We all know that Wellington is a center of art and music, a great place to visit on a long weekend off. But where do you stay when coming to visit the capital? Somewhere warm and cozy when the infamous Wellington gale force winds are battering the city but equally central and convenient when the sun is shining.
For our long weekend in Wellington my husband and I were booked to stay at The Museum Art Hotel, perfectly situated on Cable Street, right across the road from Te Papa museum. This was my first visit to a city known for its art and top restaurants, two of my favorite things. When we landed I was pleasantly surprised that it was a beautiful sunny day. No gustily wind blowing small children away.
The hotel stands out from a distance with its large dark structure and ivy covered side wall. The outside gives no clues about the many surprises to be found inside. What sets The Museum Art Hotel apart becomes clear upon entering- from the moment we stepped into the lobby we felt as if we stepped back in time. We could have been in any top art museum around the world, with over 200 pieces of international and New Zealand art collected by the owner Chris Parkin. Everywhere we turned there was something wonderful to look at, including sculptures, paintings and even collectors motorcycles. We almost experienced sensory overload with the gold and charcoal carpets, large pieces of art covering the walls and the extravagant furniture perfectly placed throughout.
Impressive so far, but what about the rooms? Our room was good sized with large floor to ceiling windows, overlooking the harbour. But it was the small things that made it so special, a Nespresso machine to make our own coffee in the morning and a huge stand-alone bath tub with bath salts at the ready.
The hotel service was responsive and quick to provide whatever was needed, including a pillow service which came with a “pillow menu” that allowed us to choose what kind of pillow we wanted; down or feather, hard, medium or soft or with a touch of lavender to induce a deep restful sleep! The king size bed was a pleasure to sleep in, but with so much to do in the hotel we didn’t want to stay long in the room.
One of the absolute highlights of the hotel is its world class Hippopotamus restaurant with French-born executive Chef Laurent Loudic adding his flair to New Zealand classics. Each piece of furniture has been personally selected for the restaurant, mostly from Europe and refurbished to create an eclectic a sea of teal, pinks and gold. One of the most popular services the restaurant offers is high tea. The Hippopotamus High Tea has a name for itself. With Chef Laurent Loudeac and Camille Furminieux recently winning the New Zealand section of the Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge. The high tea books out over two months in advance for special occasions like mother’s day. Breakfast in the restaurant was a personal highlight. With jazz playing in the background and more stunning views of the harbour we started our day with a great coffee and one of the best Eggs Florentine I have ever had.
The downstairs lounge and bar was a wonderful place to grab a glass of wine, admire more of the wonderful art and listen to soft jazz. Everywhere you turned there was another sculpture or painting to appreciate. I found that the art actually slowed me down. I was almost forced to stop and enjoy the art. It was a wonderful change of pace.
So what it comes down to is if you are just looking for a nice hotel to stay in for the night in Wellington then this is not the hotel for you. There are plenty of clean, lovely hotels however if you are looking for an escape, a place to truly rewind and slow down, an experience rather than just a bed for the night then that is exactly what the Museum Art Hotel offers.
To contact the Museum Art Hotel, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
90 Cable Street
Phone: +64 4 802 8900
Reservations freephone: 0800 994 335 (within New Zealand)