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Staying at a hotel so famous that it's printed on a country's currency isn't something that was on my travel bucket list. In fact, I didn't even know that such a hotel existed. But it turns out that the Grand Pacific Hotel in the capital of Fiji is famous enough to earn that honor.
While it's no longer the most luxurious hotel in the country, the Grand Pacific Hotel is still the go-to hotel for celebrities, politicians and business travelers when visiting the Fijian capital of Suva. Here's what it's like to stay at this historic hotel.
During my stay in April 2023, the Grand Pacific Hotel still operated as an independent IHG hotel — not flagged as any particular IHG brand. However, the hotel is in the process of joining the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts brand.
At the time my wife and I booked our stay, award nights at the Grand Pacific Hotel cost a steady 30,000 IHG One Rewards points per night. As an IHG® One Rewards Premier Credit Card holder, I received a fourth night free on this stay.
That means my four-night stay only cost 90,000 IHG points. At NerdWallet's valuation of 0.8 cent per IHG One Rewards point, that's approximately $720 worth of points.
» Learn more: Your guide to booking award nights with IHG Hotels
An equivalent cash booking cost $1,006 total at the time we booked. That means this fourth-night free award booking netted around 1.1 cents per point in value.
The Grand Pacific Hotel is located on harborfront land in the Fijian capital of Suva, surrounded by some of the nation's most important sites. The hotel is just a few minutes walk from the nation's seat of power, historic Thurston Gardens and the Fiji Museum.
Directly in front of the hotel, you'll find Albert Park. This expansive park has hosted dignitaries throughout the years, was the site of the unveiling of the new Fijian flag when the archipelago gained independence from the British and remains a center of Fijian culture.
During our stay, Albert Park constantly bustled with life — from soccer and rugby practices to a cricket tournament featuring teams from all across the island nation.
The Grand Pacific Hotel is located just south of other Suva highlights. The bustling Suva Municipal Market, historic Carnegie Library and shopping streets are all located within a mile.
» Learn more: Your guide to IHG elite status
The Grand Pacific Hotel is the most storied hotel in the country of Fiji — so much so that the hotel is featured on the back of the Fiji $10 bill. Originally opened in 1914, this fittingly named grand hotel has hosted a long list of celebrities. Among the most famous are Queen Elizabeth II during several visits to the once-British colony and Charles Kingsford Smith in his famous "Southern Cross" flight from the U.S. to Australia in 1928.
A display case near the entrance to the hotel displays memoirs of the hotel's past.
Photos of the hotel's history line the walls of the original building, with plenty of photos of Queen Elizabeth's multiple visits fittingly surrounding the so-called Queen Elizabeth Suite.
The hotel maintains a "Wall of Fame" with the many politicians and celebrities who have stayed at the hotel. Next to the Wall of Fame, the hotel hangs a mirror with the label "our most important guest of all."
The original Grand Pacific Hotel building hosts just 10 so-called "heritage rooms" and suites. These are the classic rooms originally built in 1914 but updated in a 2014 remodel.
However, there's much more to the Grand Pacific Hotel than just these 10 rooms and suites. A 2014 expansion added the Harbour and Kingsford Smith Wings to the hotel — adding over 100 new rooms. Most of the rooms in the Harbour Wing offer a balcony with an angled view over the pool or harbor.
At the far end of the Harbour Wing are 16 harborfront rooms and suites — eight standard rooms plus eight so-called "Grand Pacific Club" corner rooms.
As a Diamond Elite, I received an upgrade to one of these harborfront rooms, which was dubbed "Daveta" per a sign next to our door.
» Learn more: Your complete guide to earning IHG Rewards points
This harborfront room offered an expansive view of the beautiful — but surprisingly quiet — Suva harbor.
The nice — if a bit plain at first glance — room offered all of the standard amenities you might expect from a hotel room. The king-size bed visibly consisted of two twin beds but was plenty comfortable.
The 42-inch flat-screen TV offered only around a dozen mostly sports-related channels.
A minibar fridge came stocked with around a dozen self-serve drinks. As is customary in Fiji hotels and resorts, the fridge had a carton of complimentary fresh milk for your coffee or tea.
Tucked away in drawers, the hotel provided complimentary teas, French press coffee and even "drinking chocolate" packets.
The closet housed staples such as a blow dryer, safe, laundry bags, hangers, an iron and an ironing board — as well as luxury items, including robes and InterContinental-branded slippers.
The open-design bathroom offered a partially walled shower and refillable Pure Fiji-branded white gingerlily-scented amenity bottles.
Food and beverage
Guests have two options for breakfast: a la carte or a breakfast buffet costing around $20 ($45 Fijian dollars) per person. As an IHG One Rewards Diamond Elite member, I opted for the daily breakfast as my welcome amenity.
Each morning, the buffet breakfast spread was a bit different. However, the expansive buffet always offered more than a half-dozen main dishes — including a couple of vegetarian options and one vegan option — plus fruits, deli meats, cereals, breads, baked goods, salads and juices.
If you want something fresh, you can order from a menu of custom-made egg dishes.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the eggs Benedict I ordered a couple of mornings.
On Thursday and Friday evenings, the Grand Pacific Hotel offers tapas complete with a live band out on the veranda.
Thankfully, our stay overlapped with the events and we could enjoy a selection of reasonably priced tapas and local Fijian beer.
Our appetite not quite suppressed, my wife and I split a bowl of kokoda — the Fijian national dish.
The total for our tapas, pitcher of beer, bottle of Fiji water and main course came out to around $33 total ($73 Fijian dollars). Detailed prices of food and drinks at the Grand Pacific Hotel can be found online where you can view its breakfast menu, its all day menu, children's menu, drinks and snacks.
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The Grand Pacific Hotel pool is located adjacent to the Heritage and Harbour Wings. This long but rather simple pool is open from dawn to dusk.
The Grand Pacific Hotel fitness center was located next to the spa. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., the fitness center has several stationary bikes, treadmills, a rowing machine, free weights and various weight machines.
The Grand Pacific has a full-service Bliss Spa on-site. During our visit, the spa offered reasonably priced specials including:
60-minute table massage: around $54 ($120 Fijian dollars).
45-minute hot stone therapy: around $61 ($135 Fijian dollars).
30-minute foot massage: around $20 ($45 Fijian dollars).
50-minute pedicure or manicure: around $27 ($60 Fijian dollars).
After a long day of walking around Suva (and then a shower), my wife and I opted for one of the 30-minute foot massages. The therapists adapted to our pressure preferences and provided a wonderful massage.
You cannot charge gratuities to the room. While tips generally aren't expected in Fiji, you might want to have cash on hand in case you want to tip your therapist.
Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the internet in Fiji can understandably be spotty — even at some of the top resorts on the islands.
Thankfully, Wi-Fi was not an issue at the Grand Pacific Hotel. While not particularly speedy, the Wi-Fi was solid throughout our stay. A Wi-Fi speed test reflected download and upload speeds of around 10 Mbps.
Need a place to get some work done? The Grand Pacific Hotel offers a business center on the ground floor of the heritage building with a couple of computers, a printer, magazines and newspapers.
If you're considering staying at the Grand Pacific Hotel
Many foreign tourists stick to Fiji's excellent resorts when visiting the island nation — as my wife and I did on a previous trip and much of this trip.
However, if you want a true taste of Fijian culture, I recommend basing your visit to the Fijian capital at the Grand Pacific Hotel.
(Top photo by JT Genter)
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