This funky boutique hotel on the edge of the Britomart shopping district goes way back in Auckland history. Built in 1841 as the Commercial Hotel, the DeBrett building survived two fires and two rebuilds plus a stint as a hostel before becoming the quirky place guests experience today. The Housebar has always been the center of hotel life, and today, the intimate wood-and-mint venue exudes its original art deco style and serves classic cocktails and local beers and wines alongside refined pub snacks.
In addition to restoring the bar and adding a glass-roofed atrium that houses the hotel restaurant, DeBretts Kitchen, the current owners affixed contemporary artwork and photography throughout and sheathed the entire building in candy-striped carpeting, custom designed from 100 percent New Zealand wool. Besides the carpet and small-batch minibar selections, no two rooms are the same. Each features unique furnishings from the 1930s on, and every bed has an original handmade throw, screenprinted with different New Zealand icons. Two of Hotel DeBretts centerpieces, the chandelier and water sculpture in the restaurant, were crafted by Auckland artists from materials salvaged during the latest renovation. The result is a local experience from top to bottom that gives guests a real taste of New Zealand.
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At the intersection of High Street (fashion district) and Shortland Street (business district), Hotel DeBrett is only minutes from the waterfront and the bustling new Britomart district, where historic buildings and a rail depot now house some of the city’s best bars, cafés, restaurants, and designer boutiques. The surrounding laneways are great for dining and people watching, and on Saturday mornings, the Britomart City Farmers' Market beckons with freshly baked bread, live music, and comfy red beanbag chairs scattered across the grass. A Designers Market happens up the road on Fridays and Saturdays.
Need to Know
Rooms: 10 rooms, 9 suites, 6 loft suites. From $243. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: 10 a.m. Dining options:DeBretts Kitchen is the culinary heart of the property. The light-filled space is inclusive and casual, inviting patrons to enjoy coffee or a glass of wine by the fire, but the seasonal cuisine has the quality and presentation that garners awards. On weekends, brunch and high teas are offered here as well. The lively Cornerbar welcomes guests and locals off the street for craft beer and gourmet pizza; and Housebar is still the late-night meeting spot for stiff cocktails and some of the best stories in town. Spa and gym details:Guests have access to a small offsite gym, open 24 hours, as well as a nearby swimming pool for a minor fee. A day spa sits right next-door, but therapists can also perform treatments in the privacy of guestrooms.
Who's it best for: Culturally curious business travelers who are young at heart. Our favorite rooms: The single-level Loft 2.7 is the owner’s favorite. It's spacious, colorful, and emanates a warm feeling. Dine at dusk:In summer, guests should book a late dinner at DeBretts Kitchen to see the glass roof turn from orange to navy and the chandeliers, handmade from vintage shades, float in the friendly space. There’s all this plus live jazz on Sunday night.