Experience The Iconic Raffles Hotel

Raffles Hotel Singapore

SINGAPORE’S NATIONAL TREASURE

You don’t want to miss the iconic Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Named after the founder of the country, it’s a national treasure, a luxury destination and a popular tourist attraction.

don't miss the raffles hotel in singapore

One of the highlights of my recent vacation in Singapore was visiting the iconic Raffles Hotel. I was so excited to finally get to experience the old-world charm of this famous establishment, which is a national monument and a much-loved treasure of the small South-East Asian country.

If you’re a movie buff, you would probably know that the Raffles Hotel was recently featured in the blockbuster, Crazy Rich Asians. It was after seeing this movie that I desperately wanted to go to Singapore’s famous Colonial-style, tropical hotel.

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Iconic site of Singapore

History of Raffles

Built in the 1830’s, this magnificent building was named after the father of Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles. It was originally a privately owned plantation house. In 1878 it became a hotel and later it was used as a school boarding house for a while.

In 1887 it was transformed into a luxury hotel (of its time). It was owned by hoteliers, the Sarkies, Armenian brothers, who expanded the building and made it into a grand establishment. Many wealthy guests staying there. But in the 1930’s the brothers went broke and Raffles closed down.

During WWII, the Japanese took over Singapore and they renamed the Raffles Hotel “Light of the South”. Then it was reclaimed by the British 3 years later.

Fast forward quite a few decades and it was eventually bought by the Qatar Government in 2010.

don't miss the Raffles Hotel in Singapore

 

Hotel foyer

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Recently renovated and re-opened

Raffles Hotel has recently been extensively renovated to bring it back to its former Colonial glory. After being closed for two and a half years, its much anticipated reopening was in August 2019.

don't miss the Raffles Hotel in Singapore

 

Liveried door men at the Raffles entrance

I was delighted to see this revived heritage landmark at its charming and luxurious best. The exterior has been perfectly restored to its former historic grandeur, whilst the interior has been immaculately re-painted a brilliant white. The lobby boasts high ceilings and stunning chandeliers as previously, and is elegantly appointed throughout with attention to detail in the decor and furnishings.

The Lobby welcomes guests with a harpist playing blissful tunes, amidst beautiful floral decorations.

High Tea in the Grand Lobby

don't miss the Raffles Hotel in Singapore

I was super-excited to have a reservation for the luxury experience of High Tea in the Grand Lobby. It’s a real tourist highlight you don’t want to miss in Singapore, and one I wanted to experience at least once. It truly is an indulgence and I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (pardon the pun).

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don't miss the Raffles Hotel in Singapore

 

Grand Lobby

My girlfriends and I were escorted to our formal table, meticulously laid in the centre of the high-ceilinged hall on the right wing of the Lobby. The comfortable armchairs enveloped us as the suited waiters brought us our delicacies. On silver, three-tiered serving stands, dainty square cut sandwiches of different breads, pretty petite cakes, mouth-watering desserts, and traditional scones of two types were elegantly displayed. They were too beautiful to eat. Almost. Tradition has it that you start from the bottom, and work your way up.

don't miss the Raffles Hotel in Singapore

 

Delicious dainty delicacies

Tea and coffee are included. Champagne is optional for an extra cost.

Everything, of course, was exquisite, as you would expect. The square cut sandwiches were amazing, as were the desserts. However, the only disappointment for my friends and I was that there was limited savouries on offer. We would have liked perhaps something along the lines of warm pastries, such as mini quiches or savoury tarts to compliment the sandwiches. The other High Tea I have experienced had more assortment, and that was at the Windsor in Melbourne, which you can read about here.

Cost: From S$68 per person.

Bookings: Best to book at least 2 weeks in advance to avoid missing out.

Dress: Smart casual. Strictly no flip-flops or t-shirts.

don't miss the Raffles Hotel in Singapore

 

Excited about High Tea

Long Bar

The popular Long Bar is located on the upper level of the Raffles Hotel, and was the first part of the hotel to reopen.

At the entrance where we queued to get in, a huge hessian bag full of peanuts stands on offer for people to shell and munch on while they wait. I wasn’t sure what to do with the shells, but noticed them all strewn on the ground. ‘That’s strange’, I thought.

don't miss the Raffles Hotel in Singapore

 

Inside the Long Bar at Raffles

Upon entering, I noticed these huge bags of peanuts everywhere on the floor and up the winding staircase. Furthermore, every table has a small hessian bag with peanuts for you to enjoy complimentary. The remains of which you are supposed to throw on or under the table or bar. It’s quite hilarious how customers seem to relish in this opportunity to participate in bad behaviour, myself included. Probably because this is one of the few places where littering is actually encouraged, which is completely contrary to Singapore’s cleanliness laws. At first I couldn’t bring myself to do it but, as its a long-standing tradition, I joined in the fun. When in Rome … right?

