On the southeast coast of New Zealand’s gorgeous South Island, the city of Dunedin is a busy, buzzy place with a young and up-for-anything population. Whether you’re drinking Kiwi wine on George Street or just hanging out in the Dunedin North neighbourhood, you’ll feel welcome here. So where to lay your hat? From boutique bases to hip motels, we know the best places to relax in Dunedin.
There’s only one word for this boutique hotel in a heritage-listed former warehouse in central Dunedin, and that’s cool. From the exposed red-brick walls, backlit headboards, moody colour palette and elegant, Nordic-sleek furnishings, it’s jam-packed with little “wow” moments. Crucially, and true to New Zealand’s laid-back ethos, it’s neither pretentious nor fussy. Staff are warm and instinctively helpful, with genuine personal recommendations to share, rather than the usual tourist spots.
It’s a motel, but not as you know it. Soundproofed rooms, high-speed internet, thousands of free films loaded onto flatscreen TVs. This friendly, family-run pad certainly raises the bar. Rooms are modestly decorated but spotless – and come with their own fully-equipped kitchenette and at least king-size beds. Just five minutes’ north of Dunedin’s city centre, staying here on George Street, you’re a stone’s throw from shops and restaurants, and even closer to the Otago Museum, home to many natural history exhibits – and a planetarium.
The name’s a little bit corny, but that’s the only smudge against this otherwise impeccably stylish city centre hotel. Housed in a handsome, subtly art-deco slab of a building, which once served as the city’s chief post office, the rooms are generous, as you might expect. Warm tones of grey and putty softly echo the building’s stony exterior, while pops of acid yellow and denim blue in the soft furnishings, and sleek walnut furniture, bring things bang up-to-date.
If location is key, you won’t get much closer to the heart of things than here, less than 500m from the centre of Dunedin’s Octagon plaza. The price to pay? Rooms that somehow walk a tightrope between corporate-plain and granny-flat-dated, with green carpets and purple divans, tartan wingback armchairs and gold picture frames. That said, they’re spotlessly clean, and those armchairs will induce a state of soporific comfort, especially with a blanket draped over your lap.
Motels with more (moretels?) seems to be something Dunedin does especially well, as this group of self-contained studio and suite units proves. Details such as satin-sheeny roman blinds, sleek, white designer kitchenettes and – in the mezzanine rooms – high, attic-like ceilings, will make you feel more like you’re staying in a friend’s very trendy suburban cottage than a motel. It’s a little bit further from the city centre (although still not all that far – just six minutes’ drive), but Aria on Bank makes up for it with its location, right opposite the rambling Dunedin Botanic Gardens.
You know you’re in the company of clever design when even the smallest of rooms – we’re talking a short corridor with a bed, bathroom and kitchenette crammed in – is swooningly cosy rather than claustrophobic. The trick they’ve used in the smallest “compact double” room at this chic motel, in buzzy Dunedin North, is to add dimension by covering one wall in an epic high-resolution image of New Zealand’s landscape. Choose one of the other, larger suites or studios, however, and there are no trompe-l’oeils needed, as they’re big, bright and beautifully furnished.
Looking a bit like a modern townhouse, this hotel of self-contained apartments doesn’t appear remotely out of place in the leafy, residential neighbourhood of north Dunedin. The apartments, too, are homely – with prettily shaded bedside lights, soothing tones of sky blue, gold and fawn, and massive french doors opening onto balconies and patios. Put a bottle of Otago Valley wine to chill in the fridge, settle down and make yourself at home. You’re going to like it here.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.