Brett Atkinson checks into Fable Dunedin, a stylish reimagining of the city's most historic hotel
Hotel: Originally opened as the Wains Hotel in the 1860s, the Victorian-era style of Dunedin's first hotel has been updated as a boutique 50-room accommodation option for the 21st century.
Location: Surrounded by stately buildings reflecting Dunedin's rich commercial history, it's an easy stroll of about 500m to the restaurants and bars of The Octagon. Nearby, lower Stuart St offers bohemian cafes and design stores.
Style: Heritage charm, subtle nods to contemporary design, and the convenience of modern technology all combine for the modern traveller.
Perfect for: Urban explorers seeking a convenient and stylish base for discovering Dunedin's culinary and cultural scenes and business travellers looking for somewhere unique, memorable, and offering more personalised service.
First impressions: Check-in at the interim reception desk near Fable's bar and restaurant was relaxed but professional. The hotel's original lobby and reception are being fully reinvigorated in time for the Fable's official opening. Extra points for the selection of delicious macarons waiting for me in my room.
Rooms: Now reinvented as Fable Dunedin, 50 rooms and suites fill a four-storey landmark building. Our Superior King room was high-ceilinged and spacious and, courtesy of the hotel's 150 years plus of history, reached by a slightly idiosyncratic combination of elevator and stairs.
In a nod to Dunedin's Scottish heritage, a specially-commissioned tartan rug enlivened the super king bed, while wall art added colourful accents to a discreet and understated design palette blending black, white and grey. Throughout the hotel, 49-inch smart TVs include the convenient option to Chromecast from other devices, while room design features a selection of USB ports for handy overnight charging. Communication with reception, ordering room service and hotel compendium information is all integrated on to a tablet, and there is a pod coffee machine for the first caffeine hit of the day.
Bathroom: Black and white tiles and two-tone marble vanities combine for classic simplicity with a touch of art deco style, while mirrors framed by slender lights echo the glamour of Hollywood. Bathrobes are provided, a rainforest shower head is a refreshing addition, and Fable's amber and cedarwood soap, body wash, shampoo and conditioner are all from Marihi Aotearoa.
Food & drink: Fable Dunedin's restaurant and bar is The Press Club, named for the retinue of local journalists who met regularly at the Wains Hotel in the 1870s. Gatherings often included Thomas Bracken, the poet and wordsmith behind God Defend New Zealand.
Shared plates and main dishes harness South Island produce and include miso-glazed lamb shoulder and boudin noir sausage crafted from Otago wild venison, while a savvy drinks list includes Central Otago pinot noir and a punchy pale ale from Dunedin craft brewers New New New Corporation. A post-prandial dram of whisky or The Press Club's signature dessert of lemon cream with an orange and cardamom shortbread biscuit is also recommended.
In the neighbourhood: The nearby Warehouse Precinct is best explored by downloading a Dunedin Street Art Trail map from dunedinstreetart.co.nz. The area's spectacular outdoor canvases are by international street artists and recommended stops en route include Vanguard Coffee or Vogel St Kitchen.
Family friendly: The team at Fable Dunedin can recommend local babysitting and childcare services, and portacots and rollaway beds are both available.
Accessibility: All common and public areas can be accessed by wheelchair, and there is a range of rooms with dedicated accessible facilities.