Art-filled and affordable: My long-awaited stay at the Park Hyatt Auckland
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Points enthusiasts, myself included, have been looking forward to staying at the Park Hyatt Auckland since the $200 million property was first announced way back in 2014. After a series of setbacks, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the hotel finally opened its doors in September 2020 — and I’ve been biding my time until New Zealand’s borders also opened to book a stay there.
Luckily, that chance came last month when I went to New Zealand to cover the return of international travel to the country and was able to book a two-night stay at the 195-key property, which includes 23 suites.
The hotel did not disappoint, especially at a price point that was much more affordable than most other Park Hyatts around the world. Hopefully that will remain the case. But even if prices increase, the hotel’s location and amenities should make it a top choice for travelers craving a high-end experience on their next visit to Auckland.
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This has to be one of the most reasonable Park Hyatts in the world, with room rates that start at around £174.93 per night, though this is bound to change now that the country has reopened to international travelers and once the Southern Hemisphere summer high seasons begins.
I was able to book a standard 1 King Bed room for £176.52 per night, including taxes.
This is a World of Hyatt Category 5 property, so award nights range from 17,000-23,000 points per night. During my stay, they would have cost 17,000 for the same room I booked and 29,000-34,000 points per night for various suites.
I used my World of Hyatt Credit Card to pay so I could earn 4 points per dollar on the room rate and other charges at the hotel. Thanks to the automatic Discoverist elite status the card affords me, I was also eventually upgraded one category to a 1 King Bed Harbour View room that would have cost £214.69 per night instead.
The new Park Hyatt Auckland is located in an area of the city’s central business district called Viaduct Harbour where there’s a large yacht marina as well as several newer buildings housing offices, apartments and other hotels like the QT and the Sofitel.
It’s a quick walk across a pedestrian bridge to the city’s ferry terminal and the lively Britomart area as well as the buildings of major international firms that have offices in Auckland.
Just to the west of the hotel is a dining and entertainment district called the Wynyard Quarter, with plenty of bars, pubs and restaurants such as The Conservatory which serves burgers, salads and pizzas, Kaminari for Japanese and Baduzzi for Italian.
The architecture and design of the hotel are quite striking and a combination of efforts from a local firm called Bossley Architects, Ali Reda from Singapore-based outfit ar+d and interior design by Conran + Partners, whose other notable projects include the Andaz London and the Park Hyatt Jakarta.
Many of the design elements are allusions to traditional Maori culture and crafts, and the hotel’s layout is inspired by a wharenui, or gathering house. The exterior of the building, for instance, has a screen-like, bronze-colored skin meant to represent a traditional Maori cloak called a korowai, and one of the first artistic pieces guests will notice upon arriving in the small, circular porte-cochere off Halsey Street is a dramatic wooden waka carved by Rotorua-based artist Lyonel Grant, with intricate faces and other details inset with paua (abalone) shell.
Check-in and lobby
The lobby ups the drama noticeably, with a towering, seven-story atrium ringed by the guestroom corridors and moat-like water features running through various parts of the ground floor.
The space is split in two by a bank of elevators with a black, circular shaft. The front portion houses reception and a seating area, and the back has a kind of open-air event space on the second floor.
The cavernous lobby is anchored by a seating area with two curving sofas that fit nearly together to form a ring like a tree trunk, along with some low tables and colorful sitting poufs.
On one wall is a huge installation by artist Peata Larkin, who painted woven patterns then illuminated them with LED lighting to echo Maori weavings. This is said to represent protection and a connection to the sea just outside the hotel.
On another wall is an enormous wall hanging with a map of the Auckland area.
In one corner of the ground floor, across from reception, there is an event space where a fashion industry party took place one night of my stay. The side of the building across from the main entrance is mostly taken up by the hotel’s Living Room restaurant for casual dining and the Captain’s Bar for cocktails. Continuing along from there, you come to a hallway of single-person restrooms, then the gourmet restaurant Onemata.
Turning the corner, you arrive at the café-like Pantry, where you can order a variety of breakfast and lunch dishes. Finally, you can walk back along another corridor with paintings and other works by New Zealand artists like Jimmy James Kouratoras.
There are three reception desks just inside the main entrance, framed by their own slatted wooden structure and backed by woven black and red tukutuku panels by artist Beronia Scott and her whanau (sort of like a community or extended family). No one else was checking in when I arrived, so the agents there attended to me immediately. After taking my passport and credit card, they thanked me for my loyalty and apologized that my room was not ready yet (it was around 11 a.m., so I hadn’t expected it to be). I left my luggage with them while I headed out to meet a friend and they said my bags would be taken up to the room when it was ready.
