THE RAFFLES (*****L): An oasis of colonial style, calm and charm in the heart of modern Singapore, this is much more than a hotel; an icon which stands at the crossroads of civilisation and culture since 1887. Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, Ernest Hemingway and Alfred Hitchcock reported and promoted worldwide the Raffles still unmatched blend of luxury, history and colonial ambiance. We would compare this hotel with our beloved Mandarin Oriental Bangkok: nowadays plenty of modern, cheaper hotels are more comfortable, high-tech, imaginative and somehow impressive. But the shadow of a glorious past still boosts this unique 'je ne sais quoi” which we, “travel aficionados”, are excitingly looking for.
The enchantment starts from the airport, if you request the vintage Daimler limousine transfer. Upon arrival in front of the ornate wrought-iron portico, the liveried Sikh doorman (who has been there for over two decades!) ushers you into a lobby that seems unaltered from the turn of the century.
The tropical teak verandas pasts lush gardens featuring palm-trees and fragrant frangipani. Unfortunately, and this is our unique claim, the splendid public areas look like more and more a public museum: with dozens of red-neck tourists wandering around with their camera. We would never dare imagining that this might happen in Hôtel de Crillon (Paris) or Sherry-Netherland (New York), where visitors are carefully selected, and where intruders are politely though firmly banned.
Accommodation features 84 State Raffles Inc, Courtyard and Palm Court Suites: all with an elegant parlour, period furnishings, a bedroom that leads to a dressing room and en-suite bathroom. We loved the 12 plush Personality Suites, 5 Grand Hotel Suites and 2 Presidential Suites... where you will certainly never stay: statesmen, movie stars, Arabic sheikhs and Russian oligarchs reserved them before you, quite often for a long-stay.
Console yourself spending a legendary evening in one of the Raffles 15 restaurants and bars. Singapore counts plenty of better, cheaper and less touristy restaurants, so just concentrate your one-time gastronomic experience to the Tiffin Room, where the yummy breakfast is served with style, and enjoy a “Singapore Sling” cocktail at the world famous Billiard Room. This is where the last surviving tiger has been reportedly killed in 1902, when Singapore was still surrounded by the jungle; except the bankers and traders invading the Long Bar after dark, you hopefully won't see predators anymore.
Rates are among the most expensive in South East Asia, starting from US$ 600 minimum per night for a standard State Raffles Inc Room. The price for a legend, maybe.
THE RAFFLES: 1 Beach Road, Singapore 189673
PHONE: +65 6337 1886 FACSIMILE: +65 6339 7650
TOLL-FREE: +800 1 7233537
RITZ CARLTON MILLENIA (*****L): This five star luxury hide away nestled in a seven-acre garden, symbolizing what the adjective “ritzy” actually means, has been lavishly designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Kevin Roche, and displays a 4,200 piece contemporary art collection including works by Frank Stella, Andy Warhol and Dale Chihuly. Targeting a small elite of demanding globe-trotters, the Ritz Carlton Millenia astonished and seduced us every single minutes of a too short stay, our way back from the fantastic Ritz Carlton New York Central Park. The personalised check-in in the amazing Club Lounge on the highest level of the building made us a great impression.
We liked the 608 spacious guest-rooms (550 to 650 square feet) and huge suites, with a breathtaking panorama of the Singapore skyline and Marina Bay. The high-tech RC Millenia is the first hotel in the world to be furnished with flushed wall-mounted 46-inch Hospitality LED TVs. High-speed wired and WiFi Internet is provided free of charge, phones a re equipped with IP, and the large work desks come with built-in power points and multiple power adaptor sockets. Singapore is a modern city, and the RC Millenia is a real Singaporean hotel. This high level of sophistication is visible everywhere: from the dual mood / LED lighting system, to the anti-fog mirrors in the palatial marble bathrooms featuring Asprey bath amenities. The super king-size feather beds with hand-made in USA Sealy mattresses are as smooth as silk. In one word, this is a Ritz Carlton with all its bonuses!
Besides the great location in the heart of Marina Bay, the fine dinning options, the best SPA in Singapore and the landscaped gardens featuring tropical plants, rocks and waterfalls around the swimming pool, what will make us come back again and again is the Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge. Opened to the Club Premier Suite, One-bedroom Millenia Suite, Two-bedroom Millenia Suite and The Ritz-Carlton Suite guests, it offers multiple benefits which made us feel like treated like top-VIPs: personalised arrival and departure service, complimentary garment refreshment for up to five pieces of laundry upon arrival, personalised stationery with guests’ names embossed on letterheads and in-residence cards in gold (last time we got this distinguished service was at The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok), and even complimentary limousine service within the immediate precinct between 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily! Few guests will miss the daily culinary presentations, allowing to sample -free-of-charge- signature specialities displayed in the hotel gastronomic restaurants, with a selection of excellent wines and liquors.
The discreet and very attentive staff is considered as one of best trained in town.
