Nestled on the southeast coast of South Island, Dunedin is New Zealand’s oldest city. It is best known for its Maori and Scottish roots and Victorian and Edwardian buildings lining the streets, giving it the nickname “Edinburgh of New Zealand.” It’s often referred to as one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.
But apart from its grand architecture and interesting heritage, Dunedin has been named the country’s wildlife capital. Just a short distance from the city center is a thriving area of seals, dolphins, and some whales!
As a city of stunning architecture, must-see hot spots, and a wildlife wonderland, Dunedin is a great place for leisure travellers to visit. In fact, there are so many things to do in Dunedin that you would definitely want to stay more than a day!
Even though it isn’t a huge city, it’s somewhat spread out so deciding where to stay in Dunedin can be a tough choice to make. In this guide, I’ll show you some of the best hotels in Dunedin in two of the main areas of the city – right downtown and near the beach!
So no matter if you’re looking for historic architecture or beach views, there’s a hotel in Dunedin for you!
Ready to dive into this boutique city?
The Best Areas to Stay in Dunedin
While Dunedin is considered the second-largest city on the South Island (after Christchurch), most tourists only want to stay in one of two primary areas: the city center (CBD) and near the beach.
The CBD is the best place for young visitors who are up for anything. This is where most of the sights are located, so entertainment is its main draw. Plus, here is where you can enjoy the historic architecture and culture.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a more laid-back vacation, looking for hotels near the beach is highly recommended. This area is quieter compared to the city center, and you’ll get to waste your days basking in the sun and waves. Dunedin is, after all, home to one of the best beaches in New Zealand.
You might think that having only two areas would make choosing where to stay in Dunedin easier. Wrong! In reality, you still have plenty of choices for hotels to consider in each area. Let me help you find the best hotels in Dunedin with this guide!
About Staying in Dunedin City Center
Dunedin City Center (CBD) is the place to be for visitors looking for nightlife and