There are many luxuries around us in this world – enriching and comforting to a greater or lesser degree – and a small number of these luxuries are further embued with something extra, something special, which lifts them out of the ordinary to an almost mythical status. Raffles Hotel in Singapore is one such luxury, its very name evoking an almost impossibly glamorous and unfeasably old-world atmosphere – as long as you identify with the colonials of course. It was therefore a pleasure to break the very long Sydney to London flight with a night at the hotel and at the same time take the opportunity to sample the pleasures of one of the world’s busiest and most forward-looking business hubs while at the same time experiencing a throw-back to another era.
Originally established by two Armenian brothers in 1887, Raffles hotel grew up serving the British Empire as it expanded East and it retains a grand, imperial and shelter-from-the-real-world nature that could easily convince you that all really is good with the world inside its grounds.
Singapore itself is quite an experience – hot, humid, bustling and exciting – and the hotel presents an oasis of old-world charm amid the intense urbanness of the island city-state. At the main entrance is a gravel drive and you enter the hotel itself through the airy entrance portico and into the most stunning lobby – a three-storey atrium of colonial audacity and a testament to a land developed by British adventurers.
Once past the ‘residents only’ signs the hotel is a maze of corridors and lounges leading around verandahed courtyards to the beautiful and exquisite rooms – you can breakfast outside your room for a bit of pre-midday-heat outdoors-ness if the mood takes you, or go to the restaurant where they’ll give a mini seat for your handbag while serving you a breakfast to remember.
You should also make sure to visit the rooftop swimming pool for a bit of exercise and the Billiard Room for a bit of relaxation – while the peanut shell-strewn Long Bar is the actual birthplace of the Singapore Sling.
One way and another we left refreshed and happy which is, perhaps, the highest accolade you can give a hotel.