If you need a place to rest your head in Port Moresby between flights, here’s a nice surprise, writes Joanna Hall.
The rain falling from the inky-black sky was beyond torrential. As the driver steered the courtesy bus away from Port Moresby airport, it was difficult even to see the flicker of the street lights through its water-lashed windows. Fortunately, we didn’t have to brave the busy, pothole-ridden road into the city because our destination for the night was the Airways Hotel. Only a few minutes’ drive from the airport, it’s been touted as PNG’s top hotel thanks to its luxury accommodations and stunning views.
We had arrived in Papua New Guinea’s capital city from Madang, a province on the northern coast of the mainland. To get to our next destination, the inland highlands of Goroka, we had to fly into Port Moresby and stay overnight.
When I was told we’d be staying at the airport hotel, I didn’t have high expectations. I’d heard from a few travellers that hotels in Port Moresby were generally very expensive as well as a bit hit and miss. When it comes to airport hotels, most of those I have stayed at have been rather soulless places, highlighted by mediocre accommodations and overpriced food.
I had expected the same of the Airways Hotel but, from the moment we stepped into its bright and ultra-chic foyer (complete with a resident pianist), I had a feeling that I might be proved wrong.
When you are dusty, sweaty and exhausted from being on the go in heat of 34-plus degrees, the place where you will lay your head for the night is of paramount importance.
The Airways Hotel has a variety of accommodation to suit most budgets, with some of its 89 rooms (now increased after more development) and four suites featuring wireless internet access, Nespresso machines, flat-screen LCD televisions and even 24-hour butler service.
We were staying in a Fountain room on the ground floor, which had a small balcony and an en suite marble bathroom with Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries.
The room was spacious, with a queen bed, and its contemporary Western decor pleasant to the eye; it had a cooling red-tiled floor, lots of blond wood, elegant furnishings and soft, gold-embossed wallpaper.
After freshening up, we were happy to discover that the inclement weather had moved on. But as we pondered going out for dinner, one of the staff told us that guests of the Airways don’t need to leave the hotel for anything, whether that’s a cold beer or a good meal.
The hotel is not cheap but it has a host of impressive facilities, including a fitness centre, a spa and an executive lounge offering snacks and complimentary evening cocktails. On good advice, therefore, we headed upstairs to the hotel’s expansive roof terrace and it’s here that the “Airways” name clearly becomes the property’s theme.
For a start, you can see how close the hotel really is to the airport. It is across the street from the end of the runway and has fabulous views across Bootless Bay towards the Owen Stanley Ranges. There’s also a funky watering hole called the Dakota Bar inside a DC3 aircraft.
The terrace is also home to a large swimming pool, an open-air bar and two of the property’s three acclaimed restaurants: the Poolside Restaurant, which offers a grill menu and a buffet, and Deli KC’s, a gastronomic outpost serving delicacies from across the globe. Feeling buoyed by our experience so far, we opted to dine in the hotel’s premium eatery, Bacchus Restaurant. On the ground floor, it turned out to be quite a formal affair with starched linen tablecloths, china and crystal, complementing an a la carte menu of what turned out to be fine international cuisine.
After a restful night’s sleep, the following morning dawned bright and sunny. We made the climb back upstairs to the Poolside Restaurant and, after a hearty breakfast of eggs benedict, we were ready and raring to begin our adventure in the PNG highlands.
In two days’ time, we would return to the Airways Hotel for another overnight stay, no doubt tired and sweaty and in need of revival before heading home. But the difference this time would be that we would look forward to the experience.
WHERE Airways Hotel, Jacksons Parade, Jacksons International Airport, Port Moresby. Phone +675 324 5200, seewww.airways.com.pg.
HOW MUCH Rates start from Kina900 ($380).
TOP MARKS Sipping on a cold drink at the end of a long, hot day on the pool terrace and watching the planes land and take-off at sunset.
BLACK MARK The cost. For a four-star, it’s not cheap but the standard of service, food and accommodation is high.
DON’T MISS The formal restaurant, Bacchus, which is easily the best in PNG.