Review: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Overall Rating

By John Walton, March 20 2013
Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

New Zealand




Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour




Luxury Room

The Good
  • elegant waterfront luxury
  • fantastic French restaurants
The Bad
  • dire Internet
  • dinged furniture
  • ideal Wynyard Quarter location
  • modern


The Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour has an odd history: having previously been the Westin, and then taken over and turned into an MGallery, it's now established as a cornerstone of business travellers' top-end hotel choices in New Zealand's economic capital.

Almost entirely surrounded by water and boats, and situated towards the Wynyard Quarter district to the west of the CBD, it's a beautiful, zen-like modern setting for a hotel.

Location & Impressions

It's water, water everywhere at the Sofitel, which really makes the most of Auckland's beautiful harbour.

Pulling up to the Sofitel in a cab, you're ushered into the well-lit yet darkly chic lobby, with expansive water features and a really upscale modern feel.

The Sofitel's location is convenient both for the CBD and for the Wynyard Quarter district.
The Sofitel's location is convenient both for the CBD and for the Wynyard Quarter district.

With yachtie marinas surrounding it and visible through the windows, it reminded me of an exceedingly swish beach club.

The signature Sofitel "bonjour" from the staffer at the desk had me heading up to my room swiftly, although I did get lost in the rather indistinguishable and not particularly well signposted corridors.


Luxury-level rooms like mine that overlook the internal water feature are larger than the ones with city views.

My Luxury room was unusually shaped: an entry hallway with wet bar (plus espresso machine) and double wardrobe to walk through, then the desk and sofa on the right, balcony ahead, bed to the left and expansive bathroom back to the left from the bed.

Floor-to-ceiling windows let in a lot of light — perhaps too much in the mornings, since the doors are slatted rather than being blackout-friendly.

The Sofitel bed was sumptous as ever (if slightly oddly aligned to the headboard), and I enjoyed falling asleep listening to some relaxing music on the bedside Bose speaker system (with 16-pin connector-enabled iPod dock).

I appreciated the velvety low bench at the foot of the bed — perfect for opening up my clamshell four-wheeled hard suitcase fully.

The flatscreen TV is really oddly positioned, though, facing neither the bed nor the sofa, and with no option to move it to be visible without shifting the heavy TV stand.

A comfortable sofa with very handy side table mini-desk, reasonable work desk and massive bathroom (with separate walk-in shower and tub) rounded out the room.

L'Occitane toiletries, though, are feeling a little old and non-special now.

Apart from the light not really being filtered out by the curtains, my only complaint with the room was that just about all of the wooden fittings were looking very much worse for wear. Chips, dents, and nicks show up very easily on dark furnishings — and did very much in this case.

Everything just felt a little bit too bashed-about for a Sofitel.


An evening of work with this setup would be fine, but not really a full day — not least because the Internet won't take it.

The desk in the room was large, leather-topped and refreshingly free of clutter.

However, the chair wasn't up to more than an hour or two of laptop use — certainly not a full day or even a half day of work.

The sofa, though, has a C-shaped side table that's suitable for some light duty.

Disappointingly, the Internet situation was the dreadful Reivernet rort, which is one of the worst ripoffs in business travel. Extortionately priced and appallingly slow, the system is a huge minus to the Sofitel's appeal for business travellers.

I managed a paltry 1 Mbps down, and 0.46 Mbps up — for a charge of NZ$30 for 300 MB at the deceptively named "full speed" and then 700 MB at "slow" (which didn't seem any slower).


My high expectations of the Sofitel's food were absolutely met in Auckland.

As with many Sofitels, the Auckland Viaduct Harbour really shines on the food side. The wonderful Sabrage champagne bar is a real draw, and the fine French food on offer at Lava is absolutely top-notch. Room service is equally good.

Brilliantly selected wines, with a focus on NZ and French vintages, are a big plus. I'd return just for dinner and/or drinks.

Breakfast, too, is excellent, with a relatively small, high-quality buffet and a choice of additional dishes. The French pastries were especially great.


Having your own balcony is a lovely touch, especially in Auckland's mild climate.

A small indoor pool and fitness suite don't really make the most of the hotel's waterside location, which is a shame, but you do have the option of relaxing looking out on your little balcony.

Auckland is on your doorstep, with the concierge and front desk staff very knowledgeable about new and interesting places to check out even if, like me, you're a frequent visitor to the City of Sails.


The Sofitel is swish, chic and very comfortable indeed, with fantastic food and wine and a great location in one of the loveliest bits of Auckland.

But the bashed-about furniture and the dreadful Internet situation drag it down from standing out among Auckland's upmarket business hotels.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Qantas - Platinum One

18 Jan 2011

Total posts 82

My 2 cents - I stayed just after it was re-opened as Sofitel, and didn't notice any "dinged furniture".

I also loved the shutters instead of just regular drapes across the windows - it made everything feel cleaner and fresher.

Much less frilly than the Langham - but still exudes luxury and refinement.

I'd say it's my new favourite hotel in Auckland.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Nov 2012

Total posts 1

I stayed here in January and was very unimpressed with a few things, including the quality of service received from staff and damaged furniture in the room.

I am a Le Club Platinum member, and my room was not ready when I arrived more than an hour after check-in time. I had to remind the reception staff about my complimentary drinks and gift benefit as a Platinum member.

16 Apr 2013

Total posts 1

I had a horid experience at this hotel on our honeymoon. Booked a deluxe harbour view room, when we arrived we were placed in a room with a view of an ajorning apartment building and a bus terminal. Now normally I wouldn't care, but the honeymoon is one holiday when you want to stay in your room and enjoy, management didn't care, acknoledged was a mistake, but couldn't do anything about it. Stay anywhere else. 

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