Raffles Singapore – An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

Raffles Singapore Candice Deville wearing Missy Hussy Winged top shot on location at Raffles Singapore 600 Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

Some places are so thoroughly steeped in style and history that a filmic sense of glamour descends upon you, simply by walking through the door. The Raffles Hotel in Singapore is just one such place. When the hotel first opened on the 1st December 1887, it was a 10 room hotel, which in its first few years played host to many a celebrity of the time, including the father of many childhood imaginings, Rudyard Kipling.

I don’t wish this post to become one great big history lesson, but to appreciate the beauty of Raffles and understand its origins, will tell you just why I was so awestruck by my moment here…. even with two misbehaving children in tow.

Raffles SIngapore Courtyard Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

The day we wandered into Raffles was Chinese New Years Eve. Serenely quiet and far less peopled than I imagine it would be otherwise. The air was heavy with anticipated rain, creating a feeling of places not unlike the tales of Kipling himself. The sound of each foot fall on the terracotta tiles was tempered by rustling palm fronds and the curious squeaks of small coloured birds. Coming to a stop in a small courtyard I stood, craning my neck upwards to take in the deep green of the glistening leaves; echoed with a shock on the balastruding of the balconies.

Raffles SIngapore beautiful architecture and folliage Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

After taking in the white washed twists and turns of the open corridors, we came to the beautifully arched door ways, behind which dined some very lucky patrons enjoying that afternoon’s High Tea. I’ve always wanted to ‘do’ a High Tea at Raffles, but my over tired companions made that a very unwise choice. And so we moved on, stopping to take photographs at the fountain in the Palm Court (and stopping some very un-decorous stripping from my small enthusiastic bathers).

Raffles SIngapore Palm Courtyard Fountain Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

As the skies gave in and the rain poured down, we retreated to the elegant cigar bar. Beautifully situated overlooking the Palm Coutryard, and filled with the warm glow of lamplight, it was at once soothing and inviting.

Raffles SIngapore Courtyard in the Rain Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

Raffles SIngapore Cigar Bar Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

Raffles Singapore Cigar Bar colonial interior ceiling Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

There was not a soul in the bar, just us as we stood there seeking shelter from the rain, planning how best to entertain the children and get what we wanted too. Sometimes this is achieved by incentives, sometimes by a little healthy ‘motivation’. This afternoon’s motivation came in the form of Raffles iconic uniformed guard, who with the right back story, become a figure of authority over naughty children. Storybook perfection.

Raffles Singapore Uniformed Guard at the front desk Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

Although I’d had to forego the delights of High Tea, I had one other Raffles fantasy that was in reach of being fulfilled. And so, with a smile we headed off down Cad’s Alley.

Raffles Singapore Cads Alley Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

Raffles Singapore The Long Bar Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

The Long Bar is indeed the original home of the Singapore Sling. Created by bar tender Ngiam Tong Boon some time before 1910. (Aside: I do believe this mans portrait should sit upon the liquor cabinet of every woman’s home). Taking a circuitous route to reach the bar, we entered by the back door, and I’m so glad we did or I would have missed this gem. Hidden on a wall away from the bustle of the bar area, was this gem of illustrative work; the Maskee Sketchbook.

Raffles Singapore Miss Shanghai cartoon by Maskee in the Long Bar Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

Raffles Singapore in the long bar artwork by Maskee Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

Raffles Singapore Miss Shanghai artwork in the long bar by Maskee Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

Raffles Singapore Maskee Sketchbook Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

Forgive the barrage of images there, but I was just so taken by this work. Created circa 1939 by Schiff, this series of original images are all coloured by hand. I don’t know if this piece is the original, but there is a very limited number of copies in existence, each hand coloured, hand signed and owned by a lucky few. Capturing a Shanghai at the height of its glorious, decadent deco moment; Schiff’s work speaks volumes with the smallest stroke.

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Ordinarily I don’t bring my children to bars, but when at Raffles Long Bar, one must make an exception. And by a simple employing of tradition, I was able to enjoy a far more relaxing afternoon that I had anticipated.

Raffles Singapore The Long Bar teselated floor and the peanuts Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

Raffles SIngapore Sling in the Long Bar Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

The floor was a carpet of peanut shells. And in keeping with the custom, the children set about eagerly adding to the effect. As for me, I had a date with that ruby hued drink of legend; the Singapore Sling.

Raffles Singapore Singapore Sling Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

Raffles Singapore SKM and her Singapore Sling Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

Raffles Singapore SKM and her cherry n the long bar Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur

And that, my friends, is how we concluded our little adventure at Raffles; with a cherry on top.

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Outfit Notes-

Blue winged bust top – Miss Hussy Clothing

Khaki Linen Culottes – unlabelled find from Far East Plaza

Sparkly leopard print hair bow – Chameleon

Lip colour – MAC Russian Red



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Candice DeVille

Specialty Vintage Stylist, Blogger, and Presenter; Candice DeVille has been writing Super Kawaii Mama since early 2008. Based in Melbourne, Australia, she's always in search of the next glamorous adventure. Bringing you vintage style, glamour and inspiration for the 21st Century.
 Raffles Singapore   An Adventure in Colonial Grandeur
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25 Comments

  1. Such beautiful photos!!! And I so want to try a Singapore Sling! I’ve been wanting to visit for a while, good impetus to do so now…:)

    • Super Kawaii Mama /

      Amanda: I highly recommend it, and I believe there are many flights on sale to get there at the moment too.

  2. Vicki Martin /

    Just beautiful. I admit that I would have stolen the cocktail glass it came in. Raffles reminds me of a hotel I visited in Bangkok called The Mandarin Oriental. So amazing. http://www.mandarinoriental.com/bangkok/
    Those sketches on the wall are fantastic.
    xoxooxox
    MRs Vicki

    • Super Kawaii Mama /

      Mz Vicki: Ha Ha I bet you would have too! I was tempted, but I reckon they count them. :) I’ve stayed at the Mandarin Oriental too and WOW what a place! What I wouldn’t give to have all you fabulous ladies over there for a big old shindig! :) Xx

  3. Beckiejo Jolley /

    What a stunning building its like a beautiful time capsule. It never seems to age it’s simply a serene beauty in such a modern bustle of a city. Looks like a fantastic trip cant wait for the next installment xxBJ

    • Super Kawaii Mama /

      Beckiejo: Lovely to see you here! Yes, can can certainly “feel the serenity”! ;)

  4. Haha! I’d love a copy of Miss Shangai and her little song! So cute!

    • Super Kawaii Mama /

      Kali: I really wanted one too.. I’m searching the internet to see f there are prints of it available anywhere. I’ll let you know if I find them.

  5. Shanghai, I meant.

  6. I love Raffles. I went there a few years back. I even have a few similar Long Bar photos. I was there with my husband who was on a training course. On the days he was working I went by myself and had high tea, sat in the court yards and just soaked up the atmosphere. It was always one of those places I had dreamed of going to since I was a child (I was a rather weird child in love with the 1930s and 40s. Not many other 10 year olds in my small country town were into staying on on a Sunday afternoon glued to the TV watching black and white movies). I love that it is an oasis of earlier days surrounded my modernity. I’d love to go back again, must start saving my pennies.

    Did you try their spa across the road? Amazing. My husband surprised me with an indulgence package and it was incredible.

    • Super Kawaii Mama /

      Rusty Hoe: It sounds as if you and I had similar childhoods! I think we would have been fast friends :)

  7. Beautiful photographs, and a lovely outfit you’re in!

    Oh, wow, I think I’m drooling… I am definitely adding Raffles to my Must Visit list! Gorgeous surroundings, that sense of style and history, and delicious gin based cocktails… you’d never get me out!
    Rose Rouge recently posted..Butterfly Hair

    • Super Kawaii Mama /

      Rose Rouge: Thank you :) I’m always trying to improve my photography. And yes, Gin Cocktails FTW! :)

  8. I love Raffles, the Long Bar, High Tea and just sitting and soaking in the elegance. It’s hard to imagine the beach right outside the Long Bar, what a sight that must have been. And the tiger in the Pool Room. Did you see the silver that was buried during the Japanese occupation in WWII ? I have never seen those sketches, fabulous !!!!

    • Super Kawaii Mama /

      Jaede: The tiger story is such a sad one I think, but fascinating none the less. I didn’t get to museum as it was closed early for CNY. Next time for sure. :)

  9. Love your top! And that sketch book is divine! :)
    Stephanie recently posted..Taxes!

  10. Beautiful. I love Raffles in Singapore
    Elise recently posted..Music- The Baseballs

  11. I go to Raffles every time I am in Singapore. I love the gardens, the history and the gorgeous giftshop. Did you go into the Somerset Maugham Museum they have there? That’s really interesting too. Lisa

  12. I’m green with envy!!! Those pants are exactly what I’ve been looking for for the past two years.
    And the first photo looks like a still from a period piece film, some great love drama set in an exotic distant land. Christie’s Death on the Nile is my first association.
    coffeeaddict recently posted..A new necklace

    • Super Kawaii Mama /

      Coffee Addict: You’ll be pleased to know that I’m making a pattern from the pants, improving on the somewhat cheap construction and making them even better! I’ll post the info once they are done. :) And yes, So very Christie-esque! <3

  13. Gay Lynch /

    Your story of Raffles brings back memories. I did “high tea” and soaked up the atmosphere at Raffles over twenty years ago and it was just as wonderful then!! Last week, I was in Hong Kong to celebrate “a significant birthday” and delighted in “high tea” at the Peninsula, another fabulous architectural landmark worthy of a visit.

  14. Ah, such a beautiful hotel and one that I can say I am very familiar with. My ex was Singaporean and I once spent three weeks in Singapore with him. His family had a VIP card for the Raffles cafe, so my ex and I used that to have lunch there several times. It was delicious!
    Christine/Hexotica recently posted..Weekly Outfit On the Go

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