Hello everyone! In this article, I’ll be documenting my recent stay at Hotel NuVe Urbane.
As I mentioned in my review of Santa Grand Hotel East Coast, the local boutique hotel scene is burgeoning. One of the bigger players is the NuVe Group, which manages 4 properties (Hotel NuVe, Hotel NuVe Heritage, Hotel NuVe Elements, and Hotel NuVe Urbane) here in Singapore. I was curious to see what a NuVe property was like, and thus decided to book a staycation over at Hotel NuVe Urbane.
Hotel NuVe Urbane – Video Review
For those interested in seeing some hands-on footage of the hotel, do check out my Youtube review of Hotel NuVe Urbane below:
Hotel NuVe Urbane – the Brand
Hotel NuVe Urbane opened its doors in 2018. Located in the Lavender area, the hotel has a total of 62 rooms, making it a relatively small-sized establishment. It’s the third NuVe property to open locally (the first being the original Hotel Nuve, followed by Hotel NuVe Heritage), and the only one to feature a swimming pool.
According to the hotel, the property used to be a colonial building, owned by the Wong family who initially built it in 1955. There’s an infographic in the hotel lift that shows the before and after transformation of the facade, which is pretty cool. After purchasing the building, the NuVe group facelifted its facade to a chic monochrome aesthetic, and decked out its room with “modern amenities”.
A Deluxe Queen room at Hotel NuVe Urbane (single rooms are available for cheaper as well, for those doing a solo staycation) generally starts at $75-80, making it comparable to other boutique hotels such as Santa Grand Hotel East Coast.
Hotel NuVe Urbane – Check-in
Hotel NuVe Urbane is located in the heart of the Lavender area. It’s about a short 5 minutes walk from Lavender MRT, nestled behind Hotel Boss and directly opposite Vagabond Club.
As is typical of most affordable boutique hotels, the lobby of Hotel NuVe Urbane is rather small, though it manages to accommodate two check-in counters. There’s also a small hotel restaurant, as well as a lift. It’s a functional lobby, one that’s designed to whisk guests away to their rooms as fast as possible. As I was staying on a weekday, I was the only guest checking in, and was assigned a room within 5 minutes. An extended check-out time (from 11am to noon) was granted. The hotel initially wanted to collect a $100 deposit, but eventually forwent it (“we’ll just check your room to make sure everything’s in order when you check-out,” the receptionist said) when I stated that I wasn’t keen on paying the deposit. Here’s a tip: I realised that most hotels aren’t stringent on collecting the deposit. If you put your foot down, chances are that the hotel won’t press the issue.
Hotel NuVe Urbane – the Room
I was assigned a room on the fourth floor.
The hallway of the hotel is quite narrow, but the monochrome aesthetic results in a modern and upscale look – more like a condominium, less like a budget hotel.
Upon entering, the room felt cosy, with the glass-enclosed bathroom located on the right near the door. At 14 square metres, the room is one of the smallest ones that I’ve stayed and some corners were cut, the most notable being a work desk. If you’re planning on doing a workcation, you might want to look elsewhere.
The Deluxe Room features a queen-sized bed. The bed is firm, the mattress feels new, and the linen and pillows are clean and without stains or tears.
Hotel NuVe Urbane advertises a free “minibar” as part of the room’s amenities, but it’s really nothing much – the provided snacks are simply two packets of Oreo. However, there is a Nespresso machine, with two coffee pods provided. I’ve only encountered Nespresso machines in 4/5-star hotels (Carlton, Hilton, etc) where room rates are at least double, so that’s a huge perk here. That said, the pods are unfortunately non-refillable, with each room being entitled to just two pods per day. A bit stingy, in my opinion.
As part of the free “minibar”, a couple of complimentary drinks are also provided in the mini-fridge. Again, it’s nothing much, but I guess something’s better than nothing.
The mini-fridge itself is tucked away at the bottom of a small wardrobe. There are a few hangers and complimentary disposable slippers provided, but overall the wardrobe is on the smaller side. I only did a day’s staycation so I found the space adequate, but those on an extended stay may find the space lacking.
Despite the small size, the room I booked does come with windows, which can be slid open for some fresh air. The view isn’t great, but the full-length windows allow ample natural light to shine into the room.
There’s also a modern Phillips television, where local and some cable channels were displayed in high definition. However, there wasn’t smart functionality, so those looking to surf Netflix/connect their external devices will be disappointed.
While the room was generally clean, there were a few lapses. A prominent one was near the switch, which was simply caked in grime. The same dirt/grime coated a substantial portion of the wall as well. As this was right beside the free “minibar” table, it made the food and drinks provided less appetising – I had to give the cups, teaspoons and Nespresso machine a double look to ensure they were clean.
The bathroom was pretty tiny, but it is equipped with all the expected amenities. However, the bathroom is built from glass and not solid walls, and thus can’t be locked. It’s also not very soundproof, and the glass itself is translucent – if you’re sharing the room with someone you’re not close to, you might be in for an awkward time.
The toilet bowl has a concealed cistern for a more modern look, features two flush options, and comes with a bidet – something even some 5-star hotels lack.
There’s also a rain shower, which was partially the reason why I decided to book Hotel NuVe Urbane. I had a shiok time under the rain shower, and appreciated the presence of a handheld showerhead when I wanted a more targeted spray. However, the shower is quite small, and realistically only spacious enough for one. Couples wishing for a steamy shower together will definitely find it constrictive (unless you’re Josephine Teo perhaps).
