A suite at the Fable Dunedin, a new hotel in the old Wains Hotel building, originally built in 1862. Photo / DunedinNZ
Brett Atkinson records himself in Fable Dunedin, an elegant reinvention of the city’s most historic hotel
Hotel: Originally opened as the Wains Hotel in the 1860s, the Victorian style of Dunedin’s first hotel has been modernized as a boutique 50-room accommodation option for the 21st century.
Site: Surrounded by stately buildings reflecting Dunedin’s rich commercial history, it is around a 500m walk from the restaurants and bars of The Octagon. Nearby, the lower Stuart Street offers bohemian cafes and designer boutiques.
Style: Heritage charm, subtle nods to contemporary design, and the convenience of modern technology all combine for the modern traveler.
Perfect for: Urban explorers looking for a convenient and stylish base to explore Dunedin’s culinary and cultural scenes, and business travelers looking for a place that is unique, memorable and offers more personalized service.
First impressions: Check-in at the provisional reception near the Fable bar and restaurant was relaxed but professional. The hotel’s original lobby and reception are fully revitalized in time for the official opening of the Fable. Extra points for the selection of delicious macaroons waiting for me in my room.
Rooms: Now reinvented as Fable Dunedin, 50 rooms and suites occupy an iconic four-story building. Our Superior King room was spacious with high ceilings, and thanks to the hotel’s 150+ years of history, was accessed by a slightly idiosyncratic combination of elevator and staircase.
A nod to Dunedin’s Scottish heritage, a specially commissioned tartan rug brightened up the super king-size bed, while wall art added colorful accents to an understated and understated design palette mixing black, white and gray. Across the hotel, 49-inch smart TVs include the convenient option of Chromecast from other devices, while the bedroom design includes a selection of USB ports for convenient overnight charging. Communication with the front desk, room service orders, and hotel compendium information are all integrated on a tablet, and there’s a pod coffee maker for the first shot of caffeine of the day.
Bathroom: Black and white tiles and two-tone marble vanities combine for classic simplicity with a touch of art deco style, while mirrors framed in slender lights echo Hollywood glamor. Bathrobes are provided, a tropical rainfall showerhead is a refreshing addition, and Fable Amber Cedarwood Soap, Shower Gel, Shampoo, and Conditioner are all from Marihi Aotearoa.
Food drink: Fable Dunedin’s restaurant and bar is the Press Club, named after the suite of local journalists who met regularly at the Wains Hotel in the 1870s. The gatherings often included Thomas Bracken, the poet and wordmaker behind God Defend. New Zealand.
Shared platters and entrees leverage South Island produce and include miso-glazed shoulder of lamb and black pudding sausage made with wild Otago deer, while a thoughtful drink list includes Central Otago pinot noir and a punchy lager from the craft brewers of Dunedin New New New Corporation. A post-prandial glass of whiskey or the Press Club’s signature lemon cream dessert with an orange and cardamom shortbread cookie are also recommended.
In the neighborhood: It’s best to explore the nearby warehouse district by downloading a map of the Dunedin Street Art Trail from dunedinstreetart.co.nz. The area’s spectacular exterior canvases are made by international street artists, and recommended stops along the way include Vanguard Coffee or Vogel St Kitchen.
Friendly and family: The Fable Dunedin team can recommend local babysitting and childcare services. Portacots and rollaway beds are both available.
Accessibility: All common and public spaces are wheelchair accessible, and there are a range of rooms with dedicated accessible facilities.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, visit newfinder.co.nz and newzealand.com