7 Urban Hotels Worth Travelling For

A colourful bedroom inside The Intrepid Hotel in Wellington.

In the UK, the term ‘city-break’ is frequently used to describe a weekend away visiting the European city of the moment, exploring everything on offer and most often staying in boutique accommodation.

Now, we may be thousands of miles away from being able to achieve a casual few days in a European city, but here in New Zealand, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to urban hotels that are worth travelling around the country for.

Words by: Julia Rutherford
Photos by: Anna Briggs and Supplied

If your interests lie in unique architecture this guide features the full spectrum of designs, from historic properties that have been redeveloped and have a new lease of life, to those that are new build designs with respect for the past and the future.

And if good food and special touches are high up your priority list, there are amenities and hospitality offerings aplenty. Think freshly brewed Supreme coffee whenever you wish, luxurious bathroom products (hello Ashley & Co.), daily yoga classes and top-rated restaurants on site. So dust off that suitcase, hit the road (or jump on a quick flight) and enjoy one of these note-worthy stays.

The Intrepid Hotel

60 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Wellington isn’t short on great stays, so it’s the small details that elevate the Intrepid Hotel to the next level. It is a true oasis in and amongst the hustle and bustle of the Cuba Street precinct. Everywhere you turn is ‘gram-able, with no two rooms decorated the same way.

Occupying what once was the Cadbury office and warehouse building, the Intrepid embraces its chocolatey past, with guests enjoying a Pinky twist on the traditional hotel ‘chocolate on the pillow’. The thoughtful touches don’t stop there, with complimentary tea, coffee (it’s that Supreme brew we mentioned earlier) and snacks, alongside a freshly baked treat each morning. To top it all off, one of the capital’s best wine bars, Puffin, is mere steps away downstairs.

Ebb Dunedin

82 Filleul Street, Central Dunedin, Dunedin

This neighbourhood hotel takes inspiration for its name from the site's historic location on the edge of the now reclaimed Otago Harbour tidal flats.

The hotel’s location is also reflected in Simon Kaan’s three-storey artwork on the facade of the building, depicting Polynesian settlers arriving in the harbour aboard their wakas. In paying homage to the past, this very modern hotel respects the history of its city in a mesmerising way.

Relaxed luxury informs everything at Ebb Dunedin, from its inception in 2017 to its design, to the hotel’s focus on bespoke service for their guests. No stay at the Ebb is complete without visiting its namesake cafe on the ground floor, whether you’re after a quick coffee and sweet treat, or a more leisurely breakfast or long lunch.

The Observatory Hotel

9 Hereford Street, Christchurch

The Arts Centre is a treasured historical landmark in Christchurch and has been through a careful restoration since the earthquakes and part of this redevelopment includes the Observatory Hotel.

Occupying the Observatory Tower, it formerly housed the university departments of astronomy and physics, and is now home to 33 luxurious rooms. Each one embraces a unique design, with local craftsmanship and artists celebrated in the curation of this hotel. A stay here would not be complete without time spent in the elegant Library Bar and if your visit includes work and business, there are thoughtfully designed meeting rooms that will make you seriously rethink your own office setup.

The colourful and luxurious interior of The Observatory Hotel in Christchurch.

The George

50 Park Terrace, Christchurch Central

The George is synonymous with five-star service and boutique accommodation in Christchurch. Offering stunning views across Hagley Park and within easy walking distance of everything the city centre has to offer, it’s the perfect spot for a weekend (or longer!) in the garden city.

There’s also plenty to do within the hotel itself, from a delectable high tea offering with a glass of bubbles to an art collection that is seriously impressive - you can even arrange a private tour which includes the country’s largest private collection of Ralph Hotere works.

A blurred man walking past a wall of art inside The George.

The Convent Hotel

454 Great North Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland

Free snack bar. Tick. Top-rated Italian restaurant Ada on-site. Tick. Historical charm for days. Tick. Just three of the many reasons we are obsessed with The Convent Hotel located in Grey Lynn, just outside the centre of Auckland city. The Spanish mission-style building that was once home to a community of nuns, has been given a new lease of life as a boutique hotel but its history is still very much honoured and a part of its present. With room names such as ‘The Sisters Quarters’ and ‘Mother Superior’, there are clever design moments everywhere you look that enhance this space and its heritage. The city fringe location lets guests feel like they are a part of the local Grey Lynn scene, and with a strong emphasis on luxurious hospitality, you won’t even want to leave.

The inside of a room at The Convent Hotel with exposed brick walls.

Hotel Britomart

29 Galway Street, Auckland

Design lovers, architect aficionados and all who appreciate the finer things in life, Hotel Britomart is the one for you.

Winner of the 2021 Hot List by Condé Nast Traveler, this hotel epitomises luxury and escapism in the heart of the city. Its location in Britomart puts you in and amongst Auckland’s best restaurants, shopping and stunning waterfront views. At the same time, the hotel itself is a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of its surroundings.

As a guest, you can truly appreciate the decades worth of work that went into creating this space, from the team at Cheshire Architects to the collaboration with local artisans whose unique work and products have created a truly unique space.

A look into a room on the top of the hotel at susnset.

Sherwood

554 Frankton Road, Queenstown

With a focus on wellness, community and sustainability, a stay at Sherwood in Queenstown is a true experience for the soul. Making guests feel right at home is at the heart of everything the team at Sherwood do and as their website states they “believe a great travel experience shouldn’t cost the earth”. This is both figuratively for guests and literally for the planet - as they focus on incorporating as many sustainable elements into your stay as possible. From natural shampoo and body wash in the bathrooms, to a lovingly tended vegetable garden that supplies the on-site restaurant. Embrace the hotel’s emphasis on wellbeing during your stay and try out a yoga class or perhaps a sauna or massage therapy that might be more your cup of tea. However you choose to spend your time at Sherwood, we have no doubt you will leave relaxed and already booked for your next stay.

A view of the outside from a room inside Sherwood.

Neat Auckland Places

Red Rabbit

Two woman having a coffee at a leaner table at Red Rabbit, Auckland.
Place Auckland
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Situated in Parnell’s industrial quarter, Red Rabbit’s Faraday Street outpost is where the locals come for their caffeine hit.

Mr T's Baked Goods & Eatery

Close up of baguettes for sale at Mr T's Baked Goods and Eatery, Auckland.
Place Auckland
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A trip to

Cotto

Cotto Restaurant sign.
Place Auckland
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You simply can’t talk about the best of Auckland’s dining scene without mentioning Cotto.

Bandung Café

Woman holding cocktail and plates of food at Bandung Café, Auckland.
Place Auckland
Cafes icon Restaurants icon

Inspired by home cooking from the team’s roots in Java, Parnell’s Bandung Café boasts a fresh take on Indonesian cuisine.