Photo courtesy of Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Rising before one of the world’s most famous sailing sites—the host of the Louis Vuitton Regattas, the Volvo Round the World Race, and the Auckland International Boat Show—the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour blends French and South Pacific influences while respecting the maritime heritage of the area. Glass walls maximize views, both of the marina and its many yachts and of the reflective pools that create optical illusions in the hotel lobby. The color palette sets cherry and dark woods, jade greens, and slate grays against cream and white backdrops. Artwork—from ceremonial pieces to a Maori tribal sculpture in the atrium—as well as a greenstone massage at the spa pay homage to indigenous New Zealanders. References to Auckland’s volcanic origins also abound, most notably in the back-lit marble walls of Lava restaurant, which recall the fiery layers of Earth’s core. Several of the Sofitel balconies reveal the real thing: island cones across the harbor that mark a few bones in the planet’s tectonic spine.
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Viaduct Harbour is a tranquil marina district where yachts dock along the promenade and seagulls perch on clinking masts. Nearby attractions include the Auckland Fish Market, the New Zealand Maritime Museum, and the Sky Tower—home to two beloved restaurants and a bungee-jumping and skywalking base. The ferry terminal to Devonport, Rangitoto, and Waiheke Island is a short walk away, as is Britomart and Ponsonby. If guests don’t feel like wandering too far from the Viaduct, there are ample dining and drinking spots, from Baduzzi to Jack Tar, closer to home.
Need to Know
Rooms: 159 rooms, 13 suites. From $250. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options:Lava Dining is hard to miss. With a backdrop of glowing marble walls striated red, black, and yellow like the molten layers of earth’s crust, the restaurant blends New Zealand and French cuisine in dishes such as Wagyu tartare with brioche and cheese custard, and tête de porc (pig’s head) served with scallops, cauliflower, buttered popcorn, and smoked eel.There’s a “De-Light” menu for health- and calorie-conscious travelers. Before or after dinner, Sabrage Bar is a nice meeting place for champagne, a glass of New Zealand pinot noir, or a signature cocktail. There’s also a boulangerie-style café that serves house-baked pastries, fresh-squeezed juice, and espresso drinks. Spa and gym details:At So Spa, French cosmetology beautifies while ancient New Zealand traditions heal and restore. The Traditional Greenstone Ritual, for example, features heated jade, considered taonga, or treasure, among the Maori people for its healing properties. A sauna, steam room, spa, and newly refurbished So Fit gym are on-site along with a 65-foot indoor pool.
Who's it best for: Style-savvy travelers looking for waterfront pampering. Our favorite rooms: Luxury Atrium View rooms face the open-air atrium with its greenstone pool. Every night, candles are lit and placed inside lanterns that line the walkways, creating soothing reflections across the tiles and water. These rooms also offer private Juliet balconies and marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs. Sailors prefer the Luxury Marina View rooms, however; through the floor-to-ceiling windows, superyachts bob in the foreground while the Auckland skyline unfolds beyond. Good to know:The bar’s name, Sabrage, comes from the art of opening a bottle of champagne with a saber (sword), which guests are invited to try here.