Review: Raffles Hotel Singapore Staycation

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What will you get at a Raffles Hotel staycation? Excellent service, good food, immersive history and some naughty magazines. While it's not flawless, it's still a very special experience.

The Raffles Hotel Singapore is one of those places that needs no introduction. Even if you’ve never so much as stepped foot inside, you’re bound to have seen it as you pass the Beach Road area, a monument frozen in time amidst the glass and steel high-rises around it. 

Raffles Hotel Singapore
Raffles Hotel Singapore

Rooms at the Raffles are normally prohibitively expensive, but the current situation has compelled the hotel to offer a very attractive staycation package, presenting what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stay here. 

I’d never stayed at the Raffles Hotel before, so you can imagine my excitement for this particular review. While the stay wasn’t flawless, I will say that it delivered on most fronts, and would rank it among the best stays I’ve ever had. 

📋 In This Review
🏨 Other Staycation Reviews
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport | Conrad Singapore | Hotel 81 Tristar | Hotel Soloha | Outpost Hotel | The Barracks Hotel | W Hotel Sentosa Cove | YOTELAIR Changi Airport

Booking the Raffles Hotel Singapore

Raffles Hotel Singapore
Raffles Hotel Singapore

Prior to COVID-19, a one-night stay at the Raffles Hotel Singapore would have set you back in excess of S$1,000 a night, making this easily the priciest hotel in all of Singapore. 

But with foreign visitors all but gone, the hotel’s had to innovate to attract local guests. And innovate they have, with the launch of the two-night Suite Life package. This costs S$795++ (S$936 nett), and includes: 

🏨 Suite Life Package
  • 2 nights in State Room Suite
  • Complimentary upgrade upon availability
  • S$100 hotel credit (extra S$50 credit for stays from Sun-Wed)
  • 15% off F&B, spa, boutiques
  • Complimentary parking
Book By 30 Sep 2020
Stay By 30 Sep 2020
Note: When this package initially launched, it included guaranteed 11 a.m check-in and 4 p.m check-out, plus a guaranteed room upgrade. This has since been removed, on account of the service issues it created (read more on that below)

Let’s face it- S$936 is still a hefty chunk of change, and not something to be spent lightly. That said, 2 nights for S$936 is possibly the cheapest opportunity you’ll ever have to stay at the Raffles, and that cinched it for me.

Moreover, I wasn’t actually intending to pay out of pocket. I initially planned to use the (now-ended) AMEX Platinum Charge “double value” promotion, where cardholders received a special rate of 1,000 Membership Rewards (MR) points= S$9.60 (instead of the usual (S$4.80).

A S$936 charge would cost 97,500 MR points, but as I argued in this article, that’s equivalent to 97,500 Marriott points. If you told me there was a chance to book 2 nights at the Raffles Hotel for 97,500 Marriott points, plus breakfast and other freebies thrown in, I’d have bitten your hand off. 

ALL logo
ALL logo

Shortly after booking, I remembered that I was still holding on to 107,000 Accor Live Limitless (ALL) points, courtesy of the Standard Chartered X Card’s transfer bonus back in March. Why not burn those instead? 

Fortunately, a quick email to the Raffles reservations team got the charge on my card reversed (I’ll use that statement credit to fund other staycation reviews), and I was able to spend my ALL points at a rate of 2,000 points= €40 (~S$65). As an added bonus, I could also charge all my F&B spending to the room and use ALL points to offset that too.

Pre-arrival

Four days before my stay, I received a pre-arrival email from the hotel.

It’s absolutely essential to keep an eye out for this, because completing it allows you to pre-book facilities like the pool (essential) and gym (not so essential). 

The process takes less than five minutes, during which you’ll be asked for basic information and identity documents. 

Raffles Hotel facilities booking portal
Raffles Hotel facilities booking portal

Upon completion, you’ll receive a QR code and a link to book the swimming pool and gym. Popular slots fill up quickly especially on weekends, so don’t hesitate. Each guest is limited to one 90 minute slot at the pool and gym per day (including check-out day). 

The full list of pool and gym timings can be found in the “facilities” section of this review. 

If you’re really kiasu (like me), there’s nothing stopping you from emailing the concierge in advance and securing slots, even before you get the pre-arrival email. 

Separately, please also remember to book the history tour. There is no link in the pre-arrival email; you’ll need to email the concierge to book this. I’ll talk about the tour later on in this post, but it’s one of the highlights of the hotel and you don’t want to miss it. 

Raffles Hotel Singapore: Arrival and Check-in

Raffles Hotel driveway
Raffles Hotel driveway

There’s no feeling quite like pulling up to the gravel driveway of the Raffles Hotel and realising that this place is your home for the next two nights. 

The doormen helped me unload my luggage, and a staff member greeted and escorted me to the SafeEntry QR codes. 

Raffles Hotel SafeEntry
Raffles Hotel SafeEntry
Raffles Hotel Entrance
Raffles Hotel Entrance

Once done, we headed through the entrance for a quick temperature check…

Raffles Hotel temperature check
Raffles Hotel temperature check

…and then there I was, in the magnificent Raffles Hotel lobby under the largest chandelier I’d ever seen. This Champalimaud Design piece draws your eyes upwards to the lofty heights of the lobby, and is estimated to weigh almost 800 kg. 

Raffles Hotel lobby
Raffles Hotel Chandelier

The lobby was quiet when I arrived around 10.30 a.m. Another associate approached me to introduce herself, and whisked me off to the second floor to handle check-in. I suppose this is their way of keeping the lobby as empty as possible, as per the STB’s guidelines on Phase 2 density requirements. 

Raffles Hotel lobby
Raffles Hotel lobby

⚠️ Issues with early check-in

Raffles Hotel is currently adopting a “24 hour empty” policy, where rooms are left vacant for 24 hours in between guests. Unfortunately, this has resulted in some guests encountering significant check-in delays. 

Despite having a guaranteed 11 a.m check-in slot, some were kept waiting in the hotel until 7 p.m or later due to room unavailability. Other guests received calls the day before asking them to delay their arrival until the evening. 

