This hotel began life as the home of a British sea captain. In 1887 the Armenian Sarkies brothers took over the building and transformed it into one of Asia's grandest hotels. Raffles has experienced many ups and downs, especially during World War II, when it was first a center for British refugees, then quarters for Japanese officers, and then a center for released Allied POWs. Although it's regarded as a bastion of British colonialism, it's actually an Armenian creation,
and in its 130 years of hosting expatriates, it has only once had a British manager. The hotel deteriorated after the war, surviving by trading on its heritage rather than its facilities. However, in late 1991, Raffles reopened as the republic's most expensive hotel.