The moment you set foot inside, you feel yourself charmed by the cool-and-quirky charisma of the QT Auckland boutique hotel. It’s brimming with unconventional design-led detailing, from fractal video artworks and found vintage objects to bespoke statement graphics and maritime-themed motifs. Not to be outshone by their setting, even the in-house team are dressed with a touch of theatre by a local fashion label. Top-notch dining and drinks attract in-the-know locals, who head skyward for the hotel highlight – a sparkling rooftop bar and one of the city’s finest spots for soaking up the hotel’s scenic Viaduct Harbour locale.
Get this when you book through us:
A One Tap cocktail for each guest on the QT rooftop, and late check-out till 12 noon
10am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £137.30 (NZ$282), including tax at 15 per cent.
Rates do not include breakfast, though à la carte options are available between NZ$10 to NZ$40.
The QT Auckland won the 2021 Paul Davis Hotel Design Award for the Best Refurbishment in Australasia. And we’re not surprised.
At the hotel
Fitness centre, free WiFi, concierge, 24-hour reception, dry cleaning, valet parking. In rooms: Minibar with local products, Bose Bluetooth speakers, 55-inch television, Dyson hairdryer, pod coffee machine, tea-making kit, air-conditioning.
Our favourite rooms
With a total of nine different room types, choosing your favourite might pose a challenge. One that really stood out was an open-plan Junior Suite with a slipper bath tub in the bedroom (there are just a handful of rooms like this). Ask for a corner Executive Room and you get loads of extra space and dual-aspect windows. If only water views will do, opt for a top-floor Harbour Suite and watch the boats bobbing in the port.
There’s no spa, but the 24-hour gym is kitted out with top-notch fitness equipment.
Leave some luggage space for the Cabernet Sauvignon you bagged on Waiheke Island. Wrap it in that new merino wool jumper for added protection.
Concierge staff here have been dubbed ‘Directors of Chaos’ and the hotel claims they’re the most ‘over-the-top’ concierge role New Zealand has ever seen. You be the judge.
Little Smiths are welcome and connecting rooms are available, but it’s more for grown-up getaways.
You’ll find filter-water stations on each floor and water bottles available to buy at reception. Bathrooms have large-bottle toiletries and guests can opt-out of housekeeping service (in return for NZ$20 and drinks vouchers).
For a side of drama, set yourself down next to the country-style open kitchen to gawk at theatrically prepped cuisine. For the warmer months, a table in the rear courtyard makes for pleasant alfresco dining.
Feel free to get spiffed up come evening, but easygoing Kiwis usually prefer to keep it casual.
A mix of local diners, business meetings and guests congregate at the hotel’s quaintly-named Esther restaurant. It’s an airy and inviting space festooned with art installations inspired by Auckland’s maritime heritage. The Mediterranean-meets-North-African menus mean you can start the day with baked shakshuka, lunch on ricotta gnocchi and dine on Moroccan roast lamb, which is served to be shared. Freshly-netted seafood also features, plus head chef Sean Connolly is big on employing seasonal and home-grown ingredients for his artfully presented dishes.
Esther has a snug corner for intimate tipples, but most hop in the lift and shoot to the sixth-floor Rooftop at QT. Here you can choose from a dozen vegan-friendly cocktails (aquafaba replaces egg whites) and gaze out over twinkling city lights and neighbouring marina. You can also nibble on mix-and-match mezze while a pick of Auckland’s top DJ talent helps set the mood to funk.
They certainly take their room service seriously here with an impressive choice that ranges from light meals to set ‘in-room feasts’ served till late.
The hotel is located in Auckland’s buzzing Central Business District, just a block from its swish Viaduct Basin marina development.
Auckland Airport is 20 to 25 minutes by road from the hotel, with direct flights from transport hubs across New Zealand, Australia and Asia. Taxis from the airport to the hotel cost up to NZ$90, or the SkyBus runs to the CBD for just NZ$17.
