Zoe Walker checks in for a luxury 'staycation' at the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour.
A long-time resident of Auckland's Viaduct, the Sofitel takes up a corner spot on Halsey St, overlooking the marina - near the city but feeling far enough away from the hustle and bustle.
I'd attended a few Fashion Week launches in the hotel's lobby, and visited the spa, but never stayed overnight - it felt incredibly indulgent to be staying at a hotel that is literally five minutes from home, and within sight of the office.
Check-in experience: Simple and friendly; we drove into the driveway and our car was valet-parked. Walking into the foyer with internal water feature and beautiful flower arrangements, the staff are all smiles and helpful hellos. The check-in is - in contrast to the huge, striking lobby - very discreet.
Room: A beautiful luxury room with marina view and a small balcony overlooking moored boats. The large room has a kitchenette (including a Nespresso machine), desk and generous-sized bathroom. A dramatic silver-grey velvet headboard dominates the room.
The bed: A lot has already been written about Sofitel's MyBed, for good reason; my partner and I had the best sleep we've had in ages on the hotel's signature luxuriously soft bedding and linens.
The bathroom: Huge, with a walk-in shower and big, deep bath that unfortunately I didn't get to use.
Exercise facilities: A small gym with all the appropriate equipment overlooks the hotel's 20m heated lap pool - with a Jacuzzi next door, perfect for a relaxing afternoon soak, which I definitely did.
What's in the neighbourhood? This area of the Viaduct can feel a little soulless at times - lots of apartments and offices - but there is still plenty nearby for those staying longer than an evening and keen to explore. The restaurants and bars of Wynyard Quarter are a short walk away, as is the ASB Waterfront Theatre and Victoria Park. Around the corner on Fanshawe St are the glamorous Rockefeller Oyster Bar and Knuefermann boutique.
What's so good about this place? The beds are brilliant, of course, but the moody lighting of the lobby and restaurant is also worth noting - a Maori mask is projected on to the wall of the lobby's water feature. The hotel is huge, but feels incredibly quiet; close to the action of the Viaduct but far enough away to feel relaxed.
Food? Lava Dining is the hotel's restaurant, with an extravagant fit-out: gleaming backlit marble walls, chain mail dividers and a view out on to the water. A three-course dinner was the highlight of our staycation and felt incredibly indulgent (it was a Sunday; we, regrettably, skipped dessert), with delicious food, attentive service and impeccable lighting.
The next morning before checking out and heading to work just around the corner, we had a quick coffee and toast from the hotel's 21 Viaduct Cafe, bustling with workers heading to nearby offices.
Drink? I love a good hotel bar, and the Sofitel's Sabrage wine bar felt appropriately fancy for an early evening cocktail. Another couple were sitting in a sunny corner so we opted for one of the bar's round booths with brown leather seats.
Contact: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour is at 21 Viaduct Harbour Ave, Auckland.
Ph (09) 909 9000.