Project Team

architect: Mitchinson Simiona
interior Design:
Michelle Deery & Martin Hughes Design

Although it’s located on Auckland’s High Street, in the middle of the city’s hip fashion district, Hotel DeBrett is more about enduring style than any short-lived seasonal trend. And while much of the Art Deco charm of one of Auckland’s oldest hotels has been preserved, owners and designers Michelle Deery and John Courtney have managed to transform this 1920s building into a modern boutique hotel that surprises guests with warm, homely touches.

All 25 rooms are unique, but they’re stitched together by a velvety custom-made carpet striped with shades of burgundy, black, sky blue and yellow. In the public areas, meanwhile, classic mid-century armchairs and plush patchwork rugs punctuate the pine-colored floorboards. Hand-spun copper chandeliers bounce warm light off raw brick walls, while a thin and funky log-burning fire invites guests to stop and reflect on the building’s illustrious history. Back in its heyday, Hotel DeBrett’s wood-paneled Housebar was the city’s best place to see and be seen. Business deals and romances were kindled here for decades and, now that the original wooden bar is back in place, the tradition looks set to continue well into the future.

Filled with warm, homely touches and custom-designed furnishings, Hotel DeBrett is a modern cultural hangout that reinvents timeless style.

There’s been a hotel at the site of the DeBrett since 1841, but it wasn’t until the 1920s, when the original structure was rebuilt after a fire , that it began attracting a reputation as one of the city’s finest places to stay. Today, twinkles of the hotel’s Art Deco glory days are still visible, from the spun copper orbs of Judy Darragh’s carefully-designed chandeliers, which dangle from the glass-roofed main atrium, to the sparkling mirrored walls of the elevator that carries guests gently up to their bedrooms. But there’s also a far more innovative side, which continually intrigues visitors by juxtaposing vivid man-made shapes and colors with coarse, organic furnishings. Exposed, rust colored bricks sit alongside glass tiles that are as smooth as melting ice, while open fires burn unevenly in a perfectly angular hearth.

From the outside, Hotel DeBrett is unfussy and low key. But step beyond its unassuming white façade, which stands in the shadow of Auckland’s biggest skyscrapers, and you’ll be greeted by a quirky hotchpotch of retro fittings and contemporary New Zealand sculptures. It doesn’t take long to spot the multi-colored stripes of Michelle Deery’s custom-designed and hand-woven carpets, which lead the way up a wide, turning staircase. Personal touches like these have been kept deliberately obvious by Deery and her husband John, who have made a conscious decision to let guests know that they’re somewhere special, not just in another international hotel.

In the Mac-equipped drawing room, you can pour yourself a drink from the honesty bar before settling down to listen to the warm crackle of one of the hotel’s old records. Upstairs in the Art Deco-style Housebar, which fuses 1920s elegance with functional modern style, the original wooden panels have been carefully restored to create the perfect backdrop for tongue-tingling late-night cocktails.

Of the 25 flamboyant guest rooms at Hotel DeBrett, 15 are suites. But everywhere from the intimate Classic Rooms to the 50sqm duplex suites, homely comforts are central to the design philosophy. Beds feature hand-printed throws and a special goose down comfort layer, while moody, original pictures by Kiwi photographers Alistair Guthrie and Sally Tagg draw attention to the raw natural beauty of New Zealand. Each room is distinct from the others, but it is timeless style, rather than fashion, that weaves them together.