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The Crowne Plaza makes a great base if you’re looking to stay near some of Auckland’s best attractions. The Pros: friendly service, spacious rooms. The cons: dim lighting, bland decor, not enough storage space in the bathroom.
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Last year, I came across an airfare deal I simply couldn’t refuse — $361 for a round-trip flight between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Auckland, New Zealand (AKL). After snatching up the fare almost immediately, I wanted to book my stay in Auckland. Taking my momentum and running with it, I decided I wanted to see as much of the city and its hotels as possible, so in order to do just that, I would stay at four different properties around town: the Hilton Auckland, the Langham Auckland, the Stamford Plaza Auckland and the Crowne Plaza Auckland.
The Crowne Plaza is located in the center of the vibrant New Zealand North Island city, about two blocks from the famous Sky Tower and a 10-minute walk from the waterfront. Even though I was there during the gloomy winter season, I was still excited to see what this hotel would be like, especially compared with my experiences at some of its other Auckland competitors.
Once I figured out my itinerary, I went online to see which of the four properties I wanted to stay in would be available for a four-night stay. The rates ended up fluctuating for each of the nights I was there and in total, the four-night stay came to $929.38. (Note that the amounts shown below are in New Zealand dollars).
I used my Citi Prestige Card to take advantage of its nifty 4th night free perk, one of the most valuable benefits out there — in all, the credit ended up saving me $294.94. I also earned 3x points on the hotel stay by using this card as well as an additional 2,788 Citi ThankYou points for the stay, worth about $45, based on TPG’s most recent valuations.
The Crowne Plaza is a member of IHG, so I also could have used IHG Rewards points to book my stay. As of this year, the Crowne Plaza Auckland requires 30,000 IHG Rewards points for a free night, worth about $210 according to those same valuations. Remember that you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG, which usually takes one day to complete. You also can earn Ultimate Rewards points through cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, which each come with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
The Crowne Plaza is hard to miss from street level. It’s a sizable hotel — with 352 rooms on 28 floors — and you can sense that as you walk closer to the entrance. I also noticed the low-hanging ceiling on my way into the building, which isn’t a big deal, but definitely makes the space feel a little cramped.
The lobby isn’t all that grand. The low ceilings continued from the overhanging roof outside, bringing that same sense of tightness indoors.
The feeling stayed with me all the way to the other side of a pillar, which separated the entryway from the lobby and bar.
As I walked toward the check-in desk, the lobby finally opened up to the second floor via a staircase. However, the sensation of being confined continued into the lobby’s restaurant and bar area.
It’s also worth mentioning that there’s no natural light in the majority of the lobby, with the exception of a set of doors by the elevator bank and another set of doors by the main entrance. This lack of light is a downfall in my opinion, as it really makes the lobby feel smaller — especially with the low-hanging ceilings.
The check-in process itself went rather smoothly and before I knew it, I was on my way to the elevator bank.
Upon arriving on my floor, I walked into a fairly bright room — a nice surprise, given the dim lighting I’d seen in the lobby — thanks to a large window on the other end of the room. As a whole, the room was decently sized and far from being the smallest room I’ve ever stayed in.
The king-size bed was nice and large and was extremely comfortable. The color scheme of the room was kind of bland, but I did like the faux-wood backdrop behind the bed and the decorative pillow, which helped to spice things up a bit among the room’s otherwise neutral colors.
On top of the bed and in front of the pillow was a small, aromatic spray — its accompanying placard said it was supposed to help you relax and get a good night’s sleep. I tried using it on one night of my stay and slept soundly, but that also could’ve been due to exhaustion after a full day of sightseeing.
On the other side of the bed was a chaise lounge that made up a small seating area, but it was pretty close to the bed. As a whole, I think the room could have been arranged better to take advantage of all of that space. It was still very roomy though and just enough room if you’re traveling with more than one person.
As I walked closer to the window, I found it hard not to take in the great views of the city around me.
As I drew nearer, though, I noticed some trash had been left behind from the previous guests. It was only an empty wrapper, but still not something I wanted to see waiting for me in my room.
Across from the chaise lounge was a desk; directly above it was the TV, which was mounted on the wall. Note that it would be tough to watch TV while working at the desk, but if you’re trying to get some work done, the arrangement is perfect for eliminating distractions.
Back toward the front door was a mini-fridge, which didn’t have any overwhelmingly exciting options inside, just a small selection of beer, soda, water, wine and a lone Red Bull.
Next to the mini-fridge was the closet, which had two robes for guests to use, as well as an ironing board, a safe, slippers and a few hangers.
The bathroom was located across from the closet and next to the front door. It was adequate in size and there was plenty of room to move around.
There was only one sink, which was okay for just my travel companion and myself, but the counter space was very limited, which I found to be a major drawback.
The products in the bathroom came from made-in–New Zealand brand Koha Spa. There was a variety of items, ranging from the usual shampoo, conditioner and body wash to some useful extras like a dental kit and a small manicure kit.
Overall, the room itself was pleasant and spacious, a welcome change from the smaller rooms I experienced at other hotels around the city. The bed was comfortable and the view from my window looked out at the surrounding parts of the city.
Food and Beverage
I decided to test out room service once during my stay for a late lunch/dinner, and ordered the grilled peri peri chicken burger, which was served with french fries — the burger itself was pretty good, and the yogurt salsa and fries were tasty, too. To round out my room service experience, I chose to get a banana smoothie, which was both low-fat and scrumptious.
Overall, my experience with the service at this property was exceptional. Each time I came in contact with an employee, they were extremely friendly and willing to help, in typical Kiwi fashion. For example, when I had an issue upon checking out, the front desk receptionist was more than willing to help me, ensuring that I did in fact get my fourth night for free and calling the correct people in order to make sure the last night had been removed from my final statement. Downstairs, the lobby restaurant and lounge area were welcoming, mostly due to its staff. In terms of service, which I think can really make or break a stay, this property really impressed me. Thankfully, each of my four nights at the Crowne Plaza was made enjoyable by the friendly and accommodating staff.
While the Crowne Plaza makes a great base if you’re hoping to stay in the city center near Auckland’s best attractions, it isn’t the most glamorous option. The rooms are spacious and the staff are incredibly friendly. However, there are some downfalls, like a dim lobby, a bathroom that doesn’t provide enough space to store your things and a bland-colored room. That said, I did enjoy my time at the property and would definitely consider staying there again — for the views of the city alone.
Have you ever stayed at the Crowne Plaza Auckland? Tell us about your experience, below.
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