As we were hosted by the Raffles Hotel over the weekend, the resident historian, Mr Leslie Danker took us on a tour of the Grande Dame of Singapore. Well…here are 10 interesting facts that you probably never knew about our very own Raffles Hotel in Singapore!
1. Beach Road. The older folks may know that beach road was originally named because it was really beside the beach! The founders (Sarkies brotherrs) loved the beach front bungalow so much that they bought it and re-opened it as Raffles Hotel. Today, it is about 500m from the water front.
2. Names. Instead of naming the hotel “Sarkies Brothers Hotel” (can you imagine the consequence?!) the Sarkies named the hotel after the founder of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles – Raffles Hotel. Because of the name, many visitors preferred to stay at the Raffles Hotel instead of the other luxury hotel of the time – Grand Hotel de l’Europe.
3. Presidential Suite. Continuing on with names, the Presidential Suite of Raffles Hotel is called the Sir Stamford Raffles Suite. Many people ask “Did Raffles stay in this suite before?”
The answer is NO.
Sir Stamford Raffles died in 1826 while Raffles Hotel opened in 1887.
Sneak preview of the Presidential Suite (Sir Stamford Raffles Suite) of the Raffles Hotel
4. Tiger shot dead in Raffles Hotel : Myth or Truth?. The famous story of a tiger shot dead under the Bar & Billiard Room of the Raffles Hotel is TRUE! In 1902, there was a travelling circus near beach road. In those days, beach road was really close to the beach and a tiger escaped from the circus and went for a dip.
After the dip, the tiger rested BENEATH the Bar and Billiard Room of the Raffles Hotel. One of the hotel staff saw the tiger and went to a school opposite to ask the principal (Mr Charles Phillips) to help kill the tiger. Charles also happened to be a hunter.
Initially, Charles declined because he attended a function that evening and got a bit tipsy. But since it was a matter of life and death, he agreed and went over, still in his pyjamas. On his first attempt, he took 3 shots and COMPLETELY MISSED THE TIGER! Well, partially due to the alcohol and also that it was quite dark.
Then the tiger turned over. With its eyes gleaming in the dark, Charles took another shot and this time it went right between its eyes. This news was true and was featured in the local newspapers in 1902.
But people often mistaken this story to have taken place beneath the billiard table in the Bar and Billiard Room. (The tiger was shot beneath the room, not the table) Today, you may still find many visitors peering beneath the billiard tables, trying to find out the truth to this story…
5. Why was the Singapore Sling invented? The national drink of Singapore is the Singapore Sling and the Original Singapore Sling was created by Mr Ngiam Tong Boon, a bartender at Raffles Hotel around 1915.
How to make the Original Singapore Sling
Legend has it that the Singapore Sling was created because ladies of the time were not supposed to consume alcohols in public. So the Singapore Sling was concocted to conceal the light alcohol in a bright fancy colour. The ladies were then happy that there was a drink available to them and the men were happy that they could buy drinks for their ladies! Win-win!
6. The Ballroom. The Ballroom of the Raffles Hotel was originally located at the main entrance of the present day Raffles Hotel. Back then, it was an open air ball room, much like a gazebo with fans and people could see merriment of the ball from the streets. Today, the Ballroom (half the size of the original) is located on the 2nd level, close to the Jubilee Hall.
7. 6 Stars? Raffles Hotel is actually a luxury class hotel. (Huh? What’s that?) There isn’t such thing as a 6 stars hotel. Anything higher than 5 stars is a luxury class hotel. However, for visitors to understand, the term “6 stars” is commonly used for luxury hotels.
8. Luscious Greenery. Raffles Hotel sits on a 300,000 sq feet of land. Knowing that it is prime land, it still sets aside 25% of it for greenery such as the lawns and courtyards.
While enjoying our daily coffee and newspapers, birds sing at the courtyards to welcome us to a brand new day…Ah…
9. Jackie Chan’s favourite dish. Our host (Kenny) at the Empire Cafe told us that when Jackie Chan visits Raffles Hotel, he would always be at the Empire Cafe for Laksa. Kenny’s colleagues upon seeing Jackie Chan would tell him,
“Your Mr Chan is here…”
He would then finish a bowl of laksa and continue a second bowl with just the tau pok and gravy.
10. Many more things to tell!. There are actually so many things about the Raffles Hotel that we can say (the clock that stood in the lobby for the last 40 years, the Jubilee Hall named after the original Jubilee theatre one floor below, its famous Sunday Champagne Brunch, the writer’s quotes, the Tiffin Room, Hotel renovated to go back in time to 1915 and so much more!).
Special thanks to Mr Leslie Danker, the resident historian for sharing your wealth of experience and stories with us! As Singaporeans, it was really fun to find out so many interesting facts about the Grande Dame that has such a close link to the Singapore history!
You have just read a post from the complete coverage of our staycation at the Raffles Hotel. You can find the rest of the posts here…
Raffles Hotel Staycation (Main Post)
10 Interesting Facts You Never Knew About Raffles Hotel
Tiffin Room @ Raffles Hotel : The Oldest Restaurant in Singapore
Best Sunday Brunch in Singapore : Bar and Billiard Room @ Raffles Hotel
The Original Singapore Sling from Long Bar Raffles Hotel
Raffles Courtyard’s New Italian Menu @ Raffles Hotel Singapore
For your convenience, we have arranged for the best hotel deal at Raffles Hotel Singapore right here!
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Now, isn’t it time to visit the Raffles Hotel?
**Special thanks to the great people @ Raffles Hotel for making this staycation possible!