I’ve finally bit the bullet for this grand old dame!
I had missed out on their Suite Treat and Suite Life packages offered earlier this year as I have always not preferred the colonial style for staycays and honestly this property always seems a little out of reach in terms of price point. But since this year is a year of money-burning staycays, why not.
I’m also going to (try to) be as detailed as I can just because its Raffles. Heh.
Address – 1 Beach Road Singapore 189673. Website.
Contact – Tel: +65 63371886. Email: Singapore@raffles.com.
Location – this iconic property is located on a prime location in Cityhall and enjoys proximity to major shopping malls though via unsheltered options. The closest MRT option is Cityhall (NS25/EW13) which is about a 3-5 min unsheltered walk away.
Price – $1,050++ for 2 nights (marketed as “Book one night, enjoy the second night on us”) = $1,235.85 booked under HSBC WOW Weekend promotion which includes the following:
- Breakfasts for 2pax
- Welcome Singapore Sling
- $150nett dining credit
- $50nett Raffles Boutique credit
- History tour with our Resident Historian
- 15% off Raffles Hotel Singapore operated F&B outlets (including in-room) and Raffles Spa
- 15% discount off Raffles Boutique and Floral Boutique (all regular-priced items)
HSBC pushed out had another WOW Weekend offer at $950++ a few weeks later with exactly the same inclusions which is obviously a better deal so congrats if you got that one!
Booking The Stay – the stay can be booked via the property’s website and one day after my booking, I received a separate email encouraging booking of various Raffles experiences, including facility booking and history tour (which I signed up for). It is useful to note that although the booking says deposit of the non-refundable full amount is due by the day of stay, my card was already charged about 2 months prior to the stay. I was also able to move up my stay one week earlier due to some unforeseen circumstances due to the kind assistance from the reservations team.
Pre-arrival – I received my pre-arrival email 4 days prior inviting me to do an online check including uploading the staying guests’ NRIC / ID documents. The process also involves inviting you to upgrade for a fee but the page does not tell you how much each upgrade costs until you click on it – how would you like the Presidential Suite for another $2,000? At the end of this process, I got a check in QR code which is supposed to be presented upon arrival.
2 days prior to the stay, I also received a call confirming the details of my stay and was also offered to check in as early as 10:30am. Yays!
Arrival at Grand Lobby – I happen to be in the area way earlier that morning and decided to try my luck by stopping over at 9:30am (figured I’ll drop my barang and head for breakfast if not). We arrived to an empty Grand Lobby and were welcomed by a hoard of staff. I didn’t have to present the QR code as they found my reservation using my last name and we were whisked away to do an in-room check in after a seated wait of 10mins. They also asked to take a picture of us in the lobby while waiting – so fun.
I have to say, the Grand Lobby is an awesome place to wait! It is a world of white colonial grandeur which impresses at every turn, no matter structural or furnishings. The $160million spent on refurbishing the entire hotel for 2 years from 2017-2019 has indeed gone to very good use.
Check In – We were escorted to our room for an in-room check in and were asked for our IDs (which I thought was weird as we had already furnished it during the online registration). Nothing else was required from us after that and we were asked if it was appropriate for our butler to come by and walk us through the room features. While it was nice to be able to have a face to the team of Raffles butlers, I felt it could be more streamlined if the same staff who checks us in does the room introduction, or have the butler ready by the room at some point.
The butler’s walk-through took about 5mins and the highlights were the fact that everything from calling the butler, lightings, curtains, to the TVs (no remote control provided) is controlled via the 2x iPads in the Suite. For lightings, you can also adjust them via the fancy dials peppered throughout the Suite. The butler was also quick to point out that we can log into any of the native apps on the iPads (Netflix, Prime Video) and the accounts will be logged out after the stay. I also asked for 1:00pm late check out but was declined. Ah wells.
And trust Raffles to have these fancy key cards.
Suite – My State Room Suite, 357, was really really nice and erm stately haha! At 67SqM, the space which would be my home for the next 2 nights was more than enough to accommodate a large and very white marblished bathroom, a intimate bedroom area, as well as a spacious parlour.
The layout is rather unique in the sense that after you enter your walkway, you’ll get your bathroom to your right, followed by the bedroom, then the parlour at the end of the layout. One thing to note is that for those who value privacy, this unfortunately means that if you have guests or have staff coming to prepare in-suite dining, they’d pass by your bedroom before getting to the parlour.
The gorgeous bathroom was the first thing that I saw upon stepping in. Decked out in white marble classiness, the double sinks comes in high quality finishing and is accompanied by alot of countertop space. There are little thoughtful touches like how each side of the sink comes with a plate for your stuff, a dedicated ring holder, and the toiletries placed in the middle for easy sharing.
As expected from a hotel of this calibre, there are separate sections for the shower and toilet. The toilet is as it should be and follows the classy theme. I was more fascinated with the shower that comes with multiple fancy notches to help you attain your optimum shower permutation , as well as Ormonde Jayne branded toiletries (apparently created just for the hotel), which unfortunately left my hair a little dry. But for the life of me, I couldn’t get the water temperature to be anything other than hot – maybe they figured that most of their guests prefer to semi-steam themselves? I ended up calling for help to check on it and the engineering team fixed it within 30mins while I got some work done.
Raffles branded bathrobes were provided, alongside plenty of towels some of which were Raffles branded too.
And of course, there’s a bathtub. It was built into one side of the wall, plenty spacious, and comes equipped with a loofah brush and a bathtub pillow! It was rather nice to be able to rest my head properly in a bathtub. No bath salts are provided so bring your own 🙂
There is little dressing area between the bathroom and the bedroom, which is a nice space to place your random belongings. This is also where you’ll find the hair dryer.
The bedroom contains your cushy king bed in a four poster frame alongside 2 bedside tables: on one side is the in-house phone and the other side your iPad for the controls. The huge smart TV directly faces the bed and comes with Android and Apple casting mirroring functions. This space also contains your wardrobe and has the usual stuff including the safe and their version of the bedroom slippers which I found rather difficult to walk in.
Finally, the Parlour. This to me is the highlight of the Suite because it is such a nice space to chill and dine in. A velvety sofa occupies one length of this space with a coffee table, alongside 2 single-seater chairs on different sides. Right opposite is a huge smart TV which is against a feature wall made to be like a living room with wall notches fitted out with random books and stuff. There is also a proper dining table with 2 chairs which was super useful as our in-suite dining corner, doubling up as my WFHotel spot when not (plenty of powerpoints around as well).
The pièce de résistance of this space is the fancy hermes-esque mini bar set up. The brown and orange color combi works very well with the leather finishing – so classy! There is a Nespresso machine (4 capsules and replenished daily), kettle (tea bags provided), along with the required cups. There is also a fully stocked fridge but expect Raffles prices to come with it. There is even a whole stash of glassware for your use.
[Note that the mini bar menu have prices indicated for the Nespresso capsules and tea sachets @ $13++ per set but I confirmed with the hotel that they are only chargeable if you require extra set(s) before their scheduled replenishment during daily housekeeping]
You’ll also find your printed in-suite menu here. But prices are quite staggering with only the Asian mains slightly more affordable. More on this under the In-room dining section below.
The Parlour also leads out to a shared corridor of sorts which can serve as another entry point to the Suite but we didn’t use it at all during our stay. For a view, you’d be better off sitting in the outdoor chairs provided on the other shared corridor (but narrow) just outside the main door.
During later parts of my stay, a plate of macarons was delivered with a birthday note (belated birthday celebration), as well as a chocolate cake accompanied by a printed photo of our lobby pic for our special occasion. Very sweet of them!
Last but not least, you’d find a Raffles care kit pouch containing 2 individually wrapped masks, a pack of antiseptic wipes, and a small bottle of hand sanitizer at your dining table. If you’d like more of this for some reason, they can be purchased @$18 from Raffles Boutique.
The Hotel Grounds – I got lost a few times even just trying to find the lobby and getting from / to my room but eventually figured how not to – the hotel is a maze! I wished the staff who checked me in could have inducted me on the difference between the Main Building, Palm Court Wing, Bras Bersah Wing etc so I get a better bearing of the space. Nonetheless, the property is a huge plot to explore with plenty of greens and plant stuff to check out along the way. Raffles Arcade provided shopping options but most were too atas for me (if you must know, I spent my $50 Raffles Boutique credit on 2x coffee bean packs). There was also plenty of rain on all of my 3 days and this unfortunately turned leisure walking into sploshy stepping so there are only so many pictures I managed.
You can also choose to hide indoors at the various seating areas of the Main Building meant for in-house guests to chill and lounge in.
One interesting feature is the Hall of Fame located on level 2 of one of the Wings – where visits by royalties, dignitaries, and celebrities are documented in framed photographs and displayed as the property’s badge of honor and testament to its atas reputation. Spot your favs here!
Breakfast – served at Tiffin Room (menu here) from 7:00am – 10:30am, this is an unlimited ala carte basis so feel free to let go as I did.
The space is really pretty with classy modern decor incorporating little touches of nostalgia in some corners eg tingkat displays. I was only the second table to be occupied at 8:00am on my first morning, and stepped into a relatively buzzy crowed at 9:30am on my second. The crowd spills out into the Grand Lobby when need be.
I tried a variety of mains and sides on my 2 mornings. I had to of course try the Signature Raffles Omelette – rather nice with the masala spices giving the eggs a new spin. And their Nasi Lemak is divine (although my benchmark may not be “correct” since I didn’t have the nasi) – the accompanying sides of fried chicken, fish, and even the ikan bilis were fresh and crunchy. I tried the siew mai as well but they were dismal. For sides, the cheese platter was quite good, while the bacon and spinach sides were so so. Strong coffee though.
Service was expectedly polished and courteous, with last calls being made at 10am-ish. Though, my order for a fruit platter was forgotten and I had to ask once more to get it.
You can also opt to take breakfast in your-room but you can’t have the Tiffin room menu and instead have to pick off the in-suite breakfast menu (not unlimited too).
Other Dining – I tried my best to try as many different dining options as possible without bursting the $150 credits and almost succeeded (had to top up $13 more).
I wanted to check this off my list and was glad that they offered light(er) options as I was still quite stuffed from my massive breakfast. I got lost trying to find the place – yes I know they are on level 3 but which part? I eventually got there just before their last seating of 1:30pm (for those who need to know, they are located right above the staircase at the drop off facing Purvis Street). And what a pretty place it is – the entrance is completely impressive!
Service is effortlessly polite with the staff not giving me strange looks for ordering only 2 items and water. The Siew Mai Dumplings with Sakura Shrimp, Pork and Seafood ($9) and Chicken Feet with Taro & Black Bean Sauce ($8) were good but not mindblowing.
Grand Lobby (hyperlink includes menu):
I redeemed one of my two Singapore Slings here (redeemable from 6:30-9:30pm) and it was nice to be able to sit and chill on a weekday evening. The space is indeed grand and probably a good spot fancy high teas (@$80++ per pax) and practicing your taitai demeanor.
The drink itself is ……a syrupy mix which is not my typical choice but this is a Raffles must-do isn’t it? It was served with mixed nuts, olives, and chips and made for a nice pre-dinner snack. Service was a little shaky though – the first staff I approached invited me to take a seat and said he’ll need to check. So I sat and a while later, another staff came to me to ask for my room number and registered name, then walked away. Then, the staff I first approached came by again to ask if I’m redeeming my welcome drink (which I already mentioned when I first went up to him) – to which I said yes and he walked away too. Eh? In total, it took about 15mins before I got my drink.
In case you are wondering, you can also choose to redeem your Slings at Raffles Courtyard between 3:00-5:00pm. If you’d like more slings, it’ll set you back at $35++ a pop. You can also ask for your slings to be delivered to your suite but they won’t come with the munchies like in the Grand Lobby.
The in-suite dining menu is a nicely printed booklet placed within your mini bar (please excuse the poor quality pics) Expect Raffles prices, including some eye watering numbers for selected items – $52 for Fish & Chips and $38 for Cream of Cauliflower anyone? Western choices are notably expensive while asian mains are comparatively more reasonable. Instead of rolling the entire linen trolley into your Suite like most other hotels, your order is brought to your door in their service trolley, then plated and brought into your Suite on a tray, or plated on your parlour’s dining table directly, alongside the necessary condiments and cutleries.
Over two dinners, we tried a mix of asian and western mains and concluded that the asian mains are far more worth it in terms of quality and portion, while the western choices are rather miserable in size. We tried the Hainanese Chicken Rice ($30), Nasi Goreng kosong ($25), Mee Goreng kosong ($30), Smoked Salmon Blini ($52 – DO NOT ORDER), and Gourmet Ham & Cheese Sandwich ($32).
Ran out of dining credits but I would have loved to try Tiffin Room (menu). I also had an issue as my first in-suite dinner came with an unexpected 50% discount which I was very delighted about – I was told that it’s a special promo for in-house guests and applicable to any ala carte items on the in-suite menu. So I was obviously excited on my second night and I called to confirm that the discount is indeed 50% before I placed my order. However, I was told that it would only be 15% as per my package and the staff I spoke to insisted the 50% accorded the night before was an error and a “miscommunication”. Of course they honoured the bill from the night before but I can’t help but feel that the mistake shouldn’t even happen in the first place. 15% and 50% is very different!
