A third daily flight between Singapore and Auckland has been announced earlier this month and while it will only commence on 28 October 2018, the route is well-served by a number of solid products. In the summer months, passengers traveling on Singapore Airlines may consider trying out the excellent Suites and Business Class product on the A380. After staying at the Hilton Auckland for about a week, I moved over to the Rydges Auckland for the weekend as it was considerably more affordable and it is situated right in the middle of the city along Federal Street.
I got to the Rydges Auckland slightly ahead of the official check-in time but since I still have my DISCOVERY Loyalty Black status (which gives you an early check-in and late check-out time of 9:00AM and 6:00PM respectively - if available), I was given an early check-in and was also informed that I have been upgraded to the biggest room in the property - the King Residence Suite. Once I got to my suite on level 13 of the hotel, I realised how much more spacious it actually was (as compared to my room over at the Hilton Auckland) but nothing really compares to that Duplex Suite over at the Crowne Plaza Auckland.
The King Residence Suite is designed with all the home comforts in mind and it is suitable for longer periods of accommodation. You will find a full kitchen here with a full-size refrigerator (and freezer), oven, induction cooktop, microwave as well as pots and pans so you can whip up a meal without having to worry about not having the right equipment.
In fact, I was impressed by what was actually provided and honestly when you are traveling, it is always the little touches that matter. The inclusion of salt and pepper (in little sachets) meant that I do not actually have to purchase an entire packet of salt (which I will never be able to finish using) if I simply want to prepare a single meal. Even though I was only there for 2 nights, having an oven in my suite meant that I could head over to countdown and buy any of those frozen pizzas to satiate my midnight hunger pangs.
There is plenty of space in the kitchen and I actually thought that more could be dedicated to the actual living room or the bedroom here in the King Residence Suite. With that being said, I could see how this suite could potentially be great for having friends over (especially if you live in Auckland) - there is plenty of space for you to host a few close friends over and nothing beats being able to cook together before enjoying some food and drinks after.
If you are feeling peckish and do not want to venture too far out (there is a Countdown supermarket located just five to seven minutes walk away though!), the King Residence Suite comes with a fully-stocked minibar where you will able to find chips, chocolates, nuts, sweets, spirits and even a kiwi toy (that makes actual kiwi sounds) here. In fact, the box of goodies reminded me a lot of my Queen Spa Suite over at Rydges Melbourne when I stayed back in 2014. Since this isn't an Andaz, it goes without saying that the minibar is chargeable and the prices are definitely on the higher side (even though it is still fairly reasonable in my opinion).
The King Residence Suite comes with a single bathroom and it is located between the kitchen and a small semi-private walk-in closet area. Let's just say whoever designed this suite was not a tub person so the absence of a bathtub came as a little bit of a disappointment for me. The bathroom comes with a single sink, a massive shower area and a toilet behind the door (which you cannot quite see from the photo). Bathrobes are also provided here but I did find the whole bathroom space to be fairly awkward.
While I am typically unimpressed by in-house bath amenities, the ones provided here at the Rydges Auckland are actually quite nice. In fact, all of them have some kind of witty text underneath so make sure you pick them up to read them. It is also fairly uncommon for hotels to provide body scrubs (especially for one located in the CBD) so I thought it was a nice touch even though it was not really effective for me at all. Other interesting amenities include make-up remover and a shower cap that doubles as a snack bowl (I know!).
If you are staying for a longer period of time, you will definitely appreciate the existence of a washer and dryer (same machine) in your suite. While the hotel does provide laundry and dry-cleaning services, it is obviously a lot easier and cheaper to do it on your own. Laundry liquid is also provided here in the suite but if you need anything strong or if you are looking for softeners, the supermarket is only located a short stroll away - just ask the Concierge for the nearest Countdown and he or she will point you in the right direction.
As I was taking photos of the room, one of the hotel staff actually sent up a massive basket bowl of fruits (seriously, there was no way I could have finished this on my own) and a platter of cheese. I have gotten some fairly ridiculous (in a good way) fruit baskets as an elite member in various other properties before but I guess this one takes the cake - way to pamper your DISCOVERY Loyalty Black members!
If you are staying at the Rydges Auckland for work, there is a large work desk that is located between the living room and the bedroom. WiFi is complimentary here in the hotel but when you login, there appears to be a 10GB daily limit which I am not sure if it is actually enforced. In any case, most people do not use more than 10GB a day and I did not have any issues with the WiFi connection throughout my stay - Netflix worked without a hitch!
