Review: Hilton Auckland

Filed Under: Hilton, Hotels

To start off our time in New Zealand, we decided to spend two nights in Auckland. While Auckland is a fairly big city, it’s not the best hotel market out there. There simply aren’t many luxury hotels, though that should change eventually, when the Park Hyatt Auckland opens.

One of the better hotels in Auckland is the Hilton, so that seemed like a good option given that I had recently matched to Hilton HHonors Diamond status.

This is a Category 7 HHonors property, and since it was peak season, a free night at this hotel would have cost 60,000 points per night. I value Hilton points at ~0.4 cents each, so to me the “cost” of a redemption would have been ~240USD.

The paid rate at the hotel was 350NZD, which is ~250USD. While that’s marginally more than ~240USD (theoretically my breakeven point), I’d be earning a lot of points for the stay, so would come out ahead that way. So we made a paid booking for the two night stay.

The Hilton Auckland is located right on the harbor, immediately across from the ferry building. The hotel is intended to look like a ship, so it looks both industrial and nautical from the outside.

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Hilton Auckland exterior

Driving to the hotel is a bit odd, as there are basically two identical buildings next to one another (I believe one of the buildings has apartments), so you get to the entrance to the hotel by driving through the parking lot.

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Hilton Auckland exterior

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Hilton Auckland exterior

Towards the end of the long parking area and on the right is the entrance to the hotel.

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Hilton Auckland entryway

While I’m used to Hiltons having rather drab lobbies, this one was beautiful. It had a nautical theme, which I really liked, especially given the location.

The front desk was located straight ahead upon entering the lobby, and was shaped like a ship.

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Hilton Auckland front desk

There was a lot of seating in the lobby area.

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Hilton Auckland lobby

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Hilton Auckland lobby

Across from the reception desk were stairs which go to the second level, where the restaurant is located.

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Hilton Auckland lobby

Also on the lobby level was a bar, which I’ll talk more about below.

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Hilton Auckland lobby

Since we were arriving late at night, check-in was processed by the friendly night auditor, who informed us we had been upgraded to a deluxe harbour view room.

We were also handed a piece of paper with the Hilton Diamond benefits we’d receive, including full breakfast at FISH Restaurant, as well as two free drinks at Bellini Bar nightly. This hotel doesn’t have a club lounge, so the complimentary drinks in the evening were them going above and beyond.

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We took the elevator to the 6th floor, where our room was located. Upon exiting the elevator we turned left and walked to the end of the hall, where our room was on the left.

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Hilton Auckland hallway

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Hilton Auckland floorplan

While I thought the public spaces at the hotel were exceptionally beautiful, the room itself seemed to be “brand standard” for Hilton.

The room featured an entryway, with a closet on the right and the bathroom on the left.

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room entrance

The room had a king size bed, though as I find to be the norm at Hiltons, the mattress wasn’t especially comfortable. While other hotels have more “stable” mattresses, I could totally rip the Hilton mattress off the bed without even trying.

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room

In the corner of the room was a comfy orange relaxation chair with a pillow.

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room seat

Then opposite the bed and relaxation chair were the desk and TV.

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room TV & desk

While I appreciated that the chair had wheels, it provided very little back support, and also didn’t have armrests. I realize most people won’t care, but as someone who works in hotel rooms for hours a day, it’s something I notice. Then again, I guess that’s still better than the trend of hotel rooms without desks at all.

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room desk

There was a luggage rack located next to the TV — while perhaps not the nicest looking piece of furniture on earth, it was practical.

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room TV

Since we were arriving late at night, turndown service had already been completed, which included two bottles of water and some chocolates.

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room bottled water & chocolates

Back near the entrance to the room was the bathroom, which was more or less brand standard for Hilton. There was a single sink, tub, walk-in shower, and toilet.

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room bathroom

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room bathtub

The temperature control and water pressure were very good.

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room shower & toilet

Toiletries were Peter Thomas Roth, which always makes me think of Peter Thomas from Real Housewives of Atlanta.

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Hilton Auckland Peter Thomas Roth toiletries

Perhaps the nicest feature of the room was that it featured a massive balcony. There was a table with two chairs, but aside from that it was unfurnished.

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room balcony

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room balcony

When you were standing on the side of the balcony you could see the Auckland skyline, which was cool, even if it’s not the most dramatic skyline.

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room balcony view

Then you could also see the ferry terminal.

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room balcony view

And then just looking out in the distance you could see the surrounding harbour and nearby ports. You really do feel like you’re on a ship if you’re on the balcony of your room at the Hilton.