RITZ CARLTON MILLENIA: 7 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039799
PHONE: +65 6337-8888 FACSIMILE: +65 6338-0001
GOODWOOD PARK HOTEL (*****L): This is exactly the kind of hotel where we like to drop our luggage. Singapore has its two old colonial palaces: the Raffles (world famous, and therefore permanently fully booked), and the Goodwood Park Hotel (full house most of the time, as well). The former "Teutonia Club" marks with elegance the border between the shopping district and the top luxurious residential areas of the city-state.
It was built in 1900 by the German community in Singapore as their social club, then converted into a very posh hotel in 1929. Since, the Goodwood Park Hotel is a must for the "happy few" who, should they be the Queen Beatrix of Netherlands, the Sultan of Johore, Cliff Richard or the Nobel Prize of Literature Sir William Golding, many want to stay nowhere else but in this wonderful old palace. Not as flashy as the Raffles, the Goodwood Park Hotel offers nevertheless the most superlative suite in Singapore. Accessible by a private lift, the "Brunei Suite" took its name from the Sultan of Brunei who was one of its first discerning guests.
This is a sophisticated mixture of styles Louis XVI, Georgian and Chippendale, designed by Ernesto Bedmar. With a print from Monet fixed between two Corinthian columns, the room also features impressive bouquets poured into precious crystal vases. Is it necessary to mention that this is the most expensive suite in town? Fortunately, the "Deluxe Rooms" offer very decent rates, and garner a lot of success among businessmen. Which we feel is quite a pity as this hotel was designed for European globe-trotters, and should be discovered by high profile tourists rather than by stressed golden boys lacking time to fully enjoy its delightful atmosphere.
Very good and friendly service and highly reputed restaurants are to be found here. The "Min Jiang" and "Chang Jiang Shangai" attract exigent Chinese gourmets. The "Gordon Grill" is a very authentic pub offering British and Scottish specialties. The "Coffee Lounge" is a colonial coffee shop. Whether you or fortunate or not to be a guest of the Goodwood Park Hotel, do not miss the old England "Afternoon Tea" served in the "Cafe Espresso"; you will taste here very rare varieties of teas, like for instance the "Caramel Regency", accompanied by fresh and delicious pastries.
This is one of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
THE MANDARIN ORCHARD SINGAPORE (*****L): If you want to check the real meaning of the word "cyclopean", do not open your dictionary; just peep in the 744 sq. m chinese style lobby of the Mandarin Orchard Singapore, and you will find its concrete definition. All is huge, extensive, superlative, and, of course, ultra luxurious here. Even the list of awards this 1200 guest rooms and 44 restaurants monument received would take too much volume to be published hereby: they are top something since the opening in 1973 (which was of course grand !) of what is still the largest, if not the highest, hotel in town. Rooms are most comfortable, and are currently being refurbished. The 20 "Regency" and 10 "Executive" suites, with an oriental touch, are booked far in advance by the chairmen and presidents on a business trip to Singapore. The most powerful industrialists and investors stay there both due to the extremely convenient location of the hotel on Orchards Road, and to the superb facilities it offers for conventions and meetings.
We crossed by a lot of outsiders when inspecting the hotel by noon: most of them coming for lunch. The Mandarin Orchard Singapore actually gets a reputation for wining and dining which is not limited to Singapore, but echoes in all Asia. The "Mandarin Chicken Rice", for instance, unfortunately served in the impersonal and crowded "Chatterbox Coffeehouse" is award winning. They rather should serve this distinguished specialty in the "Pine Court Chinese Restaurant" , a most sophisticated place, where we enjoyed one of the best Chinese food we had ever been served. For the fun, but also for a romantic dinner, the "M" is a revolving restaurant with a dramatic view over Singapore, but also Malaysia and the Indonesian islands: the food is international, with some mediterranean accent.
Due to its superlative service and comfort, but also due to its location nearby Istana (the Prime Minister's official palace), The Mandarin Orchard Singapore hosted a multitude of politicians and statemen -former French President Jacques Chirac (a returning guest) is a fan of their "Chicken Rice"-, singers, movie stars, and all the VIPs who all find here a top class residence.
, this is one of The Leading Hotels of the World.
SHERATON TOWERS SINGAPORE (*****L): A short walk away from the Goodwood Park Hotel, the Sheraton Towers Singapore offers the same quality of service and comfort as its glorious neighbor; but under a modern version. The huge marble lobby, both plush and cold, will impress at first sight; hopefully, the warm and attentive staff brings an immediate compensation to any distressed traveler.
The 410 rooms and suites confirmed the very positive opinion we already had about the Sheraton chain in general. A very high mark goes to the "Executive Tower", whose upgraded status makes the Sheraton Towers Singapore one of the top 5 hotels in town. It has already received many awards for its excellence. The guests can check-in even more quickly, find a beautiful toilet kit in their room, enjoy a complimentary breakfast - we advise them to have "a la carte" in the "Terazza" nicely surrounded by cascades running from a tropical jungle - and receive an invitation for a cocktail in the VIP Lounge between 6 and 7 PM. A butler remains at their immediate disposal, round the clock: his first task consists in cleaning and pressing the guests' clothes almost before you have taken the key from the door! Complimentary, as well.
