When Auckland mayor Len Brown attempted to explain his frequent stays in local hotels, he said: "My reason for staying in the central city is that I often work until late in the evening - attending meetings, functions or civic events - and I start work early the next morning, often for media interviews or breakfast events."
The explanation may have been too long to fit on a Tui billboard but it had some of the hallmarks of one of those Little Britain sketches - in which Sir Norman Fry, a frequently disgraced politician, attempts to justify unseemly behaviour. With a straight face, this character would explain that his clothes had accidentally fallen off or that he had accompanied others into a toilet cubicle simply to discuss foreign policy.
While a busy schedule can sometimes be blamed for deciding to spend the night in a hotel in the city in which you live, all too often the reasons are less wholesome than that.
In the last 20 years I've stayed in an Auckland city hotel three times. None of those occasions could be described as a positive, uplifting experience.
Twice I stormed out of the house at night following a robust discussion with my other half. Once I stayed at the Stamford Plaza and once at the (then) Carlton. Such dramatic gestures were designed to underscore exactly how annoyed I was. It's been around 15 years since I last made such a move. Perhaps we're arguing less intensely now or else I've mellowed a lot. Either way, we are saving on hotel bills.
The third time I stayed in downtown Auckland at short notice was about ten years ago when our daughter was a baby. After much deliberation, we'd given a local authority permission to perform some drainage work underneath our front lawn. A gas-pipe was inadvertently cut in the process. Without heating, stovetop cooking facilities or hot water, our home no longer met developed world standards so we all relocated to a Quay West apartment until the gas was reconnected and the appliances could be restarted.
Of course, there are reasons other than hectic schedules, spousal discord and broken gas-pipes for staying in a hotel mere kilometres from your residence. It may be in order to conduct an illicit affair. It may be to escape the children at home - or to romantically reconnect with your significant other. It might be because you acquired a night's stay at a charity auction or because you fancy some five-star pampering.
I recently read in Singapore Airlines' SilverKris publication that: "Early in January 2007 author J.K. Rowling checked into room 552 at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh ... to finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - the much anticipated final volume of her series of children's books .... What is it about hotels that make them conducive to creativity? Rowling lived in a large house in Edinburgh. Why did she feel the need to move to a hotel for the final push?"
Perhaps, like many women who work from home, J.K. Rowling found it easy to be distracted by domestic chores when she should have been at the keyboard. In a hotel she wouldn't be tempted to procrastinate by throwing on a load of washing, wiping down the windowsills or sorting out the pantry. As long as she could ignore the siren call of The Jeremy Kyle Show, J.K. Rowling had little option but to knuckle down and get writing. The ploy worked. She checked out on January 11, the book completed.
So if you're a best-selling author or mayor with a patchy track record, it seems that local hotel stays can help you focus on the job at hand. For most people, though, I suspect the reasons for checking into a hotel in your own city are likely to centre less on productivity and more on achieving privacy for unauthorised assignations.
Have you ever chosen to stay at a local hotel rather than your own home? What were your reasons for doing so?