A Hamilton hotel had to be evacuated after a fire began in its roof last night.

However, it appears a sprinkler system saved The Distinction Hotel, formerly the Kingsgate Hotel, in Te Rapa, from suffering any serious damage.

A fire safety investigator was now looking into the cause of the 11.45pm fire, northern fire communications operations manager Eric Smith says.

"There were people in the hotel and they were all evacuated in a timely and safe manner. Fire investigators were called and will be returning to the scene this morning."

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About eight fire appliances were called to the scene.

The fire damage was limited to the ceiling cavity but the surrounding area also suffered water and smoke damage.