Review: Raffles Hotel (Singapore) – Part 1

Ah, Raffles Hotel, the stuff of dreams. Think grand colonial architecture, elegant polished interiors, fascinating stories of old and personalized go-the-extra-mile type of service. Founded in 1887 by the Sarkies brothers, this heritage hotel has always evoked in me feelings of yearning mixed with resignation – yearning for the day I will finally amass enough disposable income to comfortably afford a stay here, followed by resignation to the fact that even if I could afford it, I wouldn’t be able to convince my pragmatic self that spending that amount of money on a mere night’s stay would be worth it. As a result, staying here has remained but a fantasy.

Then covid came around and paved the way forward. Raffles Hotel started offering complimentary second-night stays for unprecedented nett prices in the low $900s! I missed that boat by a long shot unfortunately, so when a HSBC WOW weekend deal came along with a slightly higher $1000 price tag for 2 nights, I reasoned to myself that I’d probably never see such prices again and it’s only going to get more expensive, not less. If I really wanted to experience this hotel, it was now or never!

Raffles Hotel's building facade

  • Inclusions:
    • 2-night stay in State Room Suite
    • Daily breakfast
    • $150 dining credit per stay
    • $50 Raffles Boutique credit per stay
    • Welcome Singapore Sling drinks
    • History tour with Resident Historian
    • 15% discount at hotel-operated F&B outlets, Raffles Spa, Raffles Boutique and Floral Boutique (stackable with the dining credit)
  • Spent: SGD$1067.54


A day before check-in, I received a call from one of the staff confirming my stay details, prior reservations for dining and facility usage, as well as a surprising early check-in at 12pm (yay… at that point). However, when my husband and I showed up at the appointed time, we were mildly disappointed when a front desk staff informed us that there was likely a miscommunication as our booking only reflected the regular check-in time at 3pm. She went on to explain that the suite we had been assigned to would only be vacated at 12pm and there were supposedly no other suites available as occupancy rates were high. We were then ushered to The Grand Lobby and served drinks while we waited.

Shortly after, Jiyeon, another front desk staff, came to assist us with our situation. She suggested to help shift our lunch appointment at Butcher’s Block earlier to reduce our waiting time. She also offered the option of an upgrade to the Courtyard Suite. At our request, she very kindly brought us to the only Courtyard Suite available then to help us in our decision. Seeing us in a dilemma, she shared the pros and cons of each option and personally recommended the State Room Suite (our original booking). Apparently, different suite categories have their distinct draws and flaws, and sometimes a more expensive suite doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “better”. For instance, Studio Suites may be smaller but it has much higher ceilings, State Room Suites are larger but located next to the bustling roads (which could be noisy for some), Courtyard Suites are also smaller but are a lot quieter and open up to beautiful greenery outside. I was thoroughly impressed with how she earnestly listened to our needs and preferences, and related to us in such a personal way instead of responding with “standard template” replies. Fantastic recovery from the mix-up earlier.

Once we finished lunch (more details on this later), we were shown to our suite to complete our check-in there. The two staff assisting us gave a brief rundown of the features in the suite, as well as how to access the key locations in the hotel. This was the first time we had our check-in done in the privacy and comfort of our room, not a bad concept actually. A while later, our personal butler, Amanda, came to the suite to greet us and show us how to navigate the various functions on the in-room iPads. All suites have access to this 24-hour butler service and they are supposedly trained to handle any guest request thrown at them (you never know which crazy celebrity is gonna walk through those doors). It was great that we had Amanda remain with us throughout our entire stay instead of us having different butlers as that made for more personalized service and interactions!

The Grand Lobby at Raffles Hotel
The Grand Lobby

Virgin Singapore Sling served at The Grand Lobby at Raffles Hotel
Virgin Singapore Sling

Hot chocolate served at The Grand Lobby at Raffles Hotel
Hot chocolate


After much deliberation, we chose to turn down the upgrade offer and stick to our State Room Suite because size does matter in this instance. Our assigned suite was situated at level 3, the topmost floor of the Bras Basah wing, an area that formerly housed a horse stable (other suite categories can be found in the Palm Court wing or the Main Building). It is amazing how they’ve managed to retain the iconic touches of its colonial history but in a completely modernized fashion – from the four-post bed, to the rattan-backed chairs, to the intricately designed porcelain lamp stands. The natural-looking floorboards are apparently made of Balau wood, the same wood used for the main staircase at The Grand Lobby, because of its durability. I particularly fancied the grand burnt orange colour of the wardrobe and trunk bar interiors, very unique! The suite was extremely well-kept, even the corners were spotless and dust-free (unlike the room we initially got at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering Hotel). The marble-clad bathroom is equally noteworthy and comes with a tub, a separate rainshower and loads of space in between. There is even a bathtub pillow available to meet your soaking needs.

