It’s literally a window on the world. And a restful one at that. Short of being an air traffic controller in the airport tower, you could not wish for a more expansive runway view at Novotel Auckland Airport. It’s a plane-spotter’s paradise. This pampered roost has become a familiar landmark at Auckland International Airport over the past decade, just 45 footsteps away from the main doors of the international arrivals hall. (Yes, I counted them.)
Whenever I have a late-night arrival, or if I’m readying myself for a departure at some ungodly red-eye hour, this distinguished airport hotel has delivered in spades as the ultimate oasis for a languid layover. Rest, recuperation and indulgence are embedded in its DNA. Typically, for the first hour, I find myself profoundly engrossed by the sweeping airside spectacle. I gaze longingly out the panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows of my suite, as big birds taxi, take-off and land from the world over.
The sound-proofing is a tour de force, you won’t hear a whisper despite the constant aviation movements, a stone’s throw away from you. Soft natural lighting soothes the senses, as does the marshmallow-comfortable bedding, luxurious toiletries by Fair Trade, elegant furnishings and body-reviving showers to help cool your jets. My suite included a separate lounge area, two TVs, swish bath robes, a decent coffee machine with coffee pods and mineral water.
It’s a hotel that proudly sports its patriotism, its sense of place – a world away from the cookie-cutter hotel template. Unique and bold design elements that elegantly riff on New Zealand themes, like the toe-toe patterned curtains, are embedded throughout the property’s 263 rooms and suites, the theatre-style conference centre, meeting rooms and public spaces.
It was one of the first New Zealand hotels to showcase a vast vertical living wall, showcasing a throng of botanicals and lush ferns. Festooning the convivial bar, adjacent to the sparkling lobby, it’s a fabulous spot for kicking back. Named The Square, drinks and dining are available 24 hours. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner is served in time to meet your flights, with the lip-smacking buffet breakfast roaring into life from 5am.
Showcasing the freshest seasonal fare, breakfast is proceeded by all day dining menu and an a la carte offering in the evening. The hotel also offers day-use rooms, available from 6am to 6pm. Extra frills include rocket-fast WiFi, large work spaces in your guestroom along with iPod® dock, LCD TV and Sky channels. Need to burn off that hearty buffet? There’s a contemporary fitness centre, if you’re feeling virtuous.
The staff are perky, whip-smart, delightfully welcoming and unfailingly obliging. Within the lobby, real-time flight departure screens keep you fully abreast with where you need to be, and when. Novotel Auckland Airport has nailed the recipe for dream airport hotel layovers. It’s a champagne-standard accommodation experience, whether you’re saying Haere Mai or Haere Ra to New Zealand. Or simply wanting to get your av-fan fix! www.accorhotels.com
Mike Yardley is our Travel Correspondent on Saturday Mornings with Jack Tame.