Thursday, July 2, 2009

Raffles Hotel

Raffles Hotel is possibly the most famous landmark in Singapore.


Last weekend I spend time with my father and my son walking around the hotel and spending a bit of time at one of the famous establishments in there (more on it later).

2Nestled among the modern skyscrapers, Raffles Hotel preserves quiet a bit of the history it has been associated for more than 120 years.


It is interesting to note that this Singapore icon was owned by many non-Singaporeans (in the traditional sense). The founders of the hotel, Sarkies Brothers were Armenians, and the owner of the building, Syed Mohamed Alsagoff was an Arab trader. Even the latest owner, Colony Capital, is a California based company. It all shows the position of Singapore as an important trading centre than anything else (as well as the importance of having enough money). Strange, it may look today; Asian’s weren’t allowed as guests in the hotel until the 1930’s.


What is the most important part of Raffles Hotel – Expansive rooms? Tropical Gardens? No. It will be the Long Bar and its famous Singapore Sling. This cocktail was invented by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon in the earlier 1900 is a concotation of equal parts of gin, cherry brandy, and Benedictine shaken and then filled with club soda.

P6280889 (2)

Generations of world famous and not so famous must have drunk Singapore Sling and must have eaten the unlimited servings of peanuts with it at Raffles Hotel! For non-alcoholics there is also a Virgin Sling (does it indicates Singapore is not a virgin?)

P6280871 (2)

P6280843 (2)At S$23 + taxes, Singapore Sling (with a free “flow” of peanuts) at Raffles Hotel is an expensive drink. No choice – we too had to try it out! Three generations tried these world famous drinks – except the youngest one just tried hot chocolate.  It is interesting to note that loads of foreign tourists are hurried in to be fed with one of these drinks.

P6280854 (2)

P6280860 (2)

P6280887 (2)


P6280867 (2) Another curious thing to notice is that Raffles Hotel faces the Beach Road – but there is no beach or sea in sight! Land reclamation over time has literally moved the sea and the beach half a kilometer away. Raffles Hotel facing the sea - what a sight it would have been!

P6280946 (2)

Here is some more interesting information about Raffles Hotel:

  • Raffles Hotel’s famous guests include Charlie Chaplin, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham (who called it “the legendary symbol for all the fables of the exotic east”), Queen Elizabeth and Michael Jackson.
  • The last known wild tiger in Singapore was shot at the hotel more than hundred years back. In spite of the name “Singapura” (“Singa” means Lion) there were no wild lions in Singapore.
  • The hotel was scheduled for demolition in the 1980’s. But sense prevailed. Presidential suites now go at S$ 3,000 a night!


No comments: