Singapore's Iconic Raffles Hotel To Close Its Doors Later This Year

The Southeast Asian gem has long been a symbol of Old World grandeur.

Singapore’s Raffles Hotel will soon be closing its doors. Thankfully, not permanently, as the colonial-style hotel is merely undergoing an overhaul.

Considered a national treasure, the hotel is highly valued by Singaporeans for its historical significance and unique heritage. While the first and second phases of the renovation are already underway, the final phase will result in an estimated six-month long closure. The last restoration was conducted from 1989 to 1991, where the hotel was closed for almost two and a half years.

The historic hotel’s restoration is being led by Aedas Singapore, one of the world’s largest international architectural firms which has handled the refurbishments of the Roch Castle Hotel, London Coliseum, and Mallory Street/Burrows Street in Wan Chai, Hong Kong. Interiors will be handled by award-winning designer Alexandra Champalimaud who has worked with many high profile luxury hotels around the world including The Plaza Hotel and the Waldorf Astoria in New York, Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, and The Dorchester in London.

Charlie Chaplin and brother Sydney at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, 1933.

Opened in 1887, the Raffles Hotel has long been a symbol of Southeast Asian grandeur. The hotel has welcomed many renowned guests such as Michael Jackson, Karl Lagerfeld, Elizabeth Taylor, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Many of its existing suites are named after its more historically memorable guests: Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, John Thomson, Noël Coward, Andre Malraux, Pablo Neruda, John Wayne, and Gavin Young.


Elizabeth Taylor in a gown designed by Doris Geddes at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, 1957.

Perhaps one of its most famous assets is the Singapore Sling; a tourist attraction in its own right. The gin-based cocktail was developed around 1915 by Hainan bartender Ngiam Tong Boon who worked at the hotel’s Long Bar. According to Destination Flavour Singapore, the original recipe was "made of gin, cherry brandy and Bénédictine with a dash of bitters and Cointreau and finished off with pineapple and lime juice and grenadine, it is seen as the perfect embodiment of the warm climates of the region."

Raffles Hotels and Resorts' Vice President Diana Banks says of the restoration: "Raffles Hotel Singapore has always evolved to stay distinctive and relevant, moving with the times and adapting to the changing needs of today’s traveler. We have a rich and colorful history and are about to begin a new chapter in our ongoing story—a sensitive restoration that will enable us to continue to offer what our guests expect and value."

h/t: Channel NewsAsia

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