The Living Room is located between the kitchen and the bedroom and it comes with a couch, a coffee table and a TV (which honestly could be larger). The design of the King Residence Suite is dated and it does pale in comparison to newer properties like the Hilton Auckland (which I have to write on soon since I have made multiple references to it) and the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour (which I love!). Auckland is getting a new wave of hotels in the coming year - Park Hyatt Auckland and the SO Sofitel Auckland - and older properties like the Langham Auckland (which was really dated) has been refurbished and branded into a Cordis property.
Since the Rydges Auckland is located in the CBD, you will not really get a view of the Viaduct Harbour - there is a harbour view room category which allegedly gives you a view of the beautiful harbour but I cannot imagine it to be spectacular since it is located fairly far away. With that being said, if you are looking for a city view, the Rydges Auckland has it all. I also like how the windows can be cranked open slightly if you prefer to enjoy the cool weather outside (especially in the spring or autumn).
In case you have not figured this out already, the living room looks over to the bedroom and there is actually no partition between the rooms - this feels a lot more like a studio apartment in the city. There was some kind of construction work happening across from the hotel and therefore you do see a few workers but this is obviously not a permanent situation and you can always shut the blinds if you prefer to have more privacy.
As you would expect from the name of this suite, the bedroom of the King Residence Suite comes with a king-size Dream bed with triple sheeting. While the bedroom itself is fairly basic, the bed is pretty comfortable and it provides excellent back support.
There is also another TV here in the bedroom which I personally thought was unneeded since the living room is literally a few steps away. Also, the fact that there were no partitions meant that you may accidentally turn on the TV in the living room while you are trying to turn on the TV in the bedroom - so do not freak out, there are no ghosts in your suite!
Power outlets can be found next to the bed and around the King Residence Suite but make sure you have a universal adapter with you if you are an international guest. I did not manage to find any (it is common for hotels to provide one) in the room but perhaps you could get one by dialling '0' on the phone.
Chocolates are provided during evening turndown each night but if you prefer to get a NZD 10 voucher for food instead, leave the door hanger at the door before 2:00AM and you will find a NZD 10 voucher that is valid for lunch or dinner at The CUT Restaurant or room service to be redeemed during your stay (up to a maximum of NZD 30 each week). While I did opt for the voucher, I did not actually have time to utilise it so it has actually gone to waste.
If you have a BLACK Local Experience to redeem, there are a number of tours that you can redeem for. I have initially wanted to do the Taste of Waiheke tour during my visit but I was told that it was fully-booked and therefore, the Concierge recommended the Wine on Waiheke tour instead. The tour is usually priced at NZD 140 and it includes the following:
- Wine tasting at Mudbrick Vineyard - Learn about Mudbrick's varietals during a special cellar door tasting. Relax on the terrace or wander the garden, enjoying sweeping sea views all the way to Auckland.
- Wine tasting at Cable Bay Vineyard - This contemporary winery features modern architecture and a sprawling lawn. The cellar door area was designed as the perfect space to learn about the winemaking process, with a window into the working winery below.
- Wine tasting at Te Motu Vineyard - Te Motu is known for their rich, complex, Bordeaux-style wines. Nestled in the Onetangi Valley is Te Motu's very own take on rural wine shed, so you can sip amongst the vines in a modern-rustic atmosphere.
- Ferry & coach transfers - The tour includes return ferry fare from Downtown Auckland, as well as all coach transfers on Waiheke Island. Your local tour driver will meet the ferry at Matiatia Wharf, sharing the island's unique story on the scenic drive.
- All Bay Bus Pass - if you have more time to spend on the island, enjoy a complimentary bus pass so you can explore on your own after the conclusion of the tour.
While I did not manage to try the breakfast over at Rydges Auckland since my rate did not come with complimentary breakfast and I was more eager to try out cafes nearby, my stay at the property has been pleasant. The property is definitely in need of some light refurbishment in order to stay competitive in the market (especially since there are so many new hotels in the city) but the soft product is there - the staff are eager to make your stay a memorable one and the location is the biggest draw factor for the property. Most if not all of the properties in Auckland CBD are fairly old (there are some new ones sprouting out on the waterfront) and the Rydges Auckland is a strong contender if you value location and service over how new your room actually looks.