It was almost midnight when the Sybaritic Single landed at the Writers Bar for a fluffy Million Dollar Cocktail nightcap. Not that he really enjoyed the drink but he appreciated the mystique surrounding it (created by Ngiam Tong Boon in 1910 – luxury in a glass – it shot to fame when it was featured in “The Letter”, a short story by Somerset Maugham). Raffles Hotel Singapore knows how to create fables around the most trivial things – and that’s another reason to love this luxury hotel.
As far back as 1887, men of letters have inaugurated Raffles’ legendary literary tradition, which continues today. First launched in 2019 to reinvigorate the hotel’s rich literary heritage, the Writer’s Residency Programme nurtures a pipeline of writing talents, as well as continues to inspire famed authors from all over the world. The hotel invites writers to reflect, contemplate and draw inspiration from its 136-year-old well of stories as they put pen to paper. This year, it’s a poet and a first-ever Singaporean.
Madeleine Lee’s “How to Build a Lux Hotel” is an articulation of overheard conversations, meaningful interactions and observations made of the sounds and spaces at the Raffles. The first poet-in-residence took her own photographs for the 100-page book as well as captured the soul of the hotel in her own intricate style:
having a spell
of writer’s block
at the writer’s block
the ghosts of
conrad maugham kipling neruda
While the nuances of Lee’s poetry felt a bit too abstract (almost haiku) after all the cocktails, the Sybaritic Single kept a copy of the book to enjoy the poems as he continues his fabulous travels.