I carefully researched the hotels in Noumea as we wanted a comfortable 2 week vacation, knowing 24/7 that we were on a tropical island with the world's largest lagoon and a French influence for gourmet food.
Unlike many island destinations, New Caledonia's capitol is a city of a hundred thousand people, with a wide choice of accommodation styles. While vacationing, we stayed at the Hilton and visited other main hotels to make a comparison (for next time we go). This page reviews our experiences.
Most hotels in Noumea are centered in the area between Lemon Bay and Point Magnin. This is where the beaches are! The best located hotels are set along the main road next to the promenade running between Lemon Bay and Le Meridien. A few more sit a block or two back, providing walking access to the lagoon, and views from the higher levels.
Casa del Sol makes the most noticeable landmark of the hotels in Noumea. It's tall, cylindrical structure towers above the south side of Lemon Bay and also looks down, across Anse Vata and the bay. Although Casa del Sol has kitchen and laundry facilities, very little is provided in them, so unless you bring things from home you'll need to go to a supermarket for some basics. All rooms have balconies and, if you're up high, the panorama is vast.
The side overlooking Anse Vata beach is extremely windy though, so it's not pleasant on the balcony for much of the time. We suggest that you have a room overlooking Lemon Bay, if you book here, so that you're sheltered from the wind. But on the Lemon Bay side, be prepared to hear music from the night clubs below, especially on weekends. It's a short walk out the door to restaurants, shops, nightclubs, and the beach. Pack reef shoes as Lemon Bay has lots of stones and coral in the water.
Next along this strip, sitting behind a large park with flowering trees, is the superbly located Noumea Hilton, with it's tasteful “cruise ship” lines. It boasts very spacious units (two bedrooms are also available) with well equipped kitchens, and large decks with superb water views. Located half way between Magnin Point and Lemon Bay, which is just around the corner, it's the best positioned of hotels in Noumea. See why we purred on our Hilton stay.
The Lagoon Hotel sits behind the Hilton, right next to the footpath of a fairly busy road. Lagoon's very compact rooms have been nicely renovated throughout so they have brand new bathrooms, wardrobes and other inclusions. At the back Lagoon features a lovely small swimming pool with an intimate ambiance.
Although this hotel has been highly rated, it must have been by those who had a quiet room at the back, overlooking the pool. We wouldn't recommend booking here unless that can be guaranteed. The tiny balconies of the front rooms sit directly above the street and opening the balcony door is the only source of fresh air. One of our friends was assigned a front room even though he had booked a "quiet" room. He doesn't like air conditioning, especially while sleeping, so it was very hot in the tiny room (which faced the sunset). He's a deep sleeper but due to the commotion and lights from the street he couldn't open windows to let in the island air.
One of the older hotels in Noumea, the Nouvata Park Hotel, located a little further down the beach strip, incorporates several completely different styles of buildings in it's complex. The décor of many rooms is jaded. Some do offer lagoon views, and some have balconies over the nicely gardened swimming pool area (which is the best point about this hotel apart from location). The lagoon is directly across the road.
We don't recommend staying here even if you are offered one of the renovated rooms, as you can never be sure what you will be given on arrival. Do not book directly with the hotel as they have a strict “no refund” policy.
The Ramada is set a couple of blocks back from the Noumea beach-front and has made the most of it's cylindrical height by placing a revolving restaurant on top. Rooms have a balcony, which we think is mandatory on a tropical island vacation. From the higher floors you can have lagoon views, plus a kitchen and laundry. But the rooms are a little tired for 4 star accommodation, especially the bathrooms. Though mostly hidden from the beach-front, the Ramada is walking distance to the beach and cafes along Anse Vata Bay.
Set back from the beach, in gardens, Chateau Royal is shaped like a shoe box. The Polynesian artwork on it's side identifies the Chateau for a long distance. The main advantage of staying at the Chateau Royal is that you can step straight from it's grounds onto lovely beach. It offers one or two bedroom apartments that are immaculately presented. Balconies are a good size and you can have a well-equipped kitchen here. The pool, with swim-up-bar, gets a little crowded with children during holidays, when there's also a big demand for the sun lounges.
Like Le Meridien next door, Chateau Royal is one of hotels in Noumea located further from cafes and shops. So you're likely to rely more on the hotel's restaurants than when staying closer. Most guests report that the food is good although the servings are small and expensive. A bus stops regularly out the front and it can take you along the main strip and all the way to Noumea Central market if you wish to go shop and make meals in your kitchen.
Le Meridien tops the hotels in Noumea for luxury. It's set right at Point Magnin, which is the most popular place for windsurfers and kite-surfers to enter the lagoon . The point side of the hotel often experiences strong wind, so although it has wonderful views, it's unpleasant sitting on a balcony when the wind blows, which was much of the time during our visit. This will not worry addicts of air conditioning.
The Noumea Le Meridien has a classy décor throughout. The standard rooms are large and all have balconies with lovely views, so there's no need to upgrade. Kitchens are available too. Although it's a 5 star hotel, the servicing of rooms is inconsistent, but you may have the luck of perfect service.
The attractive grounds of the Noumea Le Meridien run down to the narrow stretch of white-sand beach which is considered the best on the island. At the edge of the hotel property, rows of sun lounges are placed under palms for guests to savor beach and lagoon views. Of all the hotels in Noumea, Le Meridien has the loveliest pool by far. It doesn't get overcrowded and you don't have to get out early to recline on a chair here.
It's further to go out to eat from this location, but Le Meridian has more restaurants than other hotels in Noumea. The breakfast buffet gives value, lunch at the Fare is good, the Japanese restaurant is highly recommended, and Le Hippocampe provides gastronomic delights for the same price as the French restaurants at Lemon Bay.
Guests are treated to a daily complimentary coffee at the bar or poolside cafe and there's unlimited free wifi. In true resort style - and just like in Bora Bora - Le Meridien provides canoes and stand-up paddle boards. The romantic little wedding chapel also reminded us of Le Meridien, Bora Bora; where you can say "I do" while watching the sea-life underneath. The Noumea chapel faces the lagoon aspect where the windsurfers take off. If your partner is a wind-sport addict it might be the perfect place to tie the knot. Bring some strong-hold hairspray!
This small resort, set on a tiny island nature reserve, is the only hotel in Noumea hotels with over water bungalows. For Australians who can't get to Bora Bora over water bungalows (yet) this a chance to sleep above a lagoon and snorkel straight from your “room”. All L'Escapade accommodation is in huts, some over water, and some in gardens. They may look a little tired but rooms are clean, comfortable and spacious.
It's a romantic resort for couples. But be aware that on weekends and holidays the grounds can be busy with day-trippers who catch a boat over. They pay for lunch and have full use of the main grounds but fortunately the over water bungalow area is out of bounds to day visitors.
The down side of staying off shore at L'Escape is that you are largely limited to eating at the resort. It offers 3 daily buffet style meals, which are pricy, and you'll likely get tired of the choices if you stay a few days. At lunchtime there's also a cheaper snack bar alternative that sells hot dogs, salads and baguettes.
Which is the best hotel in Noumea? That's a matter of opinion! We loved our huge "apartment with a view" at the Hilton but the 5 star sparkle at Le Meridien won our hearts too. Check out these practical tips to have the best experience staying at hotels in Noumea.
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