Singapore is shedding its one-note reputation as Asia’s most humdrum metropolis. Exciting cultural developments have sprouted up in the past few years, including the National Gallery Singapore, a striking integration of two Neoclassical structures that once housed the Supreme Court and City Hall. Hotels, too, are riding the wave of the city’s new energy — and that’s especially true of Raffles, the crown jewel of Singapore’s hospitality scene and this year’s winning property.
Since opening in 1887, Raffles has truly become an icon in the city. The famous gin-based cocktail, the Singapore Sling, was invented here, after all. One reader put it simply: “Beautiful property. Amazing history. Excellent staff and service.” But Raffles isn’t satisfied to rest on its laurels — the historic property has been closed for a top-to-bottom renovation, and will unveil a totally new look this fall. (T+L readers are asked to rate their experiences over the past three years, which includes a period when the property was open.)
While Raffles is emblematic of Singapore’s changing times, readers were also fans of the city’s more modern hotels, including the Four Seasons Singapore and the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, which earned the No. 2 and No. 3 slots on the list, respectively. On the popular shopping street Orchard Road, the Four Seasons features 255 bright, light-filled rooms that look over the ever-changing skyline. Meanwhile, in glittering, glamorous Marina Bay, the Ritz-Carlton is home to a museum-worthy art collection of more than 4,200 pieces, as well as a Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant, Summer Pavilion. And the world-class Capella, set on Sentosa Island, played host to one of this year's most important political events: the summit between President Trump and North Korean Kim Jong-Un.
Expect big changes from this perennial Singapore favorite. After a total renovation that closed the hotel for over a year (and cost $160 million), Raffles will emerge in a few months with a brand new lobby, which is being transformed into a bright and airy social hub, and more up-to-date guest rooms. What will stay the same? For one thing, the property’s famous white façade — the Raffles is a designated national monument. And the sense of British colonial-era glamour that pervades the historic hotel, which, in its heyday, was a favorite of such illustrious guests as Charlie Chaplin and Noël Coward.