Tom Dillane visits The Dome boutique waterfront apartments in Napier
Location:Napier's Marine Parade facing out to the Pacific, in the heart of the city's main hospitality district.
Style: Sprawling modern rooms with impressive sea views from atop one of Napier's most well-known art deco buildings.
Perfect for: A dreamy weekend exploring Hawke's Bay and spending evenings bathing in the sea spray and drinking the region's celebrated wines.
Price: $359 a night for Pacific View room.
First impressions: There is no formal welcome because these are private apartments, not a hotel. But the ease with which we parked and got up to our third-floor, sea-view room makes you think reception is a redundant formality anyway. You won't need to scour the Napier street grid to recognise the building either, because it's one of the most prominent art deco landmarks of the Hawke's Bay rebuild, after the 1931 earthquake.
The building is topped off by a distinctive green-copper cupola with a clock tower. Inside, there's a certain charm to the low-lit corridors and antiquated lift that makes you feel like you're entering a friend's pad in some film noir thriller. This is capped off by the keys to our room on the top floor being in a white envelope with perfect cursive handwriting.
Rooms: Massive - almost pointlessly so - but who's complaining about extra space?
There's potential to entertain in this apartment with a dining room table in the kitchen, which extends to a living room with sofa bed and footrest. Doors open on to a modest-sized shared courtyard.
The bedroom is ample in every sense: king bed, couch, writing desk, and large windows sweeping the entire length of the room facing out to sea. These windows connect to the major draw of the apartment - its stunning sea-view balcony. You'll naturally be drawn to spend a large chunk of your time there, scanning the Hawke's Bay coastline promenade, which includes the Napier Soundshell, Colonnade and Plaza. The sound of the surf travels straight up and its muted crash gets more soothing as the sun goes down. It's an ideal spot to enjoy a drink into the evening, and spacious enough for a group to congregate.
Bathroom: Nice functional en-suite bathroom with a broad mirror. Large shower with rainwater or normal nozzle and a separate bath. Ample towels and The Dome branded soap, shampoo and conditioner, which was totally adequate.
Food and drink: There's no restaurant or bar within the building, but the apartment is situated above a Lone Star restaurant. We walked about 50 metres down Marine Parade to Hunger Monger seafood restaurant, for one of the tastiest meals I've had in recent memory. Cosy, low-key living room decor, with a motley selection of tables and chairs. Pacific rock oysters, some chilli smashed potatoes and perfectly grilled john dory were all excellent.
Adjacent to The Dome in the other direction is the Masonic Hotel Emporium eatery and bar, which has a beautifully ornate ground-floor saloon-style bar.
Next morning, a very pleasant salmon and poached eggs breakfast with a strong long black was found at Ajuna Eatery a two-minute walk away. Alfresco street dining is the preference here while surveying the 1930's architecture, and enjoying the trivia of the buildings, which often have their original retail purpose etched in stone on the facade.
Facilities: Free Wi-Fi and air conditioning. There is no parking, other than paid parking on the street.
In the neighbourhood: The mildly menacing and unswimmable Napier Beach is right out the front door. It's mesmerising to stare into the crashing surf and slanting shoreline from the Napier Viewing Platform. Take a short drive up to the Bluff Hill Lookout perched above the Napier port for panoramic views. There are numerous art deco-themed museums and attractions a short walk from The Dome, and the Napier i-SITE visitor centre is across the road.
Contact: Find The Dome on Booking.com