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The tradition of the nuts on the floor harks back to the bar’s olden days. It really gives a layback vibe to the place. However, I wouldn’t want to be the one sweeping the shells up at the end of everyday. It would drive me nuts!

Singapore Sling

The Long Bar is renowned for inventing the famous Singapore Sling cocktail back in 1915. Tourists flock here to get their glass full at a whopping S$35 each + GST. OUCH! The price is pretty outrageous, you would have to agree, for this coloured drink, but hey, it’s the national beverage and absolutely delicious.

Made from ingredients which include Gin, pineapple, lime, Bénédictine and Curaçao, the pink drink was originally intended for female patrons, disguised as a fruit punch. Legend has it that it was unladylike to drink alcohol in public.

The bartender churns the Slings out by the dozens, literally, and lines them up on the bar like little pink soldiers.

Accommodation

I didn’t stay at Raffles on this trip. But if you wish to spoil yourself, you can enjoy a night’s stay in luxury surrounds from approximately S$800. There are 115 top-notch rooms now, since its rebirth.

You can even check in from your hotel room. I love this aspect, which reminds me of my stay in New Delhi’s Leela Palace Hotel.

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Raffles garden courtyard

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Raffles courtyard bar

You really don’t want to miss the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Be sure to visit so you can see this historic hotel in all its splendour. It’s conveniently located close to other attractions, shopping and restaurants.

Tours of Singapore you should consider

Thanks for reading. Have you been to Raffles? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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22 thoughts on “Experience The Iconic Raffles Hotel

  1. Ildiko says:

    Wow! The hotel looks gorgeous! Love the all white lobby and high tea. The food so decadent. Thanks for sharing. Great info and description.

  2. Margarida Vasconcelos says:

    That’s a luxurious hotel, I don’t think I could afford a bed there let alone a room lol

  3. shafinah.neville says:

    Ahhhh I’m from Singapore and I’m so happy to see this! So glad you got the Raffles Hotel experience – definitely one of the best we have on the island! ❤️

  4. Ciara says:

    The Raffles looks stunning, I can’t imagine the charm and class of this site. I also love the peanuts in the Long Bar! That sounds so fun to throw the shells on the floor, what a great tradition.

  5. Katja | placesandnotes says:

    oh I just love Singapore! I can´t believe I´ve been there 4 times and have never made it to the Raffles yet. Definitely bookmarking this post and adding it to my itinerary for my next visit. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Bright Lights of America says:

    Woah. Everything about Raffles is just extra! It’s good that they painted the walls white, because otherwise I honestly wouldn’t know where to look – there’s so much beauty under one roof.
    I had no idea about the history of the hotel, nor that it had been bought by the Qatar Government, which seems a little strange. That high tea look and sounds like it would have been a lovely experience!

  7. emmaerichsen1 says:

    Wow, it looks beautiful! What an amazing and historic experience. Im definitely going to visit when I’m there later this year!

  8. Annick says:

    The Raffles Hotel just oozes old world charm. I’ve been wanting to go back to Singapore for ages but hadn’t realized that this hotel had reopened. And this was in Crazy Ruch Asians? Now I have to go! High Tea seems like an affordable way to experience such luxury. That’s too funny about the peanut shells – I guess those with allergies better stay away!

  9. Rhonda Albom says:

    Raffles Hotel looks lovely an iconic. I like the old world touches. It feels very comfortable. Yes, I would pay the high price for a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar (after all, they created it).

  10. Alice L. Ford says:

    SO great to hear all about the wonderful history of the Raffles hotel. I would certainly get a Singapore Sling and a bag of peanuts. Sounds like it must have been a fun trip.

  11. Lerato | Life from a Bag says:

    Wow. What a beautiful hotel. I’d love to stay there one day. Singapore has so many historic sights. It’s on my bucket list

  12. ArrivalsHall says:

    It’s 21 years since I visited Singapore and I still remember my trip to Raffles Hotel. It still looks as gorgeous and luxurious as I remember it. Thanks for bringing back memories.

  13. uoprincess says:

    Are Singapore Slings cheaper other places? Raffles is a very interesting last name- It makes a whimsical name for a hotel.

  14. jennybhatia says:

    Wow. What an amazing treat in so many ways. You captured everything we love about travel: history, cuulture, food, and drink. Oh, and beautiful pictures. I think I would have loved to stay there, maybe one day.

  15. celmacosta says:

    It’s always important to reflect on the history of the places we travel to, and I think you did a good job highlighting the colonial past of this building. Just because the building has a history that caused pain, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t simultaneously be appreciated, which is what I think makes Singapore such an interesting and complex country to visit! History is always in the details.

  16. Lara Dunning says:

    I’m such a sucker for historic hotels and Raffles is so grand and beautiful. It surely must have made an impression when it was first built as a plantation.That’s funny they allow peanuts on the floor in the bar. They do that in the US at a couple of steakhouses. While staying there would be an indulgence for sure, I’d be fun to hang out in the bar and do high tea. I agree – more savories are needed!

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