The renowned Raffles Hotel Singapore is an iconic hotel in Singapore. Opened in 1887, Raffles Singapore is one of the few remaining 19th-century hotels in the world. The low rise hotel is located in the heart of Singapore, within walking distance to the business and civic district. Raffles Hotel Singapore is within walking distance to several attractions such the Merlion Park, Esplanade Theatres, Gardens By the Bay and Marina Bay Sands. There are several shopping malls within 5 mins walk from Raffles Hotel Singapore. Raffles City Shopping Centre, Bugis Junction and Suntec City are a stone’s throw away from the hotel. Other than the shopping malls, there is no lack of eateries to suit all budgets within and nearby the hotel. There are also several 24-hour convenient shops across the street from Raffles Hotel Singapore. Raffles Hotel Singapore is very well connected by buses and the MRT subway system in Singapore, making it an excellent base to explore the country.
Raffles Hotel Singapore was renovated and reopened in 2019, bringing a refreshing new life to the hotel. The hotel reopened in Aug 2020 with some very good staycation deals after two months of government efforts to curb the COVID-19 in Singapore. The hotel is offering 1-for-1 night stay, coupled with daily breakfast and a $100 dining credit, making a staycation in Raffles Hotel Singapore affordable.
The Presidential Suite – Sarkies Suite
I originally booked a 1-bedroom Residence Suite and was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was upgraded to the epitome of luxury, the 1-bedroom Presidential Suite. The Presidential Suite is named as The Sarkies Suite after the original owners of Raffles Hotel Singapore and is the one of the two 1-bedroom Presidential Suite in Raffles Hotel Singapore. The 1-bedroom Presidential Suite located in the Main Building, overlooking the tranquil Palm Court and Raffles Hotel’s legendary porte-cochère. The 1-bedroom Presidential Suite in Raffles Hotel as a massive floor area of 260m² spreading across a foyer, parlour, dining room, bedroom, dressing area, balcony and pantry.
I was ushered by one of the staffs at the main entrance of Raffles Hotel Singapore directly to the Presidential Suite for an in-suite check-in. The main door to the suite opens the foyer decked in a black and dark grey colour theme. The foyer, furnished with a green table and a white couch, is where guests changed into their in-suite slippers. The dark-themed foyer coupled with the chandelier gave me a preview of how posh the Presidential Suite will be. Three large window planes let in natural lighting and allow residents of the suite to lookout into Raffles Hotel’s porte-cochère.
From the foyer, the black and dark grey colour theme extends to a small corridor that leads to the Parlour of the suite. There are two doors along this corridor with the door closest to the foyer leading to the Power Room. The dark colour theme from the Foyer extends into the Powder Room, matched with a couple of wall-mounted lightings plated in gold, making this small space an elegant feel. The fore part of the Powder Room is furnished with a large mirror and a marble sink as well as a wooden round side table where the hotel places a box of tissue on. Further into the Powder Room is another door that leads to a toilet equipped with bidet function. Despite the dark theme, the Powder Room is very well lited and does not feel claustrophobic.
The door next to Powder Room along the corridor that ushers residents into the Parlour lead to the in-suite Pantry. The Pantry is equipped with some kitchen facilities such as a full-size fridge, dual kitchen sink, electric kettle and a microwave oven. The Pantry even has its own wine fridge. Raffles Hotel Singapore provides a full set of crockery, with cups and various wine glasses in this pantry. The pantry is also fitted with a Nespresso machine for guests to enjoy with the complimentary Nespresso capsules and tea. There is another door in the Pantry for butlers to gain access into the Presidential Suite to serve its residents’ in-room dining.
The third door along this corridor opens into the Dressing room, which essentially is a walk-in wardrobe. Furnished with open cabinets and open shelving space, the Dressing Room is meant for residents of the Presidential Suite to hang their coats and jackets. This space also provides an additional storage area for guests to hang their clothes and stow away their luggage. There is another entrance into the dressing room from the other corridor that leads to the Bedroom.
