Arrival/Check-In: Nautically designed to look like an ocean liner jutting into Waitemata Harbour at the tip of Princes Wharf, the Auckland Hilton can be a windy walk to the end of the pier, but taxis pull right up to the door. Once inside, you immediately confront the check-in desk separated by a waterfall wall from the concierge, with windows all around maintaining the impression you’re out at sea. Helpful attendants check you in and send you around the corner to convenient elevators. I happened to mention hopes of visiting the museum the next morning, a Sunday, and no sooner reached my room than the desk clerk called to tell me the institution’s weekend opening hours.
Guest Quarters: Almost all guestrooms have a water view; and the Bow Suites, on what would be the prow of the boat, literally have a pointed front with panoramic windows and balconies on both sides. Gauzy floor-length curtains catch the breeze and provide some privacy without sacrificing the view. Beige walls, chic brown Italian furnishings with orange accents and black-and-white photos on the walls are typical of Hilton’s tasteful décors.
A handsome wall unit enclosed the minibar and an elaborate Solis Palazzo coffeemaker as well as an electric kettle for tea. There were plenty of outlets, already fitted with adapters, and the wall switches were labeled: speakers, bath, shower. The black marble and gray slate bathroom had a spacious counter and both a tub and walk-in shower. Lotions and shampoos by Peter Thomas Roth included a loofah for scrubbing.
Services/Amenities: Facing reception and the open-plan business center computers, the ground-floor “prow” is the cozy lobby Bellini Bar with floor-to-ceiling windows. A shimmery tile partition lined with liquor bottles bisects the space, separating a purple banquette from an arrangement of comfortable moss-green club chairs. With picturesque ferry boats alighting across the way, whether it’s sunny or the wind is howling, it’s a wonderful indoor “outdoor” setting.
The upstairs FISH restaurant has the same wonderful views and an optional enclosed terrace. The comprehensive breakfast provided the chance to sample unusual feijoa juice and banana, berry or spirulina smoothies. In addition to the full buffet of cereals, cheeses, fruits and cold cuts, guests can order an entrée — eggs Benedict or pear and ricotta crêpes in orange butter sauce. The compact fitness center has open views to the water and to the adjacent outdoor infinity pool, which appears to run off right into the sea.
The Experience: While I customarily choose centrally located hotels, the Hilton is convenient to all the ferry and transport terminals; the iconic Cloud multi-events center; and the harbor’s Viaduct Village restaurants, museums and shops. The staff is so pleasant and helpful, the stay is like a voyage on a tasteful, upscale cruise ship.
- Less than 10 minutes for check-in
- Separate tub and shower
- Large vanity
- High-quality towels
- Powerful, unattached hair dryer
- High-quality bed linens
- Large, flat-screen television
- Large desk with convenient outlets
- Complimentary in-room WiFi
- Complimentary bottled water
- Stocked minibar
- Ample lighting
- In-room coffeemaker
- Iron and ironing board
- On-site restaurant and bar
- 24-hour room service
- Large, complimentary laptop safe
- State-of-the-art fitness center
Hilton Auckland Hotel
147 Quay St.
tel 64 9 978 2000
Even if you are not familiar with Chicago, you may already know the Wicker Park neighborhood is one of the city’s “eat like a local” destinations, especially among young professionals whose idea of local is actually quite global. After a decade of high-concept comfort food and gastro-pubs, the Tan family took over a homey space on North Avenue to mix things up with the opening of Cebu. Cebu is not just a Filipino restaurant, but one focused on Cebuano regional cooking along with its Chinese and Spanish underpinnings.
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