Christchurch Hotel to Open in Nationally Significant Building

Set to open on 7 May, the boutique 33-room Observatory Hotel marks a significant milestone in central Christchurch’s regeneration eleven years after the devastating Canterbury earthquakes.

Located within Te Matatiki Toi Ora The Arts Centre, New Zealand’s largest collection of heritage buildings and the former home of the University of Canterbury, the Observatory Hotel is seeped in over 130 years of architectural history.

Throughout the building, interior designer Jessica Close has weaved a wild combination of colour and extravagant textures into the Arts and Crafts style that was highly popular when Gothic Revival buildings were built between the late 1800s and the early 20th century. 

Due to how the hotel stretches across the architecturally-distinct Physica, Observatory and Biology buildings, every guestroom is unique in size, layout and decor.

“I liked the idea of visiting the hotel and being able to request a particular room that spoke to you. Every room has its own design scheme and personality.”

The interior styling pays homage to the heritage of the building but with a modern twist, featuring a grand drawing room and library and bespoke furnishings crafted by local professionals.

The hotel boasts a unique campus offering “where you stay the night in the hotel but visit other places within The Arts Centre complex for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” commented Arts Centre Director Philip Aldridge.

“Guests have access to a boutique cinema with two theatres, two museums, and dozens of permanent galleries and stores dotted throughout the site – all supplemented by an active events calendar.”

Each room within the property is adorned with exquisite art available for purchase, curated by Jonathan Smart of The Central Art Gallery in the public spaces and The Creators’ Room artwork in the guest rooms.

The Observatory Hotel is overseen by boutique, independent operator Sarin. The family-owned company has extensive experience running hotels for hotel giants, such as Hilton, IHG and Accor. 

“This is unlike any other hotel we’ve been involved in,” says Raman Sarin, chairman of Sarin Group. “It’s very much a turn-key operation where The Arts Centre has designed everything, right down to choosing the teaspoons.”

“We’re thrilled to be involved because it’s such a unique property. We understand how important it is that the hotel integrates perfectly into not just The Arts Centre environment but also the broader canvas of central Christchurch.”

The hotel experience begins as soon as guests check-in in the drawing room with highly personalised around-the-clock service. Contactless online check-in and check-out will also be available via guests’ preferred messaging app as they communicate with service staff.

“It all adds up to a unique experience from the moment a guest walks through our doors until they check out,” said Sarin. “We are confident our guests will become ambassadors for The Observatory Hotel, spreading the word about the unmatched experience they received.”