The top luxurious
"Executive Suite" in which we had the chance to receive accommodation
equipped with two wide screen TV sets, and with an electric pants'
The pink marble bathroom was simply superlative, with gold plated
Three restaurants are available, including the reputed "Domus" (Italian
gourmet menu): only for dinner. The "Terazza" specializes in
food (don't miss the tasty and spicy sautéed noodles with prawns!).
THE FOREST BY WANGZ (****L): A brand new urban oasis for the sophisticated traveller, centrally located in the heart of Singapore. With a design that is inspired by the sculptural forms of the lush tropical rainforest, this boutique serviced apartments is dedicated to anticipatory service that is discreet and comfort that is indulgent. Offering flexible short-term and long-term stays, this is a smart choice for the frequent business travellers and savvy tourists.
Architecturally stunning, the property's external cladding is inspired by the sculptural forms of the lush tropical rainforest and its kaleidoscopic shadows.
The Forst By Wangz showcases a collection of specially commissioned artworks reflecting a passion for melding art and nature. Whether it is the animated artforms in the common areas, or the bold designer furniture and vibrant sculptures in every apartment, art is, as they say, in the air!
We occupied a “One Bedroom Executive with Balcony” studio: gorgeous 34-sq.m corner-unit apartment, flooded with natural light all day, full equipped with Sealy Posturepedic king-size bed, Molton Brown amenities in the trendy bathroom, a fully-equipped designer kitchenette, complimentary wireless and wired Internet access and high-tech SoundBar Home Theatre System, 40-inch Full-HD LED television. Each studio provides views of the Singapore skyline and the charming surrounding neighbourhood. The spacious 8 sq.m balcony is a dreamed location for enjoying in-room breakfast, or a glass of wine at sunset.
Local calls are provided free-of-charge. The service is efficient and friendly.
THE FOREST BY WANGZ: 145A Moulmein Rd, Singapore 308108
PHONE:+65 65003188 FACSIMILE:+65 65003199
THE DUXTON (****L): One of the best four star boutique hotels in town, it doesn't get the fame of the Raffles, because it is was opened too recently to be part of the legend. It doesn't get the top central location of the Goodwood Park, though in one of the most charming lane of the colonial Tanjong Pagar preservation area: only a short walk away from Chinatown. Rooms are not as large as in the Mandarin, though they offer the most cozy duplex suites in Singapore. But in matter of elegance, intimacy, and service, it would be fairly hard to match The Duxton, indeed.
The hotel had been housed a couple of decades ago in eight units of charmingly restored turn-of-the-century shop houses. Once we stepped the discreet entrance door, we were amazed by the intimate though top luxurious lobby: made out of precious marble, beautifully designed stained glass, with oriental carpets, and splendid british furniture. With the Raffles, it is the only one in Singapore reflecting that well the colonial past of the city.
This is a small hotel, with 50 rooms and 9 suites only. We stayed five nights in a Duplex Suite: this was simply great ! The suites we used to stay in, should it be in Paris or Cape town, always tend to be so huge and sumptuous we almost lost our way inside. Which was not the case at The Duxton: fitted for human beings, with or without a crown, apartments make you feel like home at first sight. Let's rather say: "grand home"... On the ground floor was our living room, separated from the upper floor bedroom by a charming spiral staircase. It came completed with all the five star amenities one may expect in such a distinguished place. We enjoyed very much the bathrooms: among the ritziest in town, displaying a very complete set of the finest toiletry. Ceilings, and therefore windows, are very high: the light was perfectly displayed, even on rainy days (and we had some of them, as we came during the monsoon...).
Service is anticipating. A beautiful and fresh young lady acted as a concierge. She called us by our name, which looks normal in that category of hotel; but when she was replaced by a colleague, he also knew our name before we had even told him our room number... How did he get informed, we ignore it: but this was fairly smart and professional. That kind of small detail is always much appreciated by those who stay in palace hotels: as, except from its size, The Duxton goes in that category, indeed. Another thing we appreciated very much was the courtesy chauffeured limousine which the hotel leaves at guest's disposal in the morning for a lift to downtown (it takes five minutes to reach Orchard Road). In a city where taxis are that cheap and clean, where the underground is that safe and efficient, and where double deck buses are so numerous, we found it supremely elegant !
The British atmosphere stops at the door of The Duxton Kitchen and Café. Our tight schedule didn't allow time to taste it; just enjoying the restaurant for our breakfast (generous one: with delicious Croissants Chauds, like in Paris). Which is our unique regret, after such a wonderful stay.
Rooms are not that expensive. Let's even say that, compared to the Raffles, they even tend to remain quite good value.
Advance booking is essential at The Duxton, as this delicious hideaway tend to become more and more famous among the distinctive travellers.
will love that place
at first sight.
THE DUXTON: 83,
Duxton Road, Singapore