Raffles Singapore reopens after two-year renovation

1 Aug 2019 by Jenni Reid
Raffles exterior

Raffles Singapore has reopened for guest stays following more than two years of renovation work across its guest rooms and public spaces.

The iconic property closed for the project in February 2017.

It was the first Raffles hotel, opened in 1887 as a ten-room bungalow by two brothers from Armenia.

Over the twentieth century it became the city-state’s best-known hotel, and in 1987 it was designated a national monument by the government. It was last renovated shortly after.

Today it has a resident historian who has created a series of videos featuring key moments from its past (early guests included the writers Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling).

Grand lobby

The new works were led by interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud, architecture and design firm Aedas, lighting consultants Tino Kwan and restoration and research consultants Studio Lapis.

The hotel’s suite count has increased from 103 to 115, while new categories have been added; it now offers State Room Suites, Courtyard Suites, Palm Court Suites, Personality Suites, Residence Suites, Promenade Suites, Grand Hotel Suites and Presidential Suites.

The Raffles Arcade, a collection of shops and “lifestyle spaces”, has a new gift shop, spa and retail brands as well as a history gallery featuring archive pictures and stories.

The restaurant line-up now includes Mediterranean grill BBR by chef Alain Ducasse, steakhouse Butcher’s Block, three-Michelin star chef Anne-Sophie Pic’s La Dame de Pic, Chinese restaurant 兿 yì by Jereme Leung, and classic Indian restaurant Tiffin Room.

In July the hotel reopened its famed Long Bar, a popular tourist spot thanks to its invention of the Singapore Sling, and the Grand Lobby, which has a daily afternoon tea service.

Here are some of the highlights from the rest of the renovation:

Raffles grand staircase

The Grand Lobby staircase. This was previously restored during the renovation in the early 1990s, when three floors were gutted to uncover the original foyer atrium apparently described by Joseph Conrad as “airy as a birdcage”.

Verandah corridor

The Verandah corridor. According to lead designer Jon Kastl, speaking during the renovation: “Stylistically, British Colonial was a very contemporary design movement.

“The starkness of those white buildings and white rooms against the contrasting black furniture was graphically very strong and we’ve built on that notion.

“All the new furnishings will be bespoke. We’re incorporating a significant amount of wood alongside fabrics, stone, glass and metals to contemporise the effect.”

Tiffin Room

The Tiffin Room, an Indian restaurant that has been at Raffles since 1892. The new décor includes wooden floorboards to bring back features from the early 1900s.

Jubilee Ballroom

The Jubilee Ballroom, the hotel’s new main event space. It features custom upholstered wall panels and unique gold Venetian light fixtures.

The lawn, which hosts weddings and other big events.

The renovated rooftop pool area, with the huge Marina Bay Sands building visible in the distance.

Raffles Residence Suite

The living room of a Residence Suite, one of the new suite categories. There are five located within the Raffles Arcade, and each has a living/dining room, pantry, office, bathroom and bedroom. Sizes are between 120 and 150 sqm.

Courtyard Suite Bedroom

The bedroom of a Courtyard Suite. The 31 suites lead onto the Verandah and are 58 sqm.

Ensuite bathrooms have been redesigned with Victorian details and Peranakan tiles, a type of colourful local ceramic.

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