In these cases, service recovery has ranged from offering extended check-out hours equal to the time lost, or 20% off the cost of the stay. 

It’s probably the reason why guaranteed early check-in was removed from the Suite Life package’s T&Cs (but if you booked it before the removal, it’ll of course be honored). For what it’s worth, I didn’t encounter any such issue, although that could just be because of my Thursday arrival. 

The associate requested a copy of my identity card and credit card, and whisked them off for processing. I was a bit confused as to why this was needed, however. I thought the whole point of the pre-arrival email was to provide these details ahead of time. 

Level 2 lounge area
Level 2 lounge area

In any case, she soon returned to escort me to my room. There’s no cheap plastic keycards here- Raffles instead gives you a handsome leather-bound card to access your room and facilities. 

Raffles Hotel room key
Raffles Hotel room key

Raffles Hotel Singapore: Courtyard Suite

There are a total of 115 rooms at The Raffles Hotel Singapore, split as follows: 

  Number of Rooms Size
Studio Suites* 6 46 sqm
State Room Suite 18 67 sqm
Courtyard Suite 31 58 sqm
Palm Court Suite 35 70 sqm
Personality Suite 12 Varies
Residence Suite 5 150 sqm
Promenade Suite 2 85 sqm
Grand Hotel Suite 4 150 sqm
Presidential Suite 2 260 sqm
*Not available for sale. These are meant to accommodate staff of VIP guests.

The Suite Life package books you into a State Room Suite, with a space-available upgrade to the next highest category: a Courtyard Suite. I received an upgrade, but having had the chance to see the State Room Suite, I think it might be better to decline the upgrade. I’ll explain more in the next section. 

Courtyard Suites are located in a quiet part of the hotel, just outside the main building. Each room has its own set of chairs and table on the open-air veranda. 

Courtyard Suite outside seating
Courtyard Suite outside seating
Courtyard Suite outside seating
Courtyard Suite outside seating

My room was 230, towards the end of the row. Tapping your card on the Raffles logo grants you admission. 

Raffles Hotel Room 230
Room 230

On entering the room, you’ll be in the parlor. This has a living room area with sofa, single chair and coffee table, and a dining area with two chairs and a round table.

Courtyard Suite Parlor Area
Courtyard Suite Parlor Area
Courtyard Suite Parlor Area
Courtyard Suite Parlor Area
Courtyard Suite Parlor Area
Courtyard Suite Parlor Area

There’s a flat screen TV, a steamer trunk bar, as well as a little library. 

Courtyard Suite Parlor Area
Courtyard Suite Parlor Area

Some of the books in the collection were from famous writers/playwrights who stayed at the Raffles before, like Noel Coward. Others focus on telling Singapore stories. I’ve always been meaning to read “It Never Rains on National Day”, but my attention span these days is so brief that even short stories seem too long. I blame society. 

Parlor Library
Parlor Library

The steamer trunk bar in the parlor opens up to reveal a Nespresso coffee capsule machine, wine glasses, additional bottled water, and a (non-complimentary) mini-fridge full of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. It’s a thing of beauty, with its burnt orange leather interior. 

Steamer trunk mini-bar
Steamer trunk mini-bar

The dining table isn’t the largest, but it was big enough to get some work done. 

Dining table (we brought the champagne from home)

Speaking of work, a word about the Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi speeds at the Raffles aren’t great. While I was able to watch Netflix and browse the web without any difficulty, it took considerably longer to download large files or buffer HD video.

Sorry to say this, but internet speeds are on par with the Hotel 81. 

  🔽 Download 🔼 Upload
YOTELAir Changi 29 Mbps 49 Mbps
W Sentosa Cove 34 Mbps 34 Mbps
The Barracks Hotel 7.3 Mbps 7.7 Mbps
Hotel 81 Tristar 7.0 Mbps 6.8 Mbps
Raffles Hotel 6.9 Mbps 6.8 Mbps
Hotel Soloha 4.7 Mbps 5.1 Mbps
Internet speeds based on Speedtest.net scores as recorded during my own visits. Ranking based on sum of download and upload speeds. 

Across the parlor is the seating area, where a basket of fruit and a welcome letter were waiting. 

Parlor seating area
Parlor seating area
Welcome letter
Welcome letter

You’ll find an iPad on the side table. When the Raffles underwent its last renovation, one of the major changes was to wire up the entire room for smart access. Each room now comes with two tablets, through which you can control almost every device. You can also use it to summon the butler to the room or request a callback. 

Room control iPad
Room control iPad

Lights, temperature and curtains are all controllable through the iPad, with presets for reading, watching movies and sleeping. 

Room control iPad
Room control iPad

You can control the television…

Room control iPad
TV channels

…or watch your own Netflix on the TV (you’ll need to provide your own account, however). 

Netflix sign-in prompt

Although the iPad had basic information on hotel restaurants (like opening hours), I thought they missed a trick by not including the menus. 

Raffles Hotel dining options (but no menus)
Raffles Hotel dining options (but no menus)

Thanks to the Press Reader app on the iPad, you can also browse thousands of newspapers and periodicals. This starts fairly respectably…

Press Reader app

…but veers off track rather quickly. I was pretty surprised they didn’t have an “adult filter” on content, given that kids could freely access the device (won’t somebody please think of the children?!).

White fluffy puppies yay!
More white fluffy puppies yay!

On to the bedroom, and I was really disappointed not to get one of those four post beds I saw on the website. Perhaps this room has height restrictions, but there’s just something majestic about four posters. 

Courtyard Suite Bedroom
Courtyard Suite Bedroom
Courtyard Suite Bedroom
Courtyard Suite Bedroom

Bedframe disappointment aside, the bed itself was amazing, and easily the best hotel bed I’ve ever had. I’m told it’s a Sealy Posturepedic mattress, although which specific model is unclear (I’m trying to find out, because I want this as my next bed). 

Another fun feature is that every night at turn-down, housekeeping leaves a short excerpt of a story by a famous Raffles alumni on your bed. On the first night I got a passage from “My East Was Gorgeous” (Ira J Morris, 1958), on the second, “The End Of The Tether” (Joseph Conrad, 1902)

Turn down stories
Turn down stories

There are two large wardrobes with plenty of storage space, and the same attractive burnt orange interior as the steamer trunk bar. 

