Where to stay in Suva
There’s an impressive array of properties of every description in and around Suva. These range from backpacker dorms and medium-priced accommodation for businessmen to top flight properties. Suva, with its tapestry of historical and modern architecture, is accessible to everyone. Fiji Guide has selected a few places (listed below) that we recommend.
Grand Pacific Hotel
The Grand Pacific Hotel (GPH) describes the property as no less than the “Pride of Suva, symbol of Fiji and an icon of the South Pacific”. Sounds slightly grandiose, but the GPH has bragging rights to all the above. Constructed on two acres that had been reclaimed from Suva Harbor in 1910, the Hotel opened on 23rd May 1914.
It’s both a link to Fiji’s colonial past (no less than QE II and her consort were guests) and, with its brilliant 21st century incarnation, a step into the future.
I came to know the hotel in the 1970s and 80s when the grand old lady was in decline.
The past glory was etched indelibly on its facade but in those years it remained a Suva sideshow, a dissolute Victorian era caricature. There were a number of ownership changes in those years and it finally closed 1992.
Fortunately, like a Phoenix it would rise from its ashes.
In 2011, plans for its reconstruction were announced. There would be a joint venture between Fiji National Provident Fund, Papua New Guinea Superannuation Fund and Lamana Development PNG. Those undertaking the project took pains to ensure accurate, and as the GPH website states, the “sympathetic restoration” of the building with “input from many sources,” including the Fiji National Trust.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that those involved with the project did a magnificent job.
Today the hotel is once more an icon.
The property has 103 spacious guest rooms in its Harbour and Kingsford Smith Wings and a further ten rooms and suites located in the National Trust listed Heritage building. In addition, the GPH has all the amenities including pool; gymnasium; two bars (Steamship & Na Toba Pool Bar); two restaurants (Levuka & Prince Albert); and a bakery.
Tariff includes morning breakfast buffet taken beneath the awning, overlooking Suva Bay. On a clear day you can see the jagged peaks of several distant mountain ranges. They offer an array of pastries, fresh fruit, cereal and a chef to prepare your omelettes on the spot. I thought the juicer station, where you can concoct your own healthy creation from fresh carrots, pineapples, papaya, apples or whatever they have on hand.
The service is wonderful and one will not lack for comfort. Rates start at around F$400.
With 130 rooms the Holiday Inn, targets mostly business travelers and is clearly one of the best upmarket properties in Suva. It gets some serious competition from its fabled neighbor next door.
Sandwiched between the shoreline and Victoria Parade, it’s within easy walking distance of downtown Suva. There’s an air of confidence and refinement about the place. It’s not unusual to run into leaders of the local business community in the lounge or run into out of town executives staying as guests.
The reception area has been completely renovated, rooms have been refurbished and there’s broadband Internet service in each room (and the lobby). There’s also a very patient concierge who can recommend some great places to hang out. (Suva has the best night life in the South Pacific). I particularly like the lounge area which makes a nice venue for cocktails. It’s a terrific place to meet both locals and guests or, clients for a drink.
Just outside the lounge you can hang out near the pool, watch the sun set over Suva Harbour or take in the grandeur of Joske’s Thumb. Poolside, the hotel has also set up a pizzeria called Bati ni wai (Water’s Edge) which has the only wood-fired oven on the island. While scarfing down your pizza you can also hear live music five days a week. Bands feature everything from jazz and R&B to local “Island Music”. On Saturdays they have a BBQ.
The hotel boasts a French chef and is very popular with visitors and locals for their breakfast buffet which include smoked salmon, Japan and udon . You can also direct the cook to make the omelets any way you like them. Buffet breakfast is seven days a week beginning at 6 am ending at 10 am. Buffet lunch is also popular with locals and features a wide array of salads, Indian food, Fijian fare such as dalo and ika vakalolo. Deserts were scrumptious– I had a delicious flan and brownies. (The hotels pastry chef is so popular that the restaurant has started to sell cakes and other items not only to in house guests but to the community at large).