At the end of the short dark-themed corridor, residents of the Presidential Suite is ushered into a bright, elegant and spacious Parlour, decked out in yellow lighting. The Parlour in the Presidential Suite occupies a bulk of real estate in the entire suite. The high ceiling in the Parlour makes the already expansive living room feels even bigger. In the centre of the Parlour is a pair of black with gold patterned five-seater couch, placed to face each complimented with a large black marble coffee table. This placement makes the Parlour an ideal place for residents of the Presidential Suite to entertain their guests. The addition of a cushioned stool comfortable enough to sit three beside the pair of five-seater couch allows residents of the Presidential Suite to entertain more guests. Placed near a couple of pillars in the Parlour is a pair of white and brown cosy armchairs with a coffee table in between. I find the placement of these armchairs an excellent spot for residents to read one of the books on the shelf or one of the literature Raffles Hotel Singapore places on the coffee table.
A pair of large wall cabinets quietly sits on either side of the 55″ TV in the Parlour, facing the couch area. Rather than leaving them empty, Raffles Hotel Singapore furnishes these cabinets with books, antiques and art pieces, making the vast Parlour appear less empty. These cabinets serve more as a decoration than functional. The 55″ TV appears a tad small due to the large space in the Parlour, especially when viewed from the couch facing it. Walking into the Parlour feels like walking into an art exhibition hall. Raffles Hotel Singapore adorned the Parlour of the Presidential Suite with numerous art pieces and antiques, exuding a heavy sense of luxury.
A work desk can be found behind the black five-seater couches furthest from the TV. The wooden work desk is of a good size, allowing guests in the Presidential Suite to do some decent work. USB and HDMI inputs are tucked underneath a removable wooden panel on the desk. There are, however, insufficient power outlets on the desk. Guests wanting to keep their laptops charged can use the power outlet on the wall behind the desk. Guests can connect their laptops wirelessly to the TV in the Parlour via a touch of a button on the tablet.
There is a sizeable space dedicated to the Dining Area in the Presidential Suite tucked in the corner of the Parlour furthest from the main entrance. The Dining Area is delineated by a pair of pillars and a couple of screens. The size in the Dining Area is large enough for Raffles Hotel Singapore to furnish with an elongated wooden dining table that comfortably sits 12 diners. There is space for guests to move around and mingle before dining in this area, and even space for the hotel to place two additional dining chairs. The elegance of the Presidential Suite extends into the Dining Area. Raffles Hotel Singapore decorated this area with the same chandelier like the one in the Parlour. A large painting hanging on the wall brought colour to the Dining Area. A frosted large mirror hangs on the other wall also contributes to the elegance of the Dining Area and at the same time, makes the area appear bigger.
The Bedroom in the Presidential Suite is tucked in one corner of the suite, accessed via another corridor parallel to the one where residents enter the suite from. In the centre of the Bedroom is a two posture King Bed placed in front of a brass wall feature, which enhances the elegance of the Bedroom. The two posture bedding in the bedroom is a great choice as it does not block my view of the TV when lying on the bed. The mattress on the King Bed is firm and comfortable, provided me with a great night’s sleep. There are four pillows on the King bed, which are too soft for my liking. Raffles Hotel Singapore does provide its residents with a pillow menu, as stated on its website. However, this pillow menu is nowhere to be found in the Suite. I had to call the butler to ask for a firmer pillow. A pair of side tables with identical large bedside lamps are placed on both sides of the King bed, providing additional storage space for residents of the Presidential Suite. I like the design of hiding the charging ports in the top drawer, as it does not make the Bedroom look too messy. Residents, however, need to leave the drawer open when charging their lifestyle devices on the bedside tables. A pair of reading lights, providing residents with extra illumination, are also found on the headboard of the King bed.
