Raffles Hotel is one of the most famous and rare surviving 19th-century hotels in the world and a famous Singapore icon. It is a colonial-style luxury hotel at 1 Beach Road. It was established by the Armenian Sarkies Brothers and named after the British statesman, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781-1826). He was the founder of colonial-era Singapore at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsular.
Raffles Hotel started life as Emerson Hotel, a privately owned beach house in the early 1930s. It was opened as Raffles Hotel in 1887. It was extended and then the main beach house was reconstructed in 1890, designed by the English-born architect, Regent Bidwell (1869-1918). Wings were added, as were a veranda, a ballroom, a bar and a billiard room. Amongst dramatic happenings, an escaped tiger was shot in the bar and billiards room in 1902. The hotel suffered hard times during the Depression and during the Second World War when it was taken over by the Japanese. The hotel was reclaimed in 1945.
Between 1989 and 1991 the hotel was closed for restoration. The Long Bar was relocated to the shopping arcade. There was a further restoration between 2017 and 2019.
Raffles is famous for the creation of its famous cocktail, the Singapore Sling, devised by the hotel’s bartender, Ngiam Tong Boon.
Many famous figures such as the writer, Somerset Maugham have stayed here. It has appeared in a number of films and TV series. The novel by the Japanese writer, Ryū Murakami (born 1952) was filmed on location here as Raffles Hotel (1989).
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