New Zealand’s capital city, on the southern tip of the North Island, is packed full of museums, top brunch spots and golden beaches. Visit Te Papa, the national museum, grab a flat white from Courtenay Place and hike up Mount Kaukau for the best city and Pacific views. And book your place to stay with Culture Trip.
If you’re looking to stay in the heart of New Zealand, Wellington makes a great base for exploring the North Island, while the South Island is just a three-hour ferry ride away. After ticking off the key city sights, such as the City Gallery and the Beehive (New Zealand’s parliament), head further afield. Go hiking or biking in the Rimutaka Range, or drive an hour to Martinborough, part of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. When you’re ready to flop, stay at one of these top boutique hotels.
Located near some of the city’s top landmarks, such as the Beehive and the Botanic Gardens, Sofitel Wellington places you right in the heart of the action. The design is more eccentric than your average Sofitel, with gold brocade wallpaper and vintage-style prints. Upgrade to the junior suite for a king-sized bed and garden views. The Jardin Grill restaurant serves up a delicious steak, while La Serre lounge bar offers a heady concoction of fruity cocktails and a generous gin selection.
For an affordable stay near the Terrace, book the James Cook Grand Chancellor. Rooms are fairly neutral in design, yet spacious – sleeping up to five in the family room. Tuck into the all-you-can-eat breakfast and dinner buffet at Whitby’s on the 17th floor, or grab tapas and a glass of New Zealand wine at the Sojourn Cafe and Bar. There’s also an on-site gym, plus you can enjoy a complimentary pass to Les Mills Lambton Quay with a range of fitness classes.
Enter this harbourside hotel to find an impressive assortment of carefully curated artworks by the hotel’s previous owner, Chris Parkin; more than 160 original masterpieces can be found among the hotel’s elegant display cabinets. QT Wellington also features 163 designer rooms and apartments for extended stays, each decked out in plush bedding and Alice toiletries. Sophisticated, French-inspired restaurant, Hippopotamus, has a particularly good rare New Zealand wine menu, while neighbouring restaurant Hot Sauce dishes up Asian delights – including pulled pork baos and beef tataki.
For a more independent stay, book the U Residence, a boutique apart-hotel directly across the street from the Te Papa Museum. Choose from a studio sleeping two up to a two-bedroom apartment, all with smart TVs with Netflix, fully equipped kitchens and washer/dryers, plus balconies overlooking the city. While there is no restaurant on-site, you can order a continental breakfast to your room, plus there’s off-street parking available for a fee.
The Wellesley’s architectural history is just as remarkable as its chic, contemporary rooms. The neo-Georgian building was designed by architect Gary Young, and won several awards upon its completion in 1929. Once the site of a gentlemen’s club, it’s now a local heritage institution. Cosy up by the crackling fire during winter at the 1815 bar, serving breakfast, drinks and casual food – try the braised pork donut with caramelised onions and fried pickles.
A trip to one of Wellington’s most popular beachside suburbs, Oriental Bay, will bring you to the chic, independently owned Ohtel. This 10-bedroom boutique hotel offers individually styled rooms with mid-century furniture, kiwiana artwork and unique features such as record players in some rooms. Book the Suite for a freestanding bathtub and balcony overlooking Waitangi Park. Head downstairs for an all-day brunch made from local ingredients, including honey from Bee Fresh Farms and creamy feta and milk from Zany Zeus, a local organic dairy.
The Bolton Hotel is an independently owned, five-star hotel, named after one of the first immigrant ships to hit New Zealand’s shores in the 1800s. Solo travellers should book the snug Sleep And Go room, while the Suites offer full kitchens and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the leafy surrounding neighbourhood. Luxury in-room perks include iPads, super soft bathrobes and a mini-fridge stuffed with local gourmet produce. Be sure to take advantage of the indoor pool, Jacuzzi and sauna; plus dinner at on-site restaurant Artisan is not to be missed.