Wellington, one of the three biggest cities in New Zealand, is perhaps best known for a tantalising culinary offering and indigenous wines. But, it also provides a choice of quirky, hip hotels.
According to Māori folklore, the bay around the capital of New Zealand was once home to giant monsters, whose thrashing formed both the harbour and mountain landscape. More recently, the forward-thinking city has taken on a trendy, cultured persona, with a rich history and warm hospitality that appeals to visitors from all walks of life.
Set across two separate buildings, this family-owned hotel has been designed on a European model. Much like a pension, guests in some of the 13 bedrooms share bathrooms. But, there are also ensuite self-catering apartments and studios with baths, balconies and steaming hot tubs. These options make it suitable for everyone, from singles to groups and families. And, in a quiet nook, close to the vibrancy of Cuba Street, you’ll be at the centre of the action.
Stay in five-star finery at this chic boutique establishment. Large studios and suites are set with iPad Minis and soundproofed walls, and you have the choice between garden, park or city views. Try some modern Kiwi cuisine at the in-house restaurant, Artisan, and drink locally roasted coffee at the lobby cafe. In addition to the fitness centre, guests can unwind in the lap or spa pool.
As the namesake of Arthur Wellesley – better known as the first Duke of Wellington – this building was put up in 1929. There’s a period cosiness here, with fitting furnishings reflecting the neo-Georgian flair. The hotel is located in Lambton Quarter, close to restaurants, shops and event venues but also has two in-house eateries. Single rooms are available (alongside classic doubles and deluxe suites), representing excellent value for the solo traveller.
Right across from the boardwalk, this five-star residence has an eye-catching tinted glass exterior with front-row bay views. It has a spa offering a range of treatments, with a sauna and pool. Chameleon is the place for meals – there’s a buffet breakfast – and you can watch the world go by over drinks at the Lobby Lounge (also the venue for afternoon tea).
Te Aro is one of the coolest districts in the city and home to this art hotel, which houses hundreds of contemporary pieces and where the staff uniforms have been fashioned by a Broadway costume designer. The 163 rooms come with a Bose sound system, Nespresso coffee machine and minibar stocked with unusual treats (such as bow ties and playing cards). Elsewhere, there are a cocktail lounge, a fine French eatery and a long narrow pool encased in a glass structure.
Encapsulating the French art de vivre, this Sofitel outpost is a seductive affair, a short walk from the Botanic Gardens. The Jardin Grill centres around fresh produce, quality ingredients and a passion for food – and has an outdoor terrace. Drink Sofitel’s own botanical G&T under a branching floral ceiling at the cocktail bar, La Serre.
Mid-century luxury awaits at Ohtel in Oriental Bay. The 10-room four-storey boutique opened in 2008, inspired by the design hotels of New York. Local art and ceramics are found throughout, alongside high quality, à la mode furnishings. Wine, tapas and baked goods can be purchased at Duppa Bar, which is named after the first bay resident, George Duppa. Ohtel is also dog-friendly.
Boulcott Suites are part of the Kiwi Village Accommodation Group (whose portfolio also includes the Ohtel), offering extensive self-catering options. Book everything from a single-level studio to a four-bed townhouse with a balcony and open-plan living-dining-kitchen area. The complex is found on the corner of Willis Street, with supermarkets and restaurants just minutes away on foot.
Accessible and family-friendly, the 17-storey Rydges hotel offers both self-catering and bedroom-only stays. It has a spa, a lap pool, a sauna and a gym as well as an award-winning grill-style restaurant (steak is the speciality here) and a wine and whisky bar. The downtown location – sandwiched between the city and sea – provides guests with diverse outlooks. Onsite self and valet parking is available for a fee.
Watch the buzz of the harbour from the romantic seventh-floor One80° Restaurant and Lounge at the Copthorne; beef Wellington is the signature dish, best followed by the rose-petal pistachio bombe Alaska. The 118 large rooms here also benefit from harbour (or city) views, all furnished with private balconies and minibars. The four-star hotel enjoys a prestigious and convenient spot on the swanky Oriental Parade.
This modern, international chain hotel is housed in an Art Deco-era restored T&G building. The cafe lounge, 1928, nods to the vintage credentials of the property. An Asian-European fusion menu is presented morning, noon and night at Spring Kitchen. The hotel sits beside the Wellington Cable Car in the business district and has a fitness centre and extensive accessible amenities.
An ultra-bijou option, this beachside B&B has just three ensuite rooms with heated floors. It’s ideal for travellers wishing to stay further from the centre, lying 3 miles (4.8km) from the main city hub. A garden, lounge and terrace are shared by guests (although one of the rooms comes with a private deck). The Weta Cave museum, home to a collection of Lord of the Rings props and memorabilia, is only a short distance away.