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Old 24th April 2021, 09:28 AM   #1
yflyer
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Default Raffles Hotel Staycation: A Look Back at History Through Modern Eyes

As a Singaporean, born here and having lived here all my life, the Raffles Hotel has always been there. An imposing presence at the corner of Beach Road and Bras Basah Road in Singapore's historic Civic District, it is impossible to ignore. Over the years, I have glanced up at it, driven past it, run past it, and on a few occasions even entered its hallowed doors to dine or have a drink.



But I had never actually stayed at the Raffles. My tastes lean more towards idyllic resorts or modern, cutting-edge properties. So-called historic, or "grand" hotels are not really my cup of tea, although I do appreciate them on the rare occasions that I get to experience them, for example the Grande Bretagne in Athens, or the Fairmont in San Francisco.

The Raffles Hotel was not on my bucket list of places to stay, but I was quite interested in seeing the end result of the hotel's most recent restoration, during which the hotel was closed for 2 years from February 2017 till July 2019. The Raffles Hotel re-opened to much fanfare in August 2019, only to be hit (Along with the rest of Singapore and the world) with COVID-19 restrictions in 2020.

Fast forward to early 2021...while tourists and business travel to Singapore has slowed to a trickle during the ongoing pandemic, the COVID-19 situation in Singapore is fairly well under control, and the Raffles Hotel continues to thrive and welcome guests, both visitors and local staycationers, with a unique blend of history and luxury.

As for Mrs yflyer, she had never stayed at the Raffles Hotel either, but a stay there had been a long time dream of hers. Having done a series of very enjoyable staycations in Singapore as we weathered COVID-19 restrictions, she decided that it was time to check out the Raffles for a staycation. With her usual efficiency, she found and booked a two night staycation package for us, and our younger girl, Miss yflyer no.2, at the Raffles.

We began our adventure on a wet afternoon in mid-April...

TR INDEX

1. Introduction
2. Suite - Palm Court Wing
3. Raffles Courtyard Bar
4. History Tour
5. Presidential Suite
6. Hall of Fame
7. Dining Out - Antidote
8. Run - Marina Bay
9. Breakfast - Tiffin Room
10. Swimming Pool
11. Room Service (Or Not…)
12. Lunch Out - Zafferano
13. Raffles Boutique
14. Writers Bar
15. Dining Out - Koji
16. Checkout and Final Reflections

Last edited by yflyer; 6th May 2021 at 01:24 PM..
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Old 24th April 2021, 10:02 AM   #2
yflyer
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The Raffles Hotel has gone through multiple renovations and extensions over the years since it was first established in 1887, however the current look of the hotel is based on the property as it was in its prime, circa 1915, complete with circular gravel driveway, and imposing Sikh doormen resplendent in their white uniforms...



In fact, the doormen have become a hotel icon in their own right, de-facto ambassadors for the hotel, and even making guest appearances overseas to receive awards on the hotel's behalf.



I drove round the gravel driveway to drop off Mrs yflyer and my daughter at the driveway, under the cast iron portico, before driving off to park the car at the hotel's underground carpark, accessible via Seah Street. (Note: If you are parking at the hotel as a house guest, get a complimentary parking coupon -- the carpark charges are nosebleed expensive!)



This was a reproduction of the original 1913 portico, complete with the old Raffles Hotel logo in stained glass, as the original was lost when the front portion of the hotel was extended to become a ballroom in 1920. The ballroom extension was removed in a prior 1989 renovation, which restored the portico and gravel driveway.

Entrance to the lobby was restricted to house guests only (A hotel policy recalling past history, where this guests-only policy also existed...), and of course there were the usual COVID-19 Safe Entry check-ins and temperature scans.


Last edited by yflyer; 24th April 2021 at 12:08 PM..
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Old 24th April 2021, 10:32 AM   #3
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First impressions...an elegant, airy lobby with large atrium and beautiful chandelier...very stunning and classy, yet slightly understated...



No check-in desks in the lobby -- you were given a warm and personalised welcome from the staff at the entrance, and check-ins were done via iPad and completed in the Suite itself. The Raffles is now an all-Suite hotel, with 100+ Suites.

The first order of business was a photo of your party in the lobby...



The picture was taken by a very fancy looking Leica camera (Kyo, our resident SQTalk Leica subject matter expert, can tell you more about this camera model...)...



As this was Sakura season in Japan, the decorative centerpiece in the lobby was a Japanese themed Spring / Sakura display...



At Christmas, this spot would be occupied by a Christmas Tree.

A small concierge desk was on the left of the entrance...



The rest of the beautifully serene lobby comprised seating and tables set up for tea and chit chat...





