Aloft Singapore Novena Review: A tale of two towers

The Aloft Singapore Novena punches above its weight for a 4-Star hotel, but your experience could very much depend on which wing you end up in.

The Aloft Singapore Novena has a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde thing going on. 

While I’ve stayed at dual-brand hotels, where a single physical property houses two different brands (e.g. Mercure & Novotel Stevens), this was my first encounter with a dual-hotel brand, where one hotel is spread over two different physical properties.

Aloft Singapore Novena- two buildings, one hotel

To understand why, we need to go back to June 2023, when Marriott and real estate group Hiap Hoe announced plans to amalgamate the existing Ramada and Days Hotels Zhongshan Park into the world’s largest Aloft. The combined 785-key property opened in November last year, marking the debut for the Aloft brand in Singapore. 

But where this gets tricky is that Ramada and Days were built with different segments of travellers in mind. Ramada is a mid-range brand, for those who aren’t willing to splurge but don’t want to slum it either. Days is a value-focused proposition, for those who need nothing more than four walls and a bed.

So how do you provide a single, harmonised experience, when your two constituent parts are built so very different?

In the case of the Aloft Singapore Novena, I think the answer is: you don’t. This is a hotel where your experience heavily depends on which building you’re in, and even though I very much enjoyed my West Wing stay, those in the East Wing may feel differently.

🏨 tl;dr: Aloft Singapore Novena
The Aloft Singapore Novena punches above its weight for a 4-Star hotel, but your experience could very much depend on which wing you end up in.
👍 The Good👎 The Bad
  • Renovated rooms with big screen TVs and USB-C charging outlets
  • Swimming pool and gym better than expected for a 4-Star hotel
  • Cheapest Marriott Bonvoy redemption in Singapore
  • Convenient access to mall
  • No sheltered way of getting between West and East Wings
  • East Wing guests don’t have ready access to many facilities, including the pool
🏨 Aloft Singapore Novena
🏨 MileLion Staycation Reviews
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Aloft Singapore Novena: Booking

The Aloft Singapore Novena is the cheapest Marriott Bonvoy redemption in Singapore, with rooms starting from 20,000 points per night. 

However, it’s not the cheapest Marriott Bonvoy property by revenue rates, and you can sometimes find even lower prices at the dismally-rated Serangoon House (no surprises there, given it has the same owner as the Duxton Reserve).

I paid S$567 nett for a last-minute two-night stay at this hotel, without breakfast. Don’t forget that you can currently earn 1,000 bonus points per night and 2x elite qualifying nights under Marriott Bonvoy’s Q1 promo.

Aloft Novena Singapore: Arrival & Check-in

Aloft entrance (West Wing)

Despite its name, the Aloft Singapore Novena would be more accurately described as being in Balestier than Novena. It’s a 17-minute walk to Novena MRT, but thankfully there’s a shuttle bus (schedule) that runs every 20-30 minutes from 8.35 a.m to 7.35 p.m. For guests who are driving, you’ll enjoy one parking coupon per room, per day.

The Aloft Singapore Novena’s address depends on where you’re staying: 

  • If you’re staying in a Breezy Room, you’ll want to be dropped at the East Wing, located at 1 Jalan Rajah Singapore 329133. 
  • If you’re staying in an Urban Room or 1-Bedroom Suite, you’ll want to be dropped at the West Wing, located at 16 Ah Hood Road Singapore 329983

The lead-in category at this hotel is the Breezy Room, but if you’re a Platinum, Titanium or Ambassador member, there’s a decent chance you’ll be upgraded to an Urban Room (with only four suites in the property, a suite upgrade is unlikely), so at the risk of being presumptuous, you might want to head to the West Wing directly.

If you end up at the wrong wing for whatever reason, you’ll need to walk across Zhongshan Park to get to the correct one. It’s not a particularly long walk, taking three minutes at most. The bigger issue is that the pathway is completely unsheltered, which makes it unpleasant to contemplate during rainy weather (edit: apparently there’s a way through the basement carpark, which I didn’t manage to find during my stay).

Pathway to East Wing
Aloft entrance East Wing
Aloft Singapore Novena East Lobby

The West Wing lobby is undoubtedly the snazzier of the two, decked out with colourful pillows, overhanging digital panels, and the flagship W XYZ bar. KKS International (portfolio: Clan Hotel, Barracks Sentosa, Outpost Sentosa) oversaw the design, and it’s got serious boutique hotel vibes. 

Lobby (West Wing)
Lobby (West Wing)
Lobby (West Wing)
Lobby (West Wing)
Lobby (West Wing)
Lobby (West Wing)

Even though check-in demand is split over two lobbies, the lines at the front desk still proved annoying. There were only two positions open when I arrived in the evening, and it took a good amount of time before I was attended to. You might want to consider using mobile check-in and getting a digital key (though I’m not sure whether that works in Singapore where they need to sight your ID at the front desk).