Courtyard Suite Bedroom
Courtyard Suite Bedroom

Each bedside table has two USB ports and two universal power outlets built into the drawer, with a small cutout for the cable to extrude. 

Bedside USB charging
Bedside USB charging

If you’re a light sleeper like me, do yourself a favor and take the battery out of this bedside clock. It’s extremely loud in a quiet room. 

Noisy bedside clock

A small dressing table runs parallel to the bathroom, with a light up mirror that flips up to reveal a hairdryer. 

Dressing table and hairdryer
Dressing table and hairdryer

The bathroom has luxurious marble finishes, and striking black and white Peranakan-style floor tiles. A freestanding acrylic bathtub forms the centerpiece of the bathroom, and extra points to Raffles for providing a bath pillow (although it’d be even better if they provided two). The butler can draw a bubble bath for you any time, and the tub retains heat well. 

Courtyard Suite Bathroom
Courtyard Suite Bathroom
Courtyard Suite Bathroom
Courtyard Suite Bathroom

His and hers sinks come standard in all suites, and the hotel has chosen to retain the European-style taps with separate hot and cold levers (thankfully, the British colonial legacy of separate hot and cold taps doesn’t live on here). 

Courtyard Suite Bathroom Taps
Courtyard Suite Bathroom Taps

One cute feature on the bathroom counter was this floral dish, which I’m guessing was for placing rings. Of course, it could always be a spare toilet roll holder, but let’s keep things romantic. 

Bathroom ring holder
Bathroom ring holder

There are other small nods to old-world charm, such as the provision of an analogue weighing scale instead of a digital one, and a bathtub mixer that looks like the receiver of a rotary phone. 

Bathtub mixer
Bathtub mixer

The shower cubicle is large, and has a bench seat for you to sit and wash your feet. Both a rain shower and hand shower are available, and both can be turned on at the same time. 

Courtyard Suite shower
Courtyard Suite shower

The toilet has a bidet spray, but disappointingly lacks an automatic TOTO washlet. I don’t think it’d be too unreasonable to expect one of those, given the price point of this hotel. 

Courtyard Suite toilet
Courtyard Suite toilet

Do remember there’s a handy do-not-disturb button on the side of the wall next to the toilet- good for when you’re answering the call and don’t wish to be bothered. Impressively, all the do-not-disturb buttons within the suite are synced, and the iPad can detect when either of the switches is triggered. 

Bathroom amenities are Isfarkand by Ormonde Jayne, a London-based perfume house. These subtly fragranced bath products were some of the nicest toiletries I ever had in a hotel. More toiletries will be provided upon request, within reason, of course. 

Ormonde Jayne bathroom products
Ormonde Jayne bathroom products
Ormonde Jayne bathroom products
Ormonde Jayne bathroom products

Other amenities include a shower cap (with useful scrunchie), comb, shaving kit and dental kit. 

Bathroom accessories
Bathroom accessories

The Milelioness would like me to point out that the Raffles Hotel Singapore uses toothpaste without SLS, which is great for those who have sensitive mouths. 

SLS-free toothpaste
SLS-free toothpaste

All rooms receive a complimentary Raffles Personal Care Kit, which contains two Raffles-branded face masks, a 30ml bottle of french lemon hand sanitizer spray, and a pack of antibacterial wipes. Additional kits can be purchased in the boutique for S$15.90. 

Raffles Personal Care Kit
Raffles Personal Care Kit

Speaking of hygiene, it wouldn’t be a complete review without the trusty old UV light. With the exception of a couple of stains on the wall near the toilet paper holder, the rest of the room passed muster. 

Blacklight test- Raffles Hotel
Blacklight test- Raffles Hotel
Blacklight test- Raffles Hotel
Blacklight test- Raffles Hotel
Blacklight test- Raffles Hotel
Blacklight test- Raffles Hotel

Raffles Hotel Singapore: State Room Suite

I previously mentioned that the Suite Life package books you into a State Room Suite, with a space-available upgrade to a Courtyard Suite. 

Here’s the thing: I actually think the State Room Suite is better. Not only is it 9 sqm larger, it also benefits from a lot more natural light. I found the Courtyard Suite to be quite dark, even with all the lights on, and that only served to make the room feel smaller. 

There’ll be no such claustrophobia with the State Room Suites, which boast floor to ceiling windows to soak in all that gorgeous daytime sunlight. 

State Room Suite Parlor
State Room Suite Parlor
State Room Suite Parlor
State Room Suite Parlor

The bedroom has a four post bed, along with a small dressing table area. 

State Room Suite Bedroom
State Room Suite Bedroom
State Room Suite Bedroom
State Room Suite Bedroom

State Rooms boast both front and back entrances. The other entrance is found down a elongated passageway that connects bathroom to bedroom. 

Passageway

The main drawback is that the bathtub is not freestanding, and is slightly narrower than the one in the Courtyard Suite. 

State Room Suite Bathroom
State Room Suite Bathroom

Other drawbacks include the fact that the State Room Suites face the main road, which could result in more traffic noise, and your outside area is much narrower than the Courtyard Suites. 

State Room exterior

So to summarize:

  State Room Suite Courtyard Suite
Size 67 sqm 58 sqm
Entrances 2 1
Natural Light Plenty Little
Bathroom Not directly connected to bedroom Directly connected to bedroom
Bathtub Not freestanding Freestanding
Noise Level Possible road noise Very quiet
Exterior Corridor Narrow Wide

You’ll have to decide what you value more- space or privacy. For what it’s worth, I think I like the State Room Suite more. I even asked the hotel if they could downgrade me, but because of their “24 hour empty room” policy, switching guests between rooms could mess up their schedule and cause all kinds of problems down the line. 

Raffles Hotel Singapore: Facilities

Pool Gym Spa
Yes: 7 a.m to 7 p.m Yes: 24 hours Yes: 10 a.m to 4.30 p.m
(closed Mondays)
Kids’ Club Business Centre Others
No Yes N/A

As mentioned earlier, both pool and fitness centre require advance reservations. These slots will fill up faster than you think, so make your bookings even before you arrive. 

