Novotel Singapore on Stevens
In one of Singapore's well-to-do neighbourhoods, the Novotel Singapore on Stevens is on Stevens Road, just north of the city's famous Orchard Road shopping district and west of the Botanic Gardens. There's not a lot on the doorstep of the hotel, but a free shuttle runs to Orchard Road every 30 minutes and only takes a few minutes to arrive. It's about 20 minutes to walk there, but in Singapore's stifling heat this might not be a preferred option for some guests. Alternatively, there's a bus stop right outside and the nearest MRT station is about 10 minutes' walk.
Opened in November last year, the new Novotel is part of a joint complex with fellow Accor hotel, the Mercure, next door. The hotels share facilities including a wide variety of restaurants, two swimming pools, a 24-hour gym, conference and meeting rooms.
The Novotel features 254 rooms with a further 518 in the Mercure. A 150-metre green wall is growing on the exterior of the hotels, while the layout of the complex itself is shaped like the Chinese character Ren (meaning "people"). The upside-down Y-shape of the character is repeated in designs throughout the hotel.
I'm on the Executive Club floor, the top level of the hotel. The rooms are the same size as others at the hotel, but I have access to the club lounge, which offers free flowing drinks and snacks every evening as well as a breakfast buffet in the morning. It's not the largest room but it's a decent size with everything you could need. There's a comfortable bed, chaise lounge, desk and large television on the wall. Dark curtains keep the room at a comfortable temperature in the morning even without using the air conditioning (a rarity in steamy Singapore).
The bathroom is compact but the shower is large, with a glass wall looking out into the room (a blind can be pulled down if you require privacy). The mini bar is included, with water, soft drink, potato chips and chocolate available. It would be remiss of me to fail to mention the staff, who are uniformly excellent – friendly, attentive and professional throughout the hotel.
As we're a short distance from the main shopping areas in a residential neighbourhood, there aren't many dining options beyond those around the hotel complex. Fortunately there are plenty of these to choose from with nine restaurants at ground level in addition to three within the hotel itself. As you might expect in Singapore, there's a diverse range of cuisines on offer including Indian, Malaysian, Japanese and Italian.
I dine at Winestone, which offers Mediterranean dishes such as battered whitebait, ricotta and veal meatballs, pizza, fish and steak. While guests on the executive floor can enjoy breakfast in the club lounge, the buffet available at in-house restaurant Food Exchange is more extensive, which a huge range of options available from your regular bacon, eggs and pastries, through to Asian options like noodles, congee, roti and curries.
Singapore's world-class public transport system will get you anywhere you want to go at very little expense (a trip from the nearest MRT station to Chinatown, for example, will take about 20 minutes and nine stops and cost you a little over $1). You can purchase a transport card at the train stations, there are also unlimited travel tourist cards available but these don't always work out to be the best value unless you are planning to take a lot of trips.
The closest attraction to the hotel is the Botanic Gardens, a large, beautiful space that makes the most of Singapore's tropical climate. Now World Heritage-listed, the 138-year-old gardens are a tranquil escape from the hectic city streets. A highlight is the Orchid Garden (entry $S5) featuring more than 1000 varieties of the flower. It's worth visiting despite some disruption as the garden undergoes a huge revamp due for completion in 2019. See nparks.gov.sg/sbg
The Novotel on Stevens is not in the most convenient location, but it is a fine hotel with exceptional service and comfort.
Rooms at the Novotel Singapore on Stevens start from $SG208. See novotel-singapore-stevens.com
The friendly, welcoming and attentive staff make guests feel like they are VIPs.
Although it's not far to Orchard Rd or the MRT, having to catch a shuttle or walk in the heat is a minor inconvenience.
Craig Platt stayed as a guest of the Novotel Singapore on Stevens.