I quite openly have a few guilty pleasures – shoes, fine dining, candles and fresh flowers. But a weekend escape at a luxurious hotel would be the top of the list. I remember when I was travelling through Asia in my early twenties, I saved up enough money to book myself into one of the 5 star hotels. I was by myself and didn’t leave the room for 2 days. I loved spending the time alone, ordering room service and inroom massages. I appreciate the experience that a stay in a beautiful hotel offers and this was something I was willing to sacrifice a few more nights on the island for.
Noting much has changed since then, I will mix in a few 5 start hotels when I travel but that doesn’t mean I am flippant with my money. I just choose to sacrifice other things in order to allow for my hotel experiences. I rarely go out in the months leading up to my trips and can live quite happily on the basics. So I do.
My first Sofitel experience was during a trip down to Queenstown. As I do, I chose to save up so I could experience my weekend away at the French establishment on the lakefront. To this day it was one of my most memorable hotel experiences (and I have had a lot). The french butler knocked on the door a little after we were settled in. He introduced himself as our main point of contact during our stay. He was beautifully mannered and immaculately dressed in a Parisian styled three piece. So when Sofitel Wellington asked me to spend a weekend away with them, I was confident that this experience would live up to the first.
Aki, Claire Andrew and I packed our suitcases with 20 odd kgs of outfits and accessories to see our way through two full days of shooting. As you will know from my Instagram feed, I am drawn to contrasting patterns, bold colours and detail. I like to shoot in settings that draw you in, backgrounds that have you zooming to explore a little further. Sofitel Wellington was about to be the feature of some of my favourite photos to date.
The French influence paints its way through the hotel picking up and celebrating the local Wellington flavour as it flows through each of the beautifully created spaces. Deep forest green velvet loungers are complimented by the golden bronzed glow of the lobby bar. The foyer lined with mint green, high back arm chairs carry you through to Jardin Grill, a restaurant that has confidently established itself as a uniquely exquisite dining experience. It is no surprise that it is also the most expensive restaurant fit out in New Zealand with the custom floral wall paper that sings its way up the walls and across the ceiling.
The rooms define luxury – sleek and golden. The black tiled bathroom pops with golden features while the bedroom lightens with warm tones and fabrics encouraging you to snuggle in and experience the bespoke Sofitel bed – yes they have their own bed line that is made in France and shipped around the world to ensure they can control the quality and consistency of their luxurious sleeping experience! It is no surprise that they stretch the window across the width of the room. At first glance it can easily be mistaken for a painting. The lush green hills are quite literally picture perfect.
The hotel sits on the hill above Lambton Quay. Take one of the small walkways that connects The Terrace to Lambton Quay and you are in the hub of the shopping district in minutes. David Jones is a must. Peruse the Christian Louboutons and Valentinos or spritz yourself in Tom Ford and Jo Malone. Wellington is definitely a city to explore by foot (wrapped in a jacket and scarf on those windy days of course).
The streets are built up around the culture of the city. The designers and high end stores are found in pockets scattered across the CBD with some of the best coffee stops and restaurants found down the alley ways. I blogged about Havana Bar in my last blog here. We enjoyed a lunch of champagne and perfectly cooked pork belly followed by a mini photo shoot capturing the colours and latin influence. After a quick stop at Wellington Chocolate factory tasting their free trade delectable dark chocolates we were soon back in our rooms for the 5th outfit change before enjoying a few of the gin cocktails in the lobby bar.
Dinner was a mix of blogger chat, planning our shoots for the following day and worrying about the food ‘fomo’ we would get if we were to order different dishes. I started with an entree of Paua and Scallops, followed by Wagyu with (believe it or not) the most deliciously moreish brussels sprouts! The plan was to pop out for a night cap but as we sank into our chairs after trying to finish every last crumb on the table, we rolled our way back to bed. I couldn’t be happier as I lay like a star fish and drifted off to sleep in quite possibly the worlds most comfortable bed.
Two days simply wasn’t enough. I’m sitting in the lounge watching the rain bucketing down as I write this, feeling more inclined to book my next trip down. An easy hour flight, it is the perfect way to spend a rainy weekend, a romantic getaway or an escape on your own for one of New Zealand’s most luxurious hotel experiences at Sofitel Wellington.