Location: On the edge of the Viaduct Basin.
Style: Sleek and modern with a classic Sofitel French twist.
Price: Superior rooms from $429, Junior suites from $849. Suites include use of the private club lounge, with club breakfast, afternoon tea, and pre-dinner drinks.
Perfect for: Romantic weekends and city breaks.
First impressions: Modern nautical, with a view across to marina, apartments and the harbour. Inside concrete, grey tile and glass is cleverly arranged to make the most of the light that floods into the hotel from the harbour. At a Sofitel, everyone says "bonjour", so be prepared and bring your savoir faire to respond in kind.
Atrium rooms look over the hotel's central atrium, a large water-filled pool which shimmers in the sunlight, and marina rooms look towards the shining Waitematā Harbour. Walls are floor-to-ceiling glass, the bathrooms are large, and the beds have just enough flair - with velvet headboards and throw pillows, balanced out by perfectly soft linens with nary a wrinkle to be seen.
The TV is super easy to operate (which is almost never a given) and connect your smartphone for streaming.
Bathroom: The bathrooms are large and tiled, with double vanities, walk-in shower and a lovely deep bath. The pressure in the showers is full force, as is the air from the Dyson hairdryer. Have your hair smoothed and dry in five minutes, and still be able to hold a conversation over the sound (about how you really want one of these hairdryers).
Food & drink: There are two fine establishments to choose from - Sabrage Champagne Bar, and La Maree, the French fine-dining restaurant where you'll find a Michelin-starred chef - Marc de Passorio - and a former MasterChef - Tim Read - at the helm.
The focus is the best of local seafood, served with flair (and that goes for the staff as well as the food). We enjoyed rock lobster, served quite literally on volcanic Tāmaki Makaurau rocks, kingfish ceviche with mandarin, and scallops with pops of roe and pomegranate. Trust the sommelier and take the wine flight - he'll make it as easy-drinking or challenging as you like it.
At Sabrage, choose from a selection of vintage champagne (or fine local bubbles of course). There's even the chance to enjoy the experience of sabrage here (having your champagne bottle opened with the slice of a sabre, which you'll see resting behind the bar).
If you're an old-fashioned kind of cocktail drinker, you'll find some expertly made classics here. It's a gorgeous space, so order your sidecars and sazeracs, and pull up a pew.
As the spa manager Jenny sought out every twist in my muscles, all manner of oils are applied, massaged in and then gently wiped away. Hot towels are placed on my shoulders, chest and feet. Jenny goes freeform, focusing on what she feels in my body rather than following a script. It's heartbreaking just knowing that it will ever end, but it's worth the heartache.
In the neighbourhood: The Sofitel sits at the very beginning of downtown Auckland's Viaduct, a former commercial harbour where you'll now find modern apartments, sleek bars and some of Auckland's best spots. Take a stroll along the docks to build up an appetite for breakfast or enjoy the sea air after dinner.
Family friendly: Cots and rollaway beds are available, and babysitting can be arranged. Interconnecting rooms and suites are available.
Accessibility: Three superior accessible rooms are available.
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