Hilton Auckland

Princes Wharf, 147 Quay St, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand

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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A City Room by the Sea

During my time in Auckland, I heard repeatedly that the city is home to the highest number of boats per capita in the world. I relayed this information to Kevin Bowler, CEO of Tourism New Zealand, while we watched a Maori dance performance on the waterfront terrace at the Hilton Auckland Hotel. “Well, there haven’t actually been any scientific studies done on the subject,” he laughed. “But it’s probably true. It makes sense, everyone in Auckland has, or knows someone who has, some type of boat.” The 165-room Hilton Auckland extends like a cruise ship out onto a wharf within steps of downtown and the Maritime District surrounded by the sprawling city marina. The hotel is HQ for the visiting yacht crowd, and it’s busy with locals because of the breezy waterfront setting. The all-white Hilton feels Mondrian-esque with hard square angles on the outside, but it feels completely inviting inside with so much natural daylight in the guest rooms and public spaces. The decor is nautical throughout, but not too much, and all of the rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and big balconies. There’s hardly a square foot in this hotel where you can go without seeing the water. The glass-enclosed Bellini Bar and FISH Restaurant open out to the overwater terrace. Try the sustainable whole roasted blue cod with clams and green lip mussels in a spicy tomato vermouth salsa. It tastes especially good with the local Cable Bay chablis and views of the sunset bouncing off the water.

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