There are many Tourist Spots you are encouraged to visit in Singapore, but none more famous than Raffles Hotel. It is so famous that if you Google “Raffles Hotel” you will find it has two websites, one here and the other here. The second encapsulates a whole chain of hotels based on the Singaporean original. Third on the same Google list is a very short, but pithy history of the great white ediface found at Wikipedia.
Now tell me… how many hotels do you know that have a museum of treasures about themselves on display for the public? I’d guess that you’d be able to count that on one hand, if not one digit. Yes, it is fair to say they take the heritage of this hotel fairly seriously. And after the mega-bucks renovation that was carried out a few years ago, I can understand why.
There are no ifs, buts or maybes about a visit to Raffles Hotel while you are in Singapore. It is pretty much central city. Just jump off at City Hall on the MRT, or take any number of buses stopping along Beach Road or North Bridge Road.
Personally I have my own tradition of each visit to Singapore including a pilgrimage to the Long Bar for a Singapore Sling. I guess it’s one of those things – I don’t even like cherry for goodness sake nor am I a pink girl. And considering the price they charge, I really should force myself to like the darned drink !
In the end however, all that matters is that I feel like I have stepped into a small part of Singapore’s colonial history, almost hobnobbing it with such luminaries as Noel Coward, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham and Liz Taylor.
So from this last visit I have uploaded a 30 second video clip of the Long Bar at Raffles. It’s my first YouTube moment, so I’m hoping it works. If not, I’ll set to work on it shortly. You should see a couple of Singapore Slings followed by the remnants of multiple peanut shells on the floor, followed by a scan across the Long Bar and up to my favourite feature – the fans. I hope you enjoy. (Better yet – make the time to visit, “tourist trap” and all.) And if anyone knows, I’d be interested to find out how they manage to roast and salt the peanuts in their shells.
If the video wasn’t enough, I have loaded some still photographs to my Flickr account here if you want to take a look around. It’s a pretty nice job they’ve done on the renovations, I have to say.
For reference, Raffles is across the road from a very nice shopping mall that I particularly like (Raffles City Shopping Centre which I will talk about later), next to the CHIJMES, just down the road a bit from Funan DigitaLife Mall, a short walk to Suntec Convention Centre (the Fountain and a couple more shopping malls – in case you were feeling bereft of yet more retail therapy), and if you are in hearty health and are willing to do your best despite the heat, you can walk to the Singapore River passing the following historic and/or interesting features:
- St Andrews Cathedral,
- Old Parliament House,
- Cavenagh Bridge (great place to start for the public art/sculpture viewing),
- The Fullerton Hotel (the old GPO and my next stop after we win the Lottery), and
- The Merlion
This is a particularly nice part of town, so it’s worth making the effort to spend a bit of time here. Don’t just fall for the hype of Orchard Road – take a wander through this area for a feeling of the old merged with the new. It really is one of my favourite parts of Singapore.