Tristram Clayton makes like a megastar at a top Auckland address.
Price? $1929 a night.
A taxi from the airport costs? This was the ultimate stay-cation - so no taxi required. We simply drove the 3.3km from home to the hotel then got the super-friendly and efficient valet staff to park the car.
Check-in experience? Perfectly acceptable but given we were staying in the Presidential Suite, I think I subconsciously had an idea we would be carried to our room on a golden throne cooled by a dozen maidens waving palm leaves. This wasn't the case.
Room? Gasp. This room really put the "President" in Presidential Suite. God knows how many square metres it was but you needed keen eyesight to see from one end to the other. It was faster to ring one's wife than try and yell out or walk to them and a few trips from the bed to the mini-bar took care of a week of going to the gym. I also liked the Cezanne-esque (and delicious) apples on the table and the "master" power switch next to the bed that in one flick killed all 300 or so lights in the entire suite. At the 2014 World Travel Awards, back in October, the Presidential Suite was voted the Leading Hotel Suite in New Zealand.
What's so good about this place? Hmm, where to start? Okay, here we go: The original Karl Maughan was a great sight upon entering the room, the 21st-storey view of downtown Auckland, the harbour and Harbour Bridge a close second. The Roman infinity bath, the seven-nozzle shower (six horizontal heads and a rainforest nozzle above), the three TVs, the nightclub-quality sound system and the Californian (perfectly square) bed were also pretty good.
What's in the neighbourhood? Well, pretty much everything that Auckland has to offer (except Piha, Rainbow's End and the Golden Dawn Tavern) are a 21-floor lift ride and couple of minutes walk away. The wealth of quality local restaurants are a special highlight - but of course, there are bars, shops and even, I'm told, a casino within metres of the hotel's front door.
The suite's marble-filled bathroom is home to a Roman infinity bath and seven-nozzle shower. Photo / Supplied
Bathroom? Two words. Huge. Marble. I've already mentioned the Roman infinity bath but what I didn't say is that it's constantly overflowing and reheating itself. Total. Dream. Oh and that shower - you actually come out feeling like you've had a full body massage. Heaven.
Food and drink? After the obligatory couple of glasses of champagne watching the sun set over the Waitakeres from our chaise lounge, we ended up eating at Sean Connolly's Gusto - conveniently located right next to the bottom of the lift. Hotel restaurants don't get much better than this - delicious, fun and surprisingly good value. Breakfast the next morning was room service eggs bene - which were delicious but slightly cool. One small oddity was the fact the kitchenette didn't have a sink - meaning the coffee machine (and kettle) had to be filled in a bathroom.
The bed? The bed and linen were exquisite, as you'd expect.
Noise? I love the fact that the duty manager actually told us to be as loud as we liked because everything (including the curtains) was sound-proofed. Two-person parties are never going to be high on noise control's priority list but with our iPhone plugged into the superb multi-room sound-system we gave it a very good nudge.
Room service? Very helpful and knowledgeable - which it really had to be. The room is so state-of-the-art that it took about 20 minutes just to show us how all the electronics- and bath and shower - worked. We did have one tiny hiccup though, when no adaptor for the iPod dock for my iPhone 5 could be found - fortunately my wife's phone worked a treat.
Exercise facilities? Seriously, why would anyone leave a room like this for any reason, let alone to go out and do exercise? I'm sure the gym and pool are amazing but frankly you're here to indulge yourself not sit on a bloody rowing machine. And anyway, this room encourages plenty of physical activity - being such a hike from one end to the other.
Perfect for? Absolutely blowing a loved one's mind. Oh and the small apartment-sized walk-in-wardrobe is perfect for any global pop megastar (or anyone who wants to feel like one).
Would I return? Any time. Any day.
SkyCity Grand Hotel is at 90 Federal Street, Auckland Central. Phone: 09 363 7000.