Auckland’s newest hotel delivers top-end luxurywith a nod to the city’s volcanic history.


There’s no better way to be greeted than by someone who seems like they genuinely want you to be there. SO/ Auckland’s manager, Neil, joined us on the sofa in the lobby’s MIXO bar and talked us through the welcome drink we were served on arrival, a kawakawa tea made by the hotel’s tea sommelier. I haven’t heard of that job before but they clearly know what they’re doing; it was a delicious bloom of pink, topped with bee pollen and other delights.

Neil took us up the high-tech elevator (no buttons), which we shared with some bright young things heading to the rooftop HI-SO bar (see above pic). They all admired Neil’s colour palette: dark skin, peroxide blond hair, purple suit and blinding white smile.

The hotel used to be the Reserve Bank, and it’s renovation was a seven-year project which opened to much press earlier in the year. Well deserved press too. The internet takes no PR prisoners; read the reviews on Trip Advisor. They reflect our own experience: staggeringly welcoming service, seriously luxurious rooms, the best view in town from both the restaurant Harbour Society on the 15th floor and the HI-SO bar on the 16th.

We stayed in the SO Club room which was the cleverest use of a rectangle of space I’ve ever seen. The floor-to-ceiling glass made us feel like we were sleeping outside in the city. So damn cool. We loved thoughtful touches like wine glasses in a rack over the bath, and the complementary (booze-free) mini bar which was restocked daily. The whole hotel has been designed to reflect Auckland’s volcanic origins. Our room was ‘Solid Element’ which sported lots of gold and bronze and diagonal jagged lines, like the bedhead (see right). The other rooms are ‘Liquid Element’ which feature reds and oranges, like lava, and ‘Vapour Element’ which feature an airy atmosphere with calming grey tones.

We started our morning working up a sweat in the gym and cooling down in the pool in the basement. There’s a spa down there too. Next time. 

Thank goodness we exercised first: the breakfast on the top floor was something else. As club room guests, we were ushered to the Waitemata private dining room, on the opposite side of the hotel to our room so a completely new view. There’s another exeutive lounge for SO Club guests where you can enjoy cocktails and canapés early in the evening.

We had planned to go out for dinner but, why bother, when you have the best view in the city and delicious room service from a Michelin starred restaurant?