Facilities – The Fitness Centre and Swimming Pool are located on level 2 (not sure which wing) and you’ll need to go through the fitness centre to get to the pool. Bookings are of course necessary and you can do so via your Raffles Experience email. There is also a shared changing room / shower area here.
The fitness centre is split up into various sections but all in, quite adequate for a proper workout. But you won’t get any views while burning those calories as the space is rather boxed in. What you can do is to stare at yourself (or other people) working out due to to all those mirrors. Not creepy at all.
The swimming pool is a rather nice space, with the waters looking very pristine. I would say it’s a good length to get some laps in while overlooking some of the level 3 areas, and even MBS in the far view. Well maintained sunbeds also pepper the circumference of the pool. There is also the Pool Bar where you can grab expensive bites and sip on a glass of champagne if you must have your bubbles there and then.
History Tour – this is supposed to be a must-do as a first time in-house guest at Raffles. For some reason, I assumed that this was a walking tour – how else would it be conducted right? I was also told that the tour would take 30-45mins so I signed up for the 4:00pm slot and made plans for something else an hour later. The resident historian was super friendly and knowledgeable but perhaps it was a personal preference that I don’t prefer his style of story telling? Also, the tour eventually took 1.5hours and comprised an entire hour of sitting down listening in and looking at images on an iPad followed by a few bits of walking around, culminating in a brief tour of the Presidential Suite. Apart from having to push back my 5:00pm stuff twice, I thought it would have been useful to instead offer guests an option to view this as video via the in-suite TV to watch at their own time + offer limited capacity time slots for visiting the Presidential Suite separately. I was told that the way the tour was conducted was indeed adjusted due to COVID measures but I fail to see how a proper walking tour can’t be conducted as long as we keep to the social gathering pax limit.
Overall Feedback – Perhaps I had high expectations because it is Raffles after all. Apart from the incidents mentioned earlier, there were other symptoms of a disconnect in the system which can be improved for a truly flawless Raffles experience.
While most staff I interacted with was all smiley efficiency, the overall service did end up feeling a little robotic. Polished, but no warmth. Efficient yet strangely clinical as well.
The Apple TV in my room:
I kept having this update prompt pop up and it was annoying because it would interrupt whatever I was Air Playing. Without a remote, I could not click away the pop up and had to tap on any other button on the iPad to move away from the screen but this means I have to click back to where I was and re-do the Air Play. I tried to get some help from the butler and she came with a remote in hand but did not solve it for me as she simply said even if she clicked to agree to updates, the message will still come on if my phone auto locks in the midst of Air Playing. So I just tried to minimize having to Air Play for the rest of my stay.
Difficulties in reaching my (or ‘a’) butler:
The in-house phone serves only to allow you to press ‘2’ to call your butler and he/she is supposed to be your one point of contact for your every need. In theory that sounds fantastic as guests only need to speak one person and will get some sort of more personalized service. But in reality, this meant having to wait for that one point of contact to be available for you to be able to get anything (housekeeping, restaurant reservations, simple queries etc). The system only worked for me half the time. In the worse half, pressing ‘2’ led to long ringing sessions, other staff picking up and offering to pass the message, or simply an automated message giving you no other option but to confirm a request for a callback.
I asked for my second Singapore Sling to be served in-room and a paper bag for packing on my check out day. Both took longer than reasonable and reminder calls had to be made for them to be fulfilled. My requests to clear my in-suite dining on my second night also did not happen and the soiled plates and cutleries remained in my room til I checked out.
Check Out – the property offers a contactless check out experience where the butler will give you a call in your Suite between 10am-12nn (regardless of your actual check out time) on your check out day to go through the final bill with you. Thereafter, you may leave the keys in the Suite and depart directly. My (mockingly dreaded) call came at 11:50am for a 12noon check out. I actually thought this would be a good opportunity to ask about my stay but nope, nothing.
Despite the minor hiccups, I really had a great stay! I loved every part of my Suite and had fun exploring the hotel grounds. Breakfast was a magnificent experience, though the in-room quality was a little disappointing. I’m so happy to be able to check off this property at this price point – no small change for sure but it’s the value that matters for me. At the point of writing this, I have booked another HSBC WOW Weekend stay for 2 months later at $900++!. YAYYYYY.