Hard to beat. This discreet eight-storey boutique-cum-design hotel with 73 rooms is tucked in the historic shophouse-studded backstreets behind Raffles, Singapore's most famous hotel and official national monument. And in a city where the heat can sometimes preclude extended walks, Naumi is also within strolling distance of plenty of the island city state's attractions with the outstanding MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) underground rail system.
Honey, they shrunk the hotel. The last time this reviewer stayed at Naumi, which chalks up its first decade this September, some years ago, there were significantly fewer rooms, and gorgeously designed and decorated they were, too. But since that fondly-remembered visit the hotel has undergone a remodelling which has seen a dramatic increase in the number of rooms. Perhaps Naumi's best feature, aside from its enviable location, is its rooftop bar and infinity pool that delivers knockout uninterrupted views of the Singapore skyline with the vistas at their best at dusk and by night. Once open to the general public, Cloud 9, as it's unimaginatively called, is now a houseguest-only domain meaning it's rarely, if ever, crowded. Don't miss Naumi's take on the Singapore Sling served at Cloud (which in this guest's opinion is superior to those served at the adjacent Raffles.) Food can be ordered from the laid back in-house Indian-restaurant Table by Rang Mahal restaurant located at ground level. Oh, and in case you're wondering Naumi is pronounced "know-me" and means "the ninth day" in Sanskrit, an auspicious meaning based on the Hindu calendar.
On this occasion I'm in a 26-square metres so-called "Habitat" space, a far cry from the much more spacious room from my previous visit. It's one of Naumi's three styles of rooms with the highest level, Patio, at a still relatively compact 33-square metres. The size of my Habitat room may have been a disappointment had it not been so ingeniously and tastefully designed. The standalone marble and internally-lit bathroom sink unit serves as a centrepiece opposite the shower and toilet stalls, fitted with "magic glass for modesty". Items, such as the now near mandatory in-room espresso machine, are tucked away in a shelf that can be slid out from a wall when needed and then tucked out of the way when not. Although the room is meant be sound-proofed by an acoustic expert, from Paris, no less, there was still a reasonable amount of late-night noise incursion from carousers at a street-level bar during my stay. A major plus for solo woman travellers is that Naumi features a female-friendly "privacy floor", accessed via keycard operated glass door, though Singapore does remain one of the safest places in South-east Asia.
This being Singapore, food of a high calibre is in abundance the moment you step out the door with plenty of cheap hawker-style eating options, interspersed with Michelin-rated restaurants. Chijmes, an attractive upmarket restaurant, cafe and bar complex in a heritage building complex dating to 1841, is just up the street (Coriander with its contemporary Asian menu is a reliable and elegant choice). If you do choose to eat in at Naumi there's the aforementioned Table by Rang Mahal restaurant for all-day dining.
Naumi is literally right next door to Raffles, South-east Asia's most famous heritage hotel. But you'll need to be quick to check it out as it's about to progressively close as it undergoes a major renovation. Nearby to Naumi is the good mid-market Raffles City shopping and dining centre while down the road, and about a 10 minute walk away, is the magnificent National Gallery of Singapore, the former colonial-era Supreme Court and City Hall, which features the world's largest public display of South-east Asian art.
The knockout house-guest only rooftop pool and bar, with its expansive view of the skyline, is one of Singapore's better-kept secrets.
The espresso coffee served in Naumi's lobby bar-cum-restaurant is surprisingly below par for such an otherwise stylish establishment.
Naumi is the perfect no-fuss though attractive stay option in Singapore for leisure and business travellers alike. For this reviewer, it'd been a long-time between Singapore Slings since my last visit but it proved a wholly pleasurable return. Despite the plethora of top-notch boutique and design hotels in Singapore, and those shrunken rooms, it's an acquaintance I'd be more than happy to repeat.
Naumi, 41 Seah St, Singapore Doubles from $A374. Book though Small Luxury Hotels. Phone 1800 219 010. See slh.com
Four and a half out of five
TRAVELLER TRIPADVISOR RATING
Four and a half out of five.
Anthony Dennis stayed as a guest of Small Luxury Hotels.