The following time slots are available for the pool…

🏊‍♂️ Raffles Hotel Singapore Pool Timings
0700-0830 hours 1300-1430 hours
0830-1000 hours 1430-1600 hours
1000-1130 hours 1600-1730 hours
1130-1300 hours 1730-1900 hours

…and the gym: 

🏋️ Raffles Hotel Singapore Gym Timings
0700-0830 hours 1730-1900 hours
0830-1000 hours 1900-2030 hours
1000-1130 hours 2030-2200 hours
1130-1300 hours 2200-2330 hours
1300-1430 hours 2330-0100 hours
1430-1600 hours 0100-0230 hours
1600-1730 hours 0230-0400 hours

It’s more important to make a booking for the pool than the gym, because the latter was virtually empty every time I passed through while the former was always maxed out. While you can show up without a reservation and try your luck, the current high occupancy rates mean you’re likely to be disappointed. 

Swimming Pool

Raffles Hotel Swimming Pool
Raffles Hotel Swimming Pool

The pool at the Raffles Hotel Singapore is definitely on the smaller side, although thanks to the current social distancing restrictions you won’t find it overcrowded. A maximum of 16 people can be in the pool at any one time, with a further 24 outside. 

Raffles Hotel Swimming Pool
Raffles Hotel Swimming Pool

Upon arrival, you’ll do a SafeEntry check-in and be ushered to a set of pool chairs. All pool chairs are cleaned and sanitized in between guests, with fresh towels draped over them. Complimentary bottles of mineral water are provided too. 

Pool chairs
Pool chairs

The pool measures 1.5m at its deepest end, which allows for proper lap swimming. The water tastes salty, but it’s not actually a salt water pool. It turns out this is a special way of treating the water, so as to reduce the amount of chlorine required. 

Even though we were staying on a weekday, the pool area was constantly at full capacity. There would be brief intervals where no one happened to be in the water, and you could jump in and feel like you had it all to yourself. However, those moments were fleeting and far between. 

Raffles Hotel pool
Raffles Hotel Swimming Pool

There are always at least two attendants at the pool, who handle F&B orders and clean the chairs between uses. The food selection is similar to what you’ll find in the all-day dining section of the room service menu. 

Raffles Hotel Pool Bar
Raffles Hotel Pool Bar

Despite the crowd, I found service to be attentive and responsive. Fair warning though: expect to pay luxury hotel prices for poolside drinks (S$25++ for a mojito). The Suite Life package’s 15% discount on F&B cushions the blow a bit, but the cheaper drinks are served at the Raffles Courtyard during happy hour. 

Poolside drinks
Poolside drinks

Fitness Centre

The 24-hour gym has a wide selection of equipment, some with entertainment devices installed. Expect Technogym treadmills, elliptical equipment, free weights and other ways of torturing yourself. 

Gym equipment
Gym equipment
Gym equipment
Gym equipment
Gym equipment
Gym equipment

I never saw more than a couple of people in the gym at any time, and even though some machines can’t be used due to social distancing measures, you’re unlikely to encounter waits. 

Gym equipment
Gym equipment
Gym equipment
Gym equipment

Raffles Hotel Singapore: Breakfast

Served at Cost Style
Tiffin Room S$72++ (Adult)
S$36++ (Child)
A la carte buffet
Hours Sparkling Wine? Discounts?
7.00 a.m to 10.30 a.m No None

Breakfast is served at the Tiffin Room every day from 7 a.m to 10.30 a.m. 

Unlike other hotels in Phase 2, there’s no need to pre-reserve a time slot. Raffles Hotel has  gone all out to allow guests to dine when they wish, and converted three separate areas into socially-distanced breakfast venues. 

You can sit outside in the Palm Garden by the fountain…

Palm Garden breakfast setup
Palm Garden breakfast setup

…inside the Tiffin Room…

Tiffin Room breakfast setup
Tiffin Room breakfast setup

…or in the Grand Lobby. 

Grand Lobby breakfast setup
Grand Lobby breakfast setup

Barring some freak occurrence where all 115 rooms decide to take breakfast at the same time, it’s highly unlikely you’ll have to wait for a seat. Service times will of course be longer during peak periods, however, so it’s advisable to eat before 9 a.m where possible. 

Breakfast is served a la carte buffet style, with guests able to order as many dishes as they like. When one thinks of the Raffles, one might imagine decadent breakfasts with champagne, king crab omelettes and table-side unicorn carvings. But the breakfast menu at Raffles is in fact rather brief: 

Don’t get me wrong, I’d much prefer a place that does a few items well than many items terribly, but I was still surprised to see so few options (especially the Western items, since four of them could simply be consolidated under “eggs”). 

In terms of taste, I had no real complaints about the pancakes, waffles or french toast. These all benefit from being made-to-order (instead of sitting under heat lamps for hours, as is wont at regular buffets), and while I’ve certainly had better, they got the job done. 

Pancakes
Pancakes
Waffles
French Toast
French Toast

I also tried the Raffles Signature Omelette and the Eggs Benedict, but nothing really blew me away here. They were competently executed, if not unmemorable. I think they had an off day with the sides, as the spinach was dried out and the mushrooms bland. 

Raffles Signature Omelette
Raffles Signature Omelette
Eggs Benedict
Eggs Benedict

Thankfully, the Asian options were way superior. You absolutely need to try the Seafood Mee Goreng; it’s flat-out delicious, and unlike a certain other luxury hotel, actually has seafood in it. 

Mee Goreng
Mee Goreng

Props also to the delicious Nasi Lemak. Each element came together in perfect harmony, from the crispy yet moist chicken & fish, the subtle coconut flavor of the rice, and the sweet spice from the sambal. 

Nasi Lemak
Nasi Lemak

The fish congee was also excellent, and was presented beautifully. 

Fish Congee
Fish Congee

I’d give the dim sum a miss though. It’s rather average, and you’ll find much better at yi (see below). 

