Raffles Hotel in Singapore has a long-standing reputation of being one of the world’s most iconic and storied hotels. And its ranking amongst the world’s best has only been enhanced by recent multi-million-dollar restorations.
Previously we’d only visited Raffles for a Singapore Sling in the historic Long Bar or to browse the boutique shopping gallery, so when our first overseas trip for 2 years came around, we were beyond excited to be staying at this heritage property.
We made the Raffles reservation on a whim in early 2021 after picking up business class award seats (thankyou Qantas) to Singapore in January 2022. I’ve lost count of how many flights and hotels I’ve cancelled because of covid, so we didn’t really think this trip would go ahead (always book with free cancellation!).
But when January came around and Australia’s borders were still open (well, slightly ajar) and we had both somehow evaded Omicron, we found ourselves off to Singapore on the VTL (vaccinated travel lane).
We timed our 2 night Raffles stay in the middle of our Singaporean holiday, staying at two other hotels either side. The Raffles experience began with a luxury Mercedes S Class limousine pickup from the front of our first hotel – the transfer would only take 20 minutes normally, and we were early for check in, so we told the driver to take his time. He generously obliged by taking a longer more scenic route to the hotel while we luxuriated in the air conditioned leather comfort of the Mercedes.
As the Mercedes pulled into the Raffles forecourt, four staff descended the red carpet to greet us and welcome us warmly to the hotel.
There is no check in desk at Raffles – we were invited to take a seat in the Grand Lobby while our luggage was collected from the car. We were then escorted to our suite to complete the check process in the quiet comfort of our sitting room before being introduced to our butler who showed the features of our suite.
The suite consisted of an entry foyer, huge bathroom, luxurious bedroom with four-poster bed and tv, a parlour with bar, dining table, another tv, and French doors to a balcony. We are immediately wowed by the generous proportions of the rooms, the sophisticated furnishings and luxury amenities.
Once alone in the room we check nook and cranny for hidden features, try out the bed (blissfully comfortable), and take inventory of the complimentary toiletries and bar offerings – this is easily one of the best hotel rooms I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying in.
As tempted as we are to remain inside our luxury oasis, we are also keen to fully explore the hotel as bonafide guests. Timeless elegance might be a tired phrase but it could never be more apt than for Raffles Hotel. There’s a cornucopia of bars and restaurants to choose from, beautiful gardens to enjoy, courtyards, sitting rooms, passageways and cul de sacs. And you are never too far from a friendly member of staff with a warm greeting or offer of assistance.
We made good use of the third floor pool during our stay. It’s a great place to cool off from the city heat and we were well looked by the pool and bar attendants – the standard of personal service throughout the hotel is uncompromising.
Our breakfasts were served in the famous Tiffin room. It’s an ala carte breakfast menu and its hard to choose between all of the options – but you can order every item on the menu if you think you can handle it. Its all included. We tried both western and Asian breakfast options – the mee goreng was the best I’ve ever had.
The most remarkable thing about Raffles is that, despite the hotel’s reputation and its relative exclusivity, its history of attracting the world’s rich and famous, it manages to be sophisticated without ever being snobbish, it emanates elegance without feeling elitist.
We were always made to feel welcome and comfortable and genuinely valued as guests – even if returning hot and sweaty from a sightseeing excursion. The hospitality was outstanding at all times, the staff were warm and friendly and seem to love the hotel as much as we did.
After two days, Raffles felt like a home away from home, and we were sad to be leaving for one of Singapore’s other iconic hotels where we planned to finish our holiday.
I won’t name the other hotel here (that will be the subject of another blog entry) but on arrival we were immediately aware of a very different guest experience, and not in a positive way. We were so unimpressed that after one night we decided to cancel our last night and transfer out to another hotel – and we couldn’t think of a better way to spend our last 24 hours in Singapore than by splurging one more night at Raffles.
I booked Raffles online on Wednesday, we checked out Thursday and transferred to Raffles by taxi at 10am well before the official 3pm room-ready time.
On arrival at Raffles we were again greeted by the front of house staff with a warm “Welcome back Mr Jobling, we’re so glad you’ve returned to us”. You can’t underestimate the difference that personalised service makes.
We were given early access to our room and staff immediately arranged a late check out for us the next day. Limousine transfer to the airport was included. And they upgraded us from the base level room that I booked to the suite from our previous stay.
In our room was a hand written note from the Lobby Manager:
“Welcome back to Raffles Hotel Singapore. Thankyou for your loyalty and we are delighted to have you reside with us. Hope your time in the Grand Dame will be a memorable experience.”
Thankyou Raffles – it was indeed an indelibly memorable experience and Raffles will be top of our list every time we visit Singapore.