When I returned at around 4 p.m., I was able to pick up my key and head directly to my room, where my bags were waiting in the closet.
My room was number 413 and overlooked the Viaduct Basin and the city’s central business district, including the iconic (love it or hate it) Sky Tower — though that view was slightly obscured by the aforementioned cloak-inspired hotel facade.
The room felt positively enormous, at over 500 square feet including both the interior space and a sizable balcony.
The main part of the room held both the king-size bed as well as a mammoth sectional with wooden siding that looked as if it were a built-in piece on a yacht. Its cushions were upholstered in taupe fabric with cute leather straps attached to a brass bar that made me think of vintage luggage. Along one bottom panel, there was a set of plugs for charging devices as well as connecting them to the room’s entertainment system. The sectional surrounded a large wooden table that worked equally well for eating room service and getting some work done.
Just inside the front door, screening the room from the entry, was a frame crisscrossed by black cords, a visual reference to the hotel’s maritime setting. That theme was also echoed in the wood paneling and flooring, which was nicely accented by an area rug based on traditional Maori motifs.
Across from this and leading into the room was the minibar, with a white marble countertop set into a mirrored recess, a chest with drawers holding various snacks and a cabinet containing the minifridge. I found a large bottle of complimentary Antipodes sparkling water and a welcome amenity of crackers and a hangi pot (a traditional Maori way of cooking vegetables) of hummus-like carrot paste to snack on.
The minibar items included nibbles like kumara (sweet potato) chips with smoked paprika and onion, gluten-free chocolate chip cookies from Molly Woppy and various New Zealand spirits like Thomson Two Tone blended whisky as well as Amisfield Pinot Noir.
There was also a Nespresso machine with pods and sugar (plus milk in the fridge) and an electric kettle for heating water if you wanted to brew one of the T2 tea sachets provided.
Continuing on you come to a bathroom space with a toilet and a small sink.
Next to that was the clothes closet, which had a gray stone shelf for my suitcase, a few small drawers, plenty of hanging space and the room safe.
Out in the main room, the king-size bed was dressed in simple white linens and felt semi-enclosed thanks to a curved wooden frame with a gray fabric headboard.
To either side were hanging globe lights and marble-topped nightstands. Above those were power ports (with just New Zealand-shaped outlets, so bring your adapter), USB ports and touchscreen panels to control all the room lighting.
While smart in theory, I found these exceedingly hard to actually operate. When I wanted to turn the lights on or off, they inevitably brightened or dimmed, while when I wanted to adjust the levels … they ended up going on or off completely. I guess I need a lighter touch.
Rather than a physical compendium, I found a sheet with QR codes that you could scan to get the menus at the hotel’s various restaurants, for room service and at the spa.
Across from the bed, the wall between the closet and the main bathroom space was paneled in more woven tukutuku panels by Beronia Scott that lent the room a visual focal point as well as some color. The wood-paneled wall between the bathroom entrance and the windows held a 55-inch flatscreen HDTV, which could swivel for viewing from either the sectional or the bed.
Speaking of the bathroom, it felt palatial, too. There were two sinks and dual vanities as well as a small magnifying mirror for applying makeup.
Taking up one side of the room was an oval-shaped bathtub with window shades that you could raise or lower for harbor views.
Occupying the entire other side of the bathroom was a glassed-in shower with marble tiling and an overhead showerhead plus a hand-held one mounted on the wall. As is standard at Park Hyatts, the amenities were Le Labo’s Bergamote 22 line.
The balcony was out the large, sliding glass doors from the main room and felt huge. That’s partly because it was so sparsely furnished, with just two chairs and a table. I think the hotel could benefit by adding a little lounger or love seat out there, but it was still a nice place to take in the city lights as they flicked on in the evening.
Food and beverage
Over the course of my two-day stay, I got to try most of the hotel’s dining outlets as well as a sumptuous room service breakfast, and none of the experiences disappointed me.
Located at the northwest corner of the hotel and accessible directly from the street, The Pantry felt like a casual coworking space with both two- and four-top tables as well as communal ones, plus some outdoor seating. It’s open for breakfast and lunch (7 a.m.- 2 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. weekends) with items you order at the counter such as eggs benedict with a choice of salmon, bacon or mushrooms and spinach (£12) and a soba noodle salad with honey soy dressing, kimchi, edamame and cucumber (£11.13), as well as various coffee drinks, tea, kombucha, sodas, smoothies and a few options for beer, wine and cocktails.
