New Zealand’s Top Hotels For Unforgettable Staycations

A massive red 'HOTEL' sign on a wall.

Forget the stale hotel stereotypes; New Zealand's staycation scene is flourishing with bold character and unrivalled charm.

Words by: Nicola Amy Hinman

Photos by: Anna Briggs, Nancy Zhou & Supplied

There's something undeniably liberating about a hotel stay. You're free to let loose, savour breakfast in bed, and leave towels on the floor without a hint of guilt. Airbnbs, while cosy, always feel a tad too much like... well, home. So, ready to trade your house slippers for an extravagant escape from reality?

From north to south, boutique accommodation providers are carving out distinctive niches, offering much more than just a place to rest your head. Immerse yourself in creative atmospheres, savour culinary brilliance from farm-to-fork eateries, and find yourself swept up by panoramic vistas that are nothing short of breathtaking. 

Welcome to a realm of exquisite getaways that blend bespoke luxury with a palpable sense of place. Whether you crave the vivacity of city life or the tranquil allure of coastal havens, we've rounded up the cream of the crop for your next staycation.

Ebb Dunedin

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82 Filleul Street, Central Dunedin

Ebb is a beacon of contemporary design, masterfully envisioned by award-winning architect Gary Todd. With its beautifully considered rooms and artfully curated spaces, this boutique hotel is somewhere you’ll find very hard to leave. 

The hotel's thoughtful hospitality extends to its on-site Ebb Café. Under the expert helm of chef Alison Lambert, the café embraces a ‘farm-to-plate’ philosophy, delighting guests with delicious, locally-sourced meals and stellar coffee.

But what truly sets Ebb apart is its intimate homage to the locality. From the coastal echoes in the décor to the sophisticated mural of the Otago Harbour tidal flats on its glass facade, Ebb is a harmonious blend of modern luxury and historic reverence. Ebb has truly transformed hospitality into art.

The Mayfair

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155 Victoria Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch

Situated prominently on Victoria Street, The Mayfair is an Ōtautahi gem redefining modern luxury. This contemporary boutique hotel weaves a tapestry of minimalist elegance, combining sleek lines with warm, earthy tones. Its generous windows offer panoramic views of nearby Hagley Park as you recline on your private balcony.

Eschewing formalities for personal attention, The Mayfair's attentive staff serve as hosts and local guides, ready with insider tips on Christchurch's best. This is what sets The Mayfair apart - it isn't merely a boutique hotel but a lifestyle haven offering a uniquely curated experience in the heart of Christchurch. 

The onsite café and bar, Majestic at Mayfair, is a gastronome's delight. Under the skilled helm of celebrated local Chef Nick Tatom, the café serves up photogenic brunches, decadent high teas, and their signature smoking cocktails. The Mayfair, with its unparalleled blend of modern luxury and attentive service, takes city staycations to new, memorable heights.

The Observatory

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9 Hereford Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch

Nestled within the historic Arts Centre in Christchurch, The Observatory Hotel marries elements of the city's heritage with its own brand of innovative luxury. Housed in the former Observatory Tower and adjacent science buildings, this vibrant haven offers 33 rooms, each uniquely designed to enhance the building's distinctive architecture. The eclectic decor comprises works from local artists alongside furniture and bespoke elements handcrafted by local artisans and designers.

Curated with elegance and a large splash of artistic charm, this distinctive hotel manages to encapsulate its heritage with sophistication and grace. Whether you're unwinding in the opulent Malachite Room (the jewel of the hotel) or relishing a drink in the alluring Drawing Room Bar, your stay here will be one to remember.

The Intrepid Hotel

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60 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro

With its brilliantly executed eclectic bohemian aesthetic, The Intrepid Hotel embodies the true essence of Aotearoa’s beloved capital city. Originally Cadbury’s Wellington headquarters, the unconventional space has since been transformed into a one-of-a-kind destination brimming with 'low luxe' comfort and creative inspiration. 

The Intrepid seamlessly weaves grand narratives into minute details and harmoniously merges nostalgia with novelty while paying homage to its chocolate-rich history. Its unbeatable location places you almost dangerously close to Cuba St - the vibrant beating heart of Wellington, chock full of quirky eateries and unique retail boutiques.

Further distinguishing The Intrepid as an incomparable destination is its renowned onsite bar, The Puffin. Considered a gem in the city's wine scene, this establishment provides guests a sophisticated social space without needing to leave the building. Beyond its captivating interiors and bold originality, it's The Intrepid's thoughtful execution of every detail that positions it as an unparalleled staycation experience.

Hotel Britomart

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29 Galway Street, Auckland CBD

‘Flawless’ is perhaps the only way to aptly describe The Hotel Britomart. Voted Aotearoa’s top hotel in 2023, this exceptional haven sets an unparalleled standard of sophistication and sustainable luxury that's as captivating as its vibrant harbour front locale.

