The large, cobalt blue water feature on the side of the hotel on arrival, appears like a canvas being washed and sets the tone for what awaits inside this stylish, botanic-themed new luxury hotel in New Zealand’s capital Wellington.
Walking past the large, marble lions at the entrance, a Sofitel signature touch found in their hotels around the world, I step into the foyer of the new Sofitel Wellington – the first luxury hotel to open in the city in more than a decade.
Friendly staff check me in while I’m tempted to have a wander around the lobby and take in all the elements of this $51 million development.
On a large, black round marble table sits rounded bowl vases filled with numerous flower cuts while a leaf-shaped copper light illuminates the scene from above. Oversized teal and olive velvet sofa chairs sit amidst framed botanical paintings, lacquered wood gum coffee tables, metallic sheer curtains, silk cushions and copper pendant lights.
The hotel’s designers, New Zealand firm SPACE Studios, in collaboration with AccorHotels director of interior design for Asia Pacific, Stephane Lombard, have opted for botanic-inspired design elements in reference to the hotel’s location at the gateway to the magnificent Wellington Botanic Gardens and as homage to Sofitel’s French roots and the world-famous Parisian Luxembourg Gardens.
I’m shown to my accommodation on the 12th floor, a luxury king room that is the top room category of the hotel’s 127 rooms. For top luxury, the hotel has two suites to choose from – the Prestige Suite which has interconnecting rooms; or the top suite where dignitaries have stayed, the ‘Opera Suite’ or Le Miellerie (French for beehive, as it overlooks Wellington’s Parliament ‘beehive’ building).
My room is spacious and refined with restrained sophisticated French glamour coming through in the combination of black, mocha and metallic hues. The king-sized ‘MyBed’ sits against a striking, silver crushed velvet headboard flanked by large golden lamps. Hovering above the desk is a series of framed botanist prints and butterflies. Glossy black veneer wardrobe doors opened with leather strap handles reveal his and hers soft white robes piped with a chocolate-coloured trim.
The hotel can be found in the business and government district, in Bolton Street and nearby The Terrace. As such, it attracts both leisure and business travellers. The room offers complimentary WiFi, Smart TVs with bluetooth, a Bose sound system, phone charging ports on the desk clock and a USB socket on one bedside.
The Sofitel MyBed has to be one of the most comfortable I’ve stayed in. A pillow menu offers five selections of pillow filling.
The bathroom has French-style gloss black rectangular wall tiles and orange ambre Lanvin amenities on display. There’s no bath, but ample room and a decent-sized shower with strong water pressure. The vanity basin is circular and white porcelain with a textured finish. It makes a design statement – even if not terribly practical when it comes time to fill up the kettle! My favourite design touch in the bathroom is the etched script on the frosted glass door – on one side quoted in French and translated on the other side in English as “Let my kisses be the words of love that I don’t say”. Puzzlingly, there’s just one towel rack for those large, plush white bath towels, but thankfully a couple of bathroom hooks too.
The hotel’s restaurant Jardin Grill features a bold floral fresco on one large wall and across the ceiling; a sculptural artistic wine wall; and a large open copper kitchen. The botanical theme continues into breakfast time where the cereals and muesli are displayed in botanic-style jars and diners scoop their chosen food with floral trowels. In the The Green Room bar in the lobby, it’s buzzing with activity and butterflies of the social kind as I savour a cocktail on the green velvet Chesterfield sofa chairs in front of the warmth of the Real Flame gas fireplace framed by marble. It’s a peaceful place to relax after having strolled the nearby scenic Botanic Gardens to fully appreciate the design connection of this floral city retreat.