Monday, January 26, 2015

The Perfect Honeymoon Hotel

I'm sure you all have a secret fantasy about a hotel, one which is the essence of romance, luxury and indulgence. Picture it in your mind now. What is it? An opulent Swiss chalet, like the one favoured by the British royalty? A super-modern sleek-lined glass-and-metal designer's dream? A villa standing on stilts in crystal-clear water tucked away on a Pacific island somewhere?

Up until a week ago, my own fantasy would have gravitated towards the last option. Now, however, my fantasies are more colonial in colour, more sophisticated, more gratifying. They now have a name: the Raffles hotel in Singapore.

Having spent one glorious night at the Raffles, I now want to have a second honeymoon just so that I can return here for a whole week. Make that two. Hang on, isn't the old meaning of a honeymoon a honey-month? I could do with a month at the Raffles. 

So, what makes the hotel so special? Why do I love it? Let me count the ways. It's the sleek architectural lines of the buildings, the grand lobby, the tranquil gardens. It's the attention to details: from the fresh white paint on the columns, through the extensive wine collection and genuine smiles of the staff, to the smell of frangipani, It's the sense of history dating back to 1887: the ancient grandfather clock which still stands in the same place it did when the hotel first opened its door, the cast iron fountain in the Palm Garden brought over from Glasgow over 100 years ago, the large collection of original 19th century photographs of Singapore and South East Asia.

The food is not just any hotel food. The hotel's lunch and dinner restaurant, modestly called The Grill, is often judged number one in Singapore's culinary competitions. This is an example of what you might expect during a degustation at The Grill:

  1. DUCK FOIE GRAS terrine, amaranth popcorn, pineapple kumquat chutney 
  2. ROASTED SCALLOPS, braised endives with citrus aroma, barberry sauce 
  3. STEAMED COD dusted with mushrooms, shellfish, salsify, light cream sauce 
  4. GRILLED OMAHA PRIME BEEF TENDERLOIN, new potatoes, sand carrots, teriyaki reduction  
  5. DARK CHOCOLATE CREAM, citrus tangy juice, pure “Guanaja” chocolate sherbet 

Although we missed out on The Grill, we did have a sumptuous buffet lunch at the Billiard Room. I promise I will never look at a buffet meal quite the same way. The dishes on offer were so varied, I couldn't sample more than a third of them, even though I was only taking a teaspoon of each. Every mouthful was exquisite - my new word of choice, and one that describes the Raffles precisely. As was the wine recommended by the sommelier (Laurenz V: SUNNY Grüner Veltliner), which tasted like a combination of non-grassy Sauvignon Blanc and non-sweet Pinot Gris).

The bedrooms are private and airy, the beds offer perfect support. And yes, there is a pillow menu.

I think the only thing that would equal a honeymoon here would be a Raffles wedding. Just imagine the photo opportunities!

Just Married! The Raffles Fasade

The bride on the staircase at the Raffles Hotel

The Couples Suite at the Raffles Spa

The residential Suite Bedroom

The lobby of the Raffles Hotel

A glimpse of the Raffles Hotel

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The One Plus One

"The One Plus One" by Jojo Moyes is a thoughtful book about mistakes, being different, the definition of right and wrong, and what it means to be a family. Dressed as a love story, it is ultimately so much more.