The superior rooms are huge and offer every amenity — TV, fridge, deck, and air-con that can be tweaked to your comfort level. Another great thing about the Holiday Inn is its proximity to Thurston Gardens and the Fiji Museum. They are literally across the street. Both offer a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of Suva. You can also walk along the shore and stroll directly across from the famous “Domain” the President’s Residence. The hotel now features premium Parliament view ‘King’ rooms, so called because they overlook the Parliament House, which recently was relocated across the road in the Government Building area.
The hotel has paid a great deal of attention to detail and, an effort to make visitors feel at home. While I was recently there, management threw a complimentary cocktail hour with excellent finger food to introduce all the guests, which is unusual for a hotel.
My favorite place on the premises is a secluded, thatched-roof structure at the back of the property, behind the pizzaria, with a splendid view of the mountains on the opposite side of Suva Bay (including Joske’s Thumb). On a calm day you may see flying fish skipping across the water and birds diving into the drink in a feeding frenzy. If you feel like working, there’s a power outlet and you can plug in your laptop. Rates start around F$327.
The Quest Suva website describes the property as an “Apartment Hotel”, and that’s what it is— a hybrid somewhere between an apartment and a hotel.
This means having your own abode in the heart of town. Most of the guests are business travelers but it’s also ideal for someone on holiday who wants modern amenities but doesn’t need or want the trappings of a ‘conventional’ hotel. There are no waiters, no fancy cocktail bars and no ornate ballrooms. There’s no pretense, just great service.
Simply walk into their discreet lobby at the ultra-modern Suva Central Building and take the elevator.
There are four types of apartments ranging from comfortable little studios to two-bedroom executive units. Amenities include queen-sized bed, air con, kitchenette with bar fridge, toaster, kettle and microwave. The dishes, pots, pans and utensils are high quality-there’s nothing cheap or chintzy about Quest Suva. The ensuite bathroom has a decent supply of shampoo, plenty of electrical outlets and plush towels. Everything is modern and streamlined without being cold or sterile.
There’s daily room service and fresh coffee and tea in the lounge in the mornings. In addition to replacing your towels you get a croissant, whole wheat bread and muesli placed on your kitchen counter.
The living area has an LCD TV with movies on demand, work desk, high-speed (free) internet, an in-house gym and a business center.
If you need help with anything, whether it’s getting the television to work properly or finding a good restaurant, an attendant behind a reception desk (on the fifth floor) will expeditiously take care of your needs.
All the comforts of home
If you had a choice between a bellman with a snappy uniform or a washing machine at your disposal which would you choose?
No, it’s not a trick question…
What I liked best about Quest is that each floor has two rooms crammed with washing machines, dryers and a full carton of laundry detergent. You won’t be fishing for coins in pocket to run the machines. Go ahead wash that underwear right now–there’s no need to send your clothes to the laundry.
Eating and shopping nearby
What the Quest doesn’t have is a restaurant but that’s the least of your worries. There are so many good eateries within walking distance, there’s no reason to fret.
There’s shopping nearby too. If you need groceries or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to wash down that takeaway that plan to bring up to your room, head over to the supermarket on the first floor of MHCC (a 3 minute walk) and you’re in business. (Grab a Fiji Bitter or a few mangos as well).
One other thing I noted. My room at the Quest Suva was quiet even though I was in the heart of Suva.
Prices begin at FJ$265 for a studio.
De Vos on the Park
Another decent property is De Vos on the Park boutique hotel (24 rooms) located in what was the YWCA Bldg off Ratu Sukuna Park. Catering to businessmen, its location is within walking distance of anywhere downtown making it handy for banking, government ministries, etc. Each room could lay claim to being a business center with phone, fax, and Internet connection. Views of the harbor from all rooms and balconies are spectacular. Prices start at FJ$220. There’s a nice cozy feel to the place.
Suva Motor Inn
The Suva Motor Inn is a hidden gem, popular with business travelers and tourists. It’s one of my favorite in-town accommodations. Comfort, convenience and value are the best ways to describe it. There’s also a kind of cozy feeling about the place that makes you feel at home.
