When we first talked to AccorHotels about having a Staycation in Auckland I have to admit we weren’t too sure. We’re seasoned Aucklanders we thought we know all there is to know surely… How wrong we were… Using the Pullman Auckland as our base, not only did the city offer up a whole bunch of new experiences but we also saw the old in a whole new light. In short – staying at home was one of the best holiday’s we have ever had. We also discovered Accor Plus and signed up as members. For NZD$385 for a 12-month period your membership gives you;
- A complimentary night stay at any participating AccorHotels property (this included the Pullman Auckland)
- Up to 50% off dining in hotel restaurants
- 10% off the best available room rate
- Early access to private and super sales & exclusive member events
- Silver Le Club AccorHotels status – which gives you access to late checkout
In just one weekend, the membership pretty much pays for itself!
The Pullman Auckland
Now the key to any great holiday is having a brilliant base to work from and for us that was the Pullman Auckland. They say location is everything and the Pullman Auckland certainly has that – being superbly situated on the corner of Princes Street and Waterloo Quadrant which made exploring the city either an easy walk or a $5 Uber ride away. From the moment we arrived at the Pullman Auckland we felt like the most special guests there. From the dapper men who took our car at the valet to the friendly welcome on reception. Sure, we were there to write about the Pullman Auckland so that does get you a friendly welcome, but looking around at the other guests, you could tell that they all felt like the most special guest too – and that’s a pretty hard thing to accomplish.
As we talked to more and more people over the weekend (James is forever making friends everywhere we go!) we found the common thread was people saying that Pullman Auckland had the best; the best pool, the best breakfast, the best spa. How was it that we had been Aucklanders for so long and not known this? The rooms were awesome – we especially loved the little treats that were waiting for us when we arrived and the bottles of water beside our bed at night – it’s the little touches that make a big difference!
After checking in to the Pullman Auckland and losing the car for the weekend (and let me tell you that feels great to not have to worry about parking in Auckland!) we headed off to start exploring the city.
Shopping and dining at Britomart
It’s an easy walk down to Britomart through a series of twists and turns that take you through some really beautiful spots.
We ambled through the Farmers Market in Britomart. One of the things I love most about the city is that we have these dual personalities of intensely local and global brands that live so well together – fresh organic produce right next to the newly opened, iconic Tiffany & Co.
We went to Ortolana for lunch and it was superb.
The right mix of people watching, great food and wine (we just went with their suggestions and it was perfect) and for me dining under so many sparkling lights always feels a little like dining under the stars – even in the middle of the day.
After lunch, we had time for a little window shopping and because I had spent the morning trailing James around shopping for motorbike gear, he happily (!!) accompanied me into Trelise Cooper to do a little window shopping/wishing…
Old and new combine in Queens Arcade
We were going to Uber back up the hill, but decided instead to walk up Queen Street and have a little look around. We walked past the entrance to Queens Arcade. I used to love this place as a teenager. I would spend hours hunting through Marbecks for hard to find CD’s and looking at all the eclectic little shops in there. I just kind of assumed that it would either be decrepit or so new as to be unrecognisable so I hadn’t been in there for over 15 years. What a surprise it was to head in to find that it was both unchanged and new at the same time. Marbecks still stands in the same spot – proudly touting their 82nd anniversary with loads of people searching through the extensive music collection there.
There is still the same mix of eclectic shops – the ones James said his Grandma was always able to find. There’s an old style Barber shop in there and we stopped in and James got his beard trimmed for $10.
And mixed in with all the old and familiar is a sense of newness. The walls are white and new – showcasing the centuries old architecture and natural light. The old cafe looks proudly out to the very new Dior flagship store across the road.
Taking our time to stroll up Queen Street we stopped in at a few of the shops on the way up – Topshop and a plethora of shoe shops that just don’t exist outside of Queen Street in Auckland.
Auckland Art Gallery
Next stop was the Art Gallery – at just an easy 5 minute walk from the Pullman Auckland it’s the perfect afternoon destination.
The thing I love about the Auckland Art Gallery is you never know what you are going to find. It’s always changing – this time we were lucky enough to go to Lee Mingwei and His Relations: The Art of Participation & The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand. Both of which were brilliant. But the Art Gallery is always more than that – it’s the scale and the grandeur, the unexpected (like Opera Singers bursting into song in a crowded gallery or people ballroom dancing outside) and the ability to just lose yourself for hours. You can read more and get some more pictures from our visit to the Auckland Art Gallery here.
Hidden tunnels and 130 years of history at Albert Park
In between the Auckland Art Gallery and the Pullman Auckland is Albert Park. A green oasis in the middle of the city – it is home to leafy trees, a fountain, flowers, spots for picnics and not one but 3 statues. My favourite though has to be what you don’t see – the tunnels that snake all the way under the park. You can read more about the tunnels and our adventure through Albert Park here.