The space in the Bedroom is large enough for Raffles Hotel Singapore to place a comfortable three-seater couch and a coffee table in front of the King Bed, facing the 55″ TV with a Bang & Olufsen soundbar tucked in one corner of the Bedroom. Despite the addition of the couch and coffee table, there is ample space for residents of the Presidential Suite to move around in the Bedroom. The placement of the TV in one corner of the Bedroom allows residents to be able to watch TV on the King bed and having an unobstructed view of the courtyard through one of the four large window planes in this part of the Bedroom at the same time. A table is found next to the entrance to the Bedroom, which the top part can be flipped open to expose a mirror. The design of this table so flexible that residents can choose to use it as a dressing table or another table to place their stuff on.
The feature wall that the King Bed is placed by doubles up as an open concept wardrobe at the back. The wardrobe has plenty of space for guests to hang their clothing on both ends of the wardrobe as well as to store smaller clothing items. One side of the hanging wardrobe is installed with six drawers for guests to store away smaller clothing items. In the centre of the wardrobe is another six open cabinet shelving. This is where the in-suite safe can be found. There are spaces at the wardrobe for guests to put away their luggage if they choose not to store it in the dressing area.
The main Bathroom in the Presidential Suite can only be accessed from the Bedroom. The entire Bathroom is clad in marble, together with the gold plated taps, gold plated trim on the doors in the Bathroom, and the gold plated chandelier, this Bathroom looks luxurious. Next to the entrance to the Bathroom is a double vanity sink, with two huge mirrors. The luxurious feel in the bathroom is further enhanced by a glass box with gold trimming where residents can find grooming amenities. I find the countertop space at the sink area a tad tight, mainly due to the size of the sinks, leaving not much space for residents to place the toiletries they might bring to the hotel.
Sitting in one corner of the Bathroom, under the chandelier, is a free-standing bathtub. The bathtub, both large and deep, is great for guests to soak away the fatigue after spending a whole day exploring Singapore. Raffles Hotel Singapore provides a bathtub pillow which enhances the soaking experience in the tub. The hotel even places a gold plated rack on the bathtub that has a tablet stand, allowing guests to watch movies while soaking in the tub.
Two cubicles housing the toilet and a walk-in shower are found opposite the bathtub. The walk-in shower fitted with both gold plated regular showerhead and rainshower. The addition of a marble bench in the walk-in shower allows residents to sit on while showering. Similar to the toilet in the Powder Room, the toilet in the Bathroom is fitted with a bidet and comes with heating function on the toilet seat.
The space of the Presidential Suite in the Raffles Hotel Singapore is so big that even the balcony is huge. The balcony spans across the entire length of the Presidential Suite. Residents can gain access to the balcony from one of the six doors spreading across the parlour and the dining area. Raffles Hotel Singapore is very generous in furnishing the balcony. There is sufficient furniture in the balcony, yet does not make this space look too cluttered. The balcony is furnished with three single-seater armchairs complemented with individual side tables, a set of outdoor cushioned sofa and a coffee table. There is even a smaller dining table that sits four where residents of the suite can enjoy alfresco dining, with the view of the Palm Courts. The balcony boasts a view of the courtyard in Raffles Hotel, the tranquillity of the courtyard makes me forget the hotel is situated in the middle of a busy part of Singapore.
My first impression of the service at the Raffles Hotel Singapore is positive. As soon as I arrived at the main entrance of the hotel, I was warmly welcomed by a brigade of the front door staff despite the humid climate. These front door staffs never fail to welcome residents back to the hotel or wishing us a good day whenever I walk past them at the main door.
Due to the pandemic, check-in at the hotel is no longer at the traditional reception area. Guests are encouraged to complete the check-in online for a seamless check-in experience. As I have completed my online check-in, after scanning a QR code, the front door staffs sprung into action like a well-oiled machine and I was immediately escorted by one of the staffs directly to the suite that I was assigned for the in-suite check-in. Information such as the location of the pool and gym and the breakfast location and timing was given. I was also briefed on the facilities in the Presidential Suite.
