When Raffles Hotel opened in 1887 this grand old establishment had just ten rooms, but now it boasts 103 suites, eighteen state rooms, eighteen restaurants and bars, along with numerous shops, a theater, and a spa. The hotel has long been a byword for elegance and glamor and, over the years, has attracted a host of celebrities and set the scene for many a movie.
The Raffles Hotel was founded by four Armenian brothers—Arshak, Aviet, Tigran, and Martin Sarkies. They named it after Sir Stamford Raffles, who had established the British settlement on Singapore in 1819. Originally a converted bungalow, the hotel soon expanded and a fine, neo-Renaissance building was constructed in 1899. Raffles swiftly earned a reputation for the high quality of its food and cocktails, most notably the Singapore Sling, which was created by one of its barmen с 1910. Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling were the first of many writers to sing the praises of the hotel. The hotel’s fame reached a peak in the 1920s and 1930s when Somerset Maugham and Sir Noel Coward became regulars.
In common with any other hotel, Raffles’s fortunes have fluctuated over the years. It was forced to close during the Depression, was occupied by the Japanese in World War II, and later became a transit camp for prisoners of war. In spite of these setbacks, the hotel was soon restored to its former glory, particularly after a major refit from 1989 to 1991.