Openings: The Gloriously Maximalist Naumi Studio Hotel in Wellington, NZ

Considering it was their combined awesomeness that finally rid us of the orange monster in the White House, and halted America’s slide into totalitarianism, it’s hard to disagree with the choice of Joe Biden / Kamala Harris as the Time Magazine “Person” Of The Year. But we can’t help but feel that there should have been an entirely new award created for New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – the BBC called her, edifyingly, the anti-Trump – who managed to become a mother for the first time at age 37 in 2020, whilst also astonishingly steering her country almost completely safely through a global pandemic (the nation of nine million people suffered just 25 deaths from COVID-19).

So, perhaps when the coronavirus crisis is at last genuinely behind us, and all travel restrictions have been lifted, a trip to the land of the Kiwi should be given serious consideration – as in addition to taking in its majestic natural landscapes, one might possibly cull something philosophical from its people about what it means to live in a responsible, egalitarian society. Fortunately, its strikingly picturesque capital of Wellington has just gotten a brand new hotel that would by itself seem worth traveling for.

Indeed, the just-opened Naumi Studio Hotel boasts gloriously maximalist interiors, whilst tucked into a landmarked Edwardian-era building situated along Cuba Street, a colorful, retro-cool shopping district. And straight away, guests are greeted by a wildly opulent floral mural by Art Dep’t NZ, that fully engulfs the check-in desk. 3D flower lights by Angus Muir Lighting Design give it a captivating twinkle, as it acts in dazzling aesthetic concert with equally lavish floral rugs by venerable painter Karl Maughan.

Just off the lobby, the hotel’s elegant bar stands in resolute contrast, with its sort of clubby, nautical vibe, sporting parquet floors, dark woods, stocked book shelves and model ships. But moving on to the Parlour, one is suddenly visually struck by a pastel pink and green wonderland of retro ’70s kitsch – looking like it all could have been stolen directly from the set of a particularly ostentatious John Waters film. (An on-site restaurant, Lola Rouge, is prepped for an early 2021 debut.)

Admittedly, we’ve often been disappointed that the design daring of so many hotel public areas just doesn’t translate at all to the bedrooms. But here, restraint is gleefully eschewed for bold visual statements, in the form of custom textile headboards, very Scottish looking plaid floor coverings, and Art Dep’t NZ’s cheeky “squiggle” installations. And, just because, the Executive Suite is styled in the old “English Print House” style.

Naumi Studio is exactly the sort of hotel we very much look forward to checking in to, as soon as it is reasonable and safe to do so once again. After all, following nearly ten months of grey, dreary quarantine, the only effective counter would seem to be the complete, 180 degree opposite.

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