The welcome is warm and genuine. Welcome back, how lovely to see you again, the doorman greets the gal and her faithful Rimowa. The luxury hotel’s Tiffin Room is pretty special too. It is called after the tiffin from British India, taken from the obsolete term ‘tiffing’, ‘taking a little drink or sip’. In Bombay the logistics of getting tiffin meals-to-go around that chaotic city is so refined, and reliable, that Prince Charles invited two tiffin wallahs (dabbawalas) to his wedding to Camilla Parker-Bowles.
Raffes’ Tiffin Room has only been called that since 1976, although a restaurant run by the legendary Sarkies brothers at Raffles Place in the 1890s was known as the Raffles Tiffin Rooms. Today, the ambience is based on that time. Square teak tables go with bentwood chairs, and waiters wear traditional serving jackets with tukang (water carrier) badges.
What a bit of luck. The gal ran into all the Raffles’ General Managers, who had come from all quarters – from Paris to Beijing – for a corporate meeting. You never know who you might meet in these days of world travel. I reminded the GM of the Siem Reap hotel of our fabulous trip there, to Angkor, when we were only feet away from the king. I was reminded too of my last visit to the Paris hotel, the sensational Raffles Royal Monceau, as re-designed by Philippe Starck …
And then it was time to move on. We, self and bag, climbed elegant into Raffles’ precious 1986 Daimler Limousine DS420 and off we purred. At the front of the car a flag flew – this is the only non-ambassadorial, non-government car in the whole of Singapore that allowed this privilege.
Another favourite eating place in Singapore remains Mezza9, in the Grand Hyatt. Mezza9 is now 13 years old but remains as revolutionary as the day it opened. There are about 20 different seating and cooking areas, and the eclectic menu ranges from every oriental style you can think of through to roast of the day (it was veal).
It is always full and always fun.
Today they were wrapping New Year’s gifts because Monday, which is January 23rd, sees the start of the year of the dragon. My new friend Cheryl Ng assures me this will be a really really lucky year…