Located off the main drag, it’s nonetheless centrally located.
It’s tucked away in a quiet area behind Albert Park, a short walk from the central Suva business district. It’s virtually next door to the Fiji Museum and about a 5 minute walk to Victoria Parade where you’ll find a host of wonderful coffee shops. Nearby are also some excellent restaurants such as the Paradiso, Yellow Chili and others so you won’t have to cab it downtown.
One of it’s greatest virtues is that it’s quiet. Whereas some of the larger hotels located near Victoria Parade expose clients to street sound, the Suva Motor Inn is an island of tranquility. (Unless of course, there’s a visiting rugby team from Oz staying on the property).
Quietude is a big plus for me. I’ll often work in my room, writing away, and tranquility is of more than passing interest.
The Suva Motor Inn has always been popular with business travelers who tend to be practical by nature.
Longer term clients have the option of self-contained rooms which comes in handy. The room are more spacious and more competitively priced when compared to the Holiday Inn and the Grand Pacific Hotel (GPH). The hotel has been upgrading accommodations so you’ll have brand new digs. (The rooms facing Suva Harbor have the best views).
The in-house restaurant and bar is informal with an outdoors environment, facing a lush garden. It’s also a great place for a drink with friends. The surrounding vegetation makes you feel as if you’re in the countryside rather than being in town.
There’s also a swimming pool with a water slide for the kids.
I like the intimate felling that the hotel offers (only 46 rooms) as opposed to some of the larger properties in town. It’s also a good place to keep a low profile!
Prices start at FJ$200.
Tanoa Plaza Hotel
If you’re in need of a decent mid-range accommodation consider Tanoa Plaza Hotel (a block from downtown on Gordon St.) which has the distinction of being the tallest hotel in Fiji. Formerly the Berjaya Hotel it was renovated in 2003 and is targeted at the business traveler. All the rooms overlook the harbor and the most luxurious units are the executive suites on the top floor. There is a first floor restaurant that offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s also a pool but it’s rather small. If you really want a good swim better to check out the municipal pool a few blocks away on Victoria Parade. Prices start at around FJ$215 per night.
Constructed in 1920, 5 Princes (so called because of its address at 5 Princes Road) is a colonial estate perched high on a ridge overlooking Suva. One of its former owners, Harold Gatty, built the first ever swimming pool in Suva on the property. In 1967, a former British District Commissioner for the former Gilbert & Ellice Islands, Forster Brian Weeks purchased the property as a residence. His daughter, Tarei and her Dutch-born husband, Roderic Evers have restored the estate to its former glory and transformed into an elegant boutique hotel.
Improvements include refurbishing the original swimming pool from the 1930s as well as adding a covered walk way, and restoring the veranda which serves as the dining facility. The former home has six rooms, three garden bures and a villa.
- Air Con & Fan
- 32″ Flat Screen Television & DVD Player
- Working Desk & Chair
- Iron and ironing board
- 4 – Burner Stove and Microwave
Prices begin at F$260 for the garden bures. The restaurant is wonderful, and generally only caters to in-house guests.
If you’re interested in an intimate Suva stay without the gratuitous trappings of a traditional hotel, you won’t do better than this property.
If you prefer a more intimate, boutique setting, Mana BnB upstairs from Mana Coffee on 8 Selborne Street is just the ticket. Located just a few minutes walk from the central business district, it targets mostly local and international business travelers. Accommodations are clean and you can grab a coffee, a “bilo” (bowl) of kava or eggs Benedict downstairs.
There are four very comfortable rooms for around FJD$150/night. Guests can access the Mana Coffee shop downstairs with its kava bar and verandah from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. There is an upstairs lounge area. Other amenities include Wi-Fi, TV, free washer and dryer, shared patio and parking on the premises.
I’ve also heard very good things about Island Accommodation, 56 Extension St., a side street tucked away in the rear of the infamous CWM Hospital. It’s a two-story white house and is one of the original B&Bs in town. On the top floor is a lounge area, a kitchen, and four rooms, each with their own bath room. One even has a balcony. The bottom floor has three apartments, two of which have two bedrooms. All three are self contained with well appointed kitchens. Rates begin at FJ$112 for a room per night.