Stunning architecture all just waiting to be explored
Our last stop before heading back to the Pullman Auckland was to explore a little more of the architecture directly around the hotel. There is just so much to explore literally in the two streets around the hotel – you can jump over to read more about what we discovered here…
Social hour at Omni Bar
Back at the Pullman Auckland we had time for a quick swim before getting ready for the social hour. I’m going to pause here for a second on the pool because it really was quite sensational. We’re told by regular pool-goers that we met on our visit that it’s the best pool and spa facilities in Auckland with the roof and doors opening up in summer. We tend to agree.
We arrived at Omni Bar just in time for the social hour. You know when a place is literally buzzing with laughter and chatter – that’s exactly what this was like. We could hear the buzz the second we got out of the lift – like a great magnet pulling us toward the many cocktails and tapas on offer, much to our delight these were half price with our Accor Plus card. With so much on offer it’s hard to pick a favourite but mine definitely had to be the pork belly, whereas James voted for the chicken.
Dining at Tapestry Dining
After an hour relaxing at Omni Bar we headed over to Tapestry for dinner. From the moment we arrived the service was exceptional with loads of options for both food and wine and 50% off our dinner using our Accor Plus card!
If dinner was awesome then breakfast was a whole other level with James declaring it the best breakfast he has ever had (he’s already planning his next trip for just breakfast!).
We had never seen anything quite like the breakfast at Tapestry Dining – as well as the usual bacon, eggs and toast fare Tapestry offered so much more of well, just about everything you could possibly wish for at breakfast. Fresh Kiwifruit juice, potatoes, fresh fruit and my favourite – dark chocolate. Every breakfast bar should have this on it! James was so impressed he went back for thirds!
It’s in our Kiwi DNA to want to explore and discover and no holiday seems complete without finding something that no one else knows about. For us that was Caretaker. Just one week old Caretaker is a 1920’s prohibition bar hidden behind this old door. It’s so secret we’re going to send you over to this part of the site to read more about it…
3 minute taxi ride away from Vector Arena
The great thing about the Pullman Auckland is that it is just a 3 minute taxi ride or 10 minute walk away from Vector Arena so we decided to head down there and check out Shapeshifter. Any concert at Vector Arena is going to be good and this was like a giant dance party – although I did feel a little bit like the scene in Bridget Jones Baby when she is at the music festival.
Meeting the Queen
Now we didn’t know this when we booked into the Pullman Auckland – but Constance Hall was coming to do a Q&A on Sunday morning at the hotel. 600 women (me amongst them) lined up for their chance to listen to Constance and get a selfie with Bill. Constance Hall sold out her first meet and greets in just 3 minutes so this was a last minute add in with the Pullman Auckland. The Women’s Collective who organised the whole thing tell us that the Pullman Auckland not only got them in at the last minute but they didn’t charge them to hire the venue. Now that is really supporting and knowing your community.
Spa at the Pullman
It’s about here that I think you guys may have actually just got too jealous of our weekend and stopped reading altogether. I think I might of! I promise we are almost done now (although at the time we were wishing we had another week there!) The Spa at the Pullman is another in the long line of things we discovered this weekend that we said “how did we not know this was here?”
Taking on any spa in Auckland for style and brilliant massages this was the ultimate end to a perfect weekend. It was pure relaxation! We had the couples massage and James said he had died and gone to heaven – right before he started snoring…..
One last hurrah before we return to suburbia
Wined, dined, rested, cultured and utterly refreshed and ready to take on the world we stopped in at Billfish cafe at Westhaven for one last effort to delay the return to suburbia and normality.
A quick stroll along the newly installed promenade, a few photos of the harbour as we watched the Spirit of Adventure sail under the Harbour Bridge and we could delay the inevitable no longer. Our Staycation was over and we had only our 12km ride home to get used to it.
So for all of you wondering if a Staycation in Auckland will be as good as a holiday further afield we hope we’ve just given you 12 reasons to stay in town this weekend. So get your Accor Plus card, book into The Pullman Auckland and get holidaying – the perfect holiday is #closerthanyouthink We would like to thank AccorHotels and the Pullman Auckland for putting James and I up for the weekend so we could share this brilliant experience with you all. You can find out more about the Pullman Auckland here.
Don’t forget the good folk from AccorHotels are giving you a chance to enjoy two nights’ accommodation with flights to the NZ destination of your choice and a years’ membership to Accor Plus. All you have to do is tell them where in New Zealand you’d love to spend a summer weekend and why you deserve it.