CHECK IT OUT SOF­I­TEL WELLINGTON

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

Wellington gets a new five-star ho­tel next month when the Sof­i­tel opens over­look­ing the New Zealand cap­i­tal’s Botanic Gar­den, a 25ha green space that’s helped in­spire the lush in­te­ri­ors by Kiwi de­sign firm SPACE Stu­dios, work­ing with Ac­corHo­tels in­te­rior de­sign di­rec­tor Stephane Lom­bard.

There are lovely botan­i­cal prints in the 129 gue­strooms and suites and gor­geous flo­ral fres­coes on the ceil­ing and wall in the Jardin Grill. Be­cause the French brand al­ways adds a lit­tle touch of home, the Sof­i­tel Wellington also ref­er­ences the Lux­em­bourg Gar­dens in Paris. “French art du bou­quet”, the mar­ket­ing bods like to call it.

The Sof­i­tel Wellington is the third ho­tel in New Zealand for the Paris-based brand, which takes on man­age­ment of the 14-storey, $NZ51 mil­lion ($48.6m) devel­op­ment by lo­cal own­ers CP Group, on Bolton Street.

Rather ap­pro­pri­ately, given the botan­i­cal theme, the ho­tel oc­cu­pies the for­mer Ap­ple & Pear Board build­ing, within walk­ing dis­tance of the CBD and par­lia­ment.

Dec­o­rated in rich gold and bronze tones, sump­tu­ous fab­rics and pat­terned wall­pa­pers, the gue­strooms fea­ture the brand’s sig­na­ture (and se­ri­ously comfy) Sof­i­tel Mybeds and black-tiled bath­rooms with rain show­ers and lovely pen­dant lights, as well as all mod cons: free WiFi, smart 48-inch TV, Bose sur­round sound and that all-im­por­tant espresso ma­chine.

The ho­tel also fea­tures a gym and three meet­ing and events rooms.

DON’T MISS: A stroll in the Botanic Gar­den (check out the be­go­nia house and roses) be­fore en­joy­ing a drink in the ho­tel’s Green Room bar over­look­ing the green­ery through floor-to­ceil­ing win­dows. DIN­ING IN: Jardin Grill fea­tures a hand­some cop­per kitchen and shel­tered court­yard with fire pit for chilly Wellington evenings. Ex­ec­u­tive chef Grant Dicker, fresh from his ac­claimed Mint Din­ing Room in Nel­son, is fi­ness­ing the ho­tel’s winter menus, fo­cus­ing on “sim­ple food, done ex­ceed­ingly well”. He rec­om­mends the free-range pork bal­lo­tine (wrapped in forced meat, ba­con and caul, then roasted) and served with cau­li­flower, cab­bage and honey and truf­fle mash. For dessert try the rasp­berry souf­fle.

DIN­ING OUT: Sof­i­tel’s busy kitchen team rec­om­mends that Wellington stal­wart Lo­gan Brown along with the Boul­cott Street Bistro and Charley No­ble, near the wa­ter­front, for a burger and craft beer.

ASK THE CONCIERGE: Wellington is se­ri­ous about its cof­fee; be sure to take a stroll along lively Cuba Street to get your caf­feine fix.

CHECK­ING IN: Spe­cial open­ing rates from $NZ225 a night. More: sof­i­tel.com.

ALSO TRY: Metropoli­tan by COMO, Lon­don (over­look­ing Hyde Park); Sof­i­tel Algiers Hamma Gar­den Ho­tel; The Westin Paris — Ven­dome (across from the Tui­leries).

CHRIS­TINE McCABE

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