We parked the car in the hotel’s little lot ($20 NZD a day, by the way) then made our way into the eccentrically decorated lobby—think diaphanous curtains on the walls, plush, patterned carpets, various parlor-like sitting areas, and contemporary works of New Zealand art in huge gilded frames, as well as a small work area with two computers connected to the internet and a printer, both of which are free for guests, and where’ there’s also free coffee and tea.
The hotel has 165 rooms, studios and suites. We got a Chaffers Studio room—a sort of residential hotel studio apartment—in the Residential Tower away from the harbor (the one closer to the harbor has just hotel rooms), though we still got a good view of Te Papa and a marina.
It had a kitchenette with a stove, oven, big mini fridge (we realize that’s an oxymoron, but you know what we mean), sink, and even a washer-dryer unit. The king-size bed has pretty spare furnishings, but was comfortable, and anyway, we spent most of our waking time in the room either at the desk (with moderately priced $12 NZD per day WiFi), or watching the 42-inch flat-screen TV with movie channels and international newson the cushy chaise lounge by the window.
Plus, we liked the gold-leaf-y retro wallpaper above the headboard that reminded us of a Boca Raton grandma’s condo in the late ’70’s. In a good way.
The bathroom was as spacious as the main room itself with a large vanity area, a huge soaking tub, and an adjacent but separate shower with rain and hand-held shower heads. We also liked the 100% vegetable-based Natural Earth Manuka honey and Harakeke oil bath products.
Meanwhile the hotel’s whimsically named Hippopotamus Restaurant, has been garnering a bit of buzz thanks to French-inspired big-ticket menu items like chilled rockmelon soup with Parma ham, crème fraiche, Roquefort and Port cube ($23 NZD); and free range roast pork with cinnamon apple puree, onion marmalade and twice-cooked apple filled with Armagnac prunes ($38 NZD).
Rates at the Museum Hotel in January start at $182 NZD ($138 USD).
Full disclosure: Eric Rosen was a guest of the Museum Hotel for two nights, but all opinions expressed here are completely his own.