I drove in from my home in East Auckland, picked up my husband from his work in the city and in we checked at the Heritage Hotel for me to attend the Travcom Travel Writer Awards dinner (alas, not this year) and him to get room service and watch telly. What could be more fun?
The Heritage Auckland is part of the 20 Heritage hotels dotted around New Zealand, but the perfect name is more than ironic here.
Some Kiwis with long memories (us included!) will remember this as the Farmers Trading Co building with its tearooms on the top floor, Hector the talking parrot (who lived to 131 years) and a playground with a carousel and pedal cars for kids. I think I only visited once, but talking to the people at white cloth-covered in this very room who used to come for Friday afternoon outinsg here regularly, it hasn’t lost its mystery and charm. The big arch windows, the high ceilings, it’s worth finding an excuse and coming up.
Today the tearoom is an event room: think ballroom, formal dinners – and this Mother’s Day you can bring your mum for high tea (as luck would have it!)
Built by entrepreneur Robert Laidlaw in 1914, the Heritage Hotel now covers the block from Hobson through to Nelson Streets, it has two entrances, so if you drive your car to the wrong one the lads in suits will put you right.
Our room on the 10th floor had sweeping views over the tennis court below and across the harbour beyond, with a balcony to sit out and stare at the world from such a lofty height. It also had a kitchen, which should I have been staying longer or have invited friends to pop in, would have been great. Suffice to say, it stayed unused on my visit!
The gym and pool
There are two gyms. One is under refurbishment but when it opens will have fancy new facilities with a lap pool, spa and sauna. The other really impressed me. It was a bit of a maze to find it (remember this is an old department store) but with good signage you’ll get there. It’s actually part of the outdoor pool complex and looks like it would be quite at home in LA.
With doors thrust open to capture the fresh morning air behind them, keen gym bunnies were on bikes and treadmills facing the Harbour Bridge. What a spot! The pool complex is open to hotel guests (and residents. Yes you can live here) with lounge furniture under umbrellas gazing out over that view.
But quite possibly the biggest buzz at the moment at The Heritage Hotel is their food. It’s raw – and not because of problems with the stove. Chef Jinu Abraham is a master of producing exquisite plant-based, locally produced food. You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to love it either! Of course, not every dish is raw, and not every dish is meat-free, but this is a welcome and exciting addition to Auckland’s foodscape.
Here is my muesli, coconut parfait and berry couli in a squeezable tube for breakfast.
I also chose a Vitamin C kick of freshly squeezed pineapple, lemon and orange juice. (Other choices are Detox, Energising and Liver Lover).
The chilled infused coffee (not to be confused with cold pressed) will impress connoisseurs too. The beans have been soaked for at least eight hours, then steeped through a paper filter. It drips slowly through this monstrous hour-glass contraption and that process takes the usual bitterness out. Add your naughty milk, cream or sugar as you wish!
Located on Hobson Street, you’re a stone’s throw from SkyCity and all the hubbub that goes on there. You’re also only about three blocks from Queen Street heading straight out the door and turning left, the same distance from the Viaduct down at the waterfront.