The QT Auckland is a 10-minute walk from the city’s main railway terminus, Britomart Train Station. From here you can jump onto all four of Auckland’s inner-city metro lines, as well as a direct 11-hour connection to Wellington.
Top-notch public transport and scarcity of parking in central Auckland makes having your own set of wheels redundant. If you must, the hotel offers valet parking or there’s the Viaduct Carpark just across the road.
Worth getting out of bed for
If you’re looking to scratch your shopping itch, Auckland does not disappoint. You'll find yourself a mere stroll from the city’s finest cash-splashing spots, from the numerous polished designer boutiques at nearby Commercial Bay to dozens of independent outlets scattered around the Britomart neighbourhood. If you like what the hotel staff are wearing, pop into Maggie Marilyn, who designed their ensemble. The various wharfs that extend into the harbour are worth exploring, too. At the end of Queens Wharf, The Lighthouse is a neon-lit installation by Michael Parekōwhai. Further along the harbour, The Lightship is a contemporary art gallery which provides a dazzling light display at night.
Being a hop from the Downtown Ferry Port also means easy water access to Devonport village, with its pretty beaches, fish and chip shops and panoramic views from Mount Victoria. Ferries also connect directly to the beaches, olive groves and vineyards of Waiheke Island, where some of New Zealand’s finest wines are made. Book yourself in for a tasting tour for the full-bodied vino-experience.
Neighbouring Viaduct Basin offers a slew of can’t-go-wrong eateries with the bonus of views over the marina while you dine. One such popular haunt is the right-side-of-hip Hello Beasty, with a sharing menu that fuses East Asian with New Zealand with aplomb. You’ll find some of the area’s finest seafood at Shucker Brothers, housed in the historic ferry building. Slurp up oysters on-ice, grilled or tempura-battered, before diving into anything from cider-steamed mussels to king crab linguine. Another top quay-view restaurant close by is Amano, where exposed brick and time-worn tables create a rustic-chic setting for seasonal Italian fare. An in-house bakery also makes it a top spot for buttery croissants and sourdough sandwiches to take-away.
If you fancy breakfast out of the hotel, just head a few doors down to Lawn Café for a real treat. From hot crumpets with maple butter to fluffy cheesy brioche, they’ve got a great menu of morning mouth-pleasers, plus smoothies whizzed-up while you wait. For a taste of Parisian patisserie, La Petite Fourchette was opened by a French-Kiwi couple who take their baking seriously. You won’t find a better croissant, macaron, or mille-feuilles in town, together with French roast par excellence.
The neighbouring Britomart precinct counts among Auckland’s best areas for afterdark action. For a dimly-lit Manhattan-esque drinkery, Caretaker is as vibey as they come, serving expertly crafted cocktails over hand-carved ice to the strains of live jazz. Craft-ale connoisseurs should head to Brew on Quay, where they can pick from over a hundred homebrewed and artisan beers. Housed in an old police station, there’s heritage charm aplenty too, together with a hearty menu of pub-grub favourites.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this offbeat hotel in Auckland’s CBD and unpacked their flax kete and Manuka honey, a full account of their Kiwi city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside QT Auckland in New Zealand’s capital…
The inscrutable steel-grey façade of the QT Auckland might appear intimidating, if it weren’t for the glitzy bulb-studded portico that ushers you inside. Two sets of doors – one wood, one glass – glide open and shut silently as you pass into a high-ceilinged, moodily lit lobby. The shift in mood is almost cinematic, with softly throbbing beats, industrial accents and underplayed lighting lending the lobby a low-key clubby atmosphere. Digital artwork by NYC-based Jennifer Steinkamp swirls on a nearby LED screen adding to the effect.
It’s one of 10 QT hotels scattered around Australia and New Zealand, with its offbeat award-winning design placing it among the chain’s more unconventional. The hotel’s swish harbourside locale also puts some of the city’s top dining and shopping on your doorstep. But with sumptuous lodgings, a superb restaurant and buzzing rooftop marina-view terrace, you won’t be in any hurry to leave the hotel’s fabulously kooky-cool confines.