It was 6pm in Auckland by the time I stepped off my seven-hour Air New Zealand economy class flight from Perth, and I caught the SkyBus service into the city centre. From the SkyBus drop-off point, it was a pleasant 10-minute walk to my home for the next two nights: the Four Points by Sheraton Auckland.
As a Marriott loyalist, I was surprised to find that the world’s largest hotel chain is seriously lacking presence in New Zealand. Indeed, the Four Points by Sheraton is the brand’s only property in the entire country, and even this hotel was only opened as recently as April 2018.
I, for one, certainly expected a much wider range of hotel choices from Marriott in one of the world’s most popular destinations among tourists.
Nevertheless, the Four Points’s central location within Auckland CBD and attractive price point – the “Last Minute Getaway” rate was only NZ$195 ($172) per night – made it the natural choice for my two nights in town. The hotel is a Category 4 property within Marriott Bonvoy, so I didn’t feel that the nightly points rate of 25,000 Bonvoy points represented good value compared to paying the cash rate.
Ordinarily, I’d feel pretty indifferent about publishing a review of a Four Points hotel, since there’s not much that sets these limited-service hotels from others. But since this is the only Marriott hotel in all of New Zealand, as well as my first stay at a Four Points property (and overall a pretty decent one, at that), I thought there’d still be value for some readers in writing the review.
The Four Points by Sheraton Auckland occupies a 21-storey building at the corner of Queen Street and Mayoral Drive, steps away from the heart of the Auckland CBD. It’s within walking distance from major attractions like the Sky Tower and Viaduct Harbour, but also far enough removed from the main intersections so that it’s a little quieter around the building.
The main reception entrance sits on Mayoral Drive…
…although the entrance you’ll likely be using the most is the smaller one on Queen Street, one level below the main reception. After all, Queen Street is Auckland’s main drag, home to some of its best restaurants and shopping and providing access to many other points of interest within the city.
The door at the Queen Street entrance is controlled via keycard, so if you haven’t checked in yet, you’ll need to ring the doorbell and someone will let you through the glass doors.
You walk down a short hallway, and then take the elevator up one level to reach the main lobby.
The hotel lobby is artfully decorated, with many of the design choices – the nature-inspired colour palette, the textured carpet, the black-and-white photographs on the wall – conveying a distinct Kiwi identity.
My check-in procedure was processed swiftly. Prior to my arrival, I had enquired about the possibility of a suite upgrade through the live chat feature on the Marriott app, but I was told that the hotel’s suites “were not ready yet because the hotel only recently opened”.
I found that odd, since the hotel was supposed to open in April 2018, a full ten months before my stay, but I didn’t care enough to push the matter further.
Instead, I had been assigned a Corner Room on the 11th floor, which was a one-category upgrade from the Superior Room that I had booked. As a Titanium Elite member, I had the choice of daily breakfast in the restaurant or 500 Bonvoy points as my welcome gift, and I chose the breakfast vouchers.
There was one unexpected hiccup during the check-in process: apparently, the hotel thought that someone had dropped off a suitcase for me, and so they left the suitcase in my room for my arrival… except I wasn’t aware of anyone dropping off a suitcase for me.
The hotel quickly realized that they had put the suitcase in the wrong guest’s room, and to the front desk associate’s credit, he was able to alert his colleagues to remove the suitcase from my room before I even made it up there.
I took the elevators up to the 11th floor, where the New Zealand-themed decor was even more apparent. How can anyone not love New Zealand’s unique aesthetic identity?
Room 1116 was at the end of the hallway, and I swiped my keycard to enter.
The Corner Room at the Four Points Auckland basically consists of one large quadrilateral space, although the walls aren’t exactly perpendicular to each other due to the funky shape of the building.
The king bed takes up most of the room, and was comfortable enough, though not really worth writing home about. I slept very soundly for two nights, although that was probably more the result of my extreme jet lag, having criss-crossed from North America to Accra, Ghana (a five-hour difference), Perth (a seven-hour difference), and then here to Auckland (another five-hour difference), all within the past week.
There’s a sitting area off to the side, consisting of two chairs, with a small side table in-between.
There’s also a desk in the opposite corner, which was a nice enough spot to work from. Given the simple layout of the room, there’s no real rhyme or reason to which pieces of furniture go where – it felt like the interior pieces were just spread out in a somewhat random fashion.
