Eli Orzessek checks into the Grand Mercure, Auckland

Getting there:

It's right downtown by Britomart.

Check-in experience: As you arrive, you're presented with a glass of lemon and kawakawa tea, as well as a Japanese hand towel in the form of a small pill that expands when water is poured over it.


Room: The Grand Mercure Suite - definitely the nicest pad in the hotel. Huge and spacious with a great living area to kick back in.

What's so good about this place? Its central location and the view. The building has been recently renovated, so everything looks brand new and shiny.

And the bad? Some may say the work being carried out around Britomart currently might be a downside, but it was very interesting to look down on from a bird's eye perspective.

What's in the neighbourhood? Britomart, the waterfront and the fancy downtown shopping area. Later in the evening, I enjoyed a walk around Queen's Wharf to see Michael Parekowhai's iconic and controversial State house sculpture, The Lighthouse.

Toiletries: Manuka honey body wash, body balm, shampoo and conditioner. There was also a box of other amenities, including shaving supplies and a toothbrush.

Food and drink: I dined with a friend at the hotel's Vue restaurant, also looking out over the waterfront. The eye fillet steak was excellent and my strawberry charlotte dessert tasted amazing washed down with an Old Fashioned. In the morning, I tried the Custom Lane cafe on the ground floor - it's a nice stop for city workers and hotel guests alike. A decent flat white and a tasty maple bacon doughnut set my day off well.

The bed: Huge and comfortable - I slept like a baby. A room with a view? It has to be one of the best in town: it was a real treat looking out over the harbour as the sun set.

Bathroom: Marble and ornate, with a big bath and a separate rainfall shower.

Noise: There was a bit of noise from the City Rail Link construction zone in the morning, which was somehow just constant enough to make me sleep even better.

Room service: A selection of food from the restaurant was on offer, but I was way too full after dinner to consider any more food.

Exercise facilities: There's a gym and also a "virtual gym" with a yoga studio and a big screen where you can try out various workouts.

Online: mercure.com/auckland

Perfect for: Couples, business travellers, those wanting to treat themselves.

Grand Mercure Auckland is at 8 Customs Street East, Auckland. Phone: (09) 377 8920.