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Raffles Hotel Singapore
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The best heritage hotels in Singapore

All you need to know about the history of Singapore's most iconic heritage hotels

Written by
Time Out Singapore editors
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Singapore's unique cityscape sees old buildings juxtaposed against futuristic skyscrapers. While it's characterised by state-of-the-art architecture by some of the world's prominent architects, you will also find heritage structures and buildings that have been gazetted as national monuments. Some of these are home to a few of Singapore's most coveted hotels – whether it's a majestic Palladian building or a former opium den. We dive into the stories behind the most iconic heritage hotels in Singapore.

RECOMMENDED: The best luxury five-star hotels in Singapore or the best boutique and shophouse hotels in Singapore

Goodwood Park Hotel
  • Hotels
  • Orchard

People may flock to the Goodwood Park Hotel for its famous durian desserts now, but did you know that the distinguished hotel is rich in history. It was built in 1900 as the Teutonia Club, an elite enclave for German expats – before becoming a hotel in 1929. The hotel became one of the most prestigious hotels by the end of the 1930s, with an illustrious list of guests such as the Duke of Windsor, and the Prince of Wales of England.

The hotel also later became a residence for high-ranking Japanese soldiers during World War II, and served as a British War Crimes Court after the war ended. Of course, it returned to its former glory as a hotel; and even made local history by being the first hotel in Singapore to offer a swimming pool in its premises. 

Today, there's still a majestic air about the hotel. The architecture is rich with elegant columns and classical archways. The rooms are done up in the tropical colonial-inspired shades of cream and beige. Premium rooms include the wooden-shuttered poolside suites and the luxurious aristocratic Brunei Suite. Besides its iconic durian cakes and puffs, the hotel is also home to Sichuan restaurant Min Jiang.

  • Hotels
  • Raffles Place

Distinguished by its Palladian architecture, fluted Doric colonnades and elaborate ornamentation, the Fullerton Building was erected in 1928 at the mouth of the Singapore River. Since then, it has housed the General Post Office, The Singapore Club, and even served as a hospital, bomb refuge and posh quarters for the Japanese Army during World War II.

Today, the Palladian building is home to the luxurious 400-room The Fullerton Hotel. It is a striking landmark on the edge of the Singapore River admired by both Singaporeans and tourists alike. Inside, the soaring atrium makes the most of the unusual wedge-shaped floorplan. The room aesthetics are sophisticated, clean and serene – outfitted with high-tech conveniences catered towards modern travellers. Be sure to request for rooms with unobstructed views of the city when booking. Otherwise, feel free to soak in the view from the 25-metre rooftop infinity pool. 

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  • Hotels
  • City Hall

Standing at the heart of the Civic District is the Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, located in two restored historic landmarks known as the Stamford House and the Capitol Building. The art deco jewel boasts 157 guest rooms and suites, including a restaurant helmed by a Michelin-starred chef. 

The older building of the two, the Stamford House, was originally debuted in 1904 by British architect R.A.J Bidwell of Swan & Maclaren. It was transformed into a boutique hotel in the mid-1930s called the 'Oranje Hotel' – which remained active through World War II, even after the Japanese started occupying Singapore in 1942. 

An extravagant movie theatre and an upscale environment complex were built next to the 'Oranje Hotel', which soon became the Capitol Theatre. Soon, countless Hollywood stars the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Ava Gardner, and Mary Pickford began appearing at the theatre to promote their films. 

However, the lustre of all three facilities had begun to fade by the mid-20th century, and the Shaw Organisation had come to acquire both The Capitol Theatre and the Namazie Mansions in 1946. The three buildings were only when after a consortium consisting of Pua Seek Guan’s Perennial Real Estate and Chesham Properties bought each structure in 2010. The Capitol Theatre returned to its former glory as an independent cinema, while the Capitol Building and Stamford House were combined to form The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore. 

  • Hotels
  • City Hall

Far from the sophisticated grande dame it is today, Raffles Hotel was originally built in the 1830s as a private beach house. It was bought over by the Armenian Sarkies brothers in 1887 and the rest, as we know, is history. Its storied hallways have seen legendary guests the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Charlie Chaplin, and Somerset Maugham. 