The striking chandelier in the lobby is actually a new addition, and not a restored artifact...



The chandelier was part of the overall interior design by Champalimaud Design Studio, and built with hand blown crystal from lighting firm Preciosa. The shape of the chandelier was inspired by a lotus flower, and it is adorned with 8000 crystals.



The staircase layout in the lobby has also been changed to a dual staircase on the ground floor. Lifts are also available to take guests up to the 2nd and 3rd levels.



There is a discrete front desk setup, hidden away from the lobby behind the staircases. Guests would typically have no reason to use the front desk, as check-in and touchless check-out can all be done in the hotel suites themselves.


Last edited by yflyer; 25th April 2021 at 05:06 PM..
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Old 24th April 2021, 11:07 AM   #4
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Our Suite was in the Palm Court Wing of the hotel, first opened in 1894...



This was a beautiful 2-storey structure, to the East of the main building, across a lush grass lawn, and connected to the main building by a covered walkway....



The gable end of the Palm Court Wing, facing Beach Road...



Earlier renovations had built a room extension at this end, which was restored to the original gable in 1989.

On the right side of the photo, you can also see the fan-shaped Traveller's Palm tree, where a stylised graphic of this Palm has become the new Raffles Hotel logo.

The Suites were lined along a common corridor...



With each room having a round table and a pair of cane chairs, where you could spend time outside your room...



Rooms on the 2nd level were arranged in a similar layout...


Last edited by yflyer; 25th April 2021 at 05:08 PM..
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Old 24th April 2021, 11:19 AM   #5
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Our room was on ground level, overlooking the grass lawn...



The newly restored and remodelled rooms followed a similar linear layout as the original rooms. There was a Living Room, followed by a Bedoom, then a Dressing Room / Wardrobe and Bathroom, with each section separated by slatted sliding doors and internal slatted windows.



The Suite itself was not huge (In fact the suites in most modern hotels would typically be larger), as the size of the Suites was probably constrained by the building layout, but the Suite itself was beautifully styled and immaculately constructed, with superb workmanship on display.

The Living area, with a sofa on one side...



...and a writing table and large flat screen TV on the other side..



The refreshment console...



Ornate vase, and curated reading material...



A selection of fresh fruit...



3 room keys were laid out on the table, along with a care pack, Raffles Hotel magazine, and placards with our activity reservation dates/times carefully recorded.



I loved the classy leather-bound touchless keycards....



The care-pack had Raffles branded face masks (Additional masks could be purchased in the Raffles Boutique...)



Umbrella...


Last edited by yflyer; 11th May 2021 at 10:42 AM..
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Old 24th April 2021, 11:30 AM   #6
yflyer
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The next section of the room was the Bedroom area...



The main bed was a 4-poster bed. This was a firm and supremely comfortable mattress, topped with super smooth high-thread count bedding...thumbs up as far as the bed was concerned!



We also had a separate rollaway single bed for our daughter, who would also be staying in the Suite, which had a maximum capacity of 3.



Another large flat panel TV in the bedroom area, along with more reading material.



The selection of reading material in the room was very well curated, comprising quite a number of books relating to Singapore history, culture and food...



...as well as books written by famous authors who had stayed at the Raffles, including Rudyard Kipling.



The original historical advertising for the Raffles Hotel advertised electric fans (And, indeed, even electricity as a feature!). Ceiling fans have been retained as a feature...



Dark wood flooring with beautiful carpets as an accent...preferable to the usual wall-to-wall carpeting in my opinion...



Analog bedside clock...



Universal A/C power plugs and USB ports...



Adjustable bedside reading lights...



One on each side...


Last edited by yflyer; 25th April 2021 at 05:09 PM..
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Old 24th April 2021, 11:42 AM   #7
yflyer
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The front of the room facing the Palm Court had windows looking out, which was great in that one could look outside to see what was going on, but which also meant anyone strolling outside along the common corridor could also look in.



That said, as the hotel grounds were restricted to guests only, with the Suites quite spread out, in practice, there was minimal foot traffic outside the rooms, and we left the blinds up most of the time.

Automated sheer and opaque curtains could be raised or lowered at the touch of a button if privacy was needed.





Once shut, one had complete privacy, as well as near total darkness in order to sleep in, if desired.



The room was also very well soundproofed. The front door had a sound proof rubber seal around the frame...



...and the door itself had a stepped frame...



...such that when the door was closed, the room fell noticeably and almost totally silent.

This was such a wonderful and thoughtful feature, which made the room very conducive to work, thought and whatever else you wanted to do in there (It probably kept sounds in the room in as well, in case activities in the room got noisy...).