Check-in counter

Now let’s talk location. The 785 rooms at this hotel are spread over two towers: the West and East Wings. 

 West WingEast Wing
FormerRamada HotelDays Hotel
Number of Rooms384401
Room Types
  • Urban
  • 1-BR suites
  • Breezy
Dining
  • Yue
  • W XYZ
  • 21 on Rajah
  • Re:fuel by Aloft
Facilities
  • Concierge desk
  • Pool
  • Gym (indoor & outdoor)
  • Sky Lounge
  • Laundromat
  • Shuttle bus
  • Gym (indoor)
  • Laundromat

The West Wing is where the action is. It hosts the swimming pool, an indoor and outdoor gym, and the W XYZ bar (with live music in the evenings). The breakfast buffet here is also non-halal, which is either a bug or a feature depending on your preferences (those who need a halal breakfast can have it at 21 on Rajah in the East Wing, the hotel’s second breakfast location).

Mall access

The West Wing has direct access to Zhongshan Mall, where you’ll find essentials like a FairPrice Finest Supermarket, Guardian Pharmacy and McDonald’s. It’s also where the shuttle bus to Novena MRT makes its stops, and where the concierge desk is. Simply put, you want to be in the West Wing.

Aloft Singapore Novena: Rooms

My booking was for a lead-in Breezy Room, but as a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum member I received an upgrade to an Urban Room, and with a place in the West Wing. 

CategorySizeNumber of Rooms
Breezy18 sqm401
Urban23 sqm384
1-BR Suite46 sqm4

My room was on the 17th floor, at the top of the West Wing. Urban Rooms are a snug 23 sqm, but since I was travelling solo I didn’t feel the squeeze so much.

The first thing you’ll notice is how “unAloft” the room design is. Aloft properties are typically defined by doorless bathrooms and open wardrobes. Here it’s quite the opposite: the bathrooms have doors, and the wardrobes are encased with sliding panels. 

Aloft Singapore Novena Urban Room

This means the room plays it a little less cheeky, not so much “watch me shower”, more “our company’s too cheap to give us each a room so at least I don’t need to smell your BM in the morning”. HR departments would be proud.

When this property was reflagged as an Aloft, a good amount of work was done to the rooms.

Old Ramada hotel

The bathtubs were removed, the headboard area was redone, new wallpaper was installed, and the carpets replaced with hardwood flooring. Frankly speaking, I like the new design much more, with its colourful pillows and decorative floormats, calming wooden tones and lighter coloured drapes. It feels clean and refreshed, compared to the early 2000s vibe of its predecessor. 

Aloft Novena Singapore Urban Room
Aloft Singapore Novena Urban Room

It’s also somewhat amusing that when this property was the prim and proper Ramada, the wall separating the bathroom from the bedroom had a transparent glass panel, with optional blinds for privacy. 

Old Ramada hotel

Now that it’s the flirty and salacious Aloft, the clear glass has been replaced with a frosted glass panel. Make of that what you will. 

Aloft Singapore Novena Urban Room

The King-sized bed was extremely comfortable. I’m told it’s a Sealy mattress, and even though the sheets weren’t the smoothest out there, I had a very good rest. The walls were thick enough to provide adequate noise isolation from the neighbouring rooms, as well as the corridor.

Bed

I loved that each bedside had not just master switches, universal power outlets and Type-A USB ports, but Type-C USB ports too (once you’ve tried Type-C charging, you’ll never go back to the glacial pace of Type-A). You could even charge your phone wirelessly via the alarm clock. 

Bedside outlets
Bedside outlets

USB-C outlets could also be found at the work area. While I understand the aesthetic value of a circular table, I would have preferred a proper rectangular work desk, as the table’s base got in the way of your legs.

Work area

Wi-Fi speeds clocked in at a zippy 48 Mbps down and 48 Mbps up, making this one of the faster Wi-Fi networks among my stays.

