Sadie Beckman checks in to The Devon Hotel, New Plymouth.
An ultra-modern lobby greets you, but a display of photos down the hall shows the place in all its retro glory in the 1960s and 70s. A framed copy of that era's menu shows how food trends date too. Desk staff were friendly and helpful, but there weren't enough of them to help us lug our bags down several corridors to the room, which would have been a bonus as one of the kids is on crutches after a spectacular skatepark fail.
The rooms: A fairly sumptuous Queen suite with interconnecting twin room for the kids was the perfect family set up, especially after we'd been sharing a room with them for the past few days (cosy the first night, insanity-provoking by the third). Each room had its own bathroom, the suite had a jacuzzi bath and there was a separate bedroom and lounge in that one too. The twin had two double-sized beds and both rooms had enormous TV set-ups. Free Playstation usage meant the kids were in gaming heaven, while we could chill with a wine next door. Facilities included robes and slippers, irons and hairdryers, cosmetics in the bathrooms and tea/coffee making options. No minibar though — probably for the best when the front desk has your credit card details.
The beds: A queen and two doubles. Medium soft, and piled luxuriously with good-quality quilts, soft blankets and pillows — which I love. Minimalist sleepers may have lots of things to chuck on the floor before going to bed.
Food and drink: Marbles Restaurant at The Devon has had a long history and many incarnations, including a stint as a pirate-themed buffet. It has been completely refurbished and offers high-quality buffet dining. Renowned for good seafood, including a particularly delicious chowder, there were more dishes than it would have been possible to try, although the male contingent in the family certainly gave it a good go. The food was fresh, and the desserts were delightful. Mini portions of panna cotta, cheesecake and brownie, as well as steamed sponges, fruits, cheeses, and a soft-serve machine made for difficult decisions. $39.90 for an adult and $29.90 for under 18s. The Devon also has a separate bar with lots of lounge space, a decent selection of beers and wines on tap and a good house wine at only $6 a glass.
Facilities: A heated outdoor pool with adjoining spa pool big enough to allow adequate personal space. Free Wi-Fi and free access to New Plymouth aquatic centre and gym are included, as are passes to Ngamotu Golf Club. If you want to explore town on two wheels, mountain bikes can be borrowed at no charge, however, because a broken-legged son meant this wasn't going to be an option for us, I found myself cast into the complexities of New Plymouth's one-way system in the car instead. Probably not that difficult, but I am still grateful to that nice GPS lady who tells you where to turn.
Room service: Available and a good option for those who might prefer a la carte to full-on buffet. They'll deliver drinks from the bar to your room too.
What's in the neighbourhood? A good, central location handy to most central New Plymouth amenities, and quite close to the award-winning Coastal Walkway. About a 20-minute walk to the CBD, where there are plenty of high-street shops and eateries, and the magnificent, mirrored Len Lye Centre and Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, which is free and intriguing. Opposite it, the funky Public Catering Company is worth a visit — a communal, light and plant-filled space that feels a bit like a cross between an indoor beer garden and a cafe food court, it has craft beer, decent pizza and other food options.Beautiful 52ha Pukekura Park is just under 10-minutes' drive from the hotel.
Value for money: $260-360 a night for the Queen Suite, depending on time of year, and the twin starts at $180. Although at the luxury end of things price-wise, the facilities and location are good, the rooms were pretty much immaculate and the on-site dining options made things easy. If travelling as a family, it's a great stop for a 'treat" night, when you have to watch the budget the rest of the time.
Would I return? Yes, we enjoyed the chill-out and easy on-site options.