Isobel Marriner checks into an architecturally-stunning hotel in an equally-stunning tropical surrounding.

Getting there:

A short taxi ride through the humid Tahiti night. Le Meridien is just under 11km from Fa'a'a airport.

Check-in experience: Warm towels and cool drinks were gratefully received from the charming concierge in the elegant open air lobby - even though it was past midnight when we arrived. Our luggage was swiftly swept up to the room and we followed.

Room: A Deluxe Ocean View room, with a huge bed and a view over the terraced gardens and ponds to the lagoon. Le Meridien also has overwater bungalows that would be perfect for honeymooners.


Price: Rooms from around NZ$260 per night.

What's so good about this place? The building is architecturally stunning, with that central lobby and sweeping roofs that echo the prows of waka. The grounds are expansive and gorgeous, a scented tropical garden, trees dripping with ripe mangoes and breadfruit, and coconut palms fringing the lagoon. The nuts themselves are removed regularly so as not to cause a hazard to guests. Huge carp swim in the roof terrace pools, which are visited by herons, and the birdlife in general is fascinating — even the ever-present-in-Tahiti chickens and their young. There are sun loungers throughout the grounds, and it doesn't feel crowded.

And the bad? Just the one very large palm beetle who decided to pay a visit late at night. We scooped him up and deposited him off the balcony. Nature, huh?

What's in the neighbourhood? Well, if you need to leave the premises — and you really don't, as the resort has everything and is absolute lagoon-front — it's a short enough ride into Papeete and Tahiti's tourist attractions. There's a small shopping centre right next door, with a great supermarche (lots of French goodies). But the town seems to come to Le Meridien: the night we were there they were hosting a jazz festival that appeared to be extremely popular.

Le Meridien is at Tamanu in Tahiti, French Polynesia. Phone: 0800 454 040.