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Hilton Auckland king deluxe harbour view room balcony view

Wifi in the room was fairly fast, though it disconnected often.

Breakfast was served daily in FISH Restaurant, located on the second floor. The restaurant is nice for a breakfast venue, with plenty of natural light and white tablecloths.

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Hilton Auckland Fish Restaurant

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Hilton Auckland Fish Restaurant

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Hilton Auckland Fish Restaurant

Through my Diamond status we received access to the buffet, which was fairly good. No, it wasn’t as extensive as what you’ll find in the Middle East or Thailand, but was still solid.

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Hilton Auckland Fish Restaurant breakfast buffet

There were cold cuts, pastries, bread, smoothies, yogurt, fresh fruit, cereal, etc.

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Hilton Auckland breakfast buffet

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Hilton Auckland breakfast buffet

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Hilton Auckland breakfast buffet

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Hilton Auckland breakfast buffet

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Hilton Auckland breakfast buffet

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Hilton Auckland breakfast buffet

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Hilton Auckland breakfast buffet

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Hilton Auckland breakfast buffet

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Hilton Auckland breakfast buffet

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Hilton Auckland breakfast buffet

There were also several hot dishes, including scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, etc.

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Hilton Auckland breakfast buffet

Then there was also an omelet station.

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Hilton Auckland breakfast buffet omelet station

Overall it was a solid breakfast buffet.

The Hilton had a gym and pool, located on the 4th floor.

I think “pool” might be a generous term for what they have, as it had room for one person to do laps, or otherwise a few people to just splash around in. Not that I’d go to Auckland to use a pool anyway, being from Florida…

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Hilton Auckland pool

The gym was perfectly decent as well.

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Hilton Auckland gym

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Hilton Auckland gym

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Hilton Auckland gym

We had a total of four complimentary drinks (two drinks per night for two nights), which we were able to redeem on our second night. That’s because we arrived so late on the first night, after the bar had already closed. It was nice that they let us use all the vouchers on one night, since technically they each had a date on them (two for the first night and two for the second night).

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Hilton Auckland lobby bar

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Hilton Auckland lobby bar

For the Hilton HHonors drinks, we could choose from the following:

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We selected the sauvignon blanc, given that we were in New Zealand.

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Hilton Auckland lobby bar Diamond drinks

As far as the hotel’s location goes, I both like it and dislike it. I like it because the views are great, given that it’s right on the water. However, given how far down the pier it is, it’s also a bit of a haul if you want to get out of the waterfront area. That worked fine for us, given that we only had one full day in Auckland, and spent most of it walking around.

Big picture, Auckland is a city I sort of feel indifferently about. I love New Zealand, but not Auckland as such. Auckland feels to me like a smaller and more boring version of Sydney. I’ve been twice now, and am not sure I’d return. If you haven’t been to New Zealand and are passing through Auckland then you might as well check it out for a couple of days, but personally it’s not up there on my list of favorite cities.

Hilton Auckland bottom line

Overall I enjoyed our stay at the Hilton Auckland. The public areas and views from the hotel are beautiful, while the rooms are brand standard for Hilton. I feel like if they luxed up the rooms a bit, this hotel could very well be a Conrad or even Waldorf Astoria.

Auckland isn’t that great of a hotel market, though the Hilton is one of the better options. If I returned to Auckland I’d consider staying here again, though hopefully the Park Hyatt is open by then.

Do you have a favorite hotel in Auckland? And how do you feel about the city as such?

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  1. Nice to see restaurant on the second floor reopened. Worth having breakfast there just for the views.
    Hotel has undergone massive lobby renovation and now looks much nicer but rooms are just ok.
    I disagree with the location review as it is quite close to major restaurants along the harbor and also main business buildings. Also pier is a couple of blocks away, where you can con to devonport and waiheke island. Latter is absolutely a must if you have a couple of days.

  2. We stayed there about 5 years ago as diamonds and received wonderful upgrades. First stay room with HUGE patio that could fit 40 people and second stay one with a great Harbor view.

  3. I love Auckland but to be fair the CBD isn’t so exciting. Nearby neighborhoods like Ponsonby, Kingsland, K Road etc have lots of nightlife and good restaurants. For solo travelers or tourists doing all of NZ, it’s good for two nights at most. But if you know people there, it’s well worth a longer stay.

    I always liked the Hyatt Regency on Princes St. I think it’s a different brand now though.

