1 Beach Road
Attention: Hotel Administration
Dear Singapore Raffles Hotel Administration;
Thank you very much for your guest feedback form and the leaflet.
Yes - thank you for asking - I did indeed enjoy my stay on your world famous premises and I very much enjoyed every single bite of your delicious cuisine, rated number one not only throughout Singapore but in the entire world. You see, I myself am a vegetarian but my husband and my father tell me that your steak was so soft they could cut it with a fork. In fact they both say that your steak was the best they have ever had in their lives. I tried your gourmet soft-ripened cheese and most of your state-of-the-art desserts, and Sir, I must tell you that ‘heavenly’ is the only word that comes to mind when trying to describe the perfection that is your cuisine.
Now, Sir, on your multiple choice restaurant feedback form that you sent, the top choice is 'favorite dining experience ever'. When I read that line, Sir, I couldn’t help but have an instant flashback of a night in the middle of rural India, about a year prior to visiting your lush hotel. It was 1 AM and I was sitting in the back seat of a jeep and the only other person in the car was the driver. I hadn't slept in 72 hours except for the 2 hours I got in this $5 a night place, the only hotel there was on the way. No blankets, no sheets, not even a 25-thread count linen, Sir. No pillows either. The mattress was bare and really dirty and the bathroom was a hole in the ground. Let's just say it was a far cry from the world-class experience that is your hotel.
So anyway, Sir, there I was, in rustic India, in the back of a jeep, with my life in the hands of a driver whom I had only known for 72 hours and who had a 50-word English vocabulary. Ahead of us was another 24-hour drive, much of it on dirt roads. I hadn't eaten in almost two days and we were nowhere near any civilization. I couldn't decide if I was more tired or more hungry.
At about 3 AM the driver stops the car by a little hut-like building. There's a small open fire outside and flickers of light in the tiny doorway. We walk in. The place is dim, about 30 square feet, filled with the strong and overpowering smell of Indian tea. There are 7 or 8 people sitting inside. All motions and sounds stop as we walk in. Dumbfounded, they all stare at my white skin, blond hair and western clothes, while the driver talks to them in Tamil. Within a matter of seconds a small table with a chair gets set up outside, a lantern with a candle is put on the table and they're apologizing that they could only find a spoon for me but not a knife or a fork. In a split second I have 4 eggs sunny side up in front of me and a freshly made indian rice-and-lentil crepe called ‘dosa’.
That meal, Mr. Singapore Raffles Administration, was the best meal I have ever had in my life.
It was prepared for me with the love of people who didn't even know me. The personal touch of the lantern and providing the only spoon they owned wasn't based on carefully conducted marketing strategies and was perhaps the most non-synthetic hospitality I ever experienced.
Please know that I do love your hotel and all your 15 restaurants and I promote it to everyone all the time. But let me tell you, Sir, even though I love luxury as much as I do, I can't help but prefer those ever-so-charming imperfections that make life so damn beautiful.
Please find the filled out feedback questionnaire enclosed.
Have a wonderful day, Sir.