Majestic view of the exterior of Raffles Singapore hotel

Photo by Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Notice: Raffles Hotel Singapore is currently undergoing restoration works which will be completed mid-2018. The restoration will be carried out in three phases with no access to all hotel premises. For more information on the restoration programme, visit here.

Easily the most famous hotel in Singapore, no other establishment epitomises the island’s colonial history better than Raffles Singapore.

Named after Singapore’s founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, the hotel was built by the Sarkies Brothers, responsible for other luxury hotels in the region during the colonial era.

Although Raffles Singapore opened in 1887, its layout continued to be changed, with hotel wings, suites and other facilities added over the years.

Jewel in the crown
Grand interior of Raffles Singapore hotel

Photo by Raffles Hotel, Singapore

However, it was the hotel’s new main building, designed by R. A. J. Bidwell of Swan & MacLaren and completed in 1899, which turned out to be the jewel in the crown.

An exemplary showcase of neo-Renaissance architecture, tropical touches like high ceilings and extensive verandahs were added. It boasted a dining room with a marble floor, electric lights and powered ceiling fans—a first for any hotel in the region.

It became the place to be. Somerset Maugham, Herman Hesse and Rudyard Kipling were just some of the illustrious names that spent a night or two under its roof.

A facelift in 1989 restored it to the height of its glory. An original cast-iron portico and a timber staircase were reinstated, while decorative plasterwork was painstakingly repaired. All rooms were converted into suites with teakwood floors and handmade carpets.

Today, the Raffles Singapore is a heritage icon, and its storied elegance, compelling history and colourful guest list continues to draw travellers the world over.