Shandelle Battersby checks into a hotel that celebrates the story of NZ's early settlers.
You won't forget the address, at least, of this independent 5-star hotel in Bolton St, central Wellington, less than 10km from the airport. If you're not in a cab the Airport Flyer bus is another option — it stops very close by — or if you're coming from the north, get off the motorway at The Terrace.
Check-in experience: The 24-hour lobby, refurbished last year to mark the hotel's 10th anniversary, is a relaxing, sophisticated space decorated in black and gold, with a welcoming fireplace and a cafe that transforms into a bar at night. This is the sort of place you'd drop by for coffee or a drink, even if you weren't staying at the hotel. There are plenty of smartly dressed, warm and professional staff milling around to help.
Back story: Many of the hotel's themes, including its fantastic logo, are built around the story of The Bolton, one of the first immigrant ships to arrive here, landing in 1840. The logo incorporates the legend of Sophia Harris, one of its passengers, who brought a cutting of her favourite rose with her from Britain, planted in a potato. Now known as the Harris Rose, there's an example planted in a small garden, with a plaque, next to the hotel. You can learn more about The Bolton in the lobby — there's lots of material to read, a perfect replica of the ship, and a copy of its passenger list.
Room: A Premier Suite, on level 16, with a living room, dining table for four, two TVs, a DVD player, fully equipped kitchen, and even a washing machine/dryer.
A great feature is the in-room iPad mini loaded with an interactive Bolton Hotel app which has a personalised welcome message, weather details, compendium, and lots of information about the hotel and the area. You can do all sorts of things from the app — order room service, an umbrella, restock the minibar or the toiletries, book a taxi, lodge a maintenance request, organise a table at the restaurant, get fresh flowers, or choose to "Be Green" so your towels aren't replaced.
The Bolton has 139 rooms over 19 floors made up of eight room types. Top of the line is the 170sq m Residence Suite, an apartment with two bedrooms, bathrooms and balconies, and a dining table for eight, while at the other end of the spectrum is the Sleep and Go Studio, which comes with a queen bed and ensuite with a shower. All suites have full kitchen facilities.
Managing director Warwick Angus is the nephew of one of our most famous painters, Rita Angus, and her wonderful portraits are hung throughout the hotel.
Price: From $199.
What's in the neighbourhood? Wellington is one of the most compact, accessible cities in the world, and you can pretty much walk anywhere in under half an hour from the hotel. I walked along the waterfront to Te Papa, and within just a few minutes are the Beehive, the main train station and Lambton Quay. I'd recommend turning the other way and heading up the hill, either via the Cable Car or on foot. You'll pass Wellington's first cemetery, dating from 1840, and beautifully preserved and maintained — the hotel is a member of The Friends of the Cemetery group, which helps care for the grounds. Up top are the botanical gardens and Carter Observatory.
Food and drink: Aside from the lobby bar/cafe, the hotel houses Artisan Dining House, a high-end restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which serves contemporary cuisine such as bourbon-infused lamb neck and wild venison with ricotta gnocchi. My room had a fully stocked minibar and even a selection of hygiene products for purchase, and the turndown service includes complimentary water.
The bed: A super king, with top-of-the-line linen and a pillow menu (lavender-scented pillows are a thing), and a Games of Thrones-esque throw.
Free wi-fi? Yes, and it's like lightning.
Bathroom: Lovely, with a nice tub, separate shower, magnified mirror, and Bolton Hotel's own range of manuka-based toiletries. We especially loved the scented bath tea bag, and the little night light.
Noise: Only a little way from the motorway which the hotel overlooks.
Room service: There are three different menus, which cover every hour of the day.
Exercise facilities: On the third floor you'll find a well-equipped gym and sauna, an indoor heated lap pool and jacuzzi. In the wardrobe is a laminated "jogging map" you can take with you on your run.
Perfect for: A weekend getaway to our fabulous capital.
The Bolton Hotel is on the corner of Bolton and Mowbray streets, Wellington. Phone: 0800 99 6622.