Each timber-lined room, filled with tasteful ceramics and unexpected details, is a personal retreat after a day in the city. The calming ambience provides an idyllic contrast to the urban hum of surrounding Britomart. Replete with designer boutiques, diverse dining experiences, and a rich nightlife, the waterfront district makes an ideal backdrop for your Auckland staycation.

The hotel’s on-site restaurant, Kingi, keeps up the 'flawless' mantra with sustainably sourced seafood dishes, curating a dining experience as exceptional as your stay. In short, The Hotel Britomart doesn't just set the bar for luxury and comfort; it redefines it unapologetically and with an unwavering commitment to the environment and guest experience.

QT Auckland

4 Viaduct Harbour Avenue, Auckland

Delightfully daring and full of character, QT Auckland is contemporary elegance personified. This design-led city sanctuary boasts uniquely-styled rooms that artfully blend vibrant colours and dynamic art pieces with an air of theatricality. 

Exotic Mediterranean flavours rule the roost at Esther, the in-house restaurant. Celebrity Chef Sean Connolly weaves culinary genius with locally-sourced, sustainable ingredients, delivering an edible voyage through the sun-drenched coasts of the Mediterranean. 

But the pièce de résistance? The hotel's stunning rooftop bar. Here, jaw dropping city and harbour vistas pair splendidly with innovative cocktails and ambient beats. All in all, QT Auckland is more than just a hotel - it's a sensory experience that blends hospitality, art, and gastronomy in an audacious package.

 

A view of an infinity pool at Sudima hotel in Kaikoura.

Sudima Kaikōura

Positioned on the edge of an awe-inspiring coastline, Sudima Kaikōura unveils itself as an accessible retreat, resonating with understated elegance. A heartbeat away from the local town's buzzing core, the hotel effortlessly fuses convenience with extraordinary vistas that beg to be savoured.

The rooms may be low-key, but the views they frame are anything but. This front-row seat to Kaikōura's stunning coastline is matched only by the foodie heaven that is Hiku. The onsite restaurant's effortless design is like a walk along Kaikoura's beaches, channelling sea-inspired tones and driftwood textures.

Sudima Kaikōura's defining characteristic, however, lies in its ability to blend seamlessly into the area’s rich cultural narrative. Showcasing local Māori artwork, honouring the unique marine life, and fostering deep community roots, the hotel stands not just as an accommodation option but a testament to the town's history, people, and captivating natural beauty.

 

Black and white striped chairs inside a hotel room.

King & Queen Hotel Suites

41 Queen Street, New Plymouth

Perched above the vibrant West End Precinct, King and Queen Hotel Suites serve as a royal retreat in the heart of New Plymouth. The hotel evokes a feeling of grandeur and intimacy with a blend of European and Moroccan influenced decor that imbues each suite with a distinct character. Its prime location puts guests in the middle of the city's rich cultural hub, allowing easy access to the West End’s finest eateries, cafes, and retail spots. 

Yet, the hotel's appeal extends beyond its enviable locale. A stay here is an experience in itself, framed by art, comfort and exceptional service. Whether you're relishing in the sumptuous comfort of your suite or savouring gastronomic treasures from nearby establishments, the hotel's commitment to the guest experience shines through in every detail.

 

The restaurant inside The Sherwood Queenstown.

The Sherwood Queenstown

554 Frankton Road, Queenstown

With sweeping views over Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains, Sherwood Queenstown is no ordinary hotel. Its three acres are not just home to chic rooms with an eco-retro vibe, but also a thriving community hub with a hyper-local restaurant, buzzing events space, and onsite wellness classes. Sustainable luxury comes to life here with a commitment to the environment that’s more than skin-deep — in fact, Sherwood ranks among the top ten most sustainable hotels globally.

Sustainability isn't Sherwood's only goal though; celebrating local artisans and home-grown produce is also at the forefront. The food, a heart-warming ode to seasonality, comes largely from their own organic garden. But what really sets Sherwood apart is its soulful connection to the community and the land. Here, you don't just stay — you become part of an ethos, experiencing the pulse of Queenstown in its most authentic, vibrant, and earth-friendly form.

Neat Auckland Places

Bread and Butter Café and Bakery

Bread for sale.
Place Auckland
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As the big sister to Little Bread and Butter Bakery in Ponsonby Central, Bread and Butter Café and Bakery in Grey Lynn gives off a homely and warm ambience.

Homestead Café

A flatlay of food.
Place Auckland
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From the people who brought you Ceremony Café comes Homestead, a gallery-come-café servicing the ‘burbs with great coffee and food.

Small Mercies

The yellow and white painted interior of Small Mercies Auckland.
Place Auckland
Cafes key icon.

Auckland’s Small Mercies is a whole lot more than just a donut shop— it’s a warm and inviting space, alive with the aromas of specialty coffee and...

Ortolana

Exterior front sign of Ortolana.
Place Auckland
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This inner-city Britomart offering is nothing short of brilliant.