The $290 million restoration of Christchurch’s Arts Centre will take a major step forward next week with the opening of a new boutique hotel.
The 33-room Observatory Hotel will open in the historic complex of buildings on May 7.
Arts Centre director Philip Aldridge said the hotel, which takes up the historic biology and physics buildings on Hereford St, was unique for its location and design.
“This hotel is nationally significant. We’re not aware of any other hotel in New Zealand quite like it.”
Hotel manager Vicki Bretherton said each room was unique. The largest room, tucked in the rafters of the historic building, costs more than $1000 a night during the peak season. Smaller rooms are available from $279 during autumn and winter. There are 22 king rooms and 11 premium rooms.
“Every room is different,” she said. “There is no cookie cutter approach to this building in terms of the design and fit-out. That makes it much more interesting.”
The fit-out of the hotel was overseen by interior designer Jessica Close, who wanted it to feel like a large historic house.
“Every room has its own design scheme and personality,” she said.
“The design is my modern take on the arts and crafts movement. I used William Morris prints throughout – an historical nod to the movement and the Gothic revival buildings the hotel is housed in.
“The Arts Centre is an extraordinary place, and it has been a privilege and a pleasure to be part of the reimagining of these buildings.”
The public spaces feature art for sale curated by The Central Art Gallery, with art in the rooms curated by The Creators Room.
In the hotel’s ornate drawing room, described as the “heart of the hotel” by Bretherton, there are paintings by Dick Frizzel and Leigh Martin on display and available for purchase.
The Arts Centre was badly damaged in the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes and has been slowly restored over the last 11 years. The hotel is one of the last buildings to be restored.
The project was funded with $168m in insurance money, along with grants and fundraising.