Hotel insider The Bolton is sleek and modern so if you are a fan of floral bedspreads and doilies, pick somewhere else.
The Bolton Hotel, Wellington, New Zealand
Not bad considering it was 1am. It was a good sign that the manager had stayed late to welcome guests arriving from the evening flight from Sydney. I had asked in advance for the hotel to arrange a sea-kayaking trip for the next day and the details and confirmation were there on arrival.
Wellington is New Zealand's small but perfectly formed capital city. The place has experienced an explosion of arts and culture in recent years and now buzzes with life. Within walking distance of the hotel is the majestic harbour, and the shopping and nightlife of Cuba Street. The hotel overlooks a heritage gem - the Bolton Street Memorial Park and its historic cemetery - which dates from the founding of the city in 1840 and offers a brilliant alfresco history lesson on colonial New Zealand.
Invisible but I don't mean that in a bad way. When we wanted attention it was there but otherwise there was welcome privacy. Much better than having staff knock on the door every five minutes offering soap, chocolates, turndowns or whatever else they can think of to interrupt your stay.
Perfect size and wonderfully uncluttered. Our bedroom boasted white walls, modernist bedside lamps, and a bed-foot throw which resembled a giant version of the country's iconic Kiwi bird. The living area was a real living area - not a couple of idly scattered chairs but also a sofa, coffee table, writing desk and sideboard for essentials such as coffee and other beverages. Picture windows offered bird's eye views over the city to the harbour and made us feel connected to this most attractive of cityscapes.
About walking tours. There is one called the Wellington Writers' Walk that commemorates 19 New Zealand authors, poets, novelists and playwrights, including its most famous international literary export, Katherine Mansfield. The Concierge had a brochure and a map and told me to look out for the quotes on plaques around town.
The Bolton is cool and demure. It does not show off. It is a reflection of New Zealand's quiet confidence. The lobby and its mezzanine restaurant, Bisque on Bolton, are furnished in understated chocolate hues. Politicians and business types meet there for brunch. It is also the crash-pad of choice for local and visiting celebrities: Sam Neill and Cate Blanchett have both stayed.
The cocoon-like comfort of the room. Silk-soft bed linens, floor-to-ceiling picture windows, an elegant dark-wood sideboard and Molton Brown cosmetics in the bathroom. I spent a peaceful day wrapped up on the sofa, watching the sun arc across the sky, and the city come and go. Also, even though you don't need a car to get around Wellington, it's worth hiring one just to use the hotel's futuristic car-stacking system: a giant rotating belt with 28 platforms for vehicles. At the push of a button, the stack rotates and your car arrives on the ground level, ready for departure.
Lack of outdoor areas. I can't help thinking the hotel could benefit from a small sun terrace up on the roof. It could double as a party venue and maybe include a hot-tub for winter evenings.
Definitely the pick of Wellington's hotels, not just because of its comfort and style but because it best sums up what Wellington is about. The city and the hotel are cool, classy and confident without being pretentious. The Bolton is sleek and modern so if you are a fan of floral bedspreads and doilies, pick somewhere else.
The Bolton Hotel, corner of Bolton and Mowbray streets, (PO Box 2094), Wellington, New Zealand, Tel: +64 4 472 9966, @email:email@example.com www.observatoryhotel.com.au www.boltonhotel.co.nz