Nestled amid Auckland's bustling Customs St and a stone's throw from the waterfront, the Mövenpick Hotel - yes, like the ice cream parlour - is a sweet addition to the city's central business district.
Like a sundae with all its accoutrements, the Mövenpick comes with the trappings of premium accommodation, plus a few sweet extras that are unlike anything you will have experienced at a bog-standard hotel. There's the 24-hour, in-room 'Sundae Service', for one - and the daily 'Chocolate Hour', with all-you-can-eat treats from macarons to mille-feuille to meringues. Plus, kids get free ice-cream for the duration of their stay, which is both delightful but also incredibly dangerous - have you ever seen what a toddler in the middle of a sugar rush is capable of?
I was lucky enough to spend a night in the Mövenpick Hotel's executive suite, which came with an ocean view, a stylishly furnished space, and a bowl of macarons and a bottle of bubbly by the bathtub, which definitely earned some brownie points.
For starters, the executive suite comes with a tastefully decorated living-cum-dining area complete with crushed velvet seating, a chandelier and a small bar area with glasses, coffee and tea-making facilities, and a mini fridge. Duck into the bedroom and you're greeted with a king-size bed, subtle but stylish furnishings and a little nook by the window that allows you to gaze at the harbour and the Edwardian Baroque architecture of the old ferry building.
The bathroom is modern with floor-to-ceiling marbled tiles, a lovely bathtub, chic lighting and a shower spacious enough for four full-grown men, as well as a sliding door that automatically closes - very annoying if you wish to shout demands at your significant other while on the loo.
The bed was comfortable, the room was clean, and there's enough space should you want to separate from your co-inhabitant for a moment or two. However, the price is eye-watering: at the time of writing, the executive suite has a minimum non-membership price of around $850 a night - no breakfast included. A flexible rate with breakfast will set you back just under $1000.
Let's not sugar-coat it, this is expensive for most people; sure, the hotel has found a niche in the market and offers novelty experiences, but the suite, while tasteful and perfectly comfortable, didn't deliver the jaw-dropping lavish luxury you'd expect for the price tag. The televisions were also outdated - there was Sky but no Netflix or other streaming services, and we had complications with Wi-Fi on arrival.
But let's talk a bit about what sets the Mövenpick apart from the rest: the novelty experiences that are sure to delight any sweet-tooth. The daily 'Chocolate Hour' - a decadent chocolate experience with live demonstrations, staged every afternoon - was a delight, albeit a headache-inducing one. Our experience was slightly compromised on the day by a birthday party, which meant there were no live demonstrations to observe - however, I've heard the presentations will include the likes of rolling truffles and icing cupcakes, which is very cute.
Meanwhile, the treats were delicious and beautifully curated. Among the bite-sized cakes and confections was a self-serve sundae station, where you could customise your ice-cream pot with whatever toppings took your fancy, alongside painstakingly painted bonbons and truffles. It was very easy to overeat, so let's just say my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach, and I didn't feel so fresh afterwards. But hey, it's free chocolate - who's going to say no to that?
Another fabulous offering is Mövenpick's signature Asian-fusion restaurant and bar, BODA. Located on the top floor with sweeping, panoramic views of the harbour and city centre, we were lucky enough to attend the upscale establishment for dinner and dessert, and it was absolutely delicious. The restaurant serves a fusion of local produce with innovative Asian dishes, accompanied by an elegant, modern interior and relaxing ambience.
The service was faultless, and as a coeliac, the staff were very attentive and accommodating to my allergy. Our waters were always full and our needs were met, but the service wasn't overbearing. The portions were generous, as were the flavours; I'm far from a food critic, but I know good nosh when I taste it. Plus, we were plied with cocktails and wine, so I was already having a jolly good time. The staff are also more than happy to recommend a wine to match your meal, and the bartender was keen to exercise his artistic flair and customise his creations to our preferences.
The next morning, we ventured back up to BODA for a buffet breakfast. There was a decent selection of foods including continental offerings, fresh fruit, cereals, scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausages - everything you could really want. Dining on bacon and eggs alongside the sweeping views of downtown Auckland was an enjoyable way to start the day, complete with a tasty coffee. An à la carte menu was also supposedly available, although we were not offered one - however, there is eggs benedict and other café-style meals on offer should you so desire.
Caffeinated and crammed with hash browns, I went on a quick recce of the rest of the hotel before checking out. Other facilities on offer include a small but sufficient on-site gym, a virtual yoga room, the streetside café-cum-bar Custom Lane, and a quaint but cosy communal reading space (advertised as a library, but is more like one of those community book stalls). Plus, there's an outdoor terrace with plenty of seating overlooking lower Queen St, which would be a nice place to soak up the sun in summer - except it was mid-August and had been drizzling all morning.
Aesthetically, the lobby is also a talking point. Complete with the plush furnishings and gold, brass and olive green accents echoed in the executive suite, you're greeted and farewelled with a chic and contemporary design that sets the precedent for your stay; stylish yet subtle with touches of luxury, but overall, gives off more cushy-corporate than premium comfort.
It's also worth mentioning that I wasn't able to reconnaissance the other guestrooms the Mövenpick has to offer, so I can only speak for the executive suite. There are, of course, several different options to choose from, with different bed configurations available. You can pick from a deluxe room with an ocean view, a classic room with a city view, and a superior room with a city view, as well as the junior suite. A night's stay - no breakfast - in one of the guestrooms will set you back at least $300 to $400, which is above average, but the daily Chocolate Hour is included in your stay.
Is that worth the cost? That's for you to decide.
All in all, the Mövenpick Hotel Auckland would make an ideal base for travellers looking to explore the city in style - and have the cash to splash. The location is undeniably fantastic: guests are situated just metres from the Commercial Bay shopping hub and a two-minute walk away from Britomart. Travellers also have the ferry terminal at their doorstep and local attractions, such as the Sky Tower, are a mere 10-minute amble away. If you have kids in tow and want a taste of family fun, this could be a great option.
But despite its niche offerings and the novelty factor, the Mövenpick Hotel didn't quite deliver the ultimate indulgence I'd been expecting. The sweet treats throughout your stay will be welcome fun for families and foodies alike, but the suite, for the price, was a little underwhelming. Also, while stylish, the hotel had a distinctly corporate feel throughout.
My verdict? Head to BODA and enjoy the stunning views with delicious food and a cocktail or two, but if your finances are tight (we are in a cost of living crisis) and you need a place for the night, the Mövenpick isn't going to be a budget-friendly base.
Lana Andelane received a complimentary night at Mövenpick Hotel Auckland and dining experience at BODA for this review.