With a 5 Green Star rating, The Hotel Britomart has sustainability built in from the ground up. They have a total of 99 rooms and 5 suites altogether, with five of their rooms classed as wheelchair accessible rooms. The Hotel is able to assist with hiring specialised equipment if required during your stay.
The History of Britomart
To have an understanding around the significance of The Hotel Britomart it’s quite good to learn about The Britomart site itself which is rich in history. The mana whenua (Maori indigenous) of the area are the Ngati Whatua people; it was their chief, Apihai Te Kawau, who gifted 300 acres of the area to Governor Hobson for the construction of a new capital city after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Today, Britomart’s nine blocks are now occupied by a vibrant mix of offices, boutiques, bars, cafes and eateries centred around Te Ara Tahuhu, a verdant pedestrian-only street, and Takutai Square, the square at the heart of Britomart community.
Read more about the area’s history here.
I was so excited to view this new hotel as soon as it opened. I hadn’t realised, but I’d turned up to review it the day after the official opening day. The hotel is central to everything, the waterfront restaurants, bars and High Street. All main public transport hubs, train, underground and ferry. The event venues, of Spark Arena, the Civic Theatre and the Sky Tower Casino plus a whole lot more.
Being a hotel in a city centre means parking always comes at an extra cost. While staying at the Hotel Britomart a Valet Service is available, the cost is $50 per day. Cars are parked at the Britomart Carpark which is a block away. It is possible to drive your own car and park it at a lesser cost. The underground parking has a maximum entry height of 2.1m. If you drive a high-top vehicle there are some outside parks available, but important to check with Hotel to reserve a space as they are limited.
I think the moment you clap eyes on this building you know it is hiding something pretty special. Everything inside the hotel is locally sourced in New Zealand, even in the construction you will find beautifully finished re-purposed material from the local area.
The outside terrain is spacious, flat, paved and pedestrianised; a wheelchair users dream space.
“Welcome to the Britomart neighbourhood” they say as soon as you walk/wheel into the hotel. The glass and high ceilings give you the feel that you are still outside with the sun sensitively streaming in. A wide open lip-free door welcomes you in with a reception desk to the right as you enter. There will be someone who greets you as soon as you walk or wheel on in.
The black Muriwai Sand Wall was a stunning piece of artwork to dress the wall. The slab of rock that acted as a coffee table was mad of Timaru Bluestone. I sat here to drink the delicious infusion ‘well-being’ tea offered to me on my arrival. Everything had a place and a story with a real organic theme.
This place could be straight out of a town in Italy. One thing I like about the Hotel Britomart is the fact it’s built amongst and around a series of Laneways consisting of restaurants and eateries. You are basically staying right in the centre of everything. The main restaurant, Kingi, a place that celebrates seafood with sustainably caught fresh produce.
Kingi’s advocates for sustainable fishery and works with fishermen and women who share this value.
Although the ground looks cobbled and uneven it’s certainly not a barrier to wheels. The furniture is moveable and plenty of space to find your own place at.
Although not open on the day I visited, there will be a bakery on hand to enjoy fresh baking and a cup of coffee at breakfast time.
A great little meeting spot to enjoy something tasty direct from the kitchen.
The Laneway eateries flow straight out onto the pedestrianised streets. This brings people from outside the Hotel into enjoy the food and beverages on offer and invites those staying at the Hotel to explore the delights of the neighbourhood.
Look up and marvel at the architecture and the small footprints these incredible buildings hold.
The lifts have a planet theme with braille on every floor button. My guide pointed out the cleverly disguised wall art built into the walls directly in front of the lifts to gain the 1700mm circulation space needed for wheelchairs to wheel in and out.
These rooms are thoughtfully laid out and designed to make you feel like you are entering into a cocoon from the energy of the City. The rooms feature a Super King bed and accessorised with locally sourced products. The sheets are 100 % organic linen with a luxury topper on the mattress. There is a 49″ Samsung TV with casting directly in front of bed on wall. Each accessible room is located close to the lifts on each floor. The extra needs of guests staying in these rooms are recorded and in case of a fire or state of emergency those room guests will be contacted immediately.
All doorways are wide with a minimum of 800mm clearance. You will find everything at the right level for an independent wheelchair user with lowered shelving and hooks. They have even thought of including a lower security peep hole. Light switch and touch pad for swipe card to the right as you come in.
There is the minimum transfer space of 900mm either side of the bed. The bed height is 600mm from the floor and the clearance under the bed is 200mm. These measurements were later supplied by the Assistant Manager of the Hotel. The bed would certainly need to be raised to allow for a hoist. The room can be set up before arrival along with the hiring of a hoist if needed.
In each room you will find a little selection of New Zealand books on offer.
Next to the bed you have individual climate-control air-conditioning, mood lighting, bedside wall light, phone and USB Ports.
A room with no view, I found the window interesting as we are always keen to see the views we get from where we stay. If you draw down the black out curtain at the window it will throw the entire room into complete darkness. You can then play around with ambient lighting to create a real sense of comfort and luxury.
Everything in the wardrobe has been placed for a wheelchair user to be able to access independently. A full view mirror is a rare find in a hotel room.
Again, the bar is designed for independent wheelchair access. In this photo you can also see how well placed the light switches are too. Everything you need is at the right level for access including how the doors all open out.
This is an absolute dream bathroom with natural touches and clever lighting that sets it off well. The circulation is well thought out with well positioned grab rails inside the door, behind and beside the toilet with plenty of space for transfers.
The hand basin is exactly where you’d like it to be for access and the mirror accessible too. An easy reach lever tap is located on the left with the soap, face cloths and hand towels at easy reach.
The shower itself is just lovely, not only do you have the option of the rain shower overhead you have the slide rail shower hose too. The shower seat is solid and wooden with lever taps to control the water and temperature. Clever positioning for the water disposal keeps the water draining away from you as you shower. Soaps and towels are at easy reach.
The Landing Suite
My guide was keen to show me their magnificent suites. This suite is something else and although not classed as one of their accessible rooms it’s not far off. I thought I should include it as it’s pretty special, it has a floating super-king bed with plenty of room all around it.
The bathroom could be used as it has an open wet-floor shower with a hand shower on a slide rail as well as a beautiful rain shower over head. The toilet is its main drawback as it sits snugly between two wall partitions leaving no space at all to transfer onto it. I didn’t take a photo of it at the time but after thinking about it realised that a shower/toilet commode on wheels could probably be used in this space quite easily. The transfer could happen before hand and then have someone assisting to wheel over to the toilet. It’s a pity they didn’t just make this bathroom fully accessible as it wouldn’t have taken much.
The views towards the CBD show how amazing it would be to stay here to see the New Year in. Great spot to watch the fireworks being set off on top of the Sky Tower.
There is a fantastic atmosphere around the local neighbourhood with bars, restaurants and high end shops everywhere. Apparently, if you decide to eat or drink at any of the places locally you can call the staff at the Hotel and they will come and escort you home. Again, a real accommodating touch to make you feel at home.
Another Suite with Views
Again not one of their ‘accessible’ rooms but another one of their five masterpiece suites. Check out the way they use driftwood to create the corner table top.
The views are also incredible and give you a good idea of what’s just below no your doorstep.