Review: Newly Restored Raffles Hotel Singapore

Old world charm meets modern day chic at the recently restored Raffles Hotel.  With interiors designed by famed interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud. the neo-renaissance hotel, built in 1887 by Swan & MacLaren, has survived the modernisation of Singapore and reinvented itself for the next generation of travellers.  The grande dame is currently offering staycations to avail you and your loved ones with an experience that is rich in colonial history; set amidst lush gardens in the heart of the Civic District of Singapore.

With a choice of 115 suites in 9 categories, you can trust the friendly reservations team to find one that meets your needs. The suites vary in size and are spread out throughout the hotel.  My two-day stay at the Somerset Maugham suite (the famous author was a former guest) was an idyllic and tranquil experience. Make time to enjoy afternoon tea served by your personal butler at the veranda outside the room or spend an afternoon at the hotel spa or pool.  Whatever your selection, it is a lovely getaway.

Impeccable Dining Experiences

Breakfast is taken at the Tiffin Room, which by virtue of its name, serves outstanding curries for lunch and dinner.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there is no buffet option. An a la carte menu with an excellent array of breakfast options is available.  

Lunch  at Le Dame Pic by famed Chef Anne Sophie Pic, France’s only female chef to hold three Michelin stars for her restaurant Maison Pic in Valence, France, was a picture perfect affair. The restaurant replaces the former Raffles Grill.  Ask for a table facing the Palm Court lawn; be it lunch or dinner, the view is very pretty.  If you want total privacy, the little alcove to the left of the restaurant as you enter would be perfect for your tete-a-tete or business meeting.

Round off the day with a meal at Yi by Jereme Leung. The restaurant represents a homecoming for the celebrity chef who left Singapore in 2002 for Shanghai.  The menu is an exciting showcase of modern Chinese cuisine.  

Unfortunately, the Writer’s Bar and the Long Bar, iconic watering holes at the hotel, are both currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.  So, I strolled over to the Raffles Courtyard to enjoy my Singapore Sling under the shade of the lush palm trees.

Culture Vulture/ Cultural Escapades

Depending on the accommodation package you book, you may get a complimentary trishaw ride thrown in. I was a little sceptical about how touristy it would be, but I’m glad to share that I had fun taking in the juxtaposition of old and modern architecture along Arab Street, the Esplanade and the National Gallery during the journey. Ask the Concierge to recommend various walking routes around the hotel or book you tickets to a show at the Esplanade or at the Victoria Concert Hall. Our concert venues are open with social distancing rules in place.

A little bit of history

The Raffles Gift Shop, located in the Courtyard, offers the usual Raffles memorabilia but, more importantly, is a great place to immerse yourself in the history of the hotel. Merely looking at the old menus and architectural drawings of the hotel occupied me for close to an hour.

My browsing, however,  did leave me wondering why the hotel did not dedicate a proper heritage room that combined the Hall of Fame (a corridor of framed photographs showing distinguished guests who have visited the hotel), which is located in a separate part of the hotel, with the historical gems that were found in the Gift Shop.

More for the foodie

Want a local dining experience? Take a walk out of the hotel for a local breakfast at YY Kafe Dian, which is just a one-minute walk away. Order a local coffee or tea with toast and coconut jam or indulge in a plate of fried noodles – a breakfast staple for many. Expect a queue though – it is a popular haunt among locals. There are many local restaurants along the same street and in the surrounding areas. Take a look and see if anything tickles your fancy.

Whatever your interests, allow the majesty of the Raffles Hotel to bring you back in time and leave you with memories of a bygone era.

Date of stay: December 2020 ( The Writer’s Bar, the Long Bar and BBR by Alain Ducasse are currently closed at time of writing and during my stay)

The Butcher’s Block is open on weekends. The Burger & Lobster restaurant and Oshino restaurant are independent restaurants located in the shopping arcade area of the Hotel but are not included in the review.

Type of Review: Mystery Property Visit