Now, Raffles Hotel Singapore evokes a bygone era. Both its hotel and arcade has gone through a two-year restoration – now boasting new suite categories and dining establishments. Besides long-standing intuitions such as Tiffin Room and Long Bar (home to the Singapore Sling), guests can now dine at Anne-Sophie Pic's first Asian restaurant and BBR by Alain Ducasse, which is a rebirth of the much-loved Bar & Billiard Room. 

Established in 1887, it still evokes an era when travel and romance went hand in hand, even if droves of tourists now flock here for a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar. Despite the clichés, the Raffles legend endures, thanks to its fusion of timeless elegance, classical architecture and tropical gardens. Refurbished in 1991, all 103 rooms are now suites, and 12 are named after famous guests such as Rudyard Kipling, Noel Coward and Somerset Maugham. The Grand Suites are the most nostalgic, with lofty ceilings, polished wooden floors, opulent drapes and balconies overlooking the garden. Among the numerous bars and restaurants are the traditional Raffles Grill and The Tiffin Room. 

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  • Hotels
  • Chinatown

Amoy by Far East Hospitality is a beautiful boutique hotel located within the grounds of one of Singapore's oldest Chinese temples, Fuk Tak Chi. Its 37 beautifully designed guest rooms may boast minimalism and modernity, but they're actually housed in a century-old shophouse on Amoy Street. In fact, the grand temple is one of the remnants of some of Singapore's first architecture built from the 1840s to 1950s – all concentrated in four historic districts. 

The hotel shows guests a unique story of the Chinese diaspora that brought Singapore's ancestors to its shores. Step out of the back door of the temple and into Amoy Hotel's lobby, and you'll be greeted by what used to be the bay alley of the row of shophouses along Amoy Street. Pay attention to the two-storey high wooden wall opposite the reception desk – where you'll find plaques bearing the names of some of Singapore's earliest settlers. 



  • Hotels
  • Resorts
  • Sentosa

Set against a lush rainforest on Sentosa, Capella Singapore takes over two restored British colonial buildings dating back to the 1880s. The buildings were originally built to accommodate the British officers of the Royal Artillery and their families. 

The barracks were given a new life and reopened in 2009 as a hotel, designed by British architect Norman Foster. Capella Singapore is now a stunning resort nestled on landscaped grounds that look out across the South China Sea – loved by locals for staycations or chill dining establishments such as Bob's Bar. 

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  • Hotels
  • City Hall

Fort Canning was once an exclusive address of many of Singapore's rulers and colonial leaders dating back to the 14th century when it was the site for the palatial resort of former Majapahit kings. 

Hotel Fort Canning's history dates back to the 20th century when it was built in1926 as the Administration Building of the British Far East Command HQ. In 2011, it was converted into the beautiful boutique hotel it is today. With 86 luxurious rooms and two full-sized pools, the hotel is a lush retreat that allows guests to escape Singapore's hustle and bustle – all packed with old-world charm. 

The Warehouse Hotel
  • Hotels
  • Raffles Place

In an erstwhile warehouse that sits along the old Straits of Malacca trade route and the former epicentre of Singapore’s red-light district, the Warehouse Hotel whispers secrets of its illicit past: a spice trading hub at one point, an illegal distillery at another, even a reigning discotheque in the ’80s.

But now, The Lo & Behold Group – the folks behind the 37-room boutique space – has taken the building’s 120-year history in its hands and spun it on the head. 

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  • Hotels
  • Sentosa

One of the newest luxury hotels to hit Singapore's shores, The Barracks Hotel is housed in a majestic facade overlooking views of a lush heritage lawn. The building has a storied past, once serving as the Blakang Mati Artillery Barracks in 1904. While it was once used by the British Army, the hotel now houses 40 luxurious guest rooms beautifully decorated with a mix of vintage and modern decor evoking a timeless feel. 

Find out more about Singapore's history

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