Overlooking the Viaduct Basin, the Living Room is open from 10 a.m. every day until 8-10 p.m., depending on the day of the week, and serves a menu of both smaller and larger plates such as oysters on the half-shell (£15.11), tuna tataki with pineapple and coriander (£11.13), a grass-fed beef burger (£13.52) and fish and chips (£13.52). The Living Room also serves afternoon tea Thursday through Sunday with standard, vegetarian and vegan options. The ambiance here is casual, with plenty of natural light and large tables with both banquettes and chairs.
Serving cocktails and small bites just down the hall from the Living Room is the Captain’s Bar. The space is centered around a two-sided bar with lit overhead shelves holding the spirits and where seats are first come, first served. You can make a reservation for the other tables or booths (definitely make one for the couches beside the fireplace).
There are also tables outside, though the weather was a bit too cold, even with heat lamps, for my friend and me to want to sit out there. The menu here includes all the classics plus some original concoctions such as a yuzu mojito (£12.72), or the N62 with Elephant Dry Gin, Dolin Dry, Granny Smith apple juice, rosemary and lemon verbena cordial (£13.52). We didn’t try any of the food, but you can order items like a half-dozen oysters (£15.11), pork chicharrones (£7.16), a selection of charcuterie (£19.08) and a burger (£13.52).
Instead, we went to dinner at the hotel’s flagship restaurant, Onemata, which means “rich, fertile soil,” and sources its ingredients from farms and fisheries all over New Zealand. It’s open for breakfast and brunch on weekends but is primarily a dinner spot that takes reservations from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.
Among the standout dishes we tried were slices of luscious, whisky-cured Mt. Cook salmon with a yuzu creme fraiche (£12.72) and green-lipped mussels from Hawkes Bay with earthy vadouvan butter (£9.54), served with slices of crusty sourdough by acclaimed local bakery Dusty Apron.
The risotto with crayfish bisque, smoked thyme and scampi (£21.47) was rich and savory, while the hearth-fired coastal spring lamb rump with tangy mint-caper salsa verde (£18.29) was juicy and tender. It went perfectly with the velvety but vivacious Escarpment Pinot Noir from Martinborough that we ordered.
Believe it or not, we still had room for dessert, so we tried the citrusy yuzu crème with lemon verbena ice cream, ruby grapefruit and finger lime (£9.54) and the velvety chocolate cake with hazelnut crunch, Jerusalem artichoke caramel and truffle ice cream (£9.54).
My final morning, I called in a room service order of avocado sourdough toast with wild arugula, a soft-boiled egg and a filet of roasted salmon (£13.52). It was hearty but healthy and arrived within 20 minutes.
Amenities and service
The hotel has plenty of event spaces and is apparently quite popular for work events and parties. Aside from that, its other amenities include a fitness center, spa and pool, all on the second floor.
The gym is a large space with plenty of natural light thanks to all its windows. It contains a variety of Technogym cardio equipment, including treadmills, bikes and a rowing machine, plus free weights and a smattering of weight machines. Guests can take loaner headphones to use with the machines and there are bottles of water as well as a water refilling station available.
Next to the gym, guests can access the 25-meter lap pool. Though outdoors, it is covered and has loungers overlooking the harbor.
The spa includes both a handful of treatment rooms as well as men’s and women’s locker rooms and a coed wet area. In there, you’ll find soaking pools, an aromatherapy steam room and a sauna with a beautiful, amber-hued Himalayan salt wall. The men’s area had several vestibules with lockers, a bathroom, showers and vanities for primping post-treatment.
Speaking of treatments, the spa uses Australian iKOU products, among other lines, and the options include a native clay and hot oil massage (90 minutes, £124.84), an iKOU white flannel flower anti-aging facial (90 minutes, £114.50) and a New Zealand manuka and lemon myrtle renewal body scrub (60 minutes, £81.11). There are also manicure and waxing services available.
As for service, every staff member I interacted with was warm, friendly and efficient. People seemed genuinely thrilled to be welcoming international visitors and delighted to tell me about the hotel’s features, art and amenities. The front-desk staff remembered me by name and room number even though I only passed by once or twice during my stay. Perhaps the most memorable member on staff? Beau, the black Labrador retriever that was occasionally stationed by the reception desks to greet guests and was always happy for a pet (and a treat).
Long awaited by World of Hyatt members and other travelers alike, the Park Hyatt Auckland did not disappoint. The public areas are both beautiful and thoughtfully designed and decorated, the guest rooms are enormous and well laid out, and the restaurants and bars make the hotel a dining destination in and of itself. That said, its location on Viaduct Harbour, so near the CBD and the Wynyard Quarter, is a also a big selling point, as are the reasonable room rates, which will hopefully remain that way.
Featured image by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy.
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