24-Hour Room Service: Raffles, Singapore

IN 1819 Sir Stamford Raffles, an official of the British East India Company, founded Singapore as a small trading station. He may be gone but his name has most certainly not been forgotten in Singapore, where everything from a golf club to Singapore Airlines' "Raffles class" bears his name. Of all the namesakes, though, it is Raffles Hotel which bears the strongest association.

IN 1819 Sir Stamford Raffles, an official of the British East India Company, founded Singapore as a small trading station. He may be gone but his name has most certainly not been forgotten in Singapore, where everything from a golf club to Singapore Airlines' "Raffles class" bears his name. Of all the namesakes, though, it is Raffles Hotel which bears the strongest association.

In its 112-year history, Raffles has become a Singapore institution and almost every area of the hotel seems to have a story to tell. In 1902, Singapore's last tiger was shot under the Bar and Billiard Room (then an elevated building). A few years later a bartender in the Long Bar served the first Singapore Sling and today every self-respecting tourist comes to sit in a traditional cane and rattan chair and order one of these famous tipples.

The tranquil Palm Court is said to have been where Somerset Maugham penned his portraits of British colonial life, and the Tiffin Room is still serving its famous Tiffin curry. The hotel even boasts its own museum, dedicated to historical memorabilia.

But, if you tire of the past, just step outside the hotel to find yourself in the middle of a truly modern city. Retail therapy is close at hand on Orchard Road, among the massive department stores and shopping centres, and eating out here is an experience in itself - particularly at one of the Hawker Centres, open-air food courts where you choose from a selection of freshly cooked Chinese, Malay and Indian dishes.

Location, location, location

Raffles Hotel is at 1 Beach Road, Singapore (00 65 337 1886, fax 00 65 3397650, www.raffles.com, e-mail: raffles@raffles.com)

Transport

The most convenient way to travel round the city is on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains. The nearest station is City Hall and Orchard Road is only two minutes away by MRT.

Time to international airport

The hotel is 20 minutes by taxi from Changi Airport. Or you could arrive in Singapore in style on the Eastern and Oriental Express from Bangkok. The trains arrive at Singapore Railway Station on Keppel Road.

Are you lying comortably?

The bright and airy suites (it's an all-suites hotel) are old-style colonial in design, with teak floors, oriental carpets and high ceilings that are gently swished by fans. Most have four rooms: a living area, a bedroom, a dressing room and a bathroom.

Freebies

You'll find your bathroom stocked with good old Floris toiletries, all smelling of the specially designed "Raffles bouquet" and nattily emblazoned with a "RH" logo.

Keeping in touch

Each suite comes with two televisions and a modem point but radios, CD players and fax machines are all available on request.

The bottom line

Prices start at SUS700 (£250) for a Courtyard suite. If you'd rather stay in a Palm Court suite, it will cost you an extra £36 per night and, for a Presidential suite, dream on. Current rates are SUS4000 (£1,430) per night.

I'm not paying that

The Orchard Hotel, 442 Orchard Road, Singapore (tel: 00 65 734 7766, fax: 00 65 733 5482, www.orchardhotel.com.sg) is reliable and central, ideal for shopping on Orchard Road. Double rooms start at around SUS194 (£72) including tax and breakfast.

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