  4. I stayed here for two nights. It’s a short walk from the ferry terminal (I took the airport express bus to the ferry terminal) and city centre shopping/restaurants the overall location is very excellent. It is a quiet hotel with great views. Hertz rental car (about 15 min. walk) is on Victoria St. which I used for my excursions on the North Island. Auckland is fairly compact for the main areas and getting around by cab or bus is easy and not too expensive. Ferries will take you across the harbour to quaint Devenport. Ponsonby is nice for shopping in boutiques and having lunch – sort of a neighborhood for ‘wives of Auckland’ or ‘ladies who lunch’. Overall the people in Auckland I found to be friendly though the train station area has been known for gangs of youths to hang about and assaults can happen. Another nearby upscale hotel alternative is Sofitel Auckland Harbour.

  5. I stayed at Hilton Auckland as a Diamond at the end of May. Was upgraded to their bow suite. Views were incredible! The FISH restaurant just reopened(day1) and each staff was very friendly. Similar to Lucky’s comment, I’d definitely stay at the property again…prior to the PH Auckland opens!

  6. I’m an Aussie living in NZ. Auckland is such a let down compared to Sydney.
    This would also apply to the Hilton Hotels in each city! The Hilton in Sydney is truly special. As Diamond HH you’d be upgraded to something a LOT nicer than this in Sydney. The breakfast buffet in Sydney is something I would expect to see in Dubai.
    I know how much you love the Park Hyatt in Sydney, Lucky, but if you get a chance you really should try out the Sydney Hilton as I think you’d be pleasantly surprised; it’s well above brand standard!

  7. @Matthew

    Stayed at the Sydney Hilton six years ago and found the bed(s) to be the most disappointing feature. King bed consisted of two beds put together and were EXTREMELY uncomfortoble. Room was also tihy…even though we had been “upgraded” as Diamond members. I’m hoping that this has changed for the better.

    On the plus side, the Executive Lounge was tops for Breakfast, Tea Time, and Happy Hour. The staff were beyond awesome. At one point, we were brought snacks and a bottle of wine, along with a thank-you from the GM for our loyalty.

    I love SYD, and if the Hilton has since uppped their game, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again.

  8. @Matthew.I’m an Ex-pat living in Sydney while my partner completes his surgical training at St Vincents hospital,and have to disagree with you.Sydney must be one of the world’s most overrated cities.Yes the harbour is amazing but then what….???Nightlife is absolute crap, where “lockout laws” here mean many venues close down around about midnight.Hows that for a”world city”.I actually find the people here to be superficial and all anyone talks about is real estate values.We have on 2 occasions flown to Auckland for long weekend breaks and enjoyed the vineyards on Waiheke island , surfing at Piha (think of “The Piano”s brooding landscape) and hiking to the top of Rangitoto- an amazing dormant volcano in the Hauraki Gulf.Surfing in Sydney at Bondi or Manly is a joke,fighting your way through hordes of tourists fighting for a wave.

  9. I’m not usually a Hilton fan, but recently i stayed at the Hilton Adelaide, and although there were a few things wrong with the hotel, the room did have a great desk, and a proper office chair. You can read a full review here:

    I work on the road sometimes, and am so used to having to request an office chair on arrival, that I sometimes specify it at booking.

    You are right about Auckland. It does not have great hotel options. The Park Hyatt will be a great addition.

  10. Lucky can highly recommend DeBretts hotel… boutique, & you almost certainly wont’ be able to use points, but for my money hard to beat in Auck…

  11. @Matthew, I love Sydney, and have stayed at the Hilton countless times over the years as a Diamond. However, I’m always upgraded to a standard exec room, which is TINY. Once in a while I’ll get a corner room, which has a few extra inches. Never once gotten a jr suite.

  12. @Damian, the uncomfortable mattresses at the Hilton Sydney have always been my main complaint, and according to their management, has been one of the top complaints overall. The good news is that starting last year they’re replacing the mattresses with more comfortable ones that provide more support.

  13. I find it hilarious that I checked in more or less the night you left and I’m not entirely sure I didn’t have the same room as you…

  14. “I love New Zealand, but not Auckland as such. Auckland feels to me like a smaller and more boring version of Sydney.”

    Wow, this was my EXACT thought when I visited NZ three years ago! Before ending up in Auckland, I had been to Sydney and after that driven through both islands of New Zealand, and Auckland felt almost like a let down after all the amazing things I saw and experienced in the rest of the country. Nothing wrong with the city as such, but nothing new and different either compared to similar and somewhat bigger cities in Australia.

    Great review, keep ’em coming! If I could earn points by reading your posts, I’d have been platinum ages ago!

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