Light switches, curtains, TVs and air-conditioning are all controllable via in-room iPads, one in the bedroom and the other in the parlour (pretty techy for a classic hotel like that). For the old-school folks like me, you can still use the manual switches for some lights but it does take a few seconds for the lights to respond. Inspired by our stay at The St. Regis, we did likewise and played some classical music with the iPad’s radio function to create a chill ambience in the suite. Along with the comfy parlour seating, it was the perfect setting for catching up on some reading (: One thing to note is that the noise from the traffic is indeed quite audible as Jiyeon mentioned, but it didn’t bother me as it became low-level white noise in the background after a while.

Housekeeping comes twice a day: Once in the morning, precisely timed while we were having breakfast, and once during turndown service. Every night, we received a bedtime story excerpt penned by renowned writers who have been guests at this hotel before (although there were two typos in the Joseph Conrad story 😅). My usual firm pillow was delivered in a jiffy, and together with the wonderfully firm bed, I had two nights of awesome sleep.

Bedroom in State Room Suite at Raffles Hotel

Bedroom in State Room Suite at Raffles Hotel

Parlour in State Room Suite at Raffles Hotel

Bathroom in State Room Suite at Raffles Hotel

Bathroom in State Room Suite at Raffles Hotel

Brown leather-bound keycards to our State Room Suite at Raffles Hotel
Very fancy keycards

The view from one side of the State Room Suite at Raffles Hotel
View from the corridor on one side of the suite

The view from the other side of the State Room Suite at Raffles Hotel
View from the corridor on the other side of the suite

Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad story excerpts left in our State Room Suite during turndown service at Raffles Hotel
Story excerpts placed on the bed during turndown service


On the day of our check-in, we planned to dip into our dining credit for lunch at Butcher’s Block, located on the second level of Raffles Arcade, the building adjoined to the hotel. Due to the mix-up regarding our check-in time, we didn’t have an assigned suite to charge our bill to. The restaurant manager regrettably informed us that we wouldn’t be able to use our dining credit as a result and for some reason, he said that it wouldn’t be possible for him to call the hotel reception to work something out. A little peeved, I walked all the way back to the reception and notified Jiyeon, who very graciously acccompanied me to personally explain the situation to the manager. Finally, the issue was sorted out and we could carry on with lunch.

My golly, the food here was outstanding! Just the bread starters alone already made an impression. Unlike its run-of-the-mill counterparts, this one included special items like Hokkaido milk bread, miso baguette slices and an umami seaweed butter, delicious 😀 We shared a smoked salmon eggs benedict and a croque madame, as well as a baked matcha mochi dessert. I feel like any attempt to describe the dishes wouldn’t do justice to how scrumptious they actually were. All I can say is that the flavours were marvellously layered and refined, and the dishes were clearly well-thought-out. My husband said he would rate the food 6 out of 5 stars, which then launched us into a hearty discussion about awesome food.

Seating area at Butcher's Block at Raffles Hotel

The bread starters at Butcher's Block at Raffles Hotel

Smoked salmon eggs benedict and croque madame from Butcher's Block at Raffles Hotel

Baked matcha mochi dessert from Butcher's Block at Raffles Hotel

After our post-lunch knockout in the suite, we assembled near the hotel entrance for our history tour. The Resident Historian hosting us that day was Nazir, who has 20 years of service here under his belt. He brought us around different locations in the hotel while sharing stories and nuggets of trivia about key milestones in the hotel’s history. As he expounded tales of how the hotel has been through seasons of war and peace, a wave of nostalgia swept over me and it was like seeing the facts from my Social Studies textbooks come to life. Here are some other tidbits that I thought were pretty interesting:

– In 1989, the hotel underwent its first major renovation and acquired the row of shophouses next door, now known as the Raffles Arcade
– Its second major renovation took place in 2017, which was when the million-dollar specially-handmade lotus flower crystal chandelier from Czech Republic was installed
– The hotel was gazetted a national monument on 4 March 1987, exactly 100 years from its founding (what a way to commemorate its centennial)
– Whenever the famous grandfather clock strikes at 8pm, tradition calls for the pianist on duty to play “I’ll See You Again”, a song gifted to the hotel by Noel Coward
– Former Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, would celebrate his birthday at the East India Room every year without fail as it held sentimental value for him (he was married here back in 1950)

Our tour concluded with a visit to the luxurious Sir Stamford Raffles Suite, one of the two Presidential Suites in the hotel. Nazir shared that this part of the tour may sometimes be skipped if both Presidential Suites are occupied, and that we were fortunate that day as its occupants had just checked out, availing it for our viewing pleasure. He went on to list the legendary names who have set foot in this suite, like Michael Jackson and Bono from U2 (there were many more but only the musician names stuck with me, heh). If time and capacity allow, I’d highly recommend signing up for this 75-minute tour to just immerse yourself in the life and lore of this historic hotel.

