Sue Baxalle stays at The Langham, Auckland

Getting there:

A not-too-far walk from work. For those with cars there is $45-a-night valet parking or up to $35 for 24 hours at the adjoining Wilson carpark.

Check-in experience: Arriving in the Langham's foyer, the first thing we noticed was the smell. A beautiful fragrance coming from the large arrangement of pink lilies in a ceramic pot under the central chandelier - the two combined for a visual and olfactory delight. Back to Earth at the front desk, there was a short queue. A concierge appeared to prepare all the details the check-in staff would need to speed up the process once it was our turn.

Room: We had a Park Suite, a massive arrangement of a lounge with richly upholstered sofas, old-fashioned lacquered sideboard (somewhat at odds with the huge flat-screen TV above) and a writing desk with elegant chair; opening to the bedroom and marble bathroom. The decor, as throughout The Langham, has an opulent "olde worlde" Eastern colonial feel to it, which is somehow out of place in modern Auckland, yet sets the scene for a relaxing weekend that transports you well away from home.


Noise: Not a peep.

What's in the neighbourhood? The museum is nearby, in the Domain, and for those venturing to the Viaduct or for a shopping expedition, the Langham's shuttle bus transports guests to and from downtown. For a weekend of relaxation and gastronomy, however, there's no need to venture out.

Food and drink: Guests in the Park Suites have access to The Langham Club, a private lounge serving breakfast, afternoon tea, pre-dinner drinks and delicious canapes, along with tea, coffee and icecream which is available at any time for those just wanting to, well, lounge. We bypassed a high tea at the Palm Court. And although the drinks and canapes would be quite sufficient to replace an evening meal, I definitely recommend restraint and booking a meal at Eight Restaurant. Its name refers to the eight "kitchens" of the buffet-style venue, from seafood and sushi to the grill (anything from chicken to ostrich; kangaroo to venison); Asian noodles and Indian curries to a salad bar, bakery area with breads and pastries; cheeses - and by now we were definitely struggling - a divine selection of desserts.

The bed: As with everything in the suite, it was king-size. In the pages of the room's information booklet it was described as a "Signature Blissful Bed" and certainly seemed to live up to its name. Full of Eight's fare, we slept like logs.

Bathroom: Again, large, with a combined shower and bath and a range of Chuan toiletries and accessories from toothbrushes and combs to shower caps and loofah. Soft bathrobes and slippers in the wardrobe.

Free wi-fi? Yes. Also the Langham Club gives access to the butler service - perfect for a pre-dinner shoe shine.

Exercise: The Langham's fitness studio is on the second floor, and has a good range of treadmills, exercise bikes and weight machines. For swimmers - or those (like us on arrival) more interested in relaxation - just along the corridor is an outdoor, heated saltwater pool on the rooftop, surrounded by sun loungers. The "wellness" focus of level 2 is rounded off by the Chuan Spa, offering a range of beauty treatments, saunas, steam rooms and an ice experience. I passed on these (particularly the ice), but was very impressed by the swimsuit drying machine in the changing area. Pop your wet togs in, push down the lid and let it whizz almost all the moisture from them.


Would I return? Absolutely - a great venue for a weekend away from home.