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She is the original grande dame of Singapore, the Queen Mother of all luxury hotels that Rudyard Kipling once wrote about, and where the Singapore Sling was invented in the now legendary Long Bar. Elizabeth Taylor stayed here, as did Charlie Chaplin, Ava Gardner and, of course, Kipling himself, and while we might not know what the Raffles hotel was like in its giddy interwar heyday, we can’t imagine it was better than it is now. The lobby has been completely revamped. Yes, the scale and sentiment of the 60-foot high space remains the same, but the front desk is gone, now replaced by the Writers Bar and the Hamleys-like Raffles Boutique. Elsewhere, the radical changes to the hotel’s restaurants and bars are even more obvious, with chef Anne-Sophie Pic’s La Dame de Pic, Jereme Leung’s Yi, and Alain Ducasse’s BBR. And what can you expect from your room you ask? An extremely pleasant surprise, as 21st-century cool replaces what used to be somber spaces of stately Victorian decor. But don’t worry, some original details remain, and they are the ones you loved the most: the wicker chairs, the ceiling fans, the brass bell-buttons-turned-light-switches and the ceramic lamps. If you’re headed to Singapore, this is where we’d check-in, but most people will tell you, you don’t come to Singapore and stay at the Raffles; you come to the Raffles and see what you can of Singapore...and we believe that to be true.