Despite heavy rain and dreadful Auckland motorway snarls, I pulled up in front of the Novotel's front door in exactly three hours to the minute. I was in town for Trenz, our tourism industry's biggest annual conference, which this year attracted more than 1000 attendees, including 350 international travel buyers, 300 local operators, 30 media, various civic leaders, and sponsors.
Check-in experience: Smooth and professional, despite the fact that every room - and in fact every hotel in the city - was at capacity for the event, held over four days last week.
Room: A Novotel Guest Room, with two double beds (can be one king), a good desk, and a minibar.
Price: From $169.
Free wi-fi: Yes.
What's so good about this place? Its location. Rooms on the end have magnificent views of beautiful Lake Rotorua, and mine looked over the city, specifically the busy Eat Streat dining and entertainment strip, where every Thursday you'll find a market from 5pm until 9pm.
And the bad? It's not the prettiest hotel from the outside - think large concrete monolith - but it makes up for it once you step inside.
What's in the neighbourhood? Nothing is too far - the lake, dining options, spas, the Energy Events Centre and Government Gardens are within walking distance. Everything else is a short car ride away.
Toiletries: The Novotel's own brand. Shampoo and conditioner are combined into one.
Food and drink: Atlas Restaurant has one of the best hotel buffet breakfasts I've seen of late, and Clarke's Bar is a cosy place to grab a pre- or post-dinner tipple.
The bed: Very comfortable, with multiple pillow options. In fact, a snippet in the excellent in-room newsletter Our Neighbourhood, which highlights local attractions, what's on, a little history and other bits and pieces, tells me the hotel has 1125 pillows.
Bathroom: Standard, with a shower over the tub. I squeezed in two baths: bliss.
Noise: Very little, despite being right in the CBD.
Room service: Yes, until 10pm, and a Sleepwalker Menu is offered from 10pm-6am. It adheres to the LiveWell@Novotel programme, which means each menu item has been looked at by dieticians to ensure it meets certain criteria, such as right-size portions.
Exercise facilities: There's a great gym and you can hire bikes from $30 at reception (a colleague recommended a ride through the Redwood Forest).
Best feature: The geothermal plunge pools, which are in a room with a heated pool, spa pools and sauna.
Perfect for: A weekend exploring the area's many attractions, which will remind you that we're lucky to live in one of the best places in the world.