“It’s a respectful sharing of the site,” says designer David Ponting of the Hotel Fitzroy Curated by Fable, which occupies a lovely old villa in Auckland’s Ponsonby, along with a sympathetic new building behind. “There’s this constant counterpoint – they’re like family members who have only just met.”
The original building had a colourful life – it started as a boarding house and has always been something of a landmark in the area. Ponting’s design restored period features outside, including wide, generous verandahs, and gutted the interior. Behind that – and entirely separate to the original hotel – he designed a smaller, contemporary building containing four more rooms built from board-formed concrete and black steel – including a terrific steel spiral staircase.
It’s a deliberate counterpoint to both the villa and the heritage brick building next door, but it’s also respectful, set away from both so all three have space. “The airspace is crucial, so it’s not crowded,” says Ponting. “The brick can breathe, the concrete can breathe and the villa can breathe. They play nicely together.”
Inside, it’s a different story. Grey plaster walls, black steel and dark cabinetry: every inch a modern design hotel. It’s contemporary without being minimal, luxurious without being ostentatious – there’s a softness, a warmth to the textures and the materials.
The idea is simple. Give guests a beautiful hotel room, close to local attractions in one of the city’s best neighbourhoods. There is a staff member on site, and a welcoming library upstairs for a whisky in the evening, but there’s no restaurant – though there is a wine list, and a small kitchen to provide room service.
Which makes sense. Ponsonby Road is but a short distance away in one direction, West Lynn in the other; there is a plethora of eateries and bars to entertain you. In other words: everything you want and nothing you don’t in one very lovely package.
Hotel Fitzroy curated by Fable
43 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland