Singapore with a contemporary provincial ethnic Chinese restaurant. You can expect dishes with influences from different regions of China, using single-sourced, seasonal ingredients.

藝yì, which stands for art in the Chinese language, awakens your appetite and senses. Alluding to the fine art of Chinese dining, it references centuries of culinary mastery woven into the intricacies of Chinese cuisine presented in the restaurant.

兿 yì is open daily for lunch from 11.30am to 1.30pm and for dinner between 6.15pm and 9.15pm.

Butcher’s Block (opens October 2019)

Located in the refreshed Raffles Arcade, Butcher’s Block is a steakhouse focusing on the world’s finest cuts of single-sourced meats. It will feature a darker decor, an open kitchen concept, a “wine library” and a wide selection of meats.

Seating will apparently be around “communal” tables which we generally don’t like but we’re keen to see if they manage to execute it well.

There will also be a Burger & Lobster at Raffles Arcade, close to the Seah St entrance, opening later this year.

Other room types

We asked the hotel whether it was possible to view any other room types during our stay. It was an almost full occupancy weekend, however, they did manage to arrange for us to see two different room types, the bedroom of a Grand Hotel Suite and one of the two Presidential Suites.

Grand Hotel Suite Bedroom

There are four Grand Hotel Suites in the hotel’s main building:

  • Straits Settlement Suite
  • Cathay Suite
  • Padang Suite
  • Temasek Suite

Each features a living and dining area and a private verandah, with either one or two bedrooms. Indeed all the suites in the main building have a private verandah.

On the weekend of our stay, the Padang Suite was being occupied as a one-bedroom layout, leaving it’s second bedroom and en-suite bathroom vacant.

The team kindly offered to show us around, but do bear in mind even though this bedroom is accessible separately from the hotel corridor it would not be sold as a standalone hotel room, instead, it would only ever be the second bedroom of the Padang Suite.

Bedroom
Padang Suite bedroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This in itself would class as a very spacious hotel room, with a beautifully appointed bathroom including a shower and free-standing bath tub.

Bathroom 2
Padang Suite bathroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
Bathroom
Padang Suite bathroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The high 4-metre ceilings common across all the room types in this property really give a light airy feel, and this bedroom annex to a suite is no exception.

Bedroom 2
Padang Suite bedroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Outside there is access to the verandah, which is shared with the living room and other bedroom of this suite and overlooks Bras Basah Road.

Verandah
Grand Hotel Suite verandah. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Presidential Suite

There are two Presidential Suites at Raffles Hotel Singapore, the Sarkies Suite and the Sir Stamford Raffles Suite. We were lucky that the guests booked into the Sir Stamford Raffles Suite were arriving later in the evening, and so we had an opportunity to look around before they arrived.

Living Room
The living room of the Sir Stamford Raffles Suite. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

At 260 sq m (2,798 sq ft) each of these suites is a magnificent amount of space, finished to an exceptional standard.

Living Room 2.jpg
Living room and entrance corridor. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The master bedroom has a triple orientation, overlooking the hotel driveway, gardens at the side and the Palm Court.

Bedroom.jpg
Sir Stamford Raffles Suite bedroom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Famous guests to stay in this suite (pre-renovation) include Johnny Depp and Michael Jackson. We weren’t informed who was staying on the night of our sneak preview!

This suite bedroom was used as a filming location for the film ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, though that was also prior to the recent renovation.

At the back of the suite is a large dining table, which can accommodate 10 people for dinner or a meeting. The suite’s second bedroom is also accessed via a door leading off the dining area.

Dining.jpg
Dining table. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The suite has an enormous verandah overlooking the Palm Court.

Palm Court
View of the Palm Court from the verandah of the Presidential Suite. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There are three distinct sitting areas on the verandah, accessible from the living / dining room and both bedrooms – a perfect space for entertaining.

Double Vanity.jpg
One of the en-suite bathrooms. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Summary

Hotel competition in Singapore has never been so fierce. In the two-and-a-half-years Raffles has been closed for renovation alone, several high-end hotels have opened their doors. These include the Sofitel, the Warehouse, and the Six Senses properties at Duxton (see our review) and Maxwell.

That’s not to mention the Capitol Kempinski, a stone’s throw away in the converted Stamford House, a building once leased as an annex of Raffles Hotel.

Facade
The main hotel building from the Palm Court wing at night. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

A full renovation of Raffles wasn’t just a routine refresh, it was essential for the property to continue to compete in the top tier luxury market in Singapore.

Without a doubt, the team in charge of the restoration of Raffles has carefully and sympathetically brought the hotel right up to modern standards, while retaining the charm and heritage of a property with stacks of history.

Champagne Terrace.jpg
(Photo: MainlyMiles)

This is a superb holistic renovation where no expense has been spared. While there were a few service niggles during our stay, they weren’t significant and where required service recovery was very good.

Even the reopened restaurants have moved with the times, including BBR by Alain Ducasse which has ditched the chandeliers and white tablecloth service for an altogether more modern and personal ‘Mediterranean dining’ concept.

The price is certainly high. Broadly speaking, you’ll be able to spend two nights at a range of very nice hotels in Singapore for the price of one night here.

However for the butler service and an all-suite experience in this historical property, meticulously renovated to an incredibly high standard, we think it’s worth the money for an unforgettable stay.

Review Summary
Review: Raffles Hotel Singapore
Summary: A few minor service niggles didn’t detract from the beautiful restoration of this iconic hotel, now boasting leading luxury standards. A stay at Raffles doesn’t come cheap, but provides an unforgettable experience now more than ever.
Author: Andrew
Visited: August 2019
Among 5-star hotels:
Rating: 4-5star.jpg
4.5 out of 5

Example nightly refundable rates for a weekend stay in November 2019:

  • State Room Suites from S$1,093
  • Courtyard Suites from S$1,188
  • Palm Court Suites from S$1,329
  • Personality Suites from S$1,423
  • 1 Bedroom Residences from S$1,953
  • 2 Bedroom Residences from S$2,541
  • Promenade Suites from S$4,660
  • 1 Bedroom Grand Suites from S$6,290
  • 2 Bedroom Grand Suites from S$8,191
  • 1 Bedroom Presidential Suite from S$11,722
  • 2 Bedroom Presidential Suite from S$14,076

Book Here

(Cover Photo: Raffles Hotel)

2 comments

  1. Nice! Thank you for doing a review on the newly renovated Raffles Hotel Singapore. You’re one of the first! And that Sir Stamford Raffles Suite is stunning!

    1. Thanks Shasha. Yes, the Sir Stamford Raffles Suite is really quite special. Most people probably wouldn’t consider spending $12K per night on a hotel room but when you compare it to other presidential suites around Singapore – it’s quite good value and an exceptional​ space.

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