The Raffles Hotel in Singapore - Has Anyone Hosted More Famous People?

"A Hotel that stands for all the fables of the Exotic East!"
- Somerset Maugham

Raffles Hotel in Singapore - Main Building.
The main building of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore.

The Raffles Hotel in Singapore.

A tourist attraction in 1909.

And still a tourist attraction in 2009.

On this page:
[Raffles Hotel Trivia]
[Raffles Hotel Photo Tour]
[Tips for Travellers & Booking Info]


What do the following people have in common? The King and Queen of Siam, Prince Aldabert of Germany, Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, Charlie Chaplin, George Bush Senior, Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson.

Well, they have all stayed at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore at some time or other. Perhaps, no other hotel in Asia has hosted so many famous people. The Raffles Hotel is not just a luxury hotel preferred by the rich and famous. It has also been a tourist attraction for more than a century. And still is today.

Here're just some highlights of the hotel's colourful history...

8 Fascinating Trivia About the Raffles Hotel in Singapore

Did you know that...

  • In 1887, the Raffles Hotel in Singapore was dullish and almost hostel-like. Rudyard Kipling wrote that it was '...a place where the food is as excellent as the rooms are bad.' He went on, 'Let the traveller take note. Feed at Raffles and sleep at the Hotel de L' Europe.'

  • At the grand opening of the refurbished Main Building on 18 Nov 1899, electric lights and fans were turned on here (probably) for the first time in Singapore.

  • Even as early as March 1905, travellers on round-the-world cruises dined and partied at the Raffles Hotel ballrooms, even if their ships stopped only for a few hours in Singapore.

  • The Raffles Hotel in Singapore was promoted as the 'Rendevous of Planters' in the 1910s - when nearly half of the world's raw rubber was exported out of Singapore's harbour.

  • In the early 1900s, guests could sit on the hotel's verandahs and watch the harbour activities over a 5-mile sea-front. Today, that sea-front has been reclaimed. Raffles Hotel guests come for a different ambience - the hotel's combination of modern luxury and old-world charm.

  • One morning in 1902, a Bengal tiger strolled into the hotel's Bar and Billiard Room. A Mr Phillips from nearby Raffles Institution was called upon to get rid of the tiger. Taking his rifle, the brave teacher fired 5 shots into the darkness where the tiger was hiding. One of these shots landed in the space between the tiger's eyes.

  • Following in the footsteps of the tiger, a python, a wild boar and a squealing pig also made their way into the hotel soon after. Just imagine how abundant the wildlife around the hotel was! In what is now Singapore's central business district!

  • At one point before World War 2, the Raffles Hotel had its own slaughter-house and dairy farm.

The Raffles Hotel Photo Tour

Raffles Hotel in Singapore - the famous Sikh doorman.

Before you enter the hallowed halls of the Raffles, you'll be greeted by Singapore's most photographed doorman.

Can you imagine him chasing after a wild boar in his crisp white uniform?

That's what his predecessor did, when a ferocious wild boar entered the hotel in the early 1900s.

And he chased the bugger for at least 100m up Bras Basah Road!


Raffles Hotel in Singapore - the lobby.

There's nothing run-of-the-mill at the Raffles. Look at the polish of the lobby.

I was told that a 10m Christmas tree (a real tree, not the plasticky ones) was erected here during Christmas in 2007.

Raffles Hotel in Singapore - the Sarkies Suite.

The Raffles Hotel in Singapore is an all-suite hotel.

The Sarkies Suite here is named after the 3 brothers who started the hotel.

It has a charming old-world ambience, and is one of the many famed Personality Suites (see below for explanation).

Raffles Hotel - Palm Court. Raffles' Palm Court is an oasis of calm in a busy city.
Raffles Hotel - Sarkies Suite verandah.

The Sarkies Suite verandah.

Did Somerset Maugham, Joseph Conrad or Rudyard Kipling write their novels here?

Raffles Hotel in Singapore - the Long Bar.

The relocated Long Bar.

The reason to come here? To sip on Singapore's most famous drink...

It was at the old Long Bar that the bar-tender Ngiam Tong Boon first concocted the Singapore Sling.

Raffles Hotel in Singapore - the Singapore Sling.
Down the Singapore Sling at its origin. And buy the souvenir glass too.
Raffles Hotel in Singapore - the Tiffin Room. The Tiffin Room serves out-of-this-world curries. If you want a great lunch, this is the place to go.
Raffles Hotel in Singapore - the Tiffin Room curries. A must-try in Singapore. Tiffin Room Curries. Bon Appetit.
Raffles Hotel in Singapore - Doc Cheng's Restaurant.

I simply love Raffles' Doc Cheng's Restaurant. They serve excellent fusion lunches.

Ask to sit at one of those private areas with curtains (see the left of this picture).

Tips For Travellers & Booking Information

If money is no object...

  1. Go for one of the Grand Suites or the Personality Suites - suites named after famous people who were somehow linked with the hotel. Each suite is named after a well-known person and contains paraphernalia linked with that person. So don't be surprised to see Joseph Conrad's drafts or Somerset Maugham's letters.

  2. Else, go for the "cheaper" Palm Court suites. These have verandahs that overlook the beautiful, calm-inducing Palm Court.

  3. For the "cheapest" rooms, be ready to fork out at least US$350 per night in 2010.

  4. Compare multiple sites now and find the best rates for Raffles Hotel in Singapore:

    Raffles Hotel Singapore

If you are like me (and can't afford US$350 per night on hotel room)...

Consider having an ala carte lunch at Doc Cheng's, or a dinner buffet (curries!) at the Tiffin Room. If there's one treat you would give yourself in Singapore, either Doc Cheng's or the Tiffin Room would be great.

Related to Raffles Hotel in Singapore

How to get discounts at Raffles Hotel in Singapore & the Raffles family of hotels

Photos of Raffles Hotel: courtesy of Raffles Hotel in Singapore.

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