After a nostalgic but fun filled hour checking out toys at the MINT, I decided I’d better make tracks and find the main entrance to Raffles Hotel. I was scheduled to meet with Annie Choy, the Director of Communications, for a tour of Raffles Hotel and that was something I had no intention of missing.
Visiting Raffles Hotel and drinking a Singapore Sling has been on my travel list for as long as I can remember, so the chance to actually get to go behind the scenes and wander around parts of Raffles Hotel normally accessible only to hotel guests was a dream come true.
A mine of information, Annie guided me through the maze of corridors, suites, and courtyard gardens that make up Raffles Hotel, all the while highlighting the hotel’s social, architectural, and literary history. And what a history it is.
Originally opened in 1887, Raffles started out as a modest bungalow hotel overlooking the beach. But by 1899 had, thanks to the brilliant marketing techniques of the Sarkies Brothers, been transformed into a Grand Hotel attracting a colourful cross section of guests and visitors, including many of the literary lions of the British Empire.
At one time or another, it is thought that Conrad, Kipling, Coward, Maugham all either stayed at Raffles or at least spent time here eating and drinking.
But except for Somerset Maugham, who spent his mornings writing in the cool shade of the Palm Court, no one knows how much, if any, writing these writers actually did while at Raffles.
Standing in the Palm Court, enjoying the peace and quiet in the heart of the city, I could see why Maugham choose it as a place to write. I was tempted to offer my services as writer in residence and settle in for the day but we were only half way through the tour and there was a Singapore Sling with my name on it waiting for me in the Long Bar.
Mind you, after a walk through the Presidential Suite, I stopped dreaming about being the Palm Court writer in residence and started plotting how I could hid away in this amazing suite. With two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dining room, living room, and balcony, I’d never be found.
But then it was back to reality and on to the ‘public’ face of Raffles where many of my shipmates were wandering around. Much busier than the private side of Raffles, it was still just as interesting, with a museum full of pictures, maunscripts, and Raffles paraphernalia, numerous clothing and jewellery shops, plus, of course, a Raffles shop where you can buy your own pre-mixed Singapore Sling.
Then it was on to the Long Bar, where, finally, after years of waiting, I sat down and drank a Singapore Sling. It was worth the wait.
Sadly, there was only had time for one before I head back to the Dawn Princess.
But I’m already making plans to return, to drink, and maybe even stay much, much longer at Raffles and in Singapore.
(disclaimer: Hotel Tour and a complimentary Singapore Sling was kindly provided by Raffles Hotel)
(photos courtesy of Raffles Hotel)