Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Accommodation Review: Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel

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Welcome to Capsule Travels, where we bring you stories, reviews and experiences of all the best the world – and New Zealand has to offer! In our new series, we get down and gritty with reviews of different types of accommodations, so you can make the best decision possible for your well-deserved travel plans – and we all need to know where Auckland’s best hotels are, right!?

This week, we’re checking into the new Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel

Hotel class: *****
Auckland Airport – 100m from the International Terminal.
311 rooms (6 suites, 305 premium rooms) all featuring full-length soundproof windows.
Public flexible rates start from $419

Why we were there: Te Arikinui Pullman has just opened its doors in Auckland and so they kindly invited Capsule along to experience it for an evening. I jumped (sorry to my family!) at the chance to check in for a night alone! If you’ve been to the airport in the last few years, you’ll no doubt have seen all the major construction that is taking place.

It’s been hard to get an idea of what is going on as you’re shepherded from the carpark through the makeshift corridors to the international terminal. But now that this nine story 5-star hotel is open, you can get a fantastic view of what’s actually been going on – and you can watch as work begins on the brand new runway. But never fear, the sound-proofing in this building is second-to-none. I (Alice) watched out the window of my room as a man began drilling into concrete and I heard nothing – just the gentle clinking of ice in my drink. Bliss.

Vibe: Te Arikinui is a five-star hotel – it’s sophisticated and luxurious but still, somehow it has a homely feel to it.

Whilst being high-end, it’s unpretentious and inviting, with so many little touches in its beautiful design than honour the local landscape and Tainui waka (the hotel is a joint venture with Tainui Group Holdings). From the unique wooden panelling around each room’s doorway (which reference the stars of Matariki), to the sparkling shell fragments in the stone foyer (all collected by local iwi over the past 40 years and gifted to the hotel), to the iwi-designed bed throws in your room, there are so many thoughtful, well executed touches that make this hotel distinctively Kiwi – and luxurious!

Perfect for: Anyone visiting the airport – whether you’re dropping someone off at the airport and want a decent coffee, or your flight is delayed and you want somewhere delicious to eat for dinner, or, you’ve got an early flight out and want to just roll out of bed and be at the airport instead of stressing about traffic.

Seriously, the coffee cart opens at 4.30am and is the best I’ve tasted at the airport, and the restaurant is incredible. I’m already planning on heading back, even though I don’t have a flight to catch.

Rooms: I stayed in an Executive King Room – essentially you’ve got three options to choose from: the superior king, the exec, or the suites. The Superior and Executive rooms are the same layout – a 30m2 room featuring a King Size bed (or, you can opt for two queens), a bathroom with shower, separate toilet, 55-inch smart TV and tea/coffee making facilities with a mini-bar.

In the Executive rooms, your room will be on a high-level floor (meaning you’ve got a better vantage point if you want to watch planes come and go – it’s surprisingly mesmerising), you’ll have a selection of complimentary snacks and drinks in your mini bar (proper crisps, honest chocolate, sodas, juice and sparkling/still mineral water), plus you have access to the Te Kaahu lounge. There, you comfortably curl up with your laptop and enjoy evening snacks or a morning coffee, treats and pastries (alongside the main buffet),

The hotel rooms themselves are a pretty standard five-star room, but with very comfy little touches, like the extremely comfortable bed, the blackout blinds and the extreme soundproofing. There’s a little couch by the window that’s perfect for looking out over the airport.

Food and Drink: For me, this was the absolute highlight of the hotel. Helmed by Nancye Pirini (Te Whanau aa Apanui, Te Rarawa), the food at the signature restaurant, Te Kaahu, is seriously delicious. Again, it’s distinctively Kiwi and whilst I was eating my meal I felt an extra warmth in my belly thinking that there may be some people who stay and eat at this hotel, who are here for such a brief time that they only experience this one piece of New Zealand. If THIS is all they know of New Zealand, we couldn’t give them a better taste to go by.

Some of the highlights for me were the dayboat catch raw fish (served with coconut panna cotta, salted cucumber and capsicum chili salsa), the confit native mushrooms (served with sesame whipped tofu, pickled cucumber and a kataifi pastry), the Savannah beef short rib (with roasted bone marrow, kawakawa corn bread & chimichurri) and – one of the best sides I’ve ever tasted – the caramelised carrots (with yuzu hollandaise and fried curry leaves).

The restaurant is set on the ninth floor of the hotel, really taking advantage of its views out across the harbour, and across the airport itself.

It’s also where you’ll find the buffet breakfast, which offers a broad selection of cold and hot options, from an egg station to extensive array of pastries.

Personally, I was stoked by the breakfast as someone who is gluten-free. I’ve become very used to having my expectations set very low when walking into a hotel buffet. Most often, when I say I’m gluten-free, I’m sent out a couple of pieces of GF bread and am left wondering what exactly to do with them. Anyone who has tasted GF bread will know it’s rarely delicious but also completely inedible if not toasted. But, how do you do it? Do they expect you to bang it in the communal toaster covered in breadcrumbs with everyone else’s normal toast?!?

Thankfully, I straight away spotted the GF section of the buffet, where there were two bread selections and a separate toaster right on the counter. There were also GF mueslis and cereal’s available. Bliss.

Facilities: Kuriri Café and Eatery is located on the ground floor where anyone can visit for a coffee or café style food – there’s some delicious looking cabinet food if you’re on the run. Te Kaahu bar and restaurant are both open to the public. Guests can also use the gymnasium, and Te Kaahu Lounge is open to guests staying in Executive rooms. There are also meeting rooms available.

What makes this special? The celebration of our rich culture makes this hotel one we can all be proud of.

The hotel also champions NZ products – whether it’s the locally brewed whisky or potato chips from Nelson – and local designers. The staff wear uniforms designed by Kiri Nathan (of, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Paoa, Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Hine iwi), whilst the carvings were created by Renata Te Wiata (Ngaati Mahuta).

It truly is a treat to stay at.

Alice was a guest of the Pullman. All opinions are her own.

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