Susan Strongman checks into the brand-new Novotel New Plymouth.

Getting there:

Easy - it's on the main road into town if you're coming from the north, and parking is free.


Check-in experience:


No wait, polite staff.

Room: A King Executive Room - spacious, comfortable and clean.

Price: $189 per night

What's so good about this place? The tree - a 150-year-old ombu - which the hotel was designed and built around. It's majestic. The design of the building itself, by local architect Murali Bhaskar, is pretty stunning, too.

And bad? The interior design is a questionable combination of pea soup green and floral. And don't expect to be able to lounge around in a robe, because there aren't any.

What's in the neighbourhood? New Plymouth is pretty small, so plenty, really. The beach, the main drag - Devon St, and Pukekura Park are all within walking distance.

Toiletries: Novotel brand.

Food and drink: I had a room service breakfast of muesli, toast and filter coffee. They forgot to add spreads for the toast and there was a screwed up piece of cling wrap on the tray, but it was 6.30am, and everything actually tasted fine. If you dine in the restaurant you can sit under the ombu tree, but I had dinner fresh from my mate Steve Anker's garden in Inglewood.

The bed: Delightful, large and comfortable, with many pillows. And if you are a fusspot, they'll even bring you more pillows! I chose goose down.

Bathroom: Fancy - with a heated square on the full-wall mirror so it didn't fog up. No bath.

Free wi-fi? Yes.

Noise: Quiet for me. I think someone may have banged on the wall when I was watching Jerry Maguire on TV though.

Room service: On time. Though I'm sure I asked for a Herald, which wasn't delivered.

Value for money: A good, reliable, reasonably priced Accor hotel.

Exercise facilities: There was a gym and a sauna, which I did not investigate, because that's not how I roll.

Perfect for: If you can afford it, it's a great place to stay in New Plymouth for a business trip - especially if you have a car, as parking is free.