The Hotel Britomart is the cornerstone of Auckland’s vibrant downtown neighbourhood. The contemporary building is located among restored waterfront warehouses and hidden laneways home to bespoke bars, world-class restaurants, and local boutiques.

The Hotel Britomart was designed inside and out by celebrated New Zealand firm Cheshire Architects as New Zealand’s first five Green-Star rated building. It creates an urban destination complete with premium accommodation, acclaimed restaurant Kingi, and private event space, The Libraries.

Sitting as the jewel in the crown of Auckland’s downtown precinct, Britomart is a unique intersection of history and innovation, where refurbished waterfront warehouses coexist with contemporary architectural structures. Exposed brick alleyways make way for vibrant bars, and the surrounding streets are home to exclusive dining establishments and retail boutiques. “It has this wonderful collision between fashion and commerce and food and the street,” Cheshire Architects director Nat Cheshire says.

Standing proud on a corner facing Takutai Square, The Hotel Britomart is the result of a meticulous renovation of a historic waterfront building alongside a contemporary, 10-story addition. “The Hotel Britomart has 99 rooms and five exquisite rooftop suites set in the heart of the neighbourhood, which is itself the leading edge of Auckland as a city. It is a contemporary building among buildings 140 years older than it,” Nat says. Set across a pair of thin towers made entirely from handmade clay bricks, the external vernacular is perforated by a constellation of precisely placed sleek window ‘portals’ that offer views out to the Waitemata Harbour.

Stone paving was used in the lobby space to mimic the street outside, and inside, the oversized reception desk is carved from sandblasted oak, with a living Totara tree – a species endemic to New Zealand – emerging from a hole in its surface. This sits opposite a bench crafted from recycled, locally sourced Kauri wood. A seating nook features a blue stone coffee table sourced from the port city Timaru and a wall of black cracked plaster made using Auckland clay. A Little Petra lounge chair by &Tradition completes a cosy and quiet corner designated for weary travellers, while a prized piece from acclaimed New Zealand artist Shane Cotton decorates one end of the lobby.

Located just steps from the hotel entrance on the ground floor of the heritage Masonic Building sits Kingi, a restaurant offering fresh, locally sourced food in thoughtful, approachable, and sustainable ways. The ornate chandeliers, curved marble tables, open fireplace, and oversized leather dining chairs build a European warmth, elegance and openness.

The rooms and suites of the accommodation above have been designed to resemble a softly lit timber cabin with timber-clad walls and moody, charcoal-hued wet spaces revealed by a hidden cavity slider. “The rooms themselves are designed by texture and with natural materials. In an increasingly kind of neutered, synthetic, technological world, these rooms are intended to be the opposite. They’re intended to be rooms that you can run your fingertips over,” Nat says.

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One of the expansive accommodation suites.

“We hope that The Hotel Britomart will have a profound sense of place. The hotel is Britomart. Britomart is nine city blocks and this building is a beautiful welcome to that place.”

 

— Cheshire Architects Director Nat Cheshire

Despite the scale of the hotel project, nothing in the building has been left untouched, and everything within the complex has been thoughtfully considered, handmade, or custom-designed by local craftspeople. From the tree branch handles cast in bronze on the front door to the moulded glass chandeliers decorating Kingi and The Libraries to the timber bedside lamps and lanterns in each suite of the hotel, the design response by Cheshire Architects was to ensure the hotel felt like coming home. The attention to detail deeply connects guests to a sense of place.

The Hotel Britomart seamlessly blends into its urban surroundings, maintaining an authentic connection to its location while welcoming guests. “It’s highly specific in a way that hotels often are not – there is just one of these, and it could only be in this place,” Nat says.

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