After a thorough and extensive renovation, Raffles Singapore is back and continues to inspire the desire to collect wonderful memories
It first opened its doors in 1887, at the hands of the Sarkies brothers, the renowned Armenian hoteliers who also built other luxury hotels in the region. Christened Raffles, in tribute to Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, it quickly became one of the finest hotels in the region and the most iconic symbol of the city. Boasting a colonial style, to this day, it retains its original appearance and evokes the grandeur of another era. It was proclaimed a National Monument in 1987 and underwent the first significant rehabilitation work between 1989 and 1991. In February 2017, it once again invested in an extensive and meticulous restoration, which was concluded in August of this year.
The emblematic six-star Raffles Singapore, the very first hotel of the renowned hotel chain, managed by the Accor Group, and owned by Katara Hospitality, has undergone a face-lift, yet preserves the highest level quality and exclusivity that have made it famous.
The scrupulous restoration work was assigned to the reputable interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud who, along with the architecture and design firm Adeas, created a refurbished and welcoming space which breathes culture, beauty and elegance while accentuating its exceptionally rich heritage. “The new interiors evoke old Singapore, but in a contemporary way”, reveals Alexandra Champalimaud. Jon Kastl, the project manager, highlights this concept: “It was an honour to work inside a National Monument and we took this responsibility very seriously (…). We did everything we could to preserve the majority of the original historical traits – inside and outside (…). We wanted to be certain that everything that we were adding would complement the history.”
The suites now have some new categories. In addition to the State Room, Courtyard, Palm Court, Personality, Grand Hotel and Presidential, Raffles Singapore now offers another three: Residence, Promenade and Studio. The original layout was preserved: a living room, a bedroom and a bathroom. According to Alexandra Champalimaud, the experience that a room can offer is far more important than its furnishings. The contemporary lighting, along with the different textures and materials, such as marble, textiles, leather, and stained glass windows, bestow the 115 suites with a distinctive character. “Each suite has its own unique signature.”
The commercial area, Raffles Arcade, also bears a brand new look. There are approximately 30 different spaces representing various sectors, from retail to restaurants to lifestyle. “Raffles was always a centre for entertainment in Singapore (…). We aimed to enhance the notion of intimate, social and charming spaces”, explains Edmond Bakos, partner and general manager at Champalimaud Design. The Raffles Boutique (formerly the Raffles Gift Shop), for example, offers the most diverse souvenirs and includes Ah Teng’s Café, which tantalizes with pastries, a bakery and artisanal gelato. There are also a number of other boutiques representing high-end brands such as Leica, Minotti and Rimowa. It is also in this area that we may find the new Raffles Spa, a sanctuary of tranquillity with relaxing treatments for body and soul (available for hotel guests and visitors).
In the Raffles Arcade, it is worth highlighting the Jubilee Ballroom (formerly the Jubilee Hall), with the capacity to accommodate 300 guests and ideal for hosting all sorts of events. “We incorporated sophisticated Victorian details evocative of the origins of the space as well as some elements alluding to Singapore culture”, recounts Alexandra Champalimaud. The Great Room accentuates the social dimension of the hotel, offering a premium co-working space, the first of its kind located in a six-star hotel.
Art was also not neglected in a building that has witnessed the passage of so many figures connected to the arts, such as Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling, the actors Charlie Chaplin, Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor and the musician Michael Jackson. Art Matters is the new contemporary art gallery at Raffles Singapore and it displays artworks of various artists, including Picasso and Monet.
With respect to restaurants, the hotel is bursting with various excellent options. It is worth noting the restaurant Yì by Jereme Leung, which offers the flavours of genuine Asian cuisine. “It is not a fusion cuisine, but rather a cuisine that captures the essence of regional Chinese ethnic flavours”, explains the chef. For meat lovers, the steakhouse Butcher’s Block is also an option.
Taking into account that this was the first hotel in Singapore to hire a French chef, the renovated Raffles Singapore pays homage to this fact by offering two Michelin star chefs of French origins. Alain Ducasse launched his first restaurant in the city with BBR by Alain Ducasse. Its concept is dramatically different from everything he has done up until now, more focused on grilling with a Mediterranean influence, primarily Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and French. “I could not have imagined a better place than Raffles Singapore to present this experience for the first time. My team and I are anxious to offer the international clientele in Singapore a new gastronomic destination”, he proclaims.
Anne-Sophie Pic (Maison Pic, Valence) is the other French chef selected to enrich the palate of the Raffles Singapore guests. “For me, Singapore is a very vibrant city, it is inspiring and multicultural. It reminds me of London, with all of its diversity, which enables me to create a fabulous gastronomic symbiosis”, states the chef. La Dame De Pic offers a cuisine characterized by aromatic complexity and powerful flavours capable of eliciting emotions.
Raffles Singapore also offers the refurbished Tiffin Room, a space that has existed since the very beginning. This restaurant opened in 1892 and tantalizes with specialties from Northern India, served in Tiffin boxes.
The emblematic Long Bar, birthplace of the legendary Singapore Sling, is still in the same spot, but totally refurbished. In addition, there are three other spaces that comprise the rest of the offerings: the Writer’s Bar (a tribute to all the writers that have stayed at the hotel), the Raffles Courtyard esplanade, and the Raffles Afternoon Tea.
132 years later, Raffles Singapore re-opens in grand style and aims to continue to create unforgettable memories for its visitors. “Our guests seek a marvellous blend of the old and the new (…). When they stay with us, they can’t simply feel like they are staying in an extraordinary newly renovated hotel. They also have to understand that they are in a National Monument and one of the greatest symbols of the British Empire. For us, there is a romantic element here that is impossible to find in any other hotel”, concludes Jon Kastl.
1 Beach Road