Complimentary shampoo and shower gel are provided, though they come in large pump bottles instead of the usual miniature ones – I suspect the hotel had enough of guests squirrelling away the miniature bottles. The toiletries were serviceable, but nothing remarkable (knock-off AME toothpaste was provided instead of Colgate).
If I could sum up the Deluxe Double Room at Hotel NuVe Urbane in one word, it would be “satisfactory”. There’s nothing that really impressed me. Sure, there were some perks like the Nespresso machine, the rain shower and the toilet bidet, but there were also substantial compromises due to the small size of the room. The lack of a work desk, the cramped shower, and some lapses in cleanliness result in the room feeling decidedly average, even at its sub-S$100 price point.
Hotel NuVe Urbane – Swimming Pool
Hotel NuVe Urbane is the only property amongst the NuVe hotels that features a swimming pool (which was also why I picked it). As such, I was pretty excited to check out the pool.
The swimming pool is located on the 5th floor of the hotel. There are several cabanas for guests to lie on and chill, with a decent view of the sun setting over the horizon.
That being said, the area was dirty and looked neglected. Plenty of leaves and other debris were scattered on the ground, the chairs, the tables, etc. You will never encounter this at a proper 5, or even 4 pearl hotel – by right, the staff should be keeping the grounds clean by sweeping it daily, sometimes twice a day. At Hotel NuVe Urbane, it looked like the lounge area hasn’t been swept for a week.
Still, I didn’t go to a hotel to lie on some lawn chairs – I came to enjoy the pool and take some selfies (basic, I know). The pool itself was small, but upon first impressions looked good.
However, I quickly discovered several issues with the pool, the first being a total lack of privacy. For one, the pool was directly facing a HDB block. Throughout the course of my swim, I noticed the residents popping their heads out of the windows, staring at those in the swimming pool. Having middle-aged uncles (some of whom were having a smoke by their window) gazing at me whilst I was wearing nothing but a pair of swimming trunks in the pool was disconcerting, to say the least.
Secondly, the pool was actually situated alongside some rooms, which further contributed to a lack of privacy. What this meant was that everyone in the poolside rooms could see me making my way towards the end of the pool (where the jacuzzi switch was), and I too could look through and peer inside the rooms if the curtains weren’t drawn. The doors/walls weren’t very soundproof as well, as I could make out the sounds of a couple’s Netflix & chill session while I was rinsing off in the poolside shower.
A bigger issue was that the pool was in a state of disrepair. Throughout the pool, missing tiles are clearly visible – not a pretty sight.
More importantly, it’s simply unsafe, with some of the tiles at the bottom of the pool having been dislodged. I would go so far as to say that it’s a safety hazard – someone could easily cut themselves along the edges of the missing tiles. Furthermore, the pool had these squarish holes (see photo above), which were covered by plastic/glass covers that weren’t reassuring at all. Overall, I just didn’t feel safe swimming, or even soaking in the pool, which was a shame given that the pool was one of the chief reasons why I booked the hotel in the first place.
There was also a substantial section of the poolside drain cover missing. A yellow hazard sign was placed over it, but it just reinforces the dilapidated state of affairs.
Given that Hotel NuVe Urbane opened its doors just three years ago, it beggars belief that the pool is already in such a shockingly terrible condition. My assumption is that the pool was cheaply constructed (corners were probably cut because it’s a budget hotel), and the shoddy construction is now evident, even after such a short period of time. My advice to Hotel NuVe Urbane would be to close the pool and give it the repairs it so desperately needs, because as it stands the condition of the pool is simply unacceptable.
Conclusion – so Hotel NuVe Urbane “shiok” or not?
I had high expectations for Hotel NuVe Urbane – in fact, out of the three affordable boutique hotels that I’ve booked recently (the others being Santa Grand Hotel East Coast and Rest Bugis Hotel), it was the staycation that I was the most excited about. The hotel looked modern in photos, advertised a free minibar in its rooms, and the rooftop pool looked good. Unfortunately, the reality fell way short of expectations. The room was okay, but it was still a tad too cramped for my liking (especially the bathroom area). It also had some cleanliness lapses, and the free “minibar” was nothing much. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the appalling state of the pool and its surrounding rest area. It is, by far, the worst pool I’ve been in – and I’ve even been to pools in Hotel 81s. If you’re planning on booking Hotel NuVe Urbane simply because of the pool (like I did), my advice is don’t – you’re better off not using it.
Those interested in booking a stay can do so on the Traveloka app. Traveloka constantly has some sort of ongoing promotions, with prices so ridiculously low that I’ve personally booked about 90% of my staycations on Traveloka. Just for my readers, you guys can use the promo code “WAHTVLKSRV” (if you’re using SRV) and “WAHTVLK” (non-SRV) for 10% off any hotels bookings (up to $30 off, with a minimum spending of $100) for new users and $5 off any hotels bookings (with a minimum spending of $50) for existing users. The codes are valid till the end of 2022. Here’s a pro tip: keep a lookout for Traveloka’s Weekend Flash Sales which occurs every Friday to Sunday for the lowest prices! However, this post is not sponsored – I paid my own dime to book and review my staycations.
Update: After reading this review, one of my readers (for some unbeknownst reason) decided to book Hotel NuVe Urbane anyway. He visited the pool, and promptly cut himself the dislodged tiles, and sent me the above photo as evidence. This is thoroughly unacceptable. I’ll say this once again – Hotel Nuve Urbane, please close your pool immediately for the necessary repairs. As it stands, it’s simply unsafe for your guests to use. I’ll also advise those staying at the hotel to give the pool a miss.
Hotel NuVe Urbane’s Location: 3 King George’s Ave, Singapore 208582
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P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.