The Best Places to Stay in Wellington

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Apr 03, 2017

by EMMA MULHOLLAND, Senior Subeditor

It can be tough to get a hotel room in the New Zealand capital – especially if there’s a big game in town. To give you a head start, we’ve narrowed the city’s best stays down to three top offerings. Ready, steady... book.

For those who just wanna have fun 

QT Museum Wellington has a backstory that’s as quirky as the life-sized sculpture of a bull in the lobby. The bull – made from bully-beef tins – belongs to previous owner Chris Parkin, a local identity who bought the place for a steal in the ’80s. When the government wanted the waterside location for the now legendary Te Papa museum, Parkin had the hotel put on rails and pushed down the road (staff didn’t pack a thing – the whole building was simply... moved). 

Not just an extreme mover, Parkin is also an art-lover. When the place reopened as the QT in January 2017, he agreed to lend his art collection to the Australian boutique-hotel group. The result is a melding of the former Museum Art Hotel – with its warm, Wellington vibe and serious art cred – and the dark, seductive feel of a QT property.

As part of a $12 million refurbishment, the 98 apartment suites and several of the 65 hotel rooms have been given a makeover (the others are a work in progress). Highlights include dual rain showers in some suites, a Bose sound system and the most divine king-sized gel-mattress beds. The complex includes a fitness centre with a sauna and lap pool.

The on-site French restaurant, Hippopotamus, has long been a favourite with locals and the adjoining bar – with its gaudy armchairs, stuffed peacocks and twinkling chandeliers – would make Marie Antoinette blush. Do her proud and order a Raspberry Fizz made with Spanish cava and white-chocolate rum foam. 

It’s the opposite of the stuffy, personality-less hotels of yore – little wonder, then, that Parkin and his wife remain upstairs, having made their home at the new QT. 

90 Cable Street, Te Aro; +64 4802 8900

For those who’ve got work to do

Set by the harbour in the heart of the financial district, the InterContinental Wellington is the city’s most luxe stay (it had a rival in the Sofitel Wellington but a kitchen fire destroyed the place just months after it opened; it won’t be up and running again until October 2017).

The 234-room InterContinental doesn’t have the carefully curated feel of the QT but regular travellers will appreciate the sophisticated spaces and suite of facilities, including a staffed 24-hour business centre and a Moroccan-inspired spa. There’s also a fully equipped gym and a lovely circular pool with city views.

When the lobby was refurbished in 2014, the sweeping space was made to feel more intimate by dividing it into smaller nooks. With its sleek fireplace and plush armchairs, The Lobby Lounge is popular for coffee catch-ups, both with guests and nearby businesses (fun fact: the logs by the fire come from the set of The Hobbit). For a cup of Wellington’s finest, you can also pop next door to Mojo café, run by local roasters.

Stay in one of the top-tier rooms and you’ll get access to the stunning Club InterContinental Lounge. Spanning the width of the hotel, the hushed space offers panoramic views of the harbour – perfect for watching a storm roll in. Breakfast in the exclusive surrounds is complimentary, with a chef on hand to cater to your whims, as is afternoon tea and evening canapés with drinks.

2 Grey Street, Wellington; +64 4472 2722

For those who don’t want to miss a thing

If you’re after a reasonably priced option that’s in the thick of everything, the Quality Hotel Wellington is the place. In the heart of bohemian Cuba Street – a bit like King Street in Sydney’s Newtown or Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, Melbourne – the place is surrounded by cafés, cheap eats and vintage shopping.

The rooms are incredibly spacious, several of them have city views and they come equipped with a kitchenette (strangely, not all have air conditioning but you can request it when you make your booking).

The heritage-listed façade, built in the early 1900s, nods to its previous incarnation as a Salvation Army hotel. Facilities in the completely refurbished, modern interior are somewhat better these days but the philosophy is the same: to create a space that welcomes everyone. Shared areas, for example, are fully accessible to people with disabilities and you can use sign language to order your morning brew at the on-site café.

The 68-room stay is part of the CQ Hotels Wellington complex, which also houses the affordable Comfort Hotel Wellington. The two share facilities, including an indoor heated pool and rooftop sundeck, so you get the benefits of a big hotel. For kids, there’s an activity area in the lounge with toys, games and an Xbox. And don’t miss the much-loved Bucket Fountain a few blocks down from the CQ – on a windy Wellington day (read: most days), they’re guaranteed to get splashed.

213-223 Cuba Street, Wellington; +64 4385 2156

Top image: QT Museum Wellington

SEE ALSO: Where to Eat and Drink in Wellington