Seven legendary stays with Raffles hotels
What do you get when you blend one of Asia’s most vibrant destinations with one of the world’s most iconic hotels? A truly extraordinary getaway. Located in an elegant colonial-style building dating back to 1887, Raffles Singapore is a hotel that serves up decades of history, serious style and incredible cocktails – in fact, the Singapore Sling, the national drink of the country, was created at the hotel in 1915, by Raffles Singapore’s bartender, Ngiam Tong Boon.
Today, the hotel’s iconic Long Bar – the former hideaway to Hitchcock, Hemingway and other celebutantes – is still one of the globe’s most hip hangouts, and with the entire hotel unveiling a stylish restoration this August, it’s looking better than ever before. So settle into an armchair and sip zesty gin cocktails beneath its historic ceilings, or take a stroll through the revitalised Raffles Arcade, home to designer boutiques, gourmet cafes, contemporary art galleries and the brand-new Raffles Spa, a holistic sanctuary that’s the perfect place to unwind after a busy day of exploring the city.
Of course, Raffles Singapore is just one of Raffles’ sensational lineup of hotels and retreats with dazzling properties dotted across the globe. For a cool and contemporary long weekend, try Raffles Istanbul, which is located in a gleaming high-rise tower, and is part of the award-winning Zorlu Centre. Public spaces are adorned with an eclectic mix of work from Turkish and international artists, while many of the bedrooms have gorgeous Bosphorus River views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Spend the morning exploring the colourful souqs and backstreets of the historic quarter, then return for a swim at the indoor and outdoor pool, before a romantic meal at Arola, where Michelin-starred chef Sergi Arola has crafted a menu of tapas-style plates, including dishes such as lobster rice and porcini mushroom carpaccio.
For those who want to combine a city stay with beautiful beaches and year-round sunshine, escape to the magnificent Raffles Dubai. The pyramid-like glass building inspired by Egypt offers magnificent views of the city from the generous-sized private balcony (with every room) and elegantly blends Middle Eastern and Asian design throughout, from the luxurious fabric to the handcrafted ornaments. Connected to the region’s oldest mall, Wafi Mall, the hotel offers shopping on your door step alongside it’s 7 restaurants including the crowning jewel, TOMO its Japanese restaurant and rejuvenating Spa which won Fact’s ‘Best Couple’s Treatment in Dubai’ 2019.
Dubai pairs for a perfect stopover to the newly opened Raffles Maldives Meradhoo. If you’re longing for a blissful beach escape then look no further than this idyllic spot. Located on the southern tip of the Maldives archipelago in the Indian Ocean, the remote oasis is the newest addition to the Raffles family, and blends discreet service and luxurious accommodation with a sensational setting. Dive straight into the crystal clear ocean from your light-filled over-water villa, or stroll straight out onto the sand from your beach villa – with just a handful of villas dotted across two islands, you’ll enjoy that longed-for private island experience the moment you arrive.
Beyond the beach, there is plenty to keep you busy. Have a chat with the marine butler, who’ll guide you to the best spots on the two house reefs, try sunrise or sunset yoga with an unforgettable ocean view, or relax and recharge at the spa, where you can choose from an array of treatments from Aromatherapy Associates, Margaret Dabbs London and Biologique Recherche.
Elsewhere in the Indian Ocean, allow the island of Praslin to lure you in with its laid-back ambience and curving peaks edged by turquoise waters and silken sand, characteristics that have the island coined as the ‘Garden of Eden’. Raffles Praslin Seychelles is a sleek and contemporary resort strung across a tropical jungle-clad hillside. Each villa comes with its own private plunge pool, so you can spend entire days enjoying the privacy of your own space, and your companion’s company. After a low-key few days recharging, you may fancy venturing out to Anse Lazio beach for snorkelling, or perhaps set out to explore the ocean with a number of complimentary watersports, including kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. With a kids’ club for children over four years old, plus a creche for children under four years old, it’s also an excellent choice for families looking for a luxurious sunshine-filled trip of a lifetime.
For an exotic escape in Asia, make your way to Cambodia. Here, located on a tree-lined boulevard in the country’s capital of Phnom Penh, is Raffles Hotel Le Royal, one of the city’s most famous heritage hotels that first opened in 1929. Cool off in the two outdoor pools after a day of sightseeing, then spend a long lazy evening in the newly renovated Elephant Bar. The beautiful light-filled space, complete with lofty high ceilings and soft leather sofas, is an institution in the city, and with 110 gins lining its bar – one of the largest selections in Asia – it’s no surprise why. Try the Femme Fatale: the hotel’s signature cocktail was first concocted for former first lady Jackie Kennedy during her visit in 1967, and is a delicious mix crème de fraise des bois, cognac and champagne, topped with a tropical flower.
After a few days discovering the capital, head north-west to Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, which is unveiling its elegant refurbishment this October. Located in the Old French Quarter of Siem Reap, and set in 15 acres of tranquil private gardens, the historic hotel has been hosting guests since 1932. Today it still oozes style and sophistication, with a colonial facade, Art Deco-inspired guest rooms and Cambodian art, which lines the charming hotel’s walls. While it’s tempting to spend the entire trip lazing by the 35m outdoor swimming pool, a trip to Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor is not complete without a visit to the mesmerising temples of Angkor Wat. Arrive at 5am to see the iconic sunrise, and return that evening to sample exotic Khmer cuisine, surrounded by the temples, in an unforgettable private meal prepared by the hotel’s chefs.
Whether you’re looking for a far-flung, luxurious beach getaway, or a city break packed with history, a stay with Raffles is always an experience to remember.