Raffles Hotel – Singapore

A Colonial Grand Dame of Literary Tradition

This famed white elephant, landscaped with rustling palms and frangipani trees, its public rooms strewn with Asian period pieces and Oriental carpets, “stands for all the fables of the exotic East” – or so wrote Somerset Maugham.

After an extensive restoration that managed to leave its 100-year-old soul and history intact, Raffles Hotel, one of Asia’s great colonial landmarks, is once more the theatrical magnet for well-heeled travelers and the merely curious. It’s as much a tourist attraction as it is a luxury hotel. In its spacious suites, teak floorboards, 14-foot ceil­ings, and overhead fans recall Raffles’s first heyday, when Singapore was known as “the crossroads of the East.”

As is true in most Asian cities, some of Singapore’s best restaurants can be found in its hotels, and of the many at Raffles, the Empress Room is a standout, serving some of the best Chinese cuisine and dim sum in a city that is a food-lover’s paradise.

As for bars, Maugham liked his Million Dollar Cocktail in the hotel’s Writers Bar (watering hole for the likes of Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling), though the average visitor today heads for the Long Bar, where the Singapore Sling was invented in 1915; more than 2,000 are con­cocted here on a good day.

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