My wife and I have been spending our Friday nights exploring various hotels in Auckland.
The building that the Hotel Grand Windsor is located in has been under redevelopment since early 2017, and their new rooms had a soft launch in July. They have now officially branded as an MGallery by Sofitel, but we got in just before this occured, which provided a good opportunity to try out one of their rooms without the price tag.
The hotel is currently #44 of 67 Hotels in Auckland according to TripAdvisor, which is low, but mostly attributed to the state of the accommodation prior to redevelopment.
Research and Booking
I decided to book this hotel via Agoda.com, using a 10% discount code to reduce the $185 nightly rate to $169. I also received a USD$5.41 Agoda gift card after the stay, that can be used on any future booking. However now they are available to book via AccorHotels, I would recommend booking direct, particularly if you have status.
The cheapest way to quickly obtain status with AccorHotels is by purchasing an Ibis Business Card, which gives you an instant upgrade to Gold Status. It costs 90 Euros, the equivalent of $150 NZD.
With Gold status, the following benefits would be on offer at this hotel:
- Room upgrade upon arrival, if available
- Welcome drink
- In-Room Wi-Fi
- VIP Treatment (usually an in-room gift, and could include chocolate or a fruit platter)
- Late check-out on request
- Early check-in on request
I found that wifi was included for free anyway, and didn’t even require a password. So the best benefits will be the room upgrade and the complimentary extras like drink vouchers and an in-room gift.
AccorHotels have a great presence in New Zealand, so if you do a lot of domestic travel, the membership could pay for itself after a few stays.
The Room – Hotel Grand Windsor, MGallery by Sofitel Classic Queen Room
Unfortunately, some of my photos aren’t super clear, because the first real thing to fault for this room type is the lack of lighting – it’s all concentrated on the entry hall and doesn’t really spill over into the main room. So some of my photos show the bed ‘unmade’ because they were taken once we could get some natural lighting into the room in the morning. I will aim to stay here again once they rebrand and collect some clearer photos.
We were assigned a base level room on the seventh floor.
All the original heritage windows on the building appear to have replaced, which has provided for excellent soundproofing, which is important given the hotel’s location in such a busy part of the Auckland CBD.
The ‘view’ from the two small windows is constrained to the street below, and the surrounding skyline.
The room type is very small, and you cannot easily navigate around the foot of the bed. The photo below was taken with my back up against the wall.
There is very little space for luggage, so this room type will likely only appeal to those who are on a city break.
With no desk, this room will be unsuitable for most business travellers. For what it is worth, I did see photos online that indicated that some rooms have desk, so if you need one, it’s best that you ask.
The quality of the fixtures and amenities in the room are good, with Floris bathroom amenities made in the Czech Republic, T2 Tea and cup/jug set, a Nespresso Machine, and bed linen made in Portugal.
The TV is excellent and very crisp, and has a Bose sound bar, which I haven’t seen in many hotels before. Unfortunately it is not on a swivel so this makes for difficult viewing from the bed. I did speak to the hotel about this at checkout and they said that this was something that intend to fix in all the rooms soon.
The powerpoint and USB plugs on each side of the bed are located along the skirting and aren’t particularly convenient to quickly plug in your phone or other devices.
The air-conditioning is individually controlled and works well, which is always a plus, particularly during Auckland’s humid summers.
You’ll receive two bottles of complimentary water in the fridge.
There is a small cupboard adjacent the TV which is large enough for a few coats. There is an ironing board, iron and a few extra sets of sheets.
The rain shower is disproportionately large compared to the rest of the bathroom, but this is kind of nice as you could shut yourself away and feel as if you are in a bigger room. There is no place to put any toiletries however apart from the ledge above the door frame, which isn’t convenient if you’re short!
There is very little space around the bathroom sink, which wouldn’t be practical for stays of longer than a night or two.
There are nice seating areas on each level of the building, with fresh flowers (yes, I checked).
The front lobby has a nice lounge seating area. You sit down at the front desk to check-in however I’m not sure how that’ll work if they become a lot busier.
You’ll receive a welcome letter in an envelope when checking in. But it’s really just a guise for them to give you a survey form!
A bar and restaurant area will be opening off the main check-in area in the next few months.
There currently isn’t really anything else in the way of on-site amenities such a gym or pool, but the small size of the building would have contributed to their absence. It’s yet to be seen whether they’ll provide these amenities off-site.
Around the Hotel in Auckland, New Zealand
The hotel is located within the area known as the Queen Street Valley, which is the city’s main retail strip. The Waitemata Harbour and Britomart train station are a short walk to the south, along with plenty of great restaurants.
Summing Up – Grand Windsor Auckland, MGallery by Sofitel
While our stay felt luxurious, it also felt a bit cramped, so I definitely think we’d try to book a larger room if we were to stay here again. There are also many room features that just aren’t suitable if you’re travelling for work, though I sense that the hotel is not angling for those guests. If you have a need for desk space, make sure you specifically request this when checking in.
It’s great to see that Auckland are getting some more upmarket hotels – with MSocial opening in October, the So Sofitel opening in early 2018, and another MGallery by Sofitel opening on Eden Crescent in late 2018, we should start to see downwards pressure on price and an overall increase in quality.
Feature image courtesy of CPG Hotels