Sofitel Wellington hotel review
The Paris-based Sofitel brand unveils its third hotel in New Zealand, showcasing the cool side of the capital.
Wellington has never been cooler, and Sofitel has created a perfect base to discover the city, combining a botanical legacy from France and its surrounds with metallic decadence. Fine dining, a welcoming bar-lounge space and fully equipped So Fit gym round out the offerings of Sofitel Wellington.
Traveller: Cathy Wagstaff
Room: Luxury King Room
Address: 11 Bolton Street, 6011 Wellington, New Zealand
Date: November 2017
Best for: A magnifique French-infused stay in the world’s coolest little capital city
The Signature factor
French art de vivre meets the natural beauty of New Zealand in the centre of Wellington’s business and government district. The design of Sofitel Wellington revels in florals and the surrounding environment, celebrating the unique character of this vibrant city.
Wellington, lauded as one of the world’s most creative capitals, was in desperate need of an international five-star hotel when Sofitel first opened its doors in August 2016. After a fire-related hiccup soon after, the NZ$51 million hotel has polished itself up again, reopening with perhaps even more fanfare in October 2017. I visited Sofitel in November to dance the night away at the black-and-white-themed La Nuit party, a celebration to welcome the hotel back to the city. There are 127 rooms and two suites spread over 14 floors, along with a restaurant, a lounge bar and a So Fit fitness centre.
Sleek is the word that comes to mind when I walk into the lobby. Rich tones of bronze and gold are complemented by ivory marble floors and copper light fittings, and a large display of fresh flowers. Florals appear throughout the hotel, a nod to Sofitel Wellington’s location near the city’s botanic garden (it’s an eight-minute walk to the garden’s entrance). You’ll find them plastered across the walls of Jardin Grill restaurant (also on the lobby level) and in artworks alongside framed butterflies in your room.
The 32-square-metre Luxury Room is the largest room category at Sofitel Wellington (besides the two suites), offering a lush garden view and dressed in velvet, elaborate wallpaper and silk. Like all other rooms, it features the brand’s signature, cloud-like MyBed, an espresso machine and other mod cons in the shape of an LCD television and Bose sound system. The black-tiled bathroom is a glossy retreat for indulgence with a rain shower and Lanvin amenities. A nice touch comes at turndown, where a calming tea is left out to help me wind down before bed, the kettle thoughtfully filled and ready to boil.
The Opera Suite is perched on the top floor, boasting 180-degree views over the city and Wellington Bay. Its nickname, Le Miellerie (The Honey House), pays homage to both the beehives in Paris’ Luxembourg Gardens and the New Zealand Parliament building, known as The Beehive.
On my plate
Ensconced in its moody floral wallpapers, Jardin Grill has a contemporary appeal. A copper kitchen stands at its centre, the source of the scent of burning manuka on the wood-fired grill that wafts through the restaurant. This is the destination for breakfast (buffet or à la carte), prix fixe two- or three-course lunches and hearty dinners. Steak features heavily on the menu, but there is plenty for non-carnivores to enjoy, including freshly shucked Waiheke Island oysters and a range of smoky entrees and mains. The Summer Garden (Le Jardin d’Été) is the signature dessert, embodying the link between the Luxembourg Gardens and the Wellington Botanic Garden in a seasonally changing array of textures and flavours. Wine-lovers will appreciate how the Coravin wine-saving system used in the restaurant allows them to order 100-millilitre glasses of exclusive imported vintages.
For a more relaxed atmosphere, The Green Room is open daily from 7am and offers the same extensive wine list as well as cocktails and light meals.
Work up a sweat at the So Fit Technogym-equipped fitness centre or indulge in all-day dining at The Green Room. If you just can’t leave your room, 24-hour room service is available.
During my visit, however, Sofitel Wellington is in celebration mode, hosting industry leaders and influencers from across New Zealand and Australia for La Nuit.
Wellington Botanic Garden is located on the same street as Sofitel Wellington, inviting an afternoon of quiet ambling and contemplation among the flowers. Experience the best of the city’s cuisine with Zest Food Tours, strolling among gourmet food stores, coffee roasters, cafes and restaurants. It’s the ideal way to start your visit, ensuring you have time to explore the local culinary scene throughout your journey. Te Papa Museum, a half-hour walk from the hotel, is a must-see.
Where to find Sofitel Wellington
The hotel is located in the main business and government hub of Wellington. Valet car parking is $40 per vehicle per day.