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There are not a lot of options for award hotels in Auckland, New Zealand. The good news is there’s at least one worthwhile option to use your points on: The Hilton Auckland. Here’s a review of my recent stay at the property and a look at the good and the bad.
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The hotel is located on Princes Wharf waterfront in the heart of Auckland, New Zealand. Princes Wharf is a former commercial wharf dating back to the 1920s, which was redeveloped into a mixed-used development and cruise ship terminal.
The structure housing the Hilton Auckland mirrors another section that houses luxury condos and apartments. And the other sections house all of the mixed-used developments, such as all of the bars and restaurants. I think it’s a pretty cool urban development and it’s nice having so many stores in close proximity.
There are a number of nearby attractions to the hotel like the:
- New Zealand Maritime Museum (5 min walk)
- Downtown Ferry Terminal (7 min walk)
- Sky Tower (15 min)
We spent a lot of time on the road doing things like checking out the beaches, exploring the glow worm caves, and visiting Hobbiton which were each a couple of hours outside of the city. So we didn’t really spend much time experiencing Auckland itself. It seemed like a pretty clean city with some interesting things to see but maybe next time I’ll have more time to explore the city.
Pulling in to the property
Traffic can get a little congested as you pull in to Princes Wharf, mostly because the Wharf is so long and there’s a lot of activity going on (many pedestrians, too). Bottlenecks are pretty common but they are pretty manageable so overall it’s not a big deal if you’re driving.
The Hilton Auckland is located at the very end of the hotel, where you can pay for parking on your own or just go with valet parking. We went with the latter but in retrospect I think I would’ve just gone with self-parking.
As we pulled in, I thought the nautical-themed architecture was very well done. It’s definitely a unique property in that regard.
The Hilton Auckland Lobby
The hotel lobby is very nice and well done. It’s got a very cozy and comfortable vibe to it and it’s connected to a larger bar and seating area, which is nice and open with plenty of natural light that gets in.
I thought the nautical elements were well done throughout the lobby.
During the afternoon, the hotel lobby can get quite packed but at other times you’ll notice it’s pretty empty. The hotel does allow for these seats to be reserved so it seems like they have small events and meetings down in the lobby at times.
When we checked-in, we were told that our Hilton Diamond status would not be able to get us an upgrade so we’d be put in a standard room. I was pretty bummed about that but was still interested to see what the rooms looked like before I judged them too hard.
One thing about check-in that irked me a little bit was that we weren’t given or even told about the two free drinks per day for Diamond members. This hotel does not have an executive lounge so they offer drink coupons in lieu of that. So I thought it was a pretty big thing to forget to mention to guests, since the average visitor would probably not think to ask about the drink coupons.
My first impression when entering the room was pretty solid. The room wasn’t huge and was pretty basic but I didn’t really have any complaints.
However, then I stepped into the bathroom and realized this hotel room wasn’t quite up to par.
At first glance, the bathroom didn’t look that bad. It had a large pillar in the middle of the room which was odd but the tub and sink area looked pretty nice.
But when I looked down and noticed the grout on the floor which looked something you’d fine at a hostel. For an alleged “five-star hotel,” the bathroom flooring was a dirty surprise. The photo below shows what the shower floor looked like:
One thing I was very excited about checking out was the view. I knew this hotel had some great views of the Harbour to offer and I was very excited about those. Unfortunately, we were not given a room a great view of the Harbour.
Instead, we were looking directly across from our balcony to other residents.
The balconies do offer some decent privacy from your neighbors on the side — they’re just very exposed to those directly across from you with glass railing that really doesn’t offer any privacy whatsoever.
We caught a couple of decent sunsets from the balcony which was a nice way to wind down.
So overall the standard room was okay but I was pretty turned off by the shower floor and a little underwhelmed with the view that was largely blocked by the other side of the structure.
The Bow Suite upgrade
Luckily, after the first two nights we approached the Hilton desk and asked them about a mid-stay upgrade. That’s one tip that I always tell people to try if they don’t mind relocating — inquire about upgrades in the middle of your stay.
The hotel upgraded us to the Bow Suite, which was a major upgrade to the Hilton Auckland experience.
The suite had everything we wanted: a nicer bathroom, great views, and plenty of space.
One of the coolest features of the suite was the wrap-around balcony.
At the end of the balcony, there was a table perfect for relaxing and taking in the views of the harbour. I really enjoyed the Bow Suite and you can read my full review of the suite here.
Hilton Auckland breakfast
Breakfast is held down in the restaurant called “Fish.” It’s nice and spacious area that’s a great place for a breakfast.
It also opens up to the outdoor deck with great views of the harbour.
The complimentary breakfast is a solid breakfast but it’s not the most spectacular breakfast I’ve had. They had some solid hot food items like eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, and a number of breads, meats, and other standard breakfast items.
You’re also able to order omelets which we did and enjoyed.
My only complaint is that they forgot our order the first time and so we waited like 20 minutes for an omelet. They were pretty apologetic about it the next morning though so that was nice.
Hilton Auckland Gym
The Hilton Auckland gym is pretty standard but you should be able to get a good workout in along with some pretty cool views of the property.
They’ve got a hand full of pretty solid cardio equipment.
There’s a decent free-weight station with a couple of benches.
There’s a small outdoor terrace for relaxing or maybe even some outdoor yoga or something.
Overall, the gym was solid although the gym room was a bit on the small side.
Hilton Auckland Pool
The Hilton Auckland pool is a small, narrow pool that’s located in the middle of the hotel.
It overlooks the waterfront and has a glass wall at the end which is pretty cool.
The Hilton Auckland is a solid hotel, especially if you can land one of the Bow Suites. There were a few hiccups during our stay but overall I enjoyed my time at the Hilton Auckland and I think it’s a solid option for an award stay.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.