I find the service rendered by the butler team to be a mix. The service by the butler team is generally negative when I called them over the in-suite phone. The butler team seem to be impatient over the phone when asked some questions on the hotel and the suite. Most of the times, it seems that the butler who took the call wanted to end the call quickly and did not bother to offer alternate solutions or additional information. I called to ask about the pillow menu and pillow options, the butler just gave a bunch of names of the pillows they have in an impatient manner and did not even bother to describe the pillows options. The butler ended the call by saying one of the pillows in the suite is already the firmest they have, which was not true. He did not even try to solve my problem and his attitude felt patronising. Subsequently, I was given a firmer pillow by another butler when I brought up the pillow issue to the staff at the front desk. There is another instance where I called regarding food delivery, the butler at the other end of the call provided information in an impatient manner, as though I was disturbing him so late at night.
Despite the negative experience with the butler team over the phone, the service rendered by the butler team who came to the suite is pleasant. I met Yujun on the second day of my stay, she is very friendly and amicable. Due to the rain, I was not able to utilise the swimming pool slot that I booked 11 am. I explained the situation to Yujun and mentioned that I only managed to get a book for one pax despite there are two of us staying in the suite. Yujun patiently listened to my situation with empathy and managed to secure a slot for two pax at the pool. Yujun even left a note in the suite stating that she managed to secure the additional slot when I was not in the suite. On top of that, Yujun clarified the several questions that I asked which were information not given at the point of my check-in. I bumped into Yujun, after checking out on the hotel premises. I was surprised that she was able to recognise me and even stopped for a short chat on my stay at the suite.
Amelia was the other butler who I encountered during my stay at the Raffles Hotel Singapore. She brought the food that I ordered for room service. Amelia carefully placed the food on the dining table in the suite in a professional manner, cognizant of where we were seated on the table, ensuring the food were within reach of everyone on the table. Amelia also demonstrates excellent listening skills and patiently answered the queries I had. Amelia even welcomed my guests as though they were staying at the hotel and checked if we require anything else to make our stay comfortable. As my guests stayed near the turndown service time, instead of assuming that I do not require turndown service, Amelia took the initiative to check if I require turndown service. When I declined the turndown service, Amelia checked if there are any items that I need replenishment. She subsequently brought the item that I requested for replenishment.
It was unfortunate that my interaction with the butler Akira was brief and late, whom I met when I was leaving the Raffles Hotel Singapore. During my check-out timing, Akira called the suite to confirm the charges that I incurred during my stay in the Suite. Upon learning that we did not have the time to claim our welcome drink, instead of letting things slip, Akira took the initiative to bring the welcoming drink, Raffles Hotel’s signature Singapore Sling, to the suite. When Akira checked how was my stay at the hotel, I brought up to him the negative experience I had with the butlers on the phone. Instead of being defensive, Akira took responsibility for his colleagues and apologised on their behalf. When learnt that I require complimentary parking coupon, Akira immediately headed to the concierge to help me get one. He even got me extra face masks in case the one that I use gave way. Akira also informed me that I had extra unused credit with the hotel and suggested for me to head to Raffles Boutique to utilise the credits. When I was at the Raffles Boutique, I was surprised that Akira had made the call to the boutique about my arrival.
During my stay, I met Ales the housekeeping staff who cleaned the suite. I arranged for housekeeping at 12.30 pm on the second day but only vacate the suite at 12.45 pm. Ales patiently waited outside the suite. When I apologised to Ales for making her waiting, Ales gave the warmest smile and told me not to worry about it. Ales cleaned up the massive suite efficiently and diligently leaving the suite in the same state as when I first checked in. I returned to the suite shortly after vacating it, as it was raining that there are limited places I can go. I waited outside the suite for Ales to finish her job. The moment Ales saw me, she apologised for making me wait. Ales even updated me that she was almost done cleaning up the suite and she was on her way to get a vacuum and apologised again for letting me wait longer. When I returned to the suite after Ales worked her magic, the suite smells fresh and was in tip-top condition.
