WHAT’S IT LIKE? The property originally opened in 1841 as the Commercial hotel but was burnt down and then rebuilt in 1925, before earning the name of the De Brett in 1959. It was given a complete makeover in 2009, with Paul Smith-style striped bespoke carpets (made from 100 per cent New Zealand wool) throughout, 1950s wooden furniture, retro design, and quirky use of colour such as the turquoise mouldings in the House bar.
The overall feel of this trendy 25-room boutique property is homely, with narrow corridors, a drawing room with a 24-hour honesty bar, board games, books and records, free local phone calls and wifi, and characterful bedrooms with drinks and homemade snacks, velvet robes and unique artworks.
WHERE IS IT? In Auckland’s central business district, on the corner of High Street and Shortland Street. The international airport is 22km away, and the waterfront is five minutes on foot.
ROOM FACILITIES Bedrooms incorporate a brave use of colour in the form of striped carpets, orange angle-poise lamps, fluorescent plastic chairs, hand-printed bedspreads and dramatic black and white circular mosaic tiled bathrooms. Surprisingly perhaps, it works well, and the fixtures and fittings are of high quality. Classic rooms are 25 sqm to 35 sqm, while top-category suites are 50 sqm to 60 sqm,
All rooms and suites come with LCD flatscreen TVs, DVD players, air conditioning, Tivoli radios, minibars, comfy beds with 100 per cent cotton sheets, and bathrooms with under-floor heating, tubs (in all but one) and rainshowers. My split-level Loft suite had a spiral staircase leading up from a small living/office space with a workdesk, sofa and washroom, to a spacious bedroom and en suite bathroom. Wifi was free and I found it a very enjoyable space to relax in.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS The airy Kitchen restaurant has an adjoining open-plan courtyard bar beneath a glass atrium, and features wooden floors, concrete walls, plush banquettes and shiny black and white acrylic chairs. Breakfast is served 6.30am-10.30am with a continental buffet for NZ$20 (£10) including muffins, banana bread, bircher muesli, sourdough bread and apple juice, as well as à la carte options such as an “antipodean plate” of vine tomatoes, avocado, soft boiled egg, Blue River pecorino and grilled flatbread for NX$18 (£9).
Lunch is served 12pm-3pm, with tasty options ranging from olive-oil poached New Zealand king salmon with horseradish, perla potatoes, cos hearts, avocado, cucumber, beetroot and dill (NZ$24/£12), to cumin-rubbed Hawkes Bay lamb shoulder rack with spiced eggplant relish, leaf spinach and braised lentil jus (NZ$28/£14). Dinner is served 7pm-10pm Sunday to Thursday (until 11pm Friday and Saturday), with options including sashimi of Pacific Ocean kingfish to start (NZ$23/£11) and roast grass-fed Angus beef fillet with baby onions, blue cheese, watercress and mushroom bordelaise (NZ$38/£19).
Next door to the restaurant, the art deco-style House bar specialises in cocktails – try the De Brett Mule made from 42 Below vodka, Domaine de Canton, lime and ginger beer for NZ$18/£9. The lively street-level Corner bar also serves cocktails, beer, wine by the glass and snacks, and sports red painted walls and posters from bygone eras.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Events can be hosted in a variety of spaces, including the Boutique and Loft suites (for six to 12 delegates), Kitchen restaurant, House bar, Corner bar and dedicated boardroom. Apple Mac laptops are available to borrow.
LEISURE FACILITIES There is a DVD and book library for guest use. Although there is no on-site spa, in-room treatments can be booked in advance.
VERDICT A funky family-owned alternative to traditional chain hotels. The bedrooms standout in terms of design, while the honesty bar in the Drawing room, the free evening drink between 6.30pm and 7pm, and the complimentary buffet breakfast are welcome bonuses.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 25 individually designed rooms across four categories, including Classic rooms, Boutique suites, O’Connell and Loft suites.
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The funky décor and furnishings, the free wifi, the DVD player and complimentary DVD library, and luxuriously stylish bathroom.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in January started from NZ$300 (£150) for a Classic room.
CONTACT Hotel De Brett, 2 High Street, Auckland; tel +64 9925 9000; hoteldebrett.com