Anybody who follows my blog will have spotted a number of hotel and airline reviews that have crept in during the last year. While I love tech, I love travel even more. I love writing about things and getting to interact with people with similar interests, and get a lot of emails from people who have read my flight or hotel reviews asking me questions that the airline or hotel website may not have answers to.
As I sat down to write this post I stopped to think how many flights I’ve taken in the past year (somewhere around 45 it seems), and how many nights I’ve stayed in hotels (somewhere around 50). As I’ve got older my travel habits have changed - it’s safe to say the luxuries of flying business class and staying in nice hotels is something I really enjoy, but I’m still a backpacker at heart. I’ve met some great friends while staying at backpackers, and have stayed at a number in the past year. I’m just as happy staying at a backpackers as I am a 5* hotel, and have very different expectations for both when it comes to the product on offer, and the level of service.
I’ve stayed at plenty of Auckland hotels in recent years and have found some pretty average offerings from Accor. I stayed at the Ibis Styles with a friend a year or so ago and we were both left almost in shock at the state of the rooms. Yes they’re very compact, and the beds weren’t great, but that’s OK. When you’re paying $79 for a low cost inner city hotel room from Accor’s low cost budget brand you have to expect that sort of thing and my expectations were set to that level. What you don’t expect to get is a bathroom ceiling completely covered in mould on the bathroom, a rotting door, and a handle that’s about to fall off. If you want sleep it’s not the best place to say either – when reception have earplugs on the counter to combat the noise from the nearby bar below you realise what a big issue it is.
On another visit I stayed at the Pullman which Accor pitch at the high end of the market, and had a room which had a lot of dust behind the door and a buffet breakfast experience that was absolute dreadful. A lack of food was put down to “we’re busy”, while staff seemed to be walking around with no real idea of what they were supposed to actually be doing. A complaint at check-out resulted in an offer of a 2-for-1 breakfast the next time I stayed there. I’m sorry Accor but that’s not a satisfactory solution to a problem – expecting a customer to pay full price for a bad experience in the promise it’ll be “better next time” doesn’t fit well in my world, because there probably won’t be a next time. In a competitive marketplace such as hotels I doubt I’ll ever be back.
So all of this leads me to my stay at the Mercure Auckland. I’ve stayed there in the past and my expectations were of a fairly stock standard middle of the road hotel. The hotel is located on Customs St East and is right next door to Britomart - Auckland’s downtown train station and transport hub. Buses to the airport and trains are literally 2 minutes walk away. The hotel features 13 floor with the top floor featuring a bar and restaurant that has great views over Auckland harbour.
I checked into the hotel at around 2pm on a Saturday, the front desk staff were super friendly and efficient and all were immaculately presented.
The 11th floor room was fairly standard in terms of layout and size. It featured good views of the Sky Tower, a good sized bathroom with a shower over the bath.
Unfortunately that’s about the only nice things I have to say about my stay. It really does rate as one of the worst hotels I’ve ever stayed in for the price, anywhere in the world. I’ve stayed in better backpackers in Auckland for a mere fraction of the price that the Mercure charge for a room.
After arriving in the room I went to brush to teeth and found that after turning on the tap the water stopped. 15 minutes later it still wasn’t back, but hey, plumbing problems occur so that’s not something I can really fault the hotel on too much. The plumbing problems were the least of the issues however – this hotel is in such a bad need of a refurbishment that I can really only describe it as a disgrace. Is I mentioned earlier I have very different expectations depending on where I’m staying and believe my expectations are very fair. I don’t expect to visit a middle of the range hotel that I’ve paid $135 per night for and see something that I’d expect to see in a $35 per night backpackers. That’s the exact scenario I walked into.
The state of the interior of the room was terrible. Clearly the room had been given a green feature wall at some point – it’s just a shame they never took the lamp shade off the wall to paint under it. It looked so tacky I was lost for words. All other walls showed significant damage and scratches.
The bed itself was also terrible and was certainly due for replacement. The sheets however were nice, and in line with most hotels now there was no unhygienic bedspread.
I thought I’d check out the TV. One of my pet hates in any hotel is incorrectly configured aspect ratios when a 16:9 TV features video in a 16:9 format that’s then centre cut resulting in a 4:3 picture which is then stretched vertically resulting the picture being chopped off on the left and the right. While some channels were fine, TV2 and Maori Television weren’t and exhibited this problem.
But at least the TV did work – it doesn’t look like whoever installed it knew how to crimp F connectors.
And while we’re on cables – I wonder what the story is with this mess that’s hanging under the desk? Not to mention the chair which looks like it’s seen better days.
Could the bathroom be better? Nope. The front panel was falling off.
The door was rotten from the water.
The silicon around the bath looked was looking pretty tired.
And there was a great view of the dust while having a shower.
