Review: Hilton Auckland, New Zealand

The Hilton Auckland’s location at the tip of Princes Wharf in New Zealand’s largest city brings exceptional sweeping views of Auckland – looking out over the harbour and back across the CBD. The hotel’s sleek design, emphasises the modern decor of the property. But there is a catch.

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More on that later.

The hotel itself is modern looking (in fact it is apparently designed to look like a cruise ship), but rather dull in appearance. We can’t really fault them for that, Hilton isn’t meant to be a ‘chic’ brand compared to say some of the Starwood properties (which some would say try a little too hard). Still, at this property it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the staff seem to have been hired for their looks, rather than necessarily their experience in the hospitality industry.

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For this stay we booked a standard ‘King Hilton’, the lowest room category at this property.

As a Hilton HHonors Diamond member, we were upgraded to a ‘King Deluxe Harbour View’. Given that immediately after booking Hilton offer this upgrade for NZ$39 per night night through their ‘eStandby’ upgrade system, this property clearly pulled out all the stops for our stay.

That being said, our room is pleasantly furnished with plenty of available light flowing in from the small balcony which had a small table with two chairs to enjoy the harbour view for a time.

Diamond members who complain about poor upgrades at this property have been known to be put in a Bow Suite to shut them up (The Bow Suite being a junior suite and deriving its name from being positioned at the end of the hotel as if at the bow of a ship).

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We thoroughly enjoyed looking out at the port from our balcony. We would recommend asking for a room further towards the end of the wharf if paying for a harbour view room. A small desk in the corner and TV round off most of the available furniture in this room.

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This was the view from our balcony when looking further towards the end of the wharf. As is clear from this photo, the view is better further away from the city end of Princes Wharf.

IMG_7284IMG_7285Auckland city as seen from our balcony.

The bathroom in our room was surprisingly large, with both a shower and bath. With some older Hilton properties it’s not uncommon to have a combination shower/bath so it’s always nice to see a modern bathroom fitment. We find that a modern bathroom can lift the perceived standard of a room immensely.

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The lobby bar Bellini seems to be very chic. Since this property was built with no executive lounge, Diamond members are offered two drink vouchers for basic drinks from this bar between certain hours. Whilst free drinks are always appreciated, to be perfectly honest it really highlights the glaring omission from the property of an executive lounge.

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The Bellini lobby bar also has some outdoor seating to enjoy the scenery around Auckland.

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As a Diamond member, we get complimentary breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, Fish. Unfortunately for our readers, we did not partake on this stay.

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Evening view from our balcony at night looking at ‘The Cloud’, which is lit up quite pleasantly.

Now, the catch. That is you are out at the end of a wharf. A working wharf. So:

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Now this was mentioned to us at check in, but it was severely downplayed and the extent to which our view would be impaired was not clearly communicated. Even the letter above only goes as far to say that it ‘may‘ restrict views.

In any case this was the view to which we awoke:

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It became apparent that this was why the hotel suggested closing the curtains in the room before sleeping because just as we could see right into the cabins on the ship, they could see right into the rooms in the hotel.

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In any case, the issue is less about the cruise liner docking at Princes Wharf, but more the way that it is handled by the hotel. Preferably, if the hotel is not at full capacity they should look at moving guests to rooms that are impacted less by the impeded view.

The sheer amount of guests from the cruise ship disembarking in the morning made for absolute chaos and congestion on the road that exits the hotel. This is not ideal as were rushing to the airport for a flight.

While the Hilton Auckland is a modern hotel with excellent views, avoiding this hotel during any occasion that a cruise ship is due in town is almost certainly a must.

If you have a loyalty to the Hilton brand through status then this is probably the place for you, although you would want to do better out of your room upgrade. We find the rooms here to be fresh and comfortable but generally overpriced for the local five-star hotel market, which today includes the Sofitel Viaduct Harbour and by 2017 will include the NZ$200 million Park Hyatt Auckland.

What is your favourite hotel in Auckland?

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