Raffles hotel in Singapore where William and Kate have stayed has reopened looking better than ever

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A Sikh in starched white uniform emerges indiscernibly and scrunches across the gravel drive to greet me, his white beard almost merging with his turban.

Somehow, it could only be Raffles, arguably the most famous hotel name.

I am whisked into the cool embrace of the lobby, where a glass of chilled mineral water arrives almost before I park myself on a leather sofa.

Raffles Singapore was named after Sir Stamford Raffles, who colonised Singapore 200 years ago for the British East India Company

Raffles Singapore was named after Sir Stamford Raffles, who colonised Singapore 200 years ago for the British East India Company

Noel Coward first stayed for a month in 1931, after completing Private Lives. He recalled in his memoirs drinking his first Singapore Sling and remained a loyal guest until his last visit in 1968, writes Mark

Noel Coward first stayed for a month in 1931, after completing Private Lives. He recalled in his memoirs drinking his first Singapore Sling and remained a loyal guest until his last visit in 1968, writes Mark

The brand-new atrium is not that different from the old one. Cleaner, with sharper lines, but the same bold sweep that suggests a pricey combination of elegance and sophistication.

It was here that 300 Japanese officers fell on their swords after the surrender of Singapore to the Allies in 1945.

But such grisly ghosts hardly hit the right note following a multi-million-pound refurbishment that has taken two-and-a-half years to complete. It officially reopened this week.

Raffles Singapore was born in 1887, the year the Armenian Sarkies brothers took over an unprepossessing ten-bedroom bungalow and set about pulling in the great and the good.

Swanky: The 115 rooms, all suites, are not cheap, starting from £520 a night

Swanky: The 115 rooms, all suites, are not cheap, starting from £520 a night

Glamorous fans: Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor and, more recently, Johnny Depp and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have stayed at the hotel

Glamorous fans: Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor and, more recently, Johnny Depp and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have stayed at the hotel

British actress Elizabeth Taylor

 British actress Elizabeth Taylor

This quickly expanded and word of mouth brought in royalty, as well as celebrities.

It was named after Sir Stamford Raffles, who colonised Singapore 200 years ago for the British East India Company. It was a bold move to summon up this heroic, swashbuckling frontiersman — but, my goodness, it has paid off.

Noel Coward first stayed for a month in 1931, after completing Private Lives. He recalled in his memoirs drinking his first Singapore Sling and remained a loyal guest until his last visit in 1968.

The literary roll call is impressive — Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, Andre Malraux, Hermann Hesse and Pablo Neruda for starters.

Then there are the glamorous fans: Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor and, more recently, Johnny Depp and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

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The 115 rooms, all suites, are not cheap, starting from £520 a night. I am shown into a State Room Suite overlooking the quad, with a huge marble bathroom and a bath the size of a small cargo vessel. The double sink seems excessive for one man and his toothbrush. Ditto the opulent bed. But I’m not complaining.

The flat-screen TV has been discreetly inlaid into the wall so that it looks like a decorative obsidian plaque. ‘I think we should pop down to the Long Bar and take a refreshment,’ says my charming hotel guide.

Good idea. First, I pop into the Writers Bar, taking in the cool granite and mahogany, contrasting with marble and alabaster walls. It’s as ‘airy as a birdcage’, as Conrad put it in his novella The End Of The Tether.

I wander down the colonnaded corridors and around the green quadrangle before settling at a table in the Long Bar.

A cast-iron hand-cranked contraption on the bar, designed for shaking multiple cocktails, gets to work producing the hotel’s signature drink, the Singapore Sling. It’s a powerful concoction made from Cointreau, pineapple and lime juice, gin, grenadine, cherry liqueur, Benedictine and Angostura bitters. That’s all.

Order this in my local back home and the barman would think I was taking the mickey. Here, it’s the most natural thing in the world.

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