Understated luxury is the hallmark of this new city-centre property.
New Zealand's first voco hotel debuted in Auckland in May 2022, part of a substantial 38-storey city-centre development that also includes a shiny new Holiday Inn Express. A sub-brand of hospitality giant IHG, voco is Latin for "to invite" and its properties are designed to be upscale but relaxed. Think George Clooney in a suit and sneakers.
Ideally located in the heart of Auckland's CBD, the hotel is steps from the main shopping thoroughfare of Queen Street and a five-minute stroll from Viaduct Harbour and the upscale retail and dining hubs of Britomart and Commercial Bay. Other nearby attractions include the 328-metre-high Sky Tower and Auckland Art Gallery.
Guests are greeted by a light-flooded two-storey lobby with wood floors, art deco lighting and a statement gold spiral staircase. The palette is a sexy mix of black and charcoal greys, with the odd patterned cushion and splash of voco's trademark yellow to keep things interesting. Thanks to a partnership with Wyld Bikes, guests can make use of a fleet of funky handcrafted bamboo bicycles to get around the city. Unfortunately, none of the check-in staff mention this or give me the locally-influenced welcome gift that is supposedly a hallmark of every voco stay.
Ranging from compact twins through to spacious suites, the hotel's 201 rooms continue the pared-back but sophisticated theme. Stylish modern prints adorn blue-grey walls while a contemporary inbuilt banquette can be used as a desk or somewhere to read sonnets and eat grapes (I assume). With the curtains closed, the room has an upscale but slightly anonymous, I-could-be-anywhere feel.
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Open them and you're assailed by a mesmerising, horizon-straining view of the city and harbour through floor-to-ceiling windows. The spacious grey-tiled bathroom features an eco-conscious rain-head shower and large, refillable toiletries by Kiwi brand Antipodes. Other laudable sustainability initiatives include 100 per cent recycled doona fillings.
Given its unremarkable lobby locale plus the plethora of excellent restaurants nearby, you might be tempted to dismiss the property's all-day eatery, Mozzarella & Co. However, this would be a mistake as it serves excellent Italian-inspired fare in a space that morphs seamlessly from buzzy breakfast hangout to stylish dinner venue. The mountainous pile of pappardelle with lamb ragu I have one night is one of the best I've tasted and my dinner guest is equally impressed with her kumara gnocchi.
The hotel's trump card is that it's also home to New Zealand's highest rooftop bar. Located on the 38th floor, Bar Albert is a seductive den of leather sofas, low lighting and art deco fixtures. Perch at the stone-topped bar and watch the team of talented mixologists whip up adventurous libations named after notable Auckland streets (I highly recommend Princes Street made with Campari, egg whites and Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin). Alternatively, sink into a sofa by the indoor/outdoor fireplace or grab a coveted spot on the outdoor terrace. Either way, you'll be captivated by expansive city skyline views. Predictably, it's become one of the city's hottest late-night venues so dress up and book ahead.
Bar Albert's bathrooms, which enjoy the same sweeping city views. You may be gone a while.
The writer was a guest of voco
Where: voco Auckland City Centre, 13 Wyndham Street, Auckland
How much: Rooms start from $NZ260 per night.
Explore more: ihg.com