Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mo' hotels

'Ohtel' under construction opposite Waitangi ParkNo-one builds plain old "hotels" any more: they're always "boutique hotels". The cutely-named Ohtel opposite Waitangi Park sounds like it will be exactly that, however. The official website doesn't say very much, but there's an online news item (scroll down a few pages) that gives a few more clues. At 10 rooms it could never be anything but boutique (it wouldn't be possible to fit in any more on such a tiny site), and the description has all the expected buzzwords such as "contemporary-style" and "urban chic". There's no hint of what the hotel will look like from the outside, but I don't expect architectural theatrics given that the ground floor seems to be using pre-cast concrete to imitate weatherboards.

There's one part of the description that is either very confused copywriting or signs of a new nadir in new-age silliness: "on-demand digital audio and movies via state of the art flat screens and speakers will complete the extra-sensory in-room experience". Extra-sensory? What, are they offering psychics along with the room service now?

The news item also refers to a much more down-to-earth "boutique" hotel opening next month: the Boulcott Suites at 5 O'Reily Ave, off Boulcott St behind the old St George Hotel. There's nothing about urban chic or in-room ouija boards here: just suites that are "ideal for corporates looking for quality and space". The building (which has been chronicled by DeepRed) is a very conventional block, though with some attempts to enliven it through semi-random application of yellow and red. It might not look too bad once it's finished, and doesn't seem too out of place alongside the no-frills rear of the St George and the semi-industrial low-rise next door (formerly part of the journalism school, if I remember correctly, and once host to the "Naked Angel" dance parties, which I definitely don't remember clearly).

It's interesting that neither of these "boutique hotels" appear to offer restaurants, bars, conference rooms or any of the other facilities that one usually associates with hotels: they're little more than a collection of rooms. This seems to be a bit of a trend, and it may be that the Wellington market is suited to serviced apartments, given the number of short- to medium-term corporate and government visitors. That could all be good news for restaurants in the immediate vicinity.


At 10:31 am, June 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom

Great blog. A friend with an interest in architecture alerted me to it a year or two ago (so I gues I'm a long time reader, first time commentor).

I'm looking at starting a quite unique bar in Wellington, that I'm sure will tickle your philosophy, and I'd love to talk to you more about locations. Can you email me on yalnikim at alchemia dot co dot nz.


p.s. When does your weekly dompost opinion piece start!?

At 2:34 pm, June 19, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Sounds intriguing!

No plans for an opinion piece quite yet: 4 blogs plus a day job keep me quite busy enough for now :-)

At 4:39 pm, June 20, 2007, Blogger Joanna said...


At 4:43 pm, June 21, 2007, Blogger Rich said...

Not many of the places I stay in nowadays seem to have restaurant or bar facilities. If they aren't as good as the ones around - why bother?

Most backpackers *do* have bars - given their clientele they are usually pretty succesful - Globe in Auckland is apparently the most profitable bar in NZ.

My favourite hotel (and one of the first to be called "boutique") is the Paramount in NYC which has (or had) the Whiskey bar *and* a Dean and Deluca deli. Plus, at one stage, an Anthony Bourdain restaurant.

At 5:06 pm, June 21, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"Not many of the places I stay in nowadays seem to have restaurant or bar facilities. If they aren't as good as the ones around - why bother?"

Room service? Plus, sometimes you when you're jetlagged and/or working you really don't want to go out and search the streets.

"My favourite hotel (and one of the first to be called 'boutique') is the Paramount in NYC"

Yes, that's more what I think of as a boutique hotel, though they're probably more accurately described as "design" hotels. I haven't stayed at the Paramount, but I had one night in the other Schrager/Starck place in NY (the Royalton) and was quite impressed. No chance to try out the restaurant and bar though: it was one of those "check in at 9pm, out at 7am" trips.


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