The hotel provides free WiFI in the lobby – and is limited to 30 mins or 50 Megabytes per 24 hours. Judging by the speeds on offer you’re going to struggle to get even a basic webpage to load.
But these speeds are also going to be impacted by the WiFi equipment on offer – a D-Link AP with –77dBm signal strength. This is very poor with best practice when installing WiFi is to aim for -70dBm or better.
There is no WiFi coverage in rooms, instead access is via Ethernet cable. Usage is charged at 68c per minute up to $14.90 for 2 hours or 100MB, $29.90 per 24 hours or 200MB, or $115 per 7 days or 1GB. Usage in excess of this is charged at 10c per MB, or you can opt to have your connection speed shaped to continue using it at no charge.
The check-out process was quick and efficient but (un)luckily for them they never asked me how my stay was.
Writing this feels like a bit of a rant which is something I don’t aim for on my blog, but this would have to rank as one of the most disappointing hotel experiences I’ve ever had. If the Mercure where charging $35 for a room I wouldn’t be writing this, but when they’re charging $135 for a very sub standard product it deserves others to be wary of what they’re getting themselves into when booking a room. My advice is to look elsewhere – there are plenty of far better hotels in Auckland for a similar price.
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Comment by engedib, on 19-Oct-2014 22:46
I totally agree with this post, was "fortunate" enough to stay here twice, it is a shocking place for the price. They are having plumbing issues for years. The only nice thing about this Mecure is the restaurant on the top floor, the food was just brilliant last time.
Recently when I go to Auckland for business reason I always request a different hotel. Waldorf on Anzac is great, I have to be better at begging for free internet access there next time:)
Comment by Newtown, on 19-Oct-2014 23:20
Mercure is the worst hotel ever! Stayed there once through work, and never again. I don't know why you didn't complain to swap rooms. The room I stayed in was in a better shape, but still pretty crap.
Comment by trig42, on 20-Oct-2014 14:34
I have stayed there two or three times, and have been lucky enough to get a decent bed at a decent price.
Sure, the place is in need of a rejuvenation, but our room was nowhere near as bad as yours looked (we have always managed to stay on the sea side rather than the city side - maybe that makes a difference?)
We did have the same door issues in the bathroom, and the duse above the shower, but the paint in the rooms was fine, and the bed was comfy. One time the TV didn't work, but they got someone up there nice and quick and replaced the remote. Also, all three time we stayed last year, it was under $100, so I couldn't really complain.
Breakfasts are good there too, and I've had a meal or two for dinner there separate from our stays and it was fine.
I am a member of Accor Advantage, but did not really see the value from it last year, so will not be rejoining (and I told Accor why - not really that interested in solving it either).
Comment by Regs, on 20-Oct-2014 19:41
the mercure on terrace in wellington is even worse! i'll never go back there, and neither will the rest of my team. the ibis in wellington was ok though - much nicer than the mercure and quite a bit cheaper.
Comment by Camden, on 20-Oct-2014 21:32
My wife and I stayed there earlier this year. We had to find a nights accommodation at short notice and Auckland hotels were nearly booked out for a Rugby game and a rock concert and this hotel was the only one I could find a room at. Tried about twelve. $135 was positively cheap compared with what we paid.All that was left was an "executive suite" basically a std bedroom with a bit of a seating area attached at a cost of $425 per night. Like mugs we took it!
The experience was word for word as you found it. Basically a bit of a dump and the room very run down with all the cosmetic "enhancements" shown in your photos.
Also we booked a car park as we arrived with a rental car. Had to park it in the allyway beside the entrance and the car was then jammed in and several cars had to be shifted when we wanted to get it out.
Like you we wont be staying there again
Comment by allan, on 21-Oct-2014 16:24
Did a trip through Oregon, California and Nevada a few months ago. Every single motel/hotel we stayed in had the TV configured in "fat-o-vision" with a stretched 4:3 picture. I actually wondered if it was a cable TV issue, or just incompetence in configuring the TV. However, only watched about two hours of TV over about 4 weeks, so not exactly a major issue for us.
Comment by old3eyes, on 24-Oct-2014 11:58
Next time you're in Auckland stay at the Sofatel. It's Accor.. I've stayed at the Mercure a few times but it looks like it has gone down hill in the oast few years..
Comment by Kevin Blakeman, on 8-Jun-2015 19:50
I was doing some work and came across you review and thought I would respond. I and a number of the team at Mercure joined in August and we are very excited about what is coming. The hotel is being renovated from bottom to top, renovations are a complete restart. Each floor is being gutted and rebuilt. Floor two is just weeks away and include an outdoor BBQ area for conferencing. Then it will be a new level approximately every 8 weeks including new lifts. I am the chef there and have done a similar restart job on the menu and would love to see you come up to the restaurant again next time you are in town and start to experience the difference we are creating with the rooms, food and general experience.
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