Tina Trenkner-Meade checks into reasonably-priced digs in a great location.

Check-in experience:

Smooth. The clerk was ready to give out keys as soon as our tour group of 64 hopped off a Bay of Islands day cruise.

Room: #346: Up the stairs, down the hall, around the corner and on the left.

What's in the neighbourhood? The Paihia waterfront is right there, just walk across Marsden Rd. You can see the boats and fishing charters pull in at the dock. A 30-minute walk away from town will take you to Waitangi. Walk a few minutes in the other direction and discover El Cafe's delicious Latin American breakfasts. Get the Spanish eggs and add some pulled pork. Cry tears of joy.


Food and drink: Castaway Bar is a decent spot to catch up after a day of touring — $5 glasses of wine at happy hour. On a chilly night unworthy of a "Winterless North" designation, tabletop fireplaces were set out to warm our hands. Grabbing breakfast is a treat with a dining room featuring lovely sunrise views.

The bed: It was a bed. Comfy. It did its job. No issues.

The view: Of the parking lot. Want views? Go outside. They're on your doorstep.

Bathroom: Sizeable shower, good-sized vanity. Couldn't figure out how to unclog the sink, but the front desk was happy to help.

Value for money? Our stay was part of a package tour with Pukekohe Travel, so not much choice in the matter. But the location was great.

Facilities: An outdoor pool, indoor spa and gym.

Perfect for: A quick weekend getaway from Auckland or a home base for exploring Northland.

Would I return? If the price is right. At about $100 a night, that would be an easy yes.

Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge Paihia is at 104 Marsden Road, Paihia. Phone: (09) 402 7416.