The Albert Bar, which sits atop Auckland’s newest hotel, is New Zealand’s tallest rooftop bar. Video / Provided
Sarah Pollok checks into the new Voco Hotel in Auckland.
Generously filled champagne glasses in hand, we sink into the plush king bed and stare out the decadent floor-to-ceiling window at the view from all 33 floors.
In the distance, the sun melts into the harbor skyline, while the streets come alive in a patchwork of neon signs, streetlights and headlights. It’s a dream start to a dream vacation and made even better by the seamless journey to get here.
No need to crawl through traffic in airport taxis or wait for flight delays. No lost luggage due to overwhelmed airlines, rental car queues or any of the disruptions that seem to plague anyone who travels too far from home.
Instead, a staycation. A short, sweet vacation that makes the most of every second you have, alone or with your favorite plus one.
As a travel journalist, I’m all for crazy adventures, but I was pleasantly surprised at how refreshing and exciting a vacation in my own city can be. Maybe you will be too.
Location: Located on the corner of Albert St and Wyndham St, the 37-story building puts you right in the city center, with attractions and popular spots just steps away. A five-minute walk will take you to the Sky Tower, Civic, Commercial Bay or Britomart, while a 10-minute stroll will take you to Auckland Art Gallery, Aotea Square or Basement Theatre.
First impressions: From the high loft-style ceilings in the lobby and the rich black/honeycomb color palette to the sweeping city views and fluffy bathrobes embroidered with tiny hotel logos, voco is a place that doesn’t scream New York Boutique as much as casually mentions it with a bright smile. It’s intimate without being cramped, luxurious and elegant but not stiff, both in terms of its staff and its spaces.
Rooms: The bedrooms are an extension of this balance. Brushed navy walls, black wood furniture, and dark gray curtains cultivate a plush, plush vibe, but are given a modern, on-trend twist with gold, white, and yellow decor.
Bathroom: Soft and warm lighting behind the mirror? Check. Magnifying mirror ? Check. Large bathrobes and Antipodes shower gel, shampoo and conditioner in large longer lasting pump bottles and easier to use than tiny hotel bottles? Check, check check.
: Staying at a fancy hotel is even better when you know they are playing their part in subtle yet meaningful ways. So you might not notice that the shower head is aerated to reduce water usage, the comforter stuffing is made from recycled materials, the trash bags are compostable, and the company cards and the stickers are made from recycled paper, but they are. And it all makes a difference.
Food and drink: You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to dining options in downtown Auckland, so it’s a good thing that Mozzarella & Co comes to the table with delicious food.
As the name suggests, the on-site restaurant offers Italian specialties like gorgonzola gnocchi, beef lasagna, and seven different types of pizza, with all dishes priced between $28 and $44. The menu was light on vegan/plant based options and a bit heavy on oil, but as my partner said, it’s pretty good for Italian kai. The attentive staff are also happy to discuss any dietary needs and recommend modifications accordingly.
Plus, with a high-quality on-site restaurant, breakfast is worth adding to your stay for an impressive range of continental and hot buffet options. A special mention goes to their cloud-shaped scrambled eggs with juicy mushrooms and the Bircher muesli pots with fresh fruit and yoghurt.
Bar: Yes, it deserves its own separate cry. When you head to the 38th floor of the hotel, you’ll understand why. It is here, floating above the clouds, that you will find Bar Albert; Auckland’s newest, tallest and arguably trendiest rooftop bar. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, this is a must visit place.
Facilities: There is no pool and no pets (unless they are service animals) but you can use the stationary bike, treadmill and free weights in the fitness center . Those in town on business can have documents printed, copied, and scanned at the front desk or book one of the five meeting rooms.
On-site valet parking is also available for $55, but if you’re in a rush in the morning, let us know the night before as it can take 10-15 minutes to get your car there.
Wireless: Reliable high-speed internet is more of a necessity than an amenity these days and voco offers that to guests in public areas and guest rooms.
Accessibility: The hotel entrance and elevators are wheelchair accessible, with handicapped accessible parking on site and nine accessible rooms equipped with roll-in showers. Wheelchairs are also available during your stay.
Price: Prices start from $245 per room.
Contact: Email [email protected], call 09 883 2999 or visit auckland.vocohotels.com for more information.