Susan Strongman checks in to Novotel Hamilton Tainui.

Getting there:

This majestic glass structure, which sits on a leafy riverbank overlooking the Waikato River, is just a few metres from Hamilton's main drag, Victoria St - home to drunk beggars, and a bronze statue of Richard O'Brien, the guy who created

The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Check-in experience:


Check in at 2pm was a breeze: my car was whipped away and parked somewhere and I headed straight to my room.

Room: My Superior room on the fourth floor was spacious, and the bed featured a plethora of cushions.

Price: Rooms start from $170 per night.

What's so good about this place? The hotel was silent overnight. Everything was easy, and the staff were great. The corridors were wide enough to race my 3-year-old niece down (I won).

And the bad?

The shower pressure was a bit weak, and the bathroom fogged up like nobody's business.

What's in the neighbourhood? Nice river walks, and the Botanic Gardens are not too far off. There's a good craft beer bar on Hood St called Little George, and Scott's Epicurean is an excellent cafe.

Toiletries: Novotel-branded toiletries.

Food and drink: At the restaurant I encountered the world's most attentive waitress, and struggled to eat a slightly overcooked steak the size of a small cow, with an enormous helping of fries, and a side of (very overcooked) asparagus. My vegan companion struggled with the menu, but the chef was very accommodating and whipped some kind of salad thing up. Breakfast was a magnificent array of everything. The vegan was pleased.

The bed:

The bed was delightful. Good cotton sheets.

A room with a view? Much to my niece's delight, the room overlooked a giant Christmas tree in Hamilton's central square, Garden Place.

Bathroom: White. Clean. Needed a better extraction fan.

Free wi-fi? Comes with the Superior room.

Noise: We had to turn the aircon off, but it was cool enough anyway.

Exercise facilities: We were told there was a gym and a sauna, but after eating about 50kg of food, I was not interested in either of those things, so did not investigate further.

Perfect for: If you do happen to find yourself in Hamilton, and unwilling to stay in one of the array of mock Tudor motels the city has to offer, this is a good place. It's nice, it's easy and it's clean and comfortable, and there are plenty of pillows to go round.