🌐 Hotel Wi-Fi Speeds
Hotel🔽Down🔼 Up
Sofitel City Centre95 Mbps92 Mbps
Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore79 Mbps63 Mbps
Hilton Singapore Orchard64 Mbps63 Mbps
Conrad Singapore Orchard59 Mbps68 Mbps
Villa Samadhi62 Mbps53 Mbps
Aloft Singapore Novena48 Mbps48 Mbps
M Social Singapore46 Mbps49 Mbps
Conrad Centennial40 Mbps44 Mbps
YOTELAir Changi29 Mbps49 Mbps
W Sentosa Cove34 Mbps34 Mbps
Ascott Orchard29 Mbps29 Mbps
St. Regis Singapore29 Mbps29 Mbps
Duxton Reserve28 Mbps29 Mbps
PARKROYAL Beach Road28 Mbps29 Mbps
Mandarin Oriental28 Mbps28 Mbps
Oasia Resort Sentosa28 Mbps25 Mbps
The Fullerton Bay Hotel24 Mbps24 Mbps
The Fullerton Hotel23 Mbps24 Mbps
PARKROYAL Pickering24 Mbps23 Mbps
Oakwood Premier AMTD20 Mbps20 Mbps
Shangri-La Singapore19 Mbps18 Mbps
Pan Pacific Singapore19 Mbps19 Mbps
Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore19 Mbps19 Mbps
JW Marriott Singapore16 Mbps14 Mbps
InterContinental Bugis15 Mbps15 Mbps
The Capitol Kempinski Hotel16 Mbps13 Mbps
PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay9.4 Mbps18 Mbps
Grand Hyatt Singapore14 Mbps13 Mbps
One Farrer Hotel11 Mbps21 Mbps
Marina Bay Sands11 Mbps11 Mbps
The Clan Hotel9.6 Mbps9.6 Mbps
Andaz Singapore8.0 Mbps9.5 Mbps
Four Seasons Singapore6.7 Mbps9.8 Mbps
Goodwood Park Hotel7.8 Mbps7.5 Mbps
The Barracks Hotel7.3 Mbps7.7 Mbps
Hotel 81 Tristar7.0 Mbps6.8 Mbps
Raffles Hotel6.9 Mbps6.8 Mbps
Hotel Soloha4.7 Mbps5.1 Mbps
Hotel G Singapore4.4 Mbps4.8 Mbps
Internet speeds based on Speedtest.net scores

If you’ve had enough of work, you can take in some entertainment on the 55-inch flat-screen TV that supports casting from personal devices. I can’t believe there’s so many 5-Star hotels in Singapore trying to get by with 43-inch screens and 480p content, or whose TVs lack the ability to stream from your phone- it’s just not good enough in this day and age. 

TV screen
He’s so stupid that he doesn’t realise how miserable he should be. I envy that.

The room’s mini-bar area had instant coffee and Dilmah tea bags, together with two paper cartons of water in a (non-functioning) mini-fridge.

Mini-bar
Coffee and tea
Mini-fridge

As mentioned earlier, this Aloft breaks with tradition by having an enclosed wardrobe, where an ironing set, slippers, and safe were found (bathrobes aren’t a standard Aloft amenity, though some hotels offer them). Note also the red inner lining, which is a leftover from the previous room’s design. It rather clashes with the current aesthetic, but since the wardrobe will be closed most of the time it’s not really a big deal.

Wardrobe

The bathroom was snug, but still had an acceptable amount of countertop space, and the bidet hose for the toilet was very welcome. Towels were thicker than I expected, and even though the water pressure from the rain shower was mediocre, the hand shower performed better.

Bathroom
Shower

Instead of the usual Bliss spa amenities, this hotel had some unbranded shampoo and shower gel in bulk-sized bottles. It was forgettable stuff, and I wonder why the world’s largest Aloft isn’t sticking to the brand standard.

Bathroom amenities
Bathroom amenities

Aloft Singapore Novena: Facilities

PoolGymSpa
Yes: 7 a.m to 9 p.mYes: 24hN/A
Kids’ ClubBusiness CentreOthers
N/AN/AN/A

Swimming Pool

Aloft Singapore Novena swimming pool

The swimming pool is located on the 3rd floor of the West Wing, and is surprisingly nice for a 4-Star establishment. 

At one corner is a wading section that’s 0.4m deep, suitable for toddlers and those who just want to dip their toes. 

Wading section

The main pool is 1.2m deep and rectangular shaped, perfect for lap swimming. 

Main pool
Main pool

Pool loungers and umbrellas were scattered throughout the area, available on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Pool loungers

The hotel’s smoking area is also located here, but thankfully it’s far enough from the pool that you shouldn’t be disturbed.

Smoking corner

Gym

The Aloft Novena Singapore has a total of two 24-hour gyms, one in the West Wing and one in the East Wing. Guests are free to visit whichever one they wish; keycards from the West Wing will work in the East Wing, and vice versa.

The West Wing’s gym is located on the 3rd floor, and has both an indoor and outdoor area. The indoor area features cardiovascular stations, elliptical machines, exercise bikes, stair climber and free weights.

West Wing gym
West Wing gym
West Wing gym
Refreshment corner

The outdoor area had more equipment, including free weights, a CrossFit air fan bike, and a punching bag.