Case in point, the mini-fridge, which was to be found sandwiched between the desk and the bathroom door…
The bathroom is pretty standard-issue, although I was impressed that they managed to fit a full-sized bathtub in the limited space here. I certainly felt that the use of space was more ergonomic here in the bathroom than in the room itself.
The toilet is found in the corner besides the sink, while the relatively spacious shower was a pleasure to use, thanks to its full-strength water pressure.
Lastly, there’s a small closet to be found right next to the Corner Room’s front door. I was pleasantly surprised to see that bathrobes were available, as I certainly didn’t expect a Four Points by Sheraton property to provide those.
The closet is also home to a small pantry, where you’ll find a kettle, together with tea packets and instant coffee (but no Nespresso machine – that’s one of the things that tend to distinguish between full-service and limited-service hotels!)
I appreciated that the Four Points by Sheraton Auckland provided international power ports by the desk, as well as multiple USB and power ports by the bedside tables. I’d certainly expect nothing less of a newly-opened hotel.
Overall, the Corner Room was certainly functional and comfortable, although not to an extent that I’d want to spend more time inside than I needed to. It was pretty much what I had expected from the Four Points by Sheraton brand – nothing more, nothing less.
I had been given breakfast vouchers for both mornings of my stay, and I took advantage of them in the Queen’s Head Bar & Eatery.
There’s an indoor seating section, as well as an outdoor patio for guests to enjoy if the weather’s nice (which it wasn’t – the patio was spattered by light rain during both breakfast sessions).
I didn’t really know what to expect from a Four Points by Sheraton hotel breakfast, so I was quite impressed by the buffet spread on offer. The buffet featured a variety of hot dishes, which were not necessarily of gourmet quality but still very palatable.
That was accompanied by the usual cold items like cereal, pastries, and fruits.
Furthermore, the hotel also offered made-to-order egg dishes, including a daily omelette dish, which was certainly above and beyond my expectations.
On my second morning in Auckland, I went for a workout at the hotel’s fitness centre before heading to the airport for my Singapore Suites flight. The fitness centre is located at the lower level of the hotel, the same floor as the Queen Street entrance.
As I had expected from a Four Points, the gym was housed in rather cramped quarters, with only the basic exercise equipment available for guests to use.
The hotel is also supposed to have a rooftop bar and terrace, although it wasn’t open yet by the time I visited in early February 2019 (the website still lists it as “opening in early 2019”, so it’s unclear whether it’s open or not). I imagine the rooftop terrace will provide guests with some decent views of Auckland, if and when it opens.
Since I only had one day to fully explore Auckland, I’ll take this opportunity to highlight a few of the things I did, since it’s probably not quite worthy of its own post. Nevertheless, as I had mentioned as part of the initial impressions from my trip, I loved every second I spent in New Zealand’s largest city, and was sufficiently enamoured with the city during my short visit that I’ve already planned another trip to New Zealand for later this year.
My day started out with a trip to Viaduct Harbour, where I took in the views of Auckland’s waterfront, sat at a coffee shop, and indulged in some people-watching…
…before deciding to climb up the Sky Tower for NZ$32 ($28) to revel in the city views from up high. While I’m usually quite selective in terms of which “city towers” to purchase admission for and which to skip over, the Auckland Sky Tower’s resemblance to Toronto’s CN Tower made it a definite go-ahead.
From there, I headed out of the city centre and walked leisurely towards Auckland Domain for the afternoon, a vast green space on the edge of the CBD area and Auckland’s oldest public park.
Perched atop a hill in the middle of Auckland Domain is the Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand’s most significant museum, housed within a distinctive neoclassical-style building. I spent a few hours learning about New Zealand and Maori history, although given how long I had spent exploring Auckland on this day, it wasn’t long until the clock struck closing hour.
The Four Points by Sheraton Auckland met my expectations for a mid-range hotel, but didn’t do much to exceed them. The Corner Room mostly satisfied my needs, and the breakfast benefit was more comprehensive than I had imagined, but overall, the hotel failed to make a real lasting impression.
It’s a shame that there are no other Marriott properties in town, so while I’d like to do some comparison shopping with other hotels when I return to Auckland later this year, I’m also not ruling out a repeat stay at the Four Points by Sheraton as a fallback option.