Getting there: Wasn't a problem. I drove down to the hotel and they valet-parked the car. Cost is usually $50 for valet parking and $35 for self parking. The next morning following a quick call to the concierge, the car was waiting for us. Too easy.
Check-in experience: Efficient and pleasant.
The room: A luxury room on the 4th floor. The Sofitel has recently completed a $2 million refurbishment and it shows. Our room was large with a balcony overlooking a Maori water god sculpture which was soothing to listen to when we had the door open. The decor was elegant with velvet cushions and headboard and a restful colour scheme of silver-greys and pastel blues. Wooden screens ensured privacy while still allowing lots of natural light in.
The price: Rooms start from $330.
Exercise facilities: The pool was a good length and looked inviting but I opted for the gym which has a small weights section plus a couple of machines and bikes.
The bathroom: The bath looked great - I'm not a bath person but if you were then I am sure it would do the trick. The shower was fantastic. With jets coming from above (a rain shower) and the side it was great to wash the day away and, in the morning, perfect to wake up with. French toiletries, luxurious towels and bathrobes completed the picture.
Room service: We didn't order room service but forgot toothpaste so on our way back from dinner. We asked reception if they could help and almost immediately upon our return to our room we were provided with two dental kits.
The bed: In a word, amazing. Soft, luxurious and big. The kind of bed you want to lie around in all day.
Food and drink: Lava Dining, in a word, was yum. Great attention to detail and the little extras were really appreciated. We were too full for dessert and they gave us a little sweet treat anyway. A nice touch. My only thought was that despite the boast of breathtaking views, we were overlooking what looked like a lock, and the tide was out, though it was twilight on an overcast Auckland evening. The decor inside was warm and inviting with an amber back-lit marble wall, meant to reflect Auckland's volcanic origins. We returned for breakfast and again it surpassed our expectations, with everything you could have wanted.
Perfect for: A romantic city getaway. You are close enough to the buzzy vibe of the Viaduct and Wynyard Quarter if you want to go out, but the quiet area the hotel is in feels like you aren't in the middle of New Zealand's biggest city. The best of both worlds.