Drawing inspiration from Auckland’s sailing and maritime culture, the Hilton Auckland is all white and windows, jutting nearly 1,000 feet into the sea like a double-bowed cruiseliner. On one side, there’s Stanley Point and the Auckland Harbour Bridge surrounded by water. On the other are the pop-up shops of Britomart, the greens of Albert Park, and the Sky Tower, shooting up between the hotel’s two buildings when looking south from the end of Princes Wharf. The hotel’s interiors have a nautical vibe as well; red and salmon-colored Italian furnishings counterbalance blond woods and floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The restaurant, called Fish, specializes in the New Zealand catch, and the central swimming pool even has an underwater view of the harbor. If that’s not enough seafaring spirit, the New Zealand Maritime Museum sits next door. Welcome to Auckland, the “City of Sails.”
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The Hilton Auckland is perched on Princes Wharf between the New Zealand Maritime Museum and the city’s main ferry terminal. From here, travelers can boat 10 minutes to the hamlet of Devonport—filled with cafés, secondhand bookstores, and military history; 25 minutes to the lava-rock shores of Rangitoto Island; or 40 minutes to discover the bohemian art colony turned food and wine paradise that is Waiheke Island. On the mainland, the hotel is within walking distance of Auckland’s main theater and entertainment areas: Viaduct Village, Wynard Quarter, and the revitalized Britomart precinct. Thrillseekers won’t want to miss bungee jumping from the Sky Tower. If they haven’t had enough seafood yet, guests should hit Ostro on the second floor of the Seafarers Building for bluff oysters and clams from Cloudy Bay.
Need to Know
Rooms: 61 rooms, 97 deluxe rooms, 7 suites. From $243. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options:At Fish restaurant, timber panels line the floor, ceiling, and outdoor deck, and translucent room dividers crinkle like seaweed. The menu centers on New Zealand fish—salmon from Akaroa, snapper from Hauraki Gulf—which diners can see from the restaurant. The best seats are in the private dining room or staring at the harbor from the alfresco deck, and a fireplace glows on stormy evenings. Similar vistas beckon at Bellini Bar, a shimmery white venue that features a 10-page cocktail list, including the signature flute of fizzy peach and prosecco. Live acoustic music is held every Friday evening, and cocktail classes are available for groups of four or more. Spa and gym details:For some downtime, guests can take a dip in the heated pool—while glimpsing passing sailboats and ferries in the harbor through an underwater porthole—or lounge on the sundeck. There’s no spa at the hotel, but day spas like East Day Spa are within a short walk. Guests looking for activity can work out at the Hilton’s water-view fitness center or catch a ferry to Rangitoto Island and hike to the summit of a volcano.
Who's it best for: Maritime buffs and sailing enthusiasts seeking a sophisticated vacation on the water. Our favorite rooms: The Bow Suites have 270-degree views of Waitemata Harbour. Guests appreciate them from spacious private balconies that make up the points of the cruiseliner’s bow. For sailing enthusiasts:The America’s Cup Sailing experience with Explore Group takes guests on the only America’s Cup yacht open to the public in New Zealand. Passengers can help steer and hoist the sail, or enjoy the scenery while the wind whips through their hair.