Resident Historian Nazir demonstrating how the old musical box works at Raffles Hotel
Nazir demonstrating how Regina, the old musical box, works

Resident Historian Nazir explaining the tradition associated with the iconic grandfather clock at Raffles Hotel
Nazir explaining the tradition when the iconic grandfather clock strikes at 8pm

One of the bedrooms in the Sir Stamford Raffles Presidential Suite at Raffles Hotel
One of the bedrooms in the Sir Stamford Raffles Presidential Suite

The living area in the Sir Stamford Raffles Presidential Suite at Raffles Hotel
The sizeable living area in the Sir Stamford Raffles Presidential Suite

As we had some time to spare before our next reservation at Raffles Courtyard, we took a walk to explore the hotel grounds. The pool (not sure where I got the impression that there’d be no pool here) and gym are situated on level 3 of the Main Building. There was also a Hall Of Fame where photos of famous personalities who’ve stayed here before line the walls of an elongated corridor.

During our check-in, one of the staff mentioned that they had a two-storey library a few doors down from our suite. If you’re a book nerd like me, you’d probably be imagining massively tall shelves with tons of books that require a rolling ladder to reach (as in this Beauty & The Beast scene). Sadly, that wasn’t the case – it was more of a sitting area with some sparsely-filled shelves scattered about. Oh well, maybe calling it a two-storey library wasn’t the best idea to set accurate expectations, oops :X

Swimming pool at Raffles Hotel
Hotel pool

One section of the gym at Raffles Hotel
One section of the gym

The Hall Of Fame with framed photographs lining the walls at Raffles Hotel
Hall Of Fame

Seating area in the library at Raffles Hotel
The “two-storey library” on level 3

Seating area in the library at Raffles Hotel
The “two-storey library” on level 2

When we were done roaming the hallways, we headed to Raffles Courtyard for our welcome drinks. It had a nice laid-back vibe in an alfresco setting, although it made me wonder how they’d manage if it started pouring heavily. My husband ordered a virgin Singapore Sling, which I found to be terribly saccharine even though they reportedly tweaked the recipe in 2017 to suit the more health-conscious tastebuds of younger generations. The wait staff recommended me the Silvina mocktail made from a mix of Seedlip Grove 42, blood orange pu-erh tea, english breakfast tea, grapefruit Perrier and lemon orange juice – fruity and refreshing but still a tad too sweet for my liking. Maybe I should just stick to regular tea 😛

Raffles Courtyard bar at Raffles Hotel

Silvina mocktail and peanuts from Raffles Courtyard bar at Raffles Hotel
Silvina mocktail

Up next was dinner at Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse! Located at the hotel’s Bar & Billiard Room (hence the acronym BBR) where the infamous last tiger killing in Singapore occurred, this restaurant opened very recently and boy, everything was spanking new. From the decor to the furnishing, the interiors looked exquisite and classy. Service was impeccable too, where staff were on the ball and ready to assist with a smile.

To start, we were offered some bread and amuse-bouche served on little metal spoons (these were so good). One of the amuse-bouche was specially modified by the chef due to my husband’s allergy, something I only mentioned when making a reservation at Butcher’s Block – impressive communication across restaurants for a seamless experience! We then dug into Barolo-braised beef cheek pasta, margherita pizza and cherry panna cotta. The beef cheeks were full of melt-in-your-mouth goodness, the pizza was pure comfort food (though we would’ve preferred the dough to be less chewy), and the panna cotta was smooth with just the right amount of sweetness. Definitely an enjoyable meal to round up Day 1 here at Raffles Hotel!

Seating area at Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse restaurant at Raffles Hotel

Bread and amuse-bouche from Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse restaurant at Raffles Hotel

Barolo-braised beef cheek pasta, margherita pizza and bread from Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse restaurant at Raffles Hotel

Cherry panna cotta from Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse restaurant at Raffles Hotel

Alfresco seating area with a fountain outside Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse restaurant at Raffles Hotel
The gorgeous alfresco area right outside Osteria BBR

Check out what happened in Part 2! 🡲

2 thoughts on “Review: Raffles Hotel (Singapore) – Part 1

  1. This Xperience is TOP of MY BUCKET LIST…Want to be there on AUG.3RD 2022…for 3Nights…Any Special Offers?Residing in Dubai presently..Shukran


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