South Seas Private Hotel
A classic in the pantheon of budget properties in Suva is the South Seas Private Hotel (see above photo) which has an old school boarding house-style. As I said in an ancient version of my Lonely Planet guide, which still rings true today
“A friendly, well maintained backpackers’ place, … deservedly a perennial favorite.”
Rooms, review are surprisingly large but not all have electrical outlets for recharging the modern nomad’s mobile devices. Ask for one that has the requisite amenities.
Located near Albert Park, the Fiji Museum and Thurston Gardens you’re in the right neighborhood for a rugby match, a coffee at the Blue Ginger cafe (on the Museum grounds) or a picnic if it’s not pissing rain in Suva.
Rooms: 42 single, twin/double, family and dormitory (4-5 beds) rooms, many with polished wooden floors, and all with fans, insect screens, bed linen and maid service. There is one room with its own private bathroom but all other rooms share communal bathrooms. Prices are in the F$50 range.
Located on 19 Anand St, off Robertson Road, opposite Suva Municipal market. Colonial Lodge is a stalwart of the budget crowd. The property is central to downtown Suva business, government, clubs, restaurants and a two minute walk from the Suva bus station. It’s a veritable oasis in the midst of town, surrounded by gardens and huge rain trees. It’s a converted home with 16 rooms of various configurations ranging from 6-bed dorms and a self-contained garden cottage to minuscule single rooms. Upstairs is a huge communal area with a veranda. There are couches hammocks and, a large bookcase with ample reading material. The owner, Suzie Yee Show, will allow you to exchange books at her library. There’s a large dining room table where you can place your laptop in between meals.
Prices starting at F$38—which is inclusive of breakfast. Call it a budget travelers B&B. I suggest you pay a little more to get a private room if you have the means.
Evening meals are available at a reasonable price.
A few of the larger units have individual ensuite bath/toilet. Communal bath showers are available for other guests. If you’re an older traveler with a need for some creature comfort, get the larger unit with the bath facilities or you won’t be happy.
Property is close to the hospitals and is popular for medical electives for UK students and student volunteers from around the world.
Suzie Yee Show is the youngest daughter of Emosi Yee Show, who was the pioneer of “backpacker tourism” in Fiji. Suzie cut her teeth as a child, helping her dad cater to guests at the family’s operation, the old Capital Inn, located in Levuka. (Her sister Clara currently runs the latest incarnation of the family business in Levuka called Clara’s Holiday Lodge).
Colo-I-Suva Rainforest Eco Resort is located 9 km kilometers from Suva on Princes Road. The Resort is situated on the edge of a misty rain forestnext to the Forest Park – Colo-I-Suva Park (pronounced Tholo-ee-Suva). When I first visited, back in 1999, it was known as Raintree Lodge, Fiji’s first ecotourism resort. The park, which is adjacent to the property, teems with tropical vegetation, natural pools, bird life and has 6.5 km of trails. The resort is constructed on the remains of a volcanic plug.
Accommodations include cozy bures with their own veranda overlooking a lake or a pond, 2-story pool side studio apartments or, budget accommodation. Prices begin at around F$65 and top out at about F$300 depending on the configuration.
Trips to town can be easily negotiated via taxi or local bus.
A restaurant is on the premises that serves all three meals.
Just outside of Suva: Toberua Island Resort
This resort is actually off the coast, near Suva, and was one of the first boutique properties in Fiji. There are 16 bures on this 4 acre island. Harper’s Hideaway Report in past years rated it as one of the top small island resorts in the world.
The cuisine specialties include fresh seafood and continental dishes supplemented by locally grown tropical fruits and organic vegetables from their own gardens. There is a full bar service with a wide selection of Australian, New Zealand and California wines. There is decent snorkeling right off the beach and a short boat ride will bring you to a large main reef with a varied scope of marine life.
Prices start at around F$470 (single double) per night. A downside to consider is that the weather at Toberua often matches that of Suva – rainy and humid.