Review: Hilton Auckland
As our wedding reception dinner was located in Downtown Auckland, Sandy and I decided that it would be nice to enjoy a quick hotel stay within walking distance of the restaurant, rather than heading home to bed. I had always wanted to try the Hilton Auckland, given its location on the waterfront, and the benefits that I knew I would receive as a Diamond Tier Honors Member.
I had hardly any points with Hilton Honors at the time, so the paid rate was my only option. I opted for the Deluxe Harbour View Plus room at $512 for the night. This was definitely on the higher-end of the scale of what I would typically pay to stay in a hotel, but I knew it was the best room besides the suite options, and was likely to sell out and not be available to be upgraded into (only 6 rooms out of 166). I also didn’t think it was a good idea to be cheap on my wedding night!
The hotel is located at the northern end of Princes Wharf, with fantastic views over the Waitemata Harbour. The lobby is on the ground floor and can be accessed from the internal car park area, or from the waterfront pedestrian walkway.
There was no line at check-in, which I was thankful for given I was quite unwell (flu) and very tired after a long day. The associate who checked us in was friendly and recognised my Diamond status with Hilton. In fact, she was perfect in her recognition – I noted that she was wearing a trainee badge, so it is good to know that the hotel is teaching these procedures to staff so early on.
Despite the hotel being almost two-decades old, the room was modern and clean. I assume it has been refurbished in recent years.
The room featured a large king-sized Hilton Serenity Bed.
A work desk was located adjacent the eastern windows of the room. Would be nice sitting here, getting distracted by passing yachts and ferries during the day. The champagne, chocolates and congratulatory card were nice welcome amenities!
I also love how Australian and New Zealand hotels always tend to leave free biscuits with their tea cups/saucers – must be the ‘British’ in us, and our inability to drink tea/coffee without an accompanying biscuit:
A standard 32” LCD TV was provided, and can be viewed either from the bed, or the sofa. The TV was connected to a DVD player.
The bathroom had a walk-in-shower and a separate bath, which I absolutely love. I cannot stand shower/bath combos. The bathroom was very large overall.
A beautiful step-out balcony wrapped around the north and east sides of the room, separated by floor-to-ceiling windows and sliders. It was wonderful having a corner room, as it provided for beautiful views over Waitemata Harbour.
The Hilton Auckland has two on-site bar/restaurants. The Bellini Bar located at ground level is does a range of cocktails, light meals, high tea, and has excellent barista-made coffee that we trialled on the morning of our departure. FISH is located on Level 1 and is where breakfast is served in the mornings, and then lunch and dinner. The latter has a free 4-hour valet parking offer valid Sunday – Thursday, if you ever want to visit without a stay at the hotel.
The building contains a fitness room, and an outdoor heated lap pool. We didn’t have the time to try either of these. The pool supposedly has an underwater viewing window of the harbour, which sounds pretty cool!
As a Diamond Hilton Honors member, the benefits I should theoretically receive at this hotel include:
- 50% Elite Status Bonus on Hilton Honors Base Points
- Complimentary in-room Premium Internet Access
- Late check-out upon request, subject to availability
- Two complimentary bottles of water per stay
- Space-available upgrade to a preferred room
- 1,000 Hilton Honors My Way Bonus Points
- A complimentary continental breakfast for myself and up to one additional guest registered to the same room
- Executive Floor Lounge Access where available
A day before our stay, I received an email advising me that I could check-in online. Upon having a look at the available rooms, I noted that an upgraded room had not been confirmed.
I emailed the hotel to enquire whether any suites were available (there are only 8). This was their response:
I was satisfied with their response, noting that there were indeed no suites for sale online. And yes, of course I dropped the line about the wedding – can only do that once in your lifetime!
Here is the ‘welcome’ letter we received at check-in:
We received free Wi-Fi access in the room, albeit I am never sure at Hilton properties whether it is ‘premium’ speed or not. It worked, was fast, and didn’t drop out, so this was good enough for me.
A late check-out was not sought or required for this stay.
The room contained three bottles of water, a chocolate dessert platter, a congratulations card, and a bottle of champagne – thanks Hilton! You’ve outdone yourself, as you usually tend to do at your properties outside of the USA.
OnePure bottled water isn’t cheap, so three bottles for a one-night stay is certainly appreciated. No need to go begging for these in the hotel lobby either. Note the Guylian chocolate which was part of their turndown service (not requested, was automatic).
There was no Executive Floor or Lounge at this hotel. Instead, the hotel offers two drink vouchers for the Bellini bar, and a full buffet breakfast at FISH. It also seemed possible that they keep the nicer outdoor tables free at breakfast for elite Honors members – either that, or it was a coincidence that they were seating people inside, and then we arrived and we received a nice outdoor table, on what was a glorious day with a beautiful outlook over the harbour.
I didn’t take photos of the buffet as it was busy and I don’t like getting too many people caught in my photos – though you can see that they have a made-to-order eggs service, which is always appreciated.
The drink vouchers for the Bellini bar state that they can only be redeemed in the evening hours, and we had arrived and would be checking out of the hotel outside of those times.
I enquired at check-out whether we could come back on another day to use (easy enough seeing as we live in Auckland), or whether we could use them that morning for coffee. The associate advised that you can typically come back within the week to use – not sure how they’ll know either way, given there is no date or coding on the vouchers – or we could just use that morning. Thus, I went to the bar and asked for two barista-made coffees, to which they kindly obliged with no issues.
Finally, 9,588 Hilton Honors points were credited accurately to my account within three days of check-out, with no issues.
All up, I am pretty satisfied with the status recognition that was received.
Hilton Auckland bottom line
The Hilton Auckland is a good option to consider if you want to visit Auckland and stay in an area that is within close walking distance of all the main attractions, including the waterfront and key bar/restaurant areas.
This property typically seems to be pretty expensive, however this is reflective of its location and the lack of premium hotels in the Auckland market.
While there is no Executive Lounge at this hotel, I was satisfied overall with the elite benefits received and the service provided by the hotel staff. I have stayed at Hilton properties in the United States that limit your breakfast benefit to the official ‘continental’ even with no lounge, which I consider quite poor overall.
After we left the hotel, we realised that we had left a box of chocolates behind in the room. I emailed the hotel, and they confirmed that they had kept them, and would store them at reception until I came into the city to collect (which we did the following day). We thought that this was good that they held onto them, and I had had a missed call on my phone from an unknown number after check-out, so I suspect this was them anyway.
I completed a follow-up survey after departure, and the Operations Manager sent a personalised follow up email:
I thought this was a nice touch. One of the suggestions I made was that they offer barista-made coffee for free with breakfast, given the lack of an Executive Lounge. I would happily forgo any drinks vouchers in return for this benefit – good coffee is important to me with my breakfast.
Would definitely like to return again in future, possibly as a way of spoiling my-now-wife for the night or weekend!
Some photos are courtesy of Hilton Auckland, others are my own.