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What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think Raffles? Besides luxury and expensive digs, we mean.
The Singapore Sling, right? More specifically, the first thing usually comes to mind at the thought of the Raffles is a fruity, red Singapore Sling from The Raffles Singapore's Long Bar. Of course a visit to the Raffles isn't quite complete without a Sling, no matter how touristy it's become, but there are plenty other dining and drinking options underneath the victorian roof of this historical hotel. Here's a few of our favorites:
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Two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a parlour, a private verandah and butler serviceit must be a suite. Indeed it is, but the Raffles Singapore is exclusively comprised of suites, and this Grand Hotel Suite is but one of the higher categories.
What distinguishes the Grand Hotel suite from the others below it (Courtyard suite, Palm Court suite, Personality suite) is its location just up the Raffles' grand lobby staircase, in the main hotel building. The others, you see, are located in a neighboring wing, around a private "residents only" courtyard.
Okay, it also boasts far more original art, more antique furniture, the extra bedroom and bathroom, a separate office and living area. Add to that the fact that it costs an extra zero from the lowest category suite ($750 SGD for a courtyard suite versus $7500 SGD/$6000 USD for a grand hotel suite), and we are dealing with serious lodgings here.
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If you want to talk about hotels with storied pasts, the Raffles Hotel Singapore simply can't be left out. Today, its 103 suites (yes, all suites) command over $500 per night and those who can't afford to splurge for a stay still find their way to the hotel's famous Long Bar for a Singapore Sling. Raffles is just one of those places you must hit, and it's been that way since the early 1900s.
All this week we'll be taking you inside the Raffles, beyond the keyed "residents only" entrance gates and into the inner sanctum enjoyed by everyone from Ava Gardner and Charlie Chaplin to modern heads of state. And there will be opium beds.
First, to get our bearings, a look at the Victorian architecture that so clearly identifies the place as the Raffles. All of the hotel suites are located in a period wing, complete with original paintings (as a result, no rooms have the same decorations) and even the newer wingshousing the upscale shopshave been constructed to seamlessly blend with the iconic white structure of the original building.
Captain Whalley emerged like a diver on the other side, and in the desert shade between the walls of closed warehouses removed his hat to cool his brow. A certain disrepute attached to the calling of a landlady of a boarding house. These women were said to be rapacious, unscrupulous, untruthful; and though he condemned no class of his fellow creatures...
And thus begins our bedtime story tonight. You see, as we write this it has just turned midnight. We're in Singapore, in one of the 103 suites (called "residences") of the famed Raffles Hotel. Every moment surrounded by the colonial architecture, lush flora and entire history of the Raffles seems a fantasy. Even turndown service reinforced this, with the placement of a 4-page story excerpt from Joseph Conrad's "End of the Tether."
The Raffles L'Ermitage in Beverly Hills is gaining quite the rep, first as Angelina Jolie's kinky sex den, then as a Tiger Woods mistress pad. It could use a makeover to wipe the slate clean, so we checked up on its impending changeover to the Viceroy Beverly Hills.
The change was supposed to take place in early 2011, but the hotel is still operating as the L'Ermitage and it's business as usual.
Mon dieu, ces hotels Parisiens are going in for ze refurb at ze moment, non? If it’s not the Hotel Athenee or the Marais Bastille, it’s the Royal Monceau, which has been closed since June 2008 and is due to reopen on October 20.
Why have the works taken so long? Because, Mesdames et messieurs, they’ve been conducted by prolific hotel designer Philippe Starck no less. And because, to start the renovations, he threw a "demolition party" and invited his guests to destroy whatever they could destroy of the hotel.
Yes, that’s the hotel, dwarfing the holy city
Ever wanted to make a pilgrimage but been put off by the lack of decent accommodation in the area? Yes? Why, then you might be interested in the news that Raffles has just opened a hotel in the holiest city on earth for Muslims: Mecca. And they’ve done it just in time for Ramadam, which ends on 9 September.
The Raffles Makkah Palace is built in the humungous, seven tower Abraj Al Bait complex that dwarfs the entire city – including the Masjid Al Haram (the Grand Mosque), which is directly beside it.
Not only is it in a prime position, but it’s the first Raffles hotel in Saudi Arabia. The hotel is dubbing itself a “residential sanctuary”, whose 213 suites all have views of the Grand Mosque and the Kaaba, and come complete with butlers providing “heartfelt service” 24/7. There’s even a coffee sommelier. Yes, you read that correctly.
