“Nothing in this compact and cultural city is far from the hotel”
I do love a hotel with a theme. A subtle theme. At the Sofitel Wellington it's botanical, reflected in the design, floral arrangements and other aspects of the interior, and there's a very good reason for this. Firstly, it's because the hotel is a short walk from Wellington's Botanic Gardens, established in 1868. The theme also references the Jardin Du Luxembourg in Paris, a garden that is world-famous. The Sofitel brand is part of the Accor group, which is French, so that makes sense too.
I was in Wellington for four days and nothing in this compact and cultural city is far from the hotel, which opened late last year. I should say reopened last year because it originally opened in 2016 but a fire forced a lengthy closure until it could open again. Since then the Sofitel Wellington has established itself as a hub for visitors and as a popular meeting and function venue for locals. It has a lovely bar and lounge area in the foyer behind reception, too - The Green Room (there's that botanical theme again) - and it's a nice spot for a drink or a light meal.
The hotel's excellent restaurant, Jardin Grill, is also infused with botanical themes and has a dominant copper kitchen, which creates a rich, bold, design statement yet is intimate in ambience. Chef Roy Giam's menu is excellent and includes French caviar, duck liver parfait and other Gallic treats. You can order a steak off the wood-fired grill if you're feeling particularly peckish and the hotel has a well-equipped gym if you need to work off your dinner the next day.
The hotel has 127 rooms ranging from Classic to Luxury, with one Prestige Suite and one Opera Suite. My room overlooked New Zealand's "coolest little capital", as the Kiwis call it. The hotel's Bolton St location means it's just a short stroll to the Wellington Botanic Gardens, spread along the top of the nearby hill.
The Sofitel culture is warm and welcoming and that's helpful when you're new to a city and you need some advice on where to go and what to do.
The test for me is whether, after a day out, I am really looking forward to getting back to my hotel and, once there, whether or not I may be reluctant to leave it. Sofitel Wellington passed on both counts with flying colours.
with PHIL BROWN
Arts Editor - The Courier-Mail
The writer was a guest of WellingtonNZ.com and Sofitel Wellington
11 BOLTON ST, WELLINGTON,NEW ZEALAND
Rooms from $A250 per room per night - accorhotels.com
Copyright © Phil Brown