Located in the heart of Wellington’s CBD, this beautifully restored hotel is perfectly placed to explore the capital on a weekend break.
THE PLACE: The DoubleTree by Hilton Wellington is situated in the historic T&G building, built in 1928 in the Chicago architectural style – yet its signature art deco grandeur was almost lost to history.
Wellington property investor Mark Dunajtschik purchased the heritage-listed property (affectionately known to locals as the old Harcourts building) in 2002 and fought for the Environment Court’s permission to demolish it. In the midst of a bitter legal battle, Dunajtschik famously offered to sell the earthquake-prone block for $1.
THE SPACE: The DoubleTree oozes class. Recreating the opulence of the 1920s, guests are placed in a modern-day Great Gatsby.
Staff greet you inside the hotel’s petite black-and-white marble lobby, where a famous DoubleTree chocolate cookie is part of the welcome package as you check in.
You’re then directed to the elevators, which have old-school display panels and stunning tarnished copper mirrors but none of the judders of an original.
The tasteful rooms also manage to blend the best of the old and new. Our luxe suite had strikingly high ceilings, one wall of art deco-style wallpaper, glass-and-metal side tables and globe light features. Yet these decorative details from another era sit naturally alongside two 49-inch TVs, a sleek L-shaped couch and a comfy king-sized bed.
Modern comforts include plenty of powerpoints (hallelujah!) and night lights by the toilet and sink, so you don’t have to wake up your roommates in the middle of the night.
The large Palladian window overlooking Lambton Quay might seem original at first glance, but thankfully double glazing has been fitted to keep out most of the noise from the busy central Wellington street. Thick blackout curtains also prevent the streetlights (and morning sunlight) from disturbing your rest.
Naturally, the luxurious bathroom is styled in 1920s black and white, with classic high-shined tiles on the walls. You feel posh just being in there. There’s a generously proportioned rainfall shower – no accidentally banging your elbow – but the real highlight of the suites is the standalone Victoria + Albert bathtub with freestanding tap. No stay would be complete without a relaxing dip in some bubbles.
Crabtree & Evelyn supply the toiletries – a classy touch, though the bottles are a bit on the small side. Just ask reception for more supplies if you run out. The hotel staff were warm and professional and happy to help, whatever the query.
THE FACILITIES: We took advantage of the small on-site gym, kitted out with an exercise bike, cross trainer, treadmill and weights.
It’s a cozy room to have to yourselves but you possibly wouldn’t want to share it. You’d be better off stretching your legs around the bay if the Wellington weather allows, rather than working up a sweat in a windowless room.
THE FOOD: Nestled on the first floor, Spring Kitchen is a popular choice for dinner. Tables are in high demand the night we visit, but the waiters manage to squeeze us in. Since it’s a small space, it may pay to book before you arrive.
Its popularity is well-founded. With a Silk Road theme, the inventive menu fuses cuisines from South East Asia and India via Italy and Spain.
Those who like their heat will enjoy the Tandoori laksa chicken with orzo pasta, while the charcoal burra sirloin steak has just a hint of spice and comes with a deliciously creamy quinoa risotto. The combination of chorizo and potato kulcha is inspired, as is the miso-glazed eggplant with sesame seeds and crispy boondi.
We tie up the meal with the bartenders’ newly designed cocktails and an ice cream sundae featuring the hotel chain’s signature cookie.
If you’re after more traditional fare, there’s a bar and room service menu available. The cheeseburger with aged cheddar, beetroot and caramelised onion hit the spot, while the tangy slaw in the falafel burger follows Spring Kitchen’s bold, flavourful philosophy.
DoubleTree’s traditional breakfast buffet was on hold during alert level 2. Instead, there’s table service with a menu of the options, from continental fare to cooked breakfast favourites – think eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms and beans. The dairy-free berry smoothie is a refreshing way to begin your day.
The 1928 Lounge adjacent to the lobby usually sells freshly-made barista coffee and craft cocktails but was closed during our visit due to level 2 restrictions.
WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR: In need of some retail therapy? You’re in luck. The hotel is smack bang in the middle of Wellington’s Golden Mile, home to an array of big name brands and upmarket Australian department store David Jones. You’re bound to find something that tickles your fancy.
Alternatively, take the nearby cable car up to the Botanic Garden for stunning panoramic views over the city, or wander along the waterfront to Te Papa, the national museum. Its award-winning Gallipoli exhibition, featuring spectacular giant sculptures of Kiwis caught up in World War I, will run until 2022. Every New Zealander should see it at least once.
THE VERDICT: If you love a bit of old-world glamour, the DoubleTree by Hilton Wellington will be right up your alley. The hotel’s interior has been beautifully restored to its former glory and the rooms are both spacious and stylish. For the price and location, there aren’t many better options for a weekend escape in the capital.
THE LOWLIGHT: Unless you are a Hilton Honors member, the Wi-Fi costs between $10 and $20 a day, which is pretty steep when you’re shelling out for a premium room. The pillows don’t offer great neck support – the stuffing beneath your head escapes through the night, leaving at least one set of shoulders with a slight ache.
MORE INFORMATION: A stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton starts from $159 per night.
The writers were hosted by Hilton.
Source : Stuff