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Raffles Singapore

History: 
    Raffles Singapore
 in SingaporeHistory: 
    Raffles Singapore
 in Singapore

History

The storied history of the Raffles Singapore begins with a charming beach house that Dr. Charles Emerson leased in 1878. An enterprising hotelier, Emerson converted the quaint estate into a seaside hotel. But his dreams were short-lived as he died five years later. As such, the hotel closed shortly thereafter. It was not until the arrival of the famous Sarkies Brothers that the little hotel would see life again. Proprietors of the wildly successful Eastern & Oriental hotel in Penang, the Sarkies had long sought to open a luxurious hotel in Singapore. Thus, in September of 1887, the brothers settled on the old Emerson Hotel as the site of their new establishment. After an extensive renovation, the Sarkies reopened the building as the “Raffles Hotel,” which they named in honor of Singapore’s founder, Sir Stamford Raffles.

It did not take long for the Raffles Hotel to rise in popularity. Within the first decade of opening, the Sarkies added three new buildings onto the existing structure in an attempt to meet the demand for more accommodations. The number of available rooms exploded from 10 to 75 in a matter of years. Soon, the Raffles Hotels boasted a veranda, a ballroom, and a billiards hall. The Sarkies outfitted each guestroom with the finest amenities for the era, including electric-powered lights and ceiling fans. By the late 1890s, the desire among travelers to stay at the Raffles Hotel grew to such an extent that the brothers realized they had to expand upon the original building once more. They hired the talented architect Regent Alfred John Bidwell to rebuild the space in 1899. What Bidwell achieved was nothing short of a masterpiece. When the hotel debuted after the construction, it’s new, brilliant Neo-Renaissance-style architecture met with thunderous applause. By the turn of the century, the Raffles Hotel had emerged as one of Southeast Asia’s most preeminent destinations.

As it grew in importance, a number of famous luminaries began to spend time at the Raffles Hotel. Among its earliest visitors was Joseph Conrad, who would later write the novel Heart of Darkness. Not long thereafter, Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book, resided at the hotel. Kipling would use his time at the Raffles Hotel as the inspiration for his story, “Feed at Raffles.” Other wealthy clients quickly followed in their footsteps, driven by the hotel’s high-quality hospitality, lavish accommodations, and proximity to the beach. Individuals like W. Somerset Maugham began to regularly visit the hotel. Rumor has it that many of the conversations that Maugham overheard while staying at the Raffles Hotel spawned many of his fascinating stories.

When the Great Depression hit at the end of the 1920s, the hotel endured extreme financial hardships. The last surviving Sarkies brother had to file for bankruptcy. Under new ownership, the Raffles Hotel recovered somewhat until the outbreak of the Second World War. Trouble rematerialized with the Japanese invasion and subsequent occupation of Singapore. As the Japanese Imperial Army approached, the hotel’s staff set about saving its assets. They even buried the business’s supply of silver within its famous Palm Court. Legend has it that the Raffles Hotel held one last waltz to distract the Japanese soldiers while the silver was hidden in their midst.

Fortunately, the Raffles Hotel became prosperous once more with the end of the war. Reverting back to private ownership, the building quickly resumed its place as Singapore’s primer luxury hotel. Many international celebrities returned to the Raffles Hotel, including Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, and Ava Gardner. It’s magnificence reached new heights in 1967 when Guy Green filmed much of Pretty Polly inside the building. For its historical significance, the government of Singapore declared the Raffles Hotel a National Monument in the 1980s. Celebrated today as the Raffles Singapore, the Raffles Hotel is now a cherished member of AccorHotels. With more than a century’s worth of meritorious service, the Raffles Singapore is among the most prestigious hotels throughout the entire world.

Raffles Singapore, a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2018, dates back to 1887.


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International Numbers

Austria 08000706176
Belgium 080081830
France 805542721
Germany 8007241217
Ireland 1800995320
Italy 800979444
Netherlands 08000200956
Norway 80054304
Spain 900814719
Switzerland 0800001798
UK 8009179622
Book by Phone: +1 866 670 3764
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