Dim Sum
Dim Sum

My take is that Raffles definitely does its Asian items better than the Western ones, and if you’re counting your calories, go for the former. 

On Day 1, we started breakfast around 8.30 a.m, and on Day 2 at 8.00 a.m. Both times, dishes arrived within 10 minutes of ordering, but remember, your wait is likely to be longer during peak periods. 

Breakfast at the Raffles Hotel won’t go down among my best-ever hotel breakfasts, but the service was fantastic (frequent refills, staff who knew the fine art of appearing when you needed them and disappearing otherwise) and that mee goreng was a star performer. 

Shame they didn’t have avocado toast. 

Raffles Hotel Singapore: Other F&B options

Raffles has no fewer than nine eating and watering holes on its premises, all of which can be charged to the room (relevant for those who are intending to pay with Accor points). 

Restaurant Status as of 8 August 2020
Butcher’s Block Open
La Dame de Pic Open
Raffles Courtyard Open
The Grand Lobby Open
Tiffin Room Open
yi by Jereme Leung Open
BBR by Alain Ducasse Closed
Long Bar Closed
Writers Bar Closed

I visited all the open restaurants except La Dame de Pic. That one struck me as a little too expensive, even for a points stay. 

From now till 30 September 2020, Raffles is running a promotion where four people can dine for the cost of three. There’s also a 25% discount on the cost of drinks.

Butcher’s Block

Butcher's Block
Butcher’s Block

Recommended? Menu
No Link

I had high hopes for Butcher’s Block, but sadly I just can’t recommend this place. 

Nothing we ate here was great, in fact, most of it wasn’t even good. We ordered the beef tartare (S$29++) for a starter. Now, I get the whole “rule of thirds” when it comes to plating, but it looks flat out weird to get it plated like this: 

Beef tartare
Beef tartare

It just looks like they forgot to add something to the plate. At least a small bunch of microgreens, or some toast (the classic accompaniment to steak tartar), or even a smear of sauce would have improved things tremendously. Taste-wise, I’ve certainly had much better too. 

Tomato heirloom
Tomato Heirloom

The tomato heirloom (S$14++) was much more visually pleasing, and a very interesting dish- a peeled whole tomato with foam and gazpacho. 

But it was the main course where things went off the rails. We ordered the bone-in sirloin (S$108++), medium rare (the only acceptable way to have steak). I’ve eaten and cooked enough steak to know that what was served was way closer to rare. The cow was still mooing. 

Cow goes mooo

I sent it back, but the problem is that once you’ve cut the steak, cooking it again is never going to end well. You’ve already lost a lot of juice, and once you place those small pieces on a blazing hot grill meant for larger whole cuts, this is the only natural conclusion:

Cow goes charcoal

There are other steakhouses I know which would have re-fired a new piece, and that’s their call to make, I suppose. I’ll just say that I didn’t enjoy dinner here at all, and there are much better restaurants at Raffles to try. 

On a separate note, Butcher’s Block has some unfortunate table design. When we first sat down we thought they’d given us a dirty table, but the staff insisted it was part of the design. I made a quick pass of the restaurant and noted similar “stains” on other tables, so fair enough, but it’s not particularly appetizing to look at. 

“Stains” on tables at Butcher’s Block

Even my phone camera thought something was afoot, thinking that the stains were on my camera lens. 

The Grand Lobby

Grand Lobby, Raffles Hotel
Grand Lobby, Raffles Hotel

Recommended? Menu
Yes Link

The Grand Lobby is the place to head for the famous Raffles’ afternoon tea ritual, which costs S$78++ per person. Afternoon tea is served from 1-5 p.m from Monday to Friday, with extended hours of 12-6 p.m on Saturday to Sunday. 

This is served on a photogenic three-tiered tea set, together with your choice of choice of premium teas. Home-baked scones are also served with clotted cream and rose petal jam. 

Raffles hotel Afternoon Tea
Raffles Hotel Afternoon Tea

As far as tea sets go, it’s a substantive meal, ranging from savory finger sandwiches…

Finger Sandwiches
Finger Sandwiches

…to a selection of sweeter things. 

Cakes and tarts
Cakes and tarts
Parfait and tarts
Sweet treats

These were an excellent pairing with the special champagne that the Raffles Hotel Singapore commissioned to mark its reopening in 2019. By the bottle, it’s S$158++ (but remember you get 25% off). At the gift shop, it’s just S$98. Ah well, you’re paying for the atmosphere…

Double the price at the gift shop, but what’re you gonna do?

This is also one of the two venues you can take your Singapore Sling welcome drink, between 6-8 p.m daily. 

Tiffin Room

Tiffin Room
Tiffin Room

Recommended? Menu
Yes Link

The iconic Tiffin Room is now the longest-running restaurant at the Raffles, and where you’ll have breakfast each day (see breakfast section for more details). 

We had lunch here on the first day, and even though I very rarely have Indian food and therefore my opinion counts for little, I thought this was pretty great. 

For starters, we shared the Jhinga Kebab (S$55++), which consisted of two giant tiger prawns with mango salsa. The prawns had a delightful sweetness to them, and mango is always good. 

Jhinga Kebab
Jhinga Kebab

For the main, we went with the Mera Dabba (S$75++), which lets you pick your own selection of two mains, accompanied by lentils, basmati rice, naan and chutneys. You can have all the naan you want, and what man in the right mind ever said no to that? 

Mera Dabba
Mera Dabba

Raffles Courtyard

Raffles Courtyard
Raffles Courtyard

Recommended? Menu
Yes Link

The Raffles Courtyard is the other venue where you can have your welcome drink (between 3-5 p.m). It’s a much nicer environment for a cocktail, in my opinion, with its al fresco setting and in the cool of the evening. 

Raffles Hotel Welcome Drink- Singapore Sling
Raffles Hotel Welcome Drink- Singapore Sling

As for the Singapore Sling, it was my first time trying one, and while it’s not without its charm, let’s just say I think I’ll stick to mojitos. 

The daily Happy Hour menu (5-8 p.m) sadly didn’t have mojitos, but they did have other libations. Cocktails cost S$15++ each, which is very cheap considering you also get 15% off as a staycation guest. 