Lay Hoon is the staff who works at the Gym & swimming pool area. Lay Hoon, upon learning that I was checking out the facilities in the gym, showed me around the various equipment in the gym. She also took the time to show me to the pool on my request. On the second day, while waiting for Ales to clean up the suite, I popped by the pool again. Lay Hoon was there welcoming guests. I told her due to the rain, I was not able to enjoy the pool or go anywhere. Lay Hoon brought me to the pool area and told me I could wait at the sheltered area while waiting for my room to get ready.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Raffles Hotel Singapore has in place measures to ensure the safety of their guests. Residents in Raffles Hotel wanting to use the swimming pool and gym facilities are to pre-book in advanced. As there are limited slots, each room is allowed to book for one 90 min slot per day.
I made my booking with the hotel via email before my arrival and was able to secure relatively good time slots to use the pool. The swimming pool in Raffles Hotel is located on the third floor of the main building (where the hotel lobby is) and shares the same entrance as the gym. Despite the rooftop saltwater swimming pool being a tad small, guests are still able to get a few decent laps in it. With the restrictions Raffles Hotel has in place due to the pandemic, the number of residents that can use the pool was tightly controlled. The number of guests allowed at anyone is strictly controlled by the number of sunbeds at the pool. I had no problems getting an ideal spot for sunbathing.
Similar to the policy for the swimming pool, residents are to make a booking for the gym before we are allowed to use it. The gym in Raffles Hotel Singapore comprises of several “rooms”, instead of a big area like most hotels. By the entrance to the gym is an area for gym users to practise yoga, do some weight training or simply to stretch. Further into the gym, there is a room where most weight machines together with some dumbells and barbells are placed. There is yet another room for cardio training where treadmills and gym bikes, as well as rowing machines, are located. The gym is well equipped with facilities allowing its residents to do some decent workout.
Breakfast was served in the Tiffin Room, located at the main lobby of Raffles Hotel Singapore. There are seatings outside the restaurant, in the lobby area, as well as an outdoor courtyard area on top of the tables inside the Tiffin Room. Due to the measure to curb the pandemic, the sittings are well spaced out and instead of the usual buffet-style, breakfast is served in ala-carte buffet style. The choice of food for breakfast is rather limited and there are no variations during my two days of dining. Notwithstanding, there are still options for Western, Chinese and local cuisines. The food was flavourful and delicious. The Belgium waffles that I ordered tasted crispy. However, when it comes to local delights, I find the sambal chilli to be a big let down. It is not spicy nor fragrant, but the Nasi Lemak tasted great. Upon seated, orders were taken for beverages. The serving for breakfast took quite a while, on the first day of my visiting, food were served around 45 mins to 1 hour after orders were being placed. I also find there seem to be inconsistency in the service at the Tiffin Room. On the first day, we were not offered breadbasket, while on the second day, we were asked if we would like breadbasket. The staff also mixed up my order of omelette with my friend’s on the first day of our visit. I am not too sure if service standards took a dive due to us visiting the Tiffin Room nearing the end of breakfast timing.
I am privileged to have the experience of staying in the Presidential Suite. The Presidential Suite in the Raffles Hotel was luxurious and comfortable, with ample space, both indoors and at the balcony for residents of the suite. The Presidential Suite faces the tranquil courtyard, making spending time in the balcony a pleasant experience. The sleep quality on the King Bed is superb, providing me with great night sleep. Despite facing the main road, the soundproofing is excellent. Most of the staff that I met during my stay were welcoming and friendly. My stay would be perfect if not for the less than ideal experience I had with the butler team over the phone.