Let’s say: If you do not want to run a marathon in your room, this magnificent-looking Victorian four-star hotel is an ok place for a night.
As you might know my favourite place is the High Street Court Motel but as this was closed for renovation, I had to look for something else. So I had a look at www.wotif.com and got a NZ$ 100 deal for the Mercure, celebrating the 1000th NZ athlete going to the Olympic Games.
My main request was the central location, so we could walk to the Octagon and our dinner place, and the Mercure was a good option.
We were there on a weekend, so there was not a lot of traffic, and we could park on the street. The hotel has a valet carpark which would cost NZ$ 20 per day.
The standard room we had was on the 4th floor and super quiet, noise coming only from the hallway when other guests moved around. It was L-shaped, not very big and crammed with furniture. Although the Mercure is Dunedin’s oldest hotel, dating back to 1862, the furniture is modern and of good quality. But with two Queen size beds (we did not need more than one) the room was full. It reminded me of the pocket-size room in Tokyo where I had to long-jump over my suitcase to reach the bed. Ok, ok – it was not that bad but you get the idea.
Apart from the one bed we needed and the one which we used as storage space, there was a small desk with one chair, and a fridge (minibar) which served as a flatscreen TV base. No wardrobe – just some hangers behind the door. An ironing board, a fan and a suitcase chair next to the fridge. You would prefer to have such things stored away in a cupboard or wardrobe, so the room would not get a touch of storage unit. All the other things you need were stored away in a big drawer in the fridge unit: kettle, iron, cups, glasses, tea bags and instant coffee, etc.
The modernised bathroom was also compact. Nice rectangular basin, shower over a bathtub, hairdryer on the wall. Still a cheap lino floor, and small mould spots in the corners of the bathtub. There was no real space for storing your toileteries – but as we had the storage bed space next door this was no problem.
As if the storage space was not limited enough there were ten to fifteen folded info cards spread around the bedside table, desk, bathroom – just everywhere, telling you to save the environment, the minibar, your life, and the television… You get the idea. I took them all away and stored them at a safe location under the bedside table lamp to make room for at least my watch and a book… ;-)
The room was heated with an oil column heater which was effective, and heated up the room fast. What I did not like was that I did not succeed to open the window (no view, just to the escape staircases) to get some fresh air into the room. Although there was a rope attached to the frame which should open the window at least in the case of emergency the window stayed shut. I do not want to imagine this in summer in a room without aircondition.
Neither of us slept very well, partly to the room being too hot at the start and too cold later on, and being used to a king size bed.
The young lady at the reception was incredibly friendly and always tried to help us with her local knowledge. But unfortunately we had to disappoint her because we know the city so well… However, it is good to know that the staff are great.
A funny feature are the letters on the buttons in the elevator. L stands for – lobby. Normally you find G for ground floor. 1 is the level above the entrance and reception – just to let the Americans among you know…
Oh, and not to forget a real rip-off: They offer a nicely wrapped cable with highspeed internet access in the room – 68 cents per minute! So if you go online for half an hour – which is nothing, as you know – you pay $ 20.40! Surfing the net 2.5 hours costs you the Olympic internet rate of the room!
The five-storey hotel has 50 rooms in three categories: standard ($ 110 to 270), standard king ($ 110 to 260), and superior. The latter has more floor space (super special $ 130, otherwise $ 169 to 321). Rates as July 2008.
Unique Quality: Some words about the hotel’s history: As said, it is the oldest one in Dunedin, founded in 1862. In 1864 in was named Wains Hotel. You can still see this name on the splendid Victorian façade that was put in place in 1878. Right above the arched windows of the ground floor you see some fantastic sculptures, made of white Oamaru stone. They show Neptune, a mermaid, and Neptune’s offspring. Further you see the Prince of Wales feathers and an eagle with its wings spread in flight.
Photos 2 and 3 show the interior of the room and the bathroom.
858 George Street, Dunedin
704 Great King Street North, Dunedin
Corner Princes & High Streets, Dunedin
842 George Street, (formerly Best Western Tourist Court), Dunedin
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Address: 310 Princes St, Dunedin, South Island, 9001, New Zealand