The Kamikaze (S$15++) and Daiquiri (S$15++) looked identical, but each pulled their weight admirably. 

Happy hour drinks at Raffles Courtyard
Happy hour drinks at Raffles Courtyard

So as to not drink on an empty stomach, we ordered the “Har Cheong” Boneless Chicken Thigh (S$12++), or har cheong gai for the less fancy among us. It was moist and delicious. 

"Har Cheong" Boneless Chicken Thigh
“Har Cheong” Boneless Chicken Thigh

Word of warning: there are mosquitoes buzzing in the courtyard around evening, so those of you who are sensitive to that will want to take note. The Milelioness and I got bitten quite a few times, but the staff had repellent on hand which seemed to stop the attacks. 

yi by Jereme Leung

yi by Jereme Leung
yi by Jereme Leung

Recommended? Menu
Yes Link

yi has a gorgeous entrance way, which makes for great photo opportunities. 

Entrance way to yi
Entrance way to yi
yi
yi

Fortunately, it also has the culinary chops to match, and turned out to be an unexpected hit for me. “How great can dim sum be?” I thought to myself when making the booking.

The answer is- “very.” yi takes your standard dim sum hits and elevates them to a whole new level. Must tries include the Black Golden Egg Custard Bun (S$9++) and Dried Scallops, Shrimp & Chives Pancake (S$9++).

Black Golden Egg Custard Bun
Black Golden Egg Custard Bun
Dried Scallops, Shrimp & Chives Pancake

Even staples like Siew Mai (S$9++) and Har Kau (S$9++) were executed to perfection, and the cheung fun with tiger prawns (S$10++) and barbecue pork (S$10++) had whole slices of shrimp and char siew inside, not the tiny flecks you find elsewhere. 

Siew mai
Siew mai
Har gau
Har kau
Cheung Fun with BBQ pork
Cheung Fun with shrimp

Long story short, I can’t recommend this place enough, and would gladly head back again.

Other Attractions

Raffles Boutique

Yes, the items are probably overpriced, but the Raffles Boutique is more than a tourist trap gift shop- it serves as a mini-museum of some hotel relics, and is well worth visiting. 

Raffles Boutique
Raffles Boutique

Inside you’ll find old receipts from guests, photos of the hotel throughout the years, as well as a heck of lot of Raffles-branded merchandise. 

Raffles Boutique
Raffles Boutique
Raffles Boutique
Raffles Boutique
Raffles Boutique
Raffles Boutique

My advice: resist the urge to buy anything here before checking the website first. For instance, this special edition Billecart Salmon Brut Champagne was selling for S$128 in the physical gift shop, versus just S$98 online! 

Raffles Hotel champagne
Raffles Hotel champagne

In case you were wondering, your welcome gift is a tin of Raffles Hotel Blend tea. 

History Tour

Our excellent tour guide Nazir

The Raffles Hotel is steeped in Singapore history, and the complimentary History Tour allows you to hear these stories first hand, see the spots where famous writers and actors wined and dined, and get access to parts of the hotel you normally couldn’t visit. 

We had Nazir as our tour guide, and his job is basically to be a walking encyclopedia on all things Raffles Hotel. I won’t spoil the tour for you, suffice to say it’s a great use of an hour. 

History tour
History tour

We even got to walk around the Presidential Suite, which was in the process of being prepared for an arriving guest the next day (rack rate: S$10,000). 

Raffles Hotel Presidential Suite
Raffles Hotel Presidential Suite
Raffles Hotel Presidential Suite
Raffles Hotel Presidential Suite
Raffles Hotel Presidential Suite
Raffles Hotel Presidential Suite
Raffles Hotel Presidential Suite
Raffles Hotel Presidential Suite
Raffles Hotel Presidential Suite
Raffles Hotel Presidential Suite
Raffles Hotel Presidential Suite
Raffles Hotel Presidential Suite

Book your history tour far in advance, because this could well be the highlight of your stay.

Raffles Hotel Singapore: Service

For a hotel in this price segment, you’d expect service interactions at the Raffles Hotel Singapore to be flawless. 

While I certainly found the service here to be the best among any hotel in Singapore, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “flawless”. 

Let’s start with the little touches that impressed me:

  • Staff members bother to memorize the names of guests, and I was constantly greeted by name throughout the hotel
  • I’d made so many bookings for the pool, gym, history tour and various restaurants that I had trouble keeping track of where I was due when. I asked the concierge if they could do up an itinerary for me, and expected them to give me one sheet of paper with each day’s appointments listed, but something got lost in translation, and I ended up with 10 different appointment cards. Of course I’d prefer it if they understood me properly, but come to think of it- that’s some dedication to write out 10 individual cards just for one guest

  • Even non-historian staff members love to strike up little conversations here and there about the hotel’s history. I was idly taking photos of the grandfather clock in the lobby and the concierge wandered up to tell me more. I asked about the classic Daimler car out front, and the concierge insisted on taking us to it and letting us sit inside

  • The history tour ended just beyond 5 p.m, which is the cutoff time for getting your welcome drink at the Raffles Courtyard. Nazir specially came over to ensure we wouldn’t have issues claiming our drink (it wasn’t an issue actually; the staff here thankfully haven’t been infected by the “cannot” mentality that’s so pervasive in the Singapore service sector)
  • During the history tour, I asked a throwaway question about a neon sign that used to adorn the facade of the Raffles, which the Nazir wasn’t familiar with. I thought nothing about it, but he made a point to check with his mentor and later tracked us down just to let us know
  • On the first day at the pool, we requested some ice to be served along with the bottled water. On the second day it was brought automatically without asking
  • On the last day, I wanted to pop back to yi one last time. It was a Saturday, so all the tables were full. However, one call from the staff member at the pool (not even the butler, mind) and they were able to open a last minute table

I do feel, however, that the hotel was missing that last 5% which puts you over the top into the “flawless” category. Some examples:

