CHECK IT OUT SOFITEL WELLINGTON
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).