Britomart wasn’t around on my last trip to Auckland over 10 years ago but in recent years the heritage buildings near Auckland’s waterfront have been regenerated into a hip fashion and dining precinct with food markets and live music. With its stylish mix of international cuisine, dessert bars and fashion boutiques, Britomart is a great place to base yourself for a weekend away in Auckland.
Here’s 6 reasons why I will definitely be back:
For The Fashion
Britomart is not a massive shopping complex but rather a chic collection of local and international fashion labels including Trelise Cooper, Karen Walker, Sass & Bide and Lululemon. Beauty fiends will have a field day here with brands such as Jo Malone, Bobbi Brown, M.A.C. and Chanel all having shiny stores in the precinct. Just last month Tiffany & Co. opened their opulent New Zealand flagship store inside the old bricks of Britomart’s Australis House – so you can have breakfast at Tiffany’s in Britomart too!
For The Food
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining in Britomart. Ortolana, meaning market gardener, is an elegant European style bistro with indoor and outdoor seating. I brunched here on a plate of smashed avocado with feta, pea and chilli that was seasoned to perfection. You can also feast on artisan baked goods at contemporary French cafe L’Assiette or at The Store, which has an in-house bakery.
For something more casual Better Burger and Mexico are popular but for stand out Japanese cuisine I recommend Ebisu. We feasted on an array of sushi, sashimi, teriyaki and tempura and it was just as good as anything I ate in Japan! The Yuzu Brûlée on the dessert platter also gets a massive thumbs up from me.
For All The Coffee
For coffee in the quirkiest cups I’ve ever seen head to Kiwi coffee house Shaky Isles. I tried a mocha after a recommendation from a local and it was a treat and a half. Taking their beans a little more seriously are Espresso Workshop whose mission is to provide ‘fantastic flavour in every cup’.
2 Words: Dessert. Bars
You’ll need a second stomach for the desserts you must try in Britomart! Auckland’s very first dessert bar, Milse, is tucked away down a secret alley near Ortolana. (Spotting it before we had lunch was a very lucky coincidence for me!) They make a delicious range of cakes, tarts and ice creams that you can eat at the cosy nook in the back or take away to indulge in later. I tried the tart of the day as it happened to be a sumptuous cookie, salted caramel and mascarpone concoction, which I’d gladly eat every day if I could!
Sweet tooths will also love Miann, a chocolate boutique and patisserie that opens late to satisfy your cravings. A miniature version of Auckland’s La Cigale French Market also pops up in Britomart on the weekend so if you’re a fan of croissants, French pasties and donuts you’ll do well to time your visit for early Saturday or Sunday morning.
Easy Access To The Ferries
Aside from all the food and fashion on your doorstep, Britomart is a fantastic place to stay in Auckland due to its easy access to the ferry wharf. Less than 10 minutes away by boat is the quaint suburb of Devonport. We took to segways (aka magic broomsticks!) to explore its weatherboard houses, idyllic beaches and glide up an extinct volcano (North Head) for sensational panoramic views of the city.
Another great daytrip from Britomart is a visit to Waiheke Island. This lush, mountainous island is the same size as Manhattan but is filled with bush walks, wineries and bubbly characters rather than thousands of New Yorkers!
A great way to burn off all those cakes you’ll consume in Britomart is with a nature walk with the inspirational Gabrielle from Walking By Nature. Gabrielle, who at 50 is 10 times faster and fitter than me, is a Waiheke resident who hosts private or group walks through her favourite areas of headland, beach and bush. She’ll introduce you to the flora and fauna of Waiheke whilst sharing a great tale or two about her trekking experiences.
Another fabulous Waiheke character is Graeme from Around Waiheke Tours. Graeme takes visitors on a half day wine tour of Waiheke while sharing a few thoughts about life on the island: ‘marry someone from the mainland’ is his number one piece of advice! Wine production on Waiheke Island is small (less than 1% of New Zealand’s wine production overall) but many of the boutique wineries are award-winning and their top vintages are keenly awaited. Wine Tourism is a big industry for the island and on our wine tour we got to discover 3 different wineries where passionate wine makers shared their 4 favourite wines. Man O’ War and Stonyridge are two of the bigger names on the island but on our tour I discovered that Passage Rock’s Pinot Gris is the one for me!
Your (Better) Home From Home
You’ll feel quite at home in Britomart with a room at Adina Apartment Hotel. This property, which was originally residential, has been spruced up to offer visitors to Britomart a better (in some cases) home from home. In my case it was certainly a better home from home as I lucked out with the chance to road-test one of the brand new penthouse apartments. The 3-bedroom, 2-storey penthouse is beautifully furnished with modern art, plush pillows and electric fires.
The walk-in closet and double shower in the master suite are a luxury treat and little touches like the USB port in the radio alarm clock and teapot in the kitchen make sure you have an incredibly comfortable stay. The penthouse also has a full kitchen (including dishwasher), laundry facilities, island bench of my dreams and covered balcony with views of the city skyline and Sky Tower.
Room rates at the Adina Apartment Hotel Britomart start at a reasonable $188NZ/night. In short, it’s the type of property that makes me want to gather all my girlfriends, pop out the bubbly and gossip on the sofa until the early hours.