  • During check-in, the associate asked me if I’d like some still or sparkling water while I waited. I asked for still, and it never came
  • I didn’t like that I never actually got to meet my butler, who was instead a disembodied voice over the phone. I can’t say whether it’s because of the current “minimize social contact” policy, but guests should at least get a phone call from the butler introducing him/herself
  • In the best hotels I’ve been to, cleaning staff are like ninjas, and housekeeping works around the guests’ schedule, not vice versa. The breakfast area/pool/gym/spa will keep in close communication with housekeeping, so that when guests are outside the room, staff can nip in to get the cleaning done. That didn’t really happen here
  • We ordered some drinks at the pool and were served nuts along with them. The nuts were completely lao hong (gone stale). We pointed this out to the staff, who apologised and removed them. I was expecting that they’d bring a fresh batch, but nothing materialized. When we returned the next day, they served the same stale nuts again
  • I found the Courtyard Suite a little too dark for my liking, so the staff brought an extra standing lamp. I realise there’s a cultural element to the whole shoes on or off when in the room thing- Asians generally take them off, Westerners generally leave them on. I’d taken my shoes off, but the staff member didn’t pick up on this and walked across the room in his shoes to set up the lamp
  • When we stayed at the Ritz Carlton Tokyo, the staff had an almost OCD thing about cables dangling on the floor. We’d come back every day to find our laptop and USB cables neatly coiled up, with a hotel-provided velcro strap. No such attention to detail here, sadly. Likewise, clothes were left on the furniture (instead of hung in the closet), and silverware left in the bathroom instead of being cleared

Dangling cables
Dangling cables
Rogue silverware
Rogue silverware

Let’s be clear- these are all nitpicky things, and none of them ruined what was otherwise a fantastic stay. However, getting small things like this right is what separates a great hotel from a phenomenal one. 

Did Phase 2 restrictions hamper the staycation experience?

The currently-closed Writers Bar
The currently-closed Writers Bar

Although it was disappointing that we couldn’t visit the Long Bar or Writers Bar, I don’t think Phase 2 restrictions really detracted from the overall experience. If anything, it helped hedge against overcrowding at the pool, at a time when the Raffles was running close to full capacity. 

In fact, if not for the requirement to wear a mask in public areas, I’d be hard pressed to tell that anything was different. That’s all the more because of how Raffles has gone about implementing safe distancing measures around the hotel. 

Other hotels have laid down safe distancing markers, blocked out seats and placed reminder signs throughout their properties. Unfortunately, most of these are visual eyesores. 

In contrast, the Raffles Hotel Singapore has forgone those ugly masking tape markings on the floor and hazard tape across chairs, replacing them with much more subtle reminders that fit organically into the hotel’s style. 

Raffles Hotel safe distance marker
Raffles Hotel safe distance marker
Raffles Hotel safe distance marker
Raffles Hotel safe distance marker
Raffles Hotel safe distance marker
Raffles Hotel safe distance marker
Raffles Hotel safe distance marker
Raffles Hotel safe distance marker

It’s a small thing, but it helps preserve the overall Raffles theme, and honestly, who needs more reminders about the need to safe distance anyway?

Conclusion

The total damage for a two night stay, including one meal at Butcher’s Block, one at Tiffin Room, one and a half at yi (I dined solo on the last day as The Milelioness had work), a couple of drinks sessions at Raffles Courtyard and the pool, and high tea for four people was S$1,779. 

I used 54,000 ALL points (€1,080) to offset the bill, which converted into S$1,753.49. That’s a more than fair conversion rate, given the Google rate came out to S$1,747.03. 

The Raffles Hotel Singapore feels like a destination in itself, and The Milelioness and I enjoyed wandering the grounds, popping into the little boutiques and feeling like we were overseas.

No doubt it’s expensive, even with the current staycation promotion, but it’s hard to place a price tag on an experience like this. I’d say that if a trip to the Raffles Hotel has always been on your bucket list, you’ll never find a better time than right now. 

🏨 In Summary

Is the Raffles Hotel all that and more? Yes, and the Suite Life promotion could be your best chance to stay here. It’s not cheap, but put it this way: it’s the closest thing you’ll get to an overseas holiday right now.

Do say: If we sell one kid, we could stay here again.

Don’t say: And perhaps a kidney or two.

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Tanyamib

I personally think La dame de pic is the best restaurant in Raffles. Visited prior covid and truly believe its will be next Michelin 2 or even 3 star restaurant in town.

annie Yap

Me and Jacob went there for lunch on Sunday thinking that there’s a weekend lunch set which is more palatable in terms of price. However , they do not served it due to national day on Sunday. The waitress offered us a promotion of $198 with 5 course instead. After the 15% discount and $100 credit from the suite life package, the bill came up to be slightly less than $300 for 2 pax, I would say its an amazing experience, the restaurant would have won at least 2 michelin star, if not 3. The presentation, service and food quality… Read more »

RTK

Avacado toast.. hahaha

Foodcoma

I also had lunch at Le Dame de Pic before the Covid restrictions. I would say it’s very feminine French food which reflects the Chef (female). Not sure if guys will like it as much as I did. But worth a try.

Scott

It’s not true that you can request for more toiletries. It’s actually chargeable. I called the butler and that’s what they said.

phister

That’s the same bidet head they use in the handicapped toilet of my office building. Always thought the water spray felt a little more posh than others I’ve tried.

Ali

Curiously the Presidential Suite bedroom you visited doesn’t get a four poster bed either… the room featured on the website does have it though.
https://www.raffles.com/singapore/rooms-suites/presidential-suites/

Alian

Am staying there right now. I’m allergic to alcohol. Ordered a virgin sling which was suppose to be a mocktail. They served me a regular sling even after I double checked with the waiter that it was a virgin sling After that my day went south. Sorry but this is highly unacceptable. What if my kid drank it or my religion forbade alcohol. I’m itching all thru the day and night now. I’m giving this establishment the boot and a one star as this is one big mistake and not even the slightest care to ask if I need any… Read more »

Concerned

Oh no! That’s so dangerous! Allergic reactions can be fatal 🙁 hope you get better!

Alian

Thanks all. Had pretty itchy night through out. Drank a lot of water to flush it out of my system and Panadol for the headache.

