The famed Raffles Singapore hotel reopens with an aesthetic nod to its 19th-century roots.
By Claire Butwinick
Photographs courtesy Raffles Singapore
The 132-year-old Raffles Singapore hotel—famed for its luxurious 19th-century décor, private butlers, celebrity guests, and Long Bar (originator of the fruity Singapore Sling)—reopened in August after a modern aesthetic refresh.
It had been nearly three decades since its prior renovation, and the recent revamp spanned more than two years and drew from the property’s storied history.
“Raffles Singapore is important not only to the world of hospitality, but also to the people of Singapore,” says Jon Kastl, principal and partner at New York–based interior design firm Champalimaud, which led the redesign effort. “They’re so profoundly proud of Raffles. It’s a great honor and a bit humbling to be given the responsibility to get this right.”
Artwork by Portland-based artist Eugenia Pardue
In 1987, Raffles was declared a national monument by the Singaporean government, so to comply with restoration policies, Champalimaud worked with local officials and the hotel’s own historian as it replaced the hotel’s white marble and restored existing wood floors, walls, and moldings in the main building with expert accuracy. Informed by the hotel’s British colonial architecture, Kastl chose blue-and-white porcelain lamp bases and dark wood bed frames for the guest rooms (they match the wood trim on the orange leather chairs in the newly added Residence Suites). Alongside modern amenities, including air conditioning and new plumbing, the firm added a ballroom, a high-end shopping arcade, and three new suites to the property.
At a new lobby watering hole, the Writers Bar, guests can order the famous gin-based cocktail that helped put the hotel on the map.