Walking into the Quadrant is an exercise in contrasts: next-door is the Pullman, a hotel that looks and feels like a classic downtown hotel, with lounge-suited doormen, and calming colors of dark wood and stone. Across the road is Old Government House, the former vice-regal residence, an italianate Victorian structure (timber, made to look like stone) now housing the University of Auckland's staff club. Just down the road is the High Court, with its token gestures toward Tudor Gothic. All around, the buildings try to be stately and monumental. They really suggest the shortage of materials, funds and architectural skills in the colony's early history, but at least they try. The Quadrant tries the exact opposite. It tries for modernist minimalism, with clean, unadorned surfaces of not-quite-white. Is it stone? Concrete? Can't really tell, and it doesn't matter anyway. What we see is unbroken planes of not-quite-white. They aren't only not-quite-white; they're also not-quite-big-enough. The entry driveway is frequently clogged with guests coming and going, since the valet service is not-quite-staffed to cope. The reception desk is often overwhelmed, especially when a tour group or a study abroad group arrives all at once. The desk staff do an admirable job of remaining calm and friendly, though it's clear that there are not-quite-enough of them, and not quite enough space for all the milling guests to wait in.
Then there is the long corridor from reception to the elevators, long enough, but not quite wide enough. Guests often bump suitcases, if not also each other, traversing this lengthy gangway. The gangway runs parallel to a void. In the void stand a few floral arrangements, beautifully architectural, on dark grey stone posts. If you take the time to look down, you'll see that there's a shallow pool there running the void's full length, not quite deep enough, so it's not quite visible. Even when you get off the gangway, it's still not quite visible, so they've put up a red rope cordon to stop people from walking into it. The water is also not quite clean: every day we looked, it was covered with a thin layer of dust. If only they'd used this space for a wider gangway, perhaps putting the floral displays along the central axis.
A small restaurant and bar await at the gangway's end. Neither quite appealed to us. Breakfast was astonishingly expensive for plain food, apparently not-quite fresh because they didn't have quite enough customers to keep it turning over. I judged this from how dry the eggs and baked beans looked when I passed it in the mornings. We were given vouchers for free drinks at the bar, but the eating space is tiny and noisy, so the voucher wasn't quite enough to draw us there.
There aren't quite enough elevators, either. Often we'd wait as long as ten minutes for one, along with a line of other guests snaking around the space not-quite-large-enough, trying not to encroach on the restaurant space, and while the staff had to weave through us as well.
The minimalist effort continues all the way up and into the room. We had a two-bedroom suite with an in-room laundry (combined washer and dryer), and a wonderful view over the inner harbor. Every day we woke up and watched the ferries and cruise ships, and were generally not bothered by traffic noise (since the nearest busy street is on the other side of the building). Living in the room was quite an exercise. The minimalist take on furnishing had provided beds, little frames for bedside tables, and bedside lamps whose minimalist bases were not quite strong enough to hold the posts upright. There was a closet with four coathangers, and they happily provided about a dozen more after we asked for them, though the time taken to do this was far from minimal. It would have been nice to have had a chest of drawers; we lived out of our suitcases for the non-hanging items, but were hampered by there being no place for suitcases to go. We put them on the floor beside the bed, in the space not-quite-wide enough, making a small hurdle over which to jump.
The kitchen included a cooktop, full-width oven, dishwasher, fridge, microwave. The minimalist effort was confused here: rather than a saucepan and frypan, we had two of the former and none of the latter. There was a can-opener that did not work, and no utensils for cooking — just a big serving spoon.
Around the dining table is not quite enough room to sit, and the crampedness is made worse by the chairs having big arms and being hard to slide over the carpet. Above the table is a big television screen, right next to the big glass wall that makes the screen hard to see. We didn't use it much at all during our stay.
Our room was serviced every day or two, and the long-term housekeepers were very nice to us. We did not always get a long-term person, though, and often found that they had left no dishwasher detergent and no laundry detergent. Sometimes we received a far-from-minimal stash of hand dishwashing detergent sachets. Every day they expanded our supply of shampoo, conditioner, skin lotion and soap which, by the end of our stay, had accumulated into a small mountain in the space not quite large enough to store it.
The Quadrant's greatest values are its location, its views and its friendly staff. Its attempt to be modern and minimalist, however, falls short just like its neighbors' attempts to be monumental and grand. Staying here like is like participating in public installation art that challenges popular misunderstandings of minimalism, consistently showing how hard minimalism is to achieve: the architects have cut back on the essentials, not the extras, leaving a hotel that says not "minimal", but "not quite".
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in downtown Auckland, just a well shod hop, skip and jump away from the city's fashion district, restaurants and bars - featuring 200 apartment style rooms (studios, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments) each with a fully equipped kitchen, balcony and FREE Wifi with a generous daily limit of 1GB. It's easy to see why The Quadrant Hotel becomes the home away from home for many travellers throughout the year. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Quadrant Hotel And Suites Auckland New Zealand