Managed to reach to the hotel manager to sort out the concerns and they were serious about it. Thanks

waxthecar

OT : but is it a true alcohol allergy or just alcohol intolerance which is a separate condition .

Falco

We’re just finishing up our stay at the Raffles and Nasir today actually mentioned at our tour today that someone the other day asked him about the sign and he couldn’t answer, but checked with his mentor an using the story as an invitation to reach out to him when we had any further questions! We had the same impressions overall, though a much better experience at the Butchers Block. Bernie there who also served us breakfast the next morning gave us great advice to go for the Iberica pork, which was amazing and the ceviche and octopus for appetizers,… Read more »

Falco-Ramin Javazi

Weird I had sent a long update, but it has vanished from the comments. Short story: second night was awful due to terrible stomping noises, but hotel came through (via Rosslyn(sp?) from the front-office with proactive info on what happened (kitchen started making mooncakes with new machine overnight until I complained at 3:30am and restarting quieter after 7am, but they will stop using this machine going forward), a resolution to stop it from happening again, and a make-good discount on the accommodation.

Falco-Ramin Javazi

Really shows a great hotel. Yes it shouldn’t have happened, but something always does (such is life) and the immense quality of the response is what makes people come back.

Ian

Great review! Matches my own experience, though I doubt I could muster your flair for writing – there’s a reason it’s not me day job.

Do share about the model of the bed, must have been the best sleep I’ve had in a while. Just hope it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

yireview

We eat at yi and I can agree that it’s a fine place for a meal. But I can’t agree that it takes dim sum to a ‘whole new level’. The ala carte food is excellent but the dim sum so-so. Firstly, the dim sum selection is limited (missing common favourites like egg tarts, char siew puffs, XO fried carrot cake, pork ribs etc) although the execution is good (the faux purple sweet potatoes with salted egg on a bed of ‘soil’ always amaze our guests). Secondly, despite the lovely presentation, the taste (which I must preface is obviously personal… Read more »

noob

I quite like my hotels modern with fancy mixers in the bathroom too. The old world style hotels were never my thing but hey b**bies in the ipad make up for it. the dim sum place definitely looks like something to try out. Questions:

1) how much did you spend in total?
2) Have you stayed in Peninsular HK? How would it compare?

Paul

Actually, I’d rather housekeeping didn’t touch my cables and wires. At hotels I stay regularly where I know they do, I actually make it a point to keep my wires away before leaving the room for them to come in and make it up.

Globetrekka

After your observations here, definitely would be interested to see you stay at MBS. There have been lots of comments about pool access there.

Globetrekka

Bad comments about the pool due to the same safe distancing requirements that you had at Raffles. I would have also thought it’s the best time to go. I guess people really only go to MBS for the pool. I also wonder if it’s a case of cabin fever and people are just trying to go somewhere for some sense of “holiday” and MBS is on their bucket list. That, and it’s a long weekend. Maybe week days would be a better time to go. You could you use that money you saved from Raffles to try it out 🙂

yireview

For ‘noob’ who asked earlier: TLDR the Pen takes it; my reasons below: Firstly, the Pen Tower suites were refurbished 2012 and even back then they had synced ipads in every room for all controls and curtains. The ipads had room service menus too (for Aaron: can’t remember about the restaurant Menus). The pop-up electrical connections at the tables (lovely customised lacquered wood pop-ups), bedside drawers with multiple charging choices and huge round tub by the window overlooking the harbor are still not at the Raffles. For us it was nicer. Secondly, all our Pen suites were significantly larger than… Read more »

bluecutting

hi thanks for sharing this review! we stayed there a few weeks back. service was sort of patchy – we got our room service delivered after 2 hours due to a miscomm (thankfully they comp-ed it in the end after we expressed some unhappiness). Agree with you that the butler service was quite depersonalised. The tea and coffee service at some other hotels eg St Regis at BKK was complimentary but not so for the Raffles.

cheesecake

What credit card did you use to book on the Raffles website? Was it processed online, or did the hotel charge separately offline?

Last edited 1 month ago by cheesecake
Dave

Jeez, they replaced the Kaya Jar welcome gift with tea? Lucky you I would say 😉

SeamenHunter

Aaron, I’m surprised you didn’t UV the Bathroom ring holder 😏

2dhh

Thanks for the review! Great to see genuine reviews that aren’t sponsored!

sammy

the breakfast menu looks quite disappointed.
thought this level hotel should offer something fantastic for breakfast (such as champagne, steak or caviar).

May I ask the breakfast menu is the same as before Circuit Breaker?

Dan

Guess I was quite lucky to be upgraded to a personality suite instead of the courtyard suite over the NDP weekend. Caught a glimpse of the Milelion from far having high tea 🙂

Last edited 1 month ago by Dan
Dan

well you are definitely well dressed compared to some of the other people I observed over the 2 days…. flip flops

From their website, the personality suites (Elizabeth Taylor) are definitely bigger. I have a freestanding bathtub and there is a dressing area/ wardrobe between the bedroom and bathroom which I think the other suites may not have.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dan
TurningLeft

Great review. I know you’re paying for Raffles name, but holy cow the prices for the food!,

Eden

I think you need to consider reviewing things in the hotels in Singapore as a whole in light of COvid with an emphasis on empathy for the staff working in the industry. The whole travel and hotel industry has been on its knees due to COvid and are trying their best to pick themselves up. Think about that before you criticise everything and comparing service standards to another hotel you stayed in pre-COvid. You’ve clearly built a reputation for yourself with your followers based on your writing, I challenge you to use your prowess for language to build the industry… Read more »

Objectivity

having read the milelion for a number of years now I will give Aaron the benefit of the doubt in that I trust he is not coming from a point of criticism but rather that he acknowledges a duty to let his readers know what they are getting into, Aaron has added a number of caveats reminding it is not a normal situation and perceptions have to be duly adjusted there may also be a need to inject humor into the content and perhaps some of that may rub people the wrong way but I will challenge anyone to write… Read more »

ZhupHunt

Love your writing. Did you also subject the suites at Raffles to the black light test? 🧐 would be interesting to see how they compare to hotel 81!

Jenny