Staying at Tonga's Tanoa International Dateline Hotel

By Eleanor Barker

Eleanor Barker checks into a waterfront room on an island kingdom.

The Tanoa International Dateline Hotel, Nuku'alofa.
The Tanoa International Dateline Hotel, Nuku'alofa.

Getting there: We were picked up by the hotel and they arranged all our transport for the duration of the stay. It's about 20 minutes from the airport, give or take. The view is great, you won't mind a bit.

Check-in experience: Easy as, the Tongan way.

Room: I stayed in an Ocean View Room — offering a queen bed, desk, tiled floors and a gorgeous view. I enjoyed the flow of the room with its little hallway; it proved a well-functioning space complete with quiet, powerful air con. The tropical rain sounds incredible on the roof.

Price: One-bedroom suites from $150. A bargain for a recently refurbished, great-looking 4.5 star hotel.

What's so good about this place? Firstly, the staff. Although everyone I interacted with seemed to be working 20-hour shifts over the opening weekend, they were uniformly upbeat, warm and up for a chat.

Shout-out to Viliami, Sia and especially Maria. The waterfront location is also a highlight.

And the bad? I can't think of anything I would change but I would recommend the waterfront rooms. I think looking out anywhere else would be less transportative, although the cheapest rooms are a bargain.

Food and drink? Lunarossa is widely regarded as the best restaurant in the kingdom. It's about five to 10 minutes' drive from the hotel going east. Cathy's Restaurant is also excellent. Breakfast buffet is served daily, and it's excellent — a full English with cereal bar and fresh tropical fruit. Friends is a nearby European-style cafe.

What's in the neighbourhood? The markets are only a five-minute walk but a proper tour by van or car is a must. A local guide will show you all the best bits of Tongatapu. Of note is its stunning coastline littered with blowholes and 'Anahulu Cave, which features its own crystal clear, subterranean pool and bats to keep you company. You can also catch a boat for a luxury day trip to a nearby island. The world is your oyster.

The bed: Comfy queen with delicious sheets.

The bathroom: Great shower, no bath.

Wi-Fi: On the house and nice and fast.

Exercise facilities: Fully-equipped gym but more importantly, two pools.

Perfect for: Everyone

Would I return? I plan to. The whale-watching season starts in July.

CHECKLIST

The Tanoa International Dateline Hotel is on Vuna Road, Nuku'alofa, Tonga. Phone: +676 234 11.

- NZ Herald

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