Outdoor gym area

The East Wing’s gym is located on the 2nd, and is a smaller and simpler affair. If you want the full experience, you’ll need to go to the West Wing.

East Wing gym
East Wing gym
Refreshments corner

Aloft Singapore Novena: Sky Lounge

Sky Lounge, pictured from afar (it’s the hollowed-out green space towards the top of the building)

Located on the 16th floor of the West Wing is the “not-quite-an-executive-lounge” Sky Lounge. This sheltered outdoor area is accessible to Platinum, Titanium and Ambassador members, as well as one guest.

Sky Lounge door
View from Sky Lounge

Since the lounge is unmanned, there’s no real way for the hotel to enforce the guest rule, but truth be told there’s no reason why you’d want to sneak in more people. This isn’t meant to be a bona fide executive lounge; Aloft doesn’t really go in for that sort of thing.

Sky Lounge
Sky Lounge
Sky Lounge

Instead, it’s just a pleasant outdoor space to take in views of the surrounding neighbourhood and enjoy some light refreshments: a coffee machine, Biscoff cookies and carton water in a lukewarm mini-fridge. You can BYOB. 

Coffee and mineral water
Tea

The only other feature of interest here is a putting green set. Oh, and smoking is permitted here, so that may be a problem if your fellow occupants decide to light up.

Putting green

The Sky Lounge does feel like a bit of a wasted opportunity, since I could easily see them serving drinks here and turning it into a nice outdoor bar.

Aloft Singapore Novena: Breakfast

Yue
Served atCostStyle
Yue
21 on Rajah
Adults: S$30++
Children (6-12): S$15++
Buffet
HoursSparkling Wine?Discounts?
6 a.m to 10 a.m
NoNo

Breakfast is served from 6 a.m to 10 a.m daily, and is complimentary for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum, Titanium and Ambassador members. If breakfast is not included in your rate, you’ll pay S$30++ per adult and S$15++ per child. 

Guests can choose to take their breakfast at either Yue (West Wing) or 21 on Rajah (East Wing). The spread is 90% similar; the main difference is that 21 on Rajah is halal, so the pork sausage and bacon gets replaced by turkey sausage and bacon, and the siew mai has chicken instead of pork. Otherwise, don’t feel like you must visit both locations to maximise your experience. 

Yue

Yue is more convenient for West Wing guests, so I took breakfast here on both mornings. Do note that the restaurant is set up for Chinese dining, so if you don’t come early enough you’ll need to share a table with strangers. 

Yue buffet

The cold options had the usual assortment of salads (does anyone actually eat salad at breakfast, or is it this the perpetual filler item every hotel uses?), yoghurt, cut fruits, breads and cereals. 

Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast

The hot food spread was rather carb-heavy, with a range of Chinese, Indian and Western options. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast
Aloft Singapore Novena breakfast

A live egg station and a thosai station rounded out the selection.

Just for fun, I popped by 21 on Rajah to confirm that I wasn’t missing out on any caviar and steak, and indeed the selection was pretty much identical, sans pork. 

21 Rajah breakfast
21 Rajah breakfast
21 Rajah breakfast
21 Rajah breakfast

On the whole I’d say the breakfast selection at Aloft leans more “fill-em-up-cheap” than gourmet, but that’s what you’d expect at this price point. I can think of 5-Star hotels which charge so much more and deliver more or less the same spread here, so I have few complaints. 

Verdict

Given the brand’s positioning and price point, I’d say the Aloft Singapore Novena punches above its weight. The Urban Rooms are comfortable, peaceful and modern, the facilities are better than what you’d expect from a 4-Star hotel, and breakfast, while not gourmet, gets the job done. 

My one caveat is that I stayed in the West Wing, and your experience could be quite different in the East. In writing these posts, I always make a point of trawling through the Google and TripAdvisor reviews (after, not before, so as not to colour my opinion) and from what I can tell, most of the bad ones came from guests who stayed in the East Wing, where rooms are smaller and facilities access more inconvenient. Urban Rooms are only a small top up from Breezy, so maybe do yourself a favour and pay the extra money.

A solid choice for the budget-minded traveller who isn’t willing to give up all the frills.

What do you make of the Aloft Singapore Novena?

🏨 In Summary

The Aloft Singapore Novena punches above its weight for a 4-Star hotel, but your experience could very much depend on which wing you end up in.

🏨 Milelion Staycation Ratings
Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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William

If you’re staying at the East Wing, walking through the basement carpark is an option… Though not a pleasant experience in general.

Eric

I was there recently. There is no passageway. You go downstairs and cut through the carpark to reach the staircase or lift lobby of East Wing.

David

I think its better to pay a bit more and stay at courtyard novena.

Last edited 19 days ago by David

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