It was only when you opened the door and let the ambient noise filter in that you realized how quiet the room was when the door was closed.

Last edited by yflyer; 29th April 2021 at 10:42 AM..
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Old 24th April 2021, 11:48 AM   #8
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The living room and bedroom were also separated by an internal door and slatted windows...



These could be closed to completely isolate the living area from the bedroom, which came in handy when I had to use my computer at the table in the living area in the early morning with the lights on, while Mrs yflyer was still asleep in the bedroom...



Note that the internal partition between living and bedroom areas is not soundproof though.

Once doors closed, the bedroom area became a cosy area to rest...



Note as well the high quality baggage rack and low seat / luggage space, by the side and foot of the bed.

Last edited by yflyer; 25th April 2021 at 05:10 PM..
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Old 24th April 2021, 11:54 AM   #9
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As befitting the recent renovation, this bedroom was very high-tech. Apart from fast complimentary wifi connectivity, everything in the room, from lights, curtains, temperature and television, could be controlled by iPad.

There was one iPad in the bedroom and one in the living area.



Temperature controls...



Lighting (Which could also be controlled by switches and dials on the walls, thank goodness)...



Curtains and blinds...



And entertainment, including a large selection of HD news and entertainment channels...



You could also login to your own Netflix account (Important these days!).

There was also an online pillow menu, which included high-end Tempur memory foam pillows...


Last edited by yflyer; 24th April 2021 at 12:15 PM..
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Old 24th April 2021, 12:04 PM   #10
yflyer
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There was another section of the room before the bathroom, which was a walk-in wardrobe / dressing area...



This came with a wardrobe and dressing table (Which could also double as a writing table...)...



The tabie had a stowable vanity mirror with light...this compartment also held the hairdryer -- a very clever design.



High quality dark blue cloth bedroom slippers. Three pairs were provided, one for each of us, with one large pair and two smaller pairs.



In-room safe, leather lined drawers...



...and very beautiful shoe trees...

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Old 24th April 2021, 12:28 PM   #11
yflyer
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The bathroom was beautiful...



A deep freestanding bathtub...





Dual basins...



There was a socket for a shaver, and wall mounted vanity mirror...



Toiletries from Ormonde Jane...







High quality amenities...



Analog weighing machine...



Soft bathrobes...

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Old 24th April 2021, 12:29 PM   #12
yflyer
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Towels embroidered with the Raffles logo.



Bath pillow for the tub...



There is a separate shower stall with rain shower...



Separate stall for WC...



A thoughtful feature is a "Do Not Disturb" switch next to the WC...no more scrambling if someone rings the doorbell while you are on the throne...


Last edited by yflyer; 25th April 2021 at 05:11 PM..
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Old 24th April 2021, 12:36 PM   #13
yflyer
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The refreshment console was a very elegant, leather-bound piece of furniture...



...with a top that could be folded closed if desired...



There were multiple compartments, including mini-fridge...



Coffee/tea cups...



Nespresso capsules and Raffles branded tea...



Glassware of all shapes and sizes...



Mini-bar liquor in not-quite-mini bottles...



...including Raffles' own gin bottling from Sipsmith...



Nespresso machine and electric kettle in dark grey...



While there was just enough space in the cabinet to use the Nespresso machine, I felt more comfortable taking it out and placing it on the console top before brewing myself a cup of Nespresso...

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Old 24th April 2021, 12:38 PM   #14
yflyer
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Writing materials were also top notch...



There was a leather case containing stationery...



This could be flipped open to reveal pen, paper, envelopes and postcards...

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Old 24th April 2021, 12:50 PM   #15
yflyer
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Overall, I thought our Palm Court Suite was excellent: Our suite was very well thought out, and beautifully designed. Workmanship and finishing was superb throughout.

The all important bed was super comfortable, and overall room ambience, in terms of temperature, lighting and soundproofing could not be faulted. The bathroom was excellent as well.

The only downside compared to other hotels was the size of the Suite, at 70 square meters, which is probably smaller than Suites in many other hotels. As earlier mentioned, this was probably a constraint of the original hotel design.

Apart from that, I found the Palm Court Suite to be wonderful.

There are other Suites available at the Raffles, with different layouts, and views, for example some Suites overlook the courtyard, whereas others are in the Bras Basah wing overlooking an inner Courtyard, as well as 46 sq m Studio Suites in the main building itself.

The Palm Court Suites cost a little more because of the location overlooking the grass lawn. While we didn't get a look into the other regular Suites for comparison, I can heartily recommend the Palm Court Suites, for the room layout as well as the beautiful Palm Court ambience in this part of the hotel.

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