If walls could talk, Raffles Hotel would tell a story or two. Since its doors opened in 1887, Raffles has played hosts to kings and queens, authors and actors.
A tiger was once cornered in the Bar & Billiard room, the main dining room was transformed into a roller-skating rink for parties, and the world-famous Singapore Sling was invented in the Long Bar. As author Somerset Maugham once said: “Raffles stands for all the fables of the exotic East.”
But after more than 130 years of service, the “grand old dame” of Singapore was in need of a facelift. In 2017, Raffles’ owners embarked on an ambitious renovation project that has restored Singapore’s jewel and secured its place at the heart of the nation’s storytelling for the next century.
More than a makeover
The brief for Raffles’ restoration was a challenging one: retain the hotel’s colonial charm, introduce new levels of luxury, technology and comfort, balance budgets and minimise down time – all the while ensuring that every decision gained the Singapore government’s green light. Only a combination of fresh perspectives, forensic attention to detail and flawless execution could bring our client’s imagination to life. With extensive hospitality project experience and invaluable conservation, historical and national monument expertise, RLB was a natural partner for the Raffles Hotel restoration.
“RLB was proud to be a partner on this project from inception to completion. Balancing an ambitious restoration agenda with time and cost pressures is never easy, but it is particularly challenging on a heritage project of such national significance. The Raffles Hotel refurbishment required very detailed cost allocation and management – down to the last detail – to ensure the dream was realised on time and budget.”Colin Kin, Joint Managing Partner, RLB
The absence of as-built drawings and the unknown condition of unseen elements made this heritage restoration a journey of discovery. Working alongside global architecture and design firm Aedas Singapore and interior Alexandra Champalimaud, as well as restoration and research consultants Studio Lapis, RLB found innovative alternatives and risk allocations, met our client’s high-end expectations and delivered value for money.
Transforming a timeless classic
The multi-million-dollar makeover has retained the 1887 hotel's elegant colonial heritage while introducing some thoughtful contemporary touches. The hotel’s suite count has increased from 103 to 115, with each featuring polished teakwood floors and pearly white plaster columns. The new Jubilee Ballroom sparkles with unique gold Venetian light fixtures. Raffles Arcade boasts 40 specialist boutiques while the Long Bar’s rich colours and lush greenery transport patrons to a tropical plantation.
The hotel was also upgraded with latest green technologies
From energy-efficient lighting to smart, guest-controlled air-conditioning. State-of-the-art technology is balanced with naturally-ventilated social spaces that are shaded by heritage trees and landscaping.
old national treasure
A balance of beauty and budget
Our experienced team drew on a large, comprehensive library of cost data to choose the finishes, fixtures and materials that balanced both beauty and budget. From the earliest stage of the project, we explored multiple scenarios with surgical precision, finding solutions that inspire today’s guest to Raffles and that will stand the text of time.
The best results beyond bricks and mortar
Working with a fixed and limited budget, RLB’s project team maintained a laser-focus on costs and scheduling. While the ultimate measure of success is often being ‘on time and on budget’, Raffles Hotel reminds us that buildings aren’t just bricks and mortar. They are integral to our human story.