Our Fantastic New Zealand Hotels

Jasmine: This is another supremely backdated post, as we went to New Zealand two years ago– and in fact we haven’t finished blogging about it, nor the NYC portion of our honeymoon *looks pointedly at Dear* (Andrew: oops.)

However, the two NZ hotels we stayed in were so phenomenal that they’ve left such a deep impression on me that I just have to blog about it 🙂

1. De Brett Hotel, Auckland

Jasmine: What can I say? I’m such a sucker for mid-century modern design, as it is clean, timeless, functional and yet colourful. I bumped into the owner, Michelle, in the lobby, and she was telling me that every room is different because she went on buying trips to source all these one-of-a-kind and vintage pieces! Oh yeah, she complimented me on my kooky Betsey Johnson stockings (stripes one leg, floral the other) too, that’s how I remember our conversation so vividly. Heh.

This was our gorgeous room for two nights… I just wish we had stayed longer!

The peg board, we found in the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua, leading Dear to say that I can shop anywhere… Now only then you know?? It fits right into this room and it now takes pride of place on our kitchen bar counter, displaying Dilly’s baby pictures!

I was so taken with the luxurious duvet that I asked the staff for the contact… Then on the last day in NZ, I went down to their outlet store and custom-made one for our bedroom, with Alice in Wonderland and dandelion prints to match our fairytale theme. Here are pictures of ours:

It’s velvet, linen and silk, with your choice of whimsical design printed on both sides (reversible)… basically, it’s like sleeping in a velvet dream.

Back to DeBrett…

I also adored the Paul Smith-esque carpet, which was used not just in the rooms but also the hallways to striking effect. I thought the carpet, also designed by the owner Michelle, was genius because with a colourful floor like that, anything you put on top will match! In fact, I’m still looking for a similar rug to put in our living room.

The bathroom was another level of modern luxe, in penny-black mosaic with heated under-flooring, so that instead of freezing on the granite flooring, we would be warm and toasty when coming out of the bath. AND speaking of luxe, the bathrobes come in both the standard terry cloth AND velvet (red robe pictured below)!

Another luxurious touch- double doors to the bathroom, which inspired a scaled-down version to our balcony

And a great contrasting element to prevent the monochromes from being too overwhelming- a painted bamboo ladder for hanging clothes. I also wanted to purchase something similar for our bathroom at home, but alas, the versions in Sg were too pricey (and all were in natural finish anyway), whilst I forgot about this bright idea when we went to Bali a year or so later. (Andrew: Thank GOD you forgot – can’t imagine us lugging a huge bamboo ladder through customs.)

And a wonderful selection of New Zealand teas in the pantry! Andrew and I loved renting DVDs from the hotel lobby and drinking tea/ munching on snacks till late at night.

Kitchen Restaurant

Andrew: It just happened that De Brett hotel also had one of the top-rated restaurants in Auckland. We had many meals there – dinner twice, and breakfast once. The ambience was relaxed and classy; food was satisfying and unique. First time we’ve ever tried Rabbit Ravioli! Loved the quirky collection of plates on the wall – Dearie almost wanted to replicate this in our home!

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The breakfast spread was modest and healthy, with a selection of fresh fruit, pastries, yoghurt, juices and muesli.

Jasmine: I will go out on a limb and say that this was the best hotel I have ever stayed in in my life. Not only were the design and amenities (free DVD rental, free library room where we could browse books, daily buffet breakfast, complementary cocktails) top-notch, the location in the heart of the city and close to many landmarks was stellar! (Andrew: Only drawback was it didn’t have an in-house gym and one had to travel quite a distance, in the cold, just to get to the gym. Other than that, I would definitely agree that this was one of the best hotels we stayed at.)

I’ve also mentioned being inspired by many of De Brett’s design touches, and I must confess that I still keep referring to its pictures as a regular source of inspiration for my home, especially now that we have a child. Mid-century modern/ Scandinavian design, with its emphasis on bright colours and seamless form, seems to stylishly incorporate the “mess” of colourful toys that having a child will inevitably result in!

D, please bring me back again! (Andrew: Only if you promise not to put those plates on the wall. And no more wacky decor ideas.)

Regent of Rotorua, Rotorua, New Zealand

Jasmine: This seemed like the polar opposite of De Brett Hotel, as it was done up in a black and white theme. However, we chose Regent because

  • we didn’t have that many options in Rotorua (I think it was like, 1 out of 4 hotels, and was therefore ranked the #1 hotel on Tripadvisor)
  • the price was reasonable
  • close to all attractions while centrally located in the small town, giving us easier access by car and foot to dining spots and tourist attractions
  • it looked the best, having just undergone a renovation- this point may not be important to most but it is a big factor in any hotel that I select, as I want to come back after a long, arduous day of shopping sightseeing and cultural appreciation to a beautiful, luxurious sanctuary that I don’t experience on a daily basis. No roughing it out for me, sorry, I am not on a mission trip.

The understated foyer:

I’m not a fan of minimalism but I have to concede that this was quite glamorous. In the bedrooms, touches of green were added to prevent the black-and-white colorway from becoming too stark.

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The dining room and bar:

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Our room:

Such a simple and glamorous makeover: dramatic wallpaper and a tufted bedhead! The panels behind slide open to reveal our pantry and wardrobe.

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This hotel building used to be a motel, so it was cool to see how they had revamped it to become a 5-star hotel while still retaining the original motel architecture.

Andrew: I loved this NZ trip very much because we had so much time and such a relaxed itinerary every day. I have great memories of just waking up every morning, reading the newspaper from cover to cover and enjoying my eggs benedict/breakfast set and coffee. There was a naturally-heated geothermal spa, and a swimming pool too, which was heated, but we didn’t get a chance to use the latter. Rotorua was a really nice small town too, which reminded me a lot of UK – shops all closing by 5 and only restaurants being open at night. I would love to go back to NZ again, with my kids in future so that we can do more of the outdoorsy-stuff! (Jasmine: Sure, you can find me at the souvenir shop when you’re done!)

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