OPINION: The Naumi hotel is a new Mangere offering 3km from Auckland airport that's described by its owners as "anything but ordinary".
On a quest for the ultimate 'girl's night' location, two of Newshub's luckiest ladies - Sarah Templeton (ST) and Monika Barton (MB) stayed at Naumi to see what it's all about.
Here are the six things to know about the Naumi:
The je ne sais quoi
Naumi says it's not just a hotel, it's a lifestyle - and frankly, it's one I could get used to.
What's that you say? A spot of golf on the 3-hole putting green? A quick bite to eat from the donut wall at the breakfast buffet? Don't mind if I do.
The check-in desk sits beside an eight-foot-tall birdcage filled with happy little finches and canaries. The Ziggy Suite boasts its own bar, and a foosball table - above which hangs a light fixture made from a sombrero. Never before have gimmicks looked so damn good.
For some, the novelty factor might nudge Willy Wonka levels of absurdity, but I found myself squealing with delight - not unlike a kid in a candy shop. [MB]
When it comes to amenities, Naumi zigs when other hotels zag.
On entering the suite, an outstretched porcelain hand offers a smorgasbord of fresh fruit. Happily, there are also donuts, artfully arranged on what appear to be custom-made donut holders.
In fact, the 'yin-yang' balance of the in-room extras is pretty spot on.
You could indulge in a delicate T2 herbal tea, or pour yourself a strong Vittoria espresso from the coffee capsule machine.
You could have a splash in the solar-heated pool, or just admire it from your balcony wrapped in a robe, rocking slippers with little moustaches on them.
You could utilise the state-of-the-art gym, or flick on the Smart TV and snack on the minibar's complimentary chocolate fish (after you've finished the donuts).
We didn't bring our gym gear, anyway. [MB]
While it was difficult to top the enthusiastic greeting we got from the check-in desk birds, the staff at Naumi certainly gave it a good go.
Our welcome covered all the basics - breakfast starts at 6am, check out is by 11am, and the complimentary popcorn machine is over there.
Making a booking at the restaurant was a breeze, and there was plenty a friendly face to call on when we needed anything.
While wandering the hotel in search of our next Instagram shoot location, we were often asked how we were finding our stay. This usually resulted in a muffled reply through a mouthful of donut, but somehow, did not deter anyone from checking in with us. [MB]
This is not the place to go if you're looking for your basic cream and beige airport motel interior. (Is there anyone that likes that? A special breed perhaps.) The décor of the Naumi hotel sits on the extreme end of their slogan "anything but ordinary".
A massive gold leaf feature wall sits behind reception. The bar's décor is velvet-meets-suede-meets-leather-meets-feather. And that was only when we arrived.
The crazy colour scheme was taken to new heights when we reached our room: The Ziggy suite. The hotel's interior is inspired by the Tui bird, but Ziggy is more like a peacock. Inspired by the coloured zig zags of Italian fashion label Missoni, it's the kind of place Alice in Wonderland would go on her hen's night. Orange on pink on neon - don't go if you easily suffer migraines. [ST]
The food (and drink) (and more drinks)
Enjoying both dinner and buffet breakfast at the Naumi, we really got a taste for the place (sorry). Seated in a blue velvet booth we kicked things off with cocktails.
Mon's honey-based Old Fashioned tasted more like a health tonic, a particularly tasty one. I went out on a limb with the Naumi cocktail - and had doubts when a bright blue liquid appeared in front of me. Blue drinks panic me. But it was delicious; sweet and fruity and not overpowering.
We were gutted when they were out of the grilled lamb belly starter, but the waitress was quick to offer garlic bread as a suitable alternative. Not really sure how that works, but we are ladies not afraid of carbs, so we happily got a side of bread with our truffle fries. The mains - a braised lamb shoulder and caramelised pork belly - melted in the mouth.
The next morning, a little tender after a couple of bottles consumed over the evening, we attacked the buffet breakfast with furor. If you haven't eaten enough complimentary doughnuts on entry, there's a doughnut WALL to satisfy any next day cravings. Cheeses, cereals, yogurts and muesli make up the cold - hash browns tomatoes, beans, mushrooms, sausages and eggs made to order for the hot. Everything you could want - plus more. [ST]
The one thing that constantly boggles the mind with the Naumi is the location. Little touches remind you it's an airport hotel in Magarere: a shuttle leaving for the terminal every 15 minutes, a main road roaring just past the bushes. It could feel like it was in downtown Paris or Singapore, if you hadn't passed several budget airport motels just before you get to the grand front entrance.
It's both a blessing and a curse - exhausted families roll in from a day of travelling to be offered a comfortable chair, cocktail and a gas fire. But you can't help but think that if this was in Auckland's CBD, the velvet bar chairs would be full of fresh innercity locals, rather than have an air of jet lag hanging over everything. Hopefully, Naumi has a successful run, and can offer another location a little closer to the Sky Tower soon. [ST]
Sarah Templeton is Newshub's lifestyle editor, Monika Barton is Newshub's entertainment producer.