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Angelina Jolie better start packing up her kinky sex toys as the official announcement came down today that the Raffles L'Ermitage in Beverly Hills would turn into a Viceroy Hotel...just like our tipster told us would happen.
Viceroy Hotel (formerly Kor Hotels) founder and CEO Brad Korzen From the official release:
The company will begin a significant refurbishment of the property in the coming months, which will be phased to have minimal impact on the experience of the hotel’s guests. The hotel will relaunch in late 2010 as Viceroy Beverly Hills, the newest addition to VHG’s growing Viceroy Hotels and Resorts brand which welcomed three new hotels and resorts to its portfolio in 2009 – Viceroy Miami, Viceroy Anguilla in the Caribbean and Viceroy Snowmass in Colorado.
Until then the hotel will operate under the name L'Ermitage Beverly Hills and bookings can be made through this website: www.lermitagebh.com. Meanwhile, we bet Kelly Wearstler, Korzen's wife and Viceroy's interior designer, is already scouring the world for some oversized dog lamps to place in the rooms.
Could a Viceroy symbol being hanging over the beds at The Raffles L'Ermitage soon?
UPDATE: 1.13.10: Our tipster was right. Despite a denial from the Raffles folks, we are now hearing that Raffles L'ermitage has been sold to a "luxury chain." The announcement is coming in a few days. We'll do a new update then.
Someone Twittered at us over the weekend that this hotel might become a Viceroy Hotel but we haven't been able to find anything to substantiate this rumor.
If by some reason, Raffles would give up their Beverly Hills prized jewel, Viceroy--which has hotels in Santa Monica, Palm Springs, Miami and Anguilla--would have a lot of work to do as the Raffles decor is definitely not the same style as Kelly Wearstler, the interior designer/decorator for all Viceroy and Tides Hotels.
We've kicked off our Summer Cocktails series where we profile fun new summer drinks that hotels are making. Got one we should know about? Send us the recipe with a photo of the drink. Otherwise, enjoy and @reply us when you're wasted!
Had a hard day with paparazzi following your every mundane activity? From lunching at The Ivy to shopping at Barney's to picking up some Pinkberry, every where you went today it seemed those men and their cameras were on you. Well, that's why you need to escape to the Raffles L'Ermitage in Beverly Hills and step into their exclusive Writers Bar for a Moonlight Martini.
Not sure what the gift is for a 122nd anniversary? Neither are we, but the grand old dame that is the Raffles Hotel in Singapore has decided that for her 122nd anniversary, she's giving us guests a few bonuses instead.
Every deal is linked to the magic number, 122, and they run from now through to September 16. Usually $122 wouldn't get you much at the Raffles, but during the anniversary celebrations it can get you a lobster plus a glass of wine at the Raffles Courtyard restaurant, or a full three-course meal with a wine at the Long Bar Steakhouse – or a better deal, perhaps, lunch for two with two glasses of champagne. There's also a $122 spa promotion at the Raffles Amrita Spa and some bonuses in the gift shop.
So far, so good, but here's where it gets complicated (we think the marketing gang at the Raffles have too much time on their hands). Because the Raffles opened up in 1887 (yep, 122 years ago), you can get a further bonus if you have the digits "1887" in your passport or identity card. The bonus is that if you spend more than $122 at any Raffles restaurant, you can get $122 credit for a return visit. We're not exactly rushing off to check our passport for those magic digits but we hope at least a couple of guests figure out how to make use of this overly-complicated deal.
[Photo: Eustaquio Santimano]
Management at Raffles Hotels continue to sit in a room and throw darts at a globe – in other words, they've just announced yet another new Raffles in another new corner of the world. This time the dart has landed on Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
The Raffles Kuala Lumpur won't be ready until 2011 but they're promising to bring "unparalleled service" to KL. This new hotel will include 200 rooms and suites and will be found in the main business district of the city, within the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, one of KL's enormous shopping mall complexes.
Six different restaurants and bars sound like you won't need to leave the hotel for your entertainment at all – and one of them has opened already. Café Stelle is billed as a "light and refreshing" Italian café and they say it'll be an indication of the great service the Raffles Hotel itself will offer come 2011. It's been open for a few days and can be found in the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.
Finally, there'll also be a Raffles Amrita Spa at the new Raffles, and although we've never had the pleasure of a treatment at an Amrita, we've certainly heard on the grapevine that they're not unpleasant. It's just a pity 2011 sounds so far away.
[Photo of KL Pavilion: Filo.mena]