24-Hour Room Service: Tahiti Beachcomber ParkRoyal, Faa, Tahiti

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The Independent Travel

With its breezy, open-plan design, palms, frangipani and hibiscus, the Beachcomber is Tahiti's showcase hotel. It has two swimming pools, two restaurants, a poolside café and hammocks dotted around. The 30 acres of gardens overlook the shimmering lagoon and the view at sunset across to the island of Moorea (Bali Hai in the musical South Pacific), past the silhouettes of boats on the bay, is arguably the best in the whole of French Polynesia. Order room service and sit on your balcony with a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. And don't forget to flick on the Tahitian music channel for George Formby-esque ukulele tunes. The hotel will even marry you if you desire, transporting bride and groom to the wedding site by canoe, complete with conch-blowing manservants.

Location, location, location

Tahiti Beachcomber Parkroyal, Faaa, Tahiti, French Polynesia (00 689 86 51 10; website www.tahiti.interconti.com; e-mail tahiti@interconti.com) is at Tata'a Point, supposedly the place where the souls of the dead departed to the netherworld in ancient Tahitian tradition. It's on the north-west side of Tahiti, five miles from the centre of Papeete, the bustling capital of French Polynesia.

Time to international airport: less than five minutes from Faaa airport. A pre-arranged hotel transfer will cost £7 per person. Or you could walk across the road and take Le Truck, the local bus, for just 70p each and be dropped right outside the hotel.

Are you lying comfortably?

There are 271 rooms, ranging from villa-style garden rooms to ultra-deluxe bungalows perched over the water, where breakfast is delivered by outrigger canoe (£16 per person). The rooms are spacious and designed in traditional Polynesian style, with huge wooden four-poster beds, wooden floors, art nouveau lamps, bamboo armchairs and limited-edition South Sea islands paintings on the walls. The bathrooms are separated from the bedrooms by wooden blinds and have two marble sinks, a bath large enough for a whole family, beautiful wood-framed mirrors and three kinds of showers. The hotel actually ran out of monoi soap while we were there; the entirely plausible explanation was that too many visitors pinch the stuff as souvenirs.

Freebies: a complimentary bowl of tropical fruit on arrival ­ just the ticket after a long-haul flight ­ including pineapples, succulent papaya, mangoes and pamplemousse (a kind of grapefruit). Free kayaking for one hour and snorkelling for three hours; flowers and chocolate when your bed is turned down in the evening. Free laundry facilities, though you must bring your own powder.

Keeping in touch: each room has international direct-dial facilities but otherwise the hotel appears content to let the internet age pass it by. The message seems to be that if you really want to spend time working rather than enjoying the facilities and surroundings, something is seriously wrong.

The bottom line

A garden room costs £170 a night, but you should really go for a panoramic room – at least one overlooking the lagoon ­ at £250. If money really is no object, take one of the overwater bungalows, at £340 a night. Note that this merely gets you in the door ­ all food is extra.

I'm not paying that: budget options are extremely rare in Tahiti. But try the Hotel Tiare Tahiti on Boulevard Pomare, right in the centre of Papeete overlooking the harbour (00 689 500 100); rooms cost from £70. If you want something cheaper than this you are probably in the wrong country.

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