Within the walls of these luxurious suites, guests can follow in the footsteps of some of history’s most influential figures. Play the piano where Ray Charles once found inspiration or raise a toast to where the socialites of Europe gathered over a hundred years ago…
Ever since the first Raffles Hotel opened in Singapore in 1887, the Raffles name has been synonymous with legendary service, glamour, cultural heritage and elegant exploration. Each property strives to provide world-leading luxury and charm throughout its rooms and suites; as a result, some have played host to notable figures throughout history as well as contemporary celebrities. Many properties are situated in beautiful, historic buildings whose popularity with influential figures ensures that the legend of Raffles endures to this day.
Here are a few unique suites you can discover, from across the globe:
The Haldane Suite – Raffles London at The OWO
The former war offices of Lord Haldane and Winston Churchill
Whilst Raffles London at The OWO will be one of the newest additions to the Raffles portfolio when it opens later this year, its location within London’s former Old War Office ensures history plays a powerful part in this hotel. If the walls could talk, this building would have plenty of stories to tell. Taking its name from the days it served as the Office of Lord Richard Haldane, The Haldane Suite is one of five historic heritage suites in the property. Among the most significant figures in 20th century Britain, Lord Haldane reformed and modernized the pre-1914 army and was instrumental in establishing the espionage institutions of MI5 and MI6. Between 1905-1912, Haldane subsequently served as the Secretary of State for War. The office later hosted Earl Kitchener and Winston Churchill, firstly as Secretary of State for War and Air between 1919-1921 and later as Prime Minister during the Second World War. As the site of countless strategy meetings and landmark wartime decision-making, this suite is one of the most historic rooms in London. The stunning panelling that adorned the walls of the Haldane Suite throughout its storied existence remains intact, having been meticulously restored for the hotel’s opening. Historic fireplaces sit at each end of the suites’ sitting room, which were originally in a grand residence on Pall Mall used by the army in the 18th century. Best of all, the glorious two bedroom suite enjoys some of the most amazing views in London directly over Whitehall, where the gates to the official entrance to Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards Parade can be found.
Ray Charles Suite — Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris
The very room where Ray Charles stayed on his frequent visits to Paris
Two of Le Royal Monceau’s most loyal patrons were Ray Charles and his French paramour photographer Arlette Kotchounian, who stayed at the hotel during his visits to Paris. Now, the suite that often hosted the famed composer bears his name, and is filled with artifacts from his visits. The suite is home to photographs taken by Arlette, providing a rare glimpse into her and Charles’ private life during their stays in France. Unique art pieces by French and international artists complement Arlette’s photographs. Music-loving guests who stay in the Ray Charles Suite have the chance to play or simply admire Paris’ only in-suite Pleyel grand piano and acoustic guitar. The layout of the suite includes one bedroom, one bathroom, one living room, an open dining area, and a walk-in closet. Open since 1928, Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris has long been a meeting place for artists and celebrities, including Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Josephine Baker, Robert De Niro, and most recently, Celine Dion. This is the suite where inspiration strikes and art comes to life.
Sir Stamford Raffles Presidential Suite – Raffles Singapore
Where Rudyard Kipling was inspired to write The Jungle Book
Opened in 1887, Raffles Singapore has set the stage for the brand’s reputation as a home to legends. Over the years, the hotel has hosted Queen Elizabeth II, Rudyard Kipling and Elizabeth Taylor, among many global luminaries. Today, the hotel’s Presidential Suites are the grandest hotel suites that can be found in Singapore. Aptly named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore, this suite honors the many achievements of this great man. Much revered for his foresight and talents, this British statesman, Lieutenant-Governor of British Java and Governor-General of Bencoolen was also an avid botanist, zoologist and historian. Located in the Main Building, the Sir Stamford Raffles Suite overlooks the tranquil Palm Court and legendary porte-cochère with its own private verandah. The vast spaces – from the living room to the dining room and the bedrooms – are bedecked with carefully curated antiques and artworks from the hotel’s history.
The Personality Suites – Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, Siem Reap
Jackie Kennedy’s favorite hotel for escaping the limelight
First opened in 1932, Grand Hotel d’Angkor, Siem Reap, was established by French town planner Ernest Hébrard to accommodate the early explorers and tourists visiting the world heritage site of Angkor Wat. Regarded as the last bastion of the golden age of travel in Cambodia, the hotel has welcomed personalities such as Charlie Chaplin, Princess Margaret, Lord Snowdon, Jacqueline Kennedy, Charles de Gaulle, Roger Moore, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, among many others. Four specially created Personality Suites take their inspiration from people whose lives intertwined with the Angkor region. The Henri Mouhot Suite is named in honor of the 19th-century French naturalist, who was among the first western Europeans to discover the legacy of the ancient Khmer civilization that built the landmark Angkor Wat temple. The Louis Delaporte Suite is named for the French explorer who devoted his life to collecting and documenting Khmer artwork. The Henri Marchal suite honors the former Conservator of the Monuments of Angkor, who helped to restore several temples, including Banteay Srei. The John Thomson Suite recognizes the scholar-photographer who, at the dawn of photography in 1866, was the first to photograph Angkor Wat. Each suite is located in the heritage building, with its own exclusive collection of original memorabilia from the hotel’s storied past. Each suite is fitted with a claw-foot bathtub and separate shower; plus a relaxing day bed on the balcony overlooking the pool, modeled after the Angkorian Royal bathing pond.
The Presidential Suite – Raffles Udaipur
A modern day icon in the making: the hotel where India’s favorite cricketer, Hardik Pandya, was married
India’s first Raffles hotel sits on a 21-acre private island in the middle of the serene Udaisagar Lake. As one of the brand’s newest properties, opened in 2021, the extraordinary suites have ensured the hotel has quickly become a hotspot for India’s biggest celebrities and elite events. Just this year, celebrated Indian cricketer Hardik Pandya married actor Natasa Stankovic in an elegant ceremony with a star studded guest list. Blending European, Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles, with an intricately-designed interior, the 2799 sq ft Presidential Suite is a magnificent abode with panoramic views of the lake and onto the Aravalli Hills. One wall bears a beautiful handpainted fresco of a scenic evening in a palatial garden. The décor is inspired by the finest materials and crafts of Rajasthan, including mother-of-pearl and bone inlay furniture, handcrafted wooden chests and artwork designed by local craftspeople. The suite has its own state-of-the-art sauna with specially curated treatments and a personal massage room. With refined Raffles Butler Service and a host of niche amenities, the Presidential Suite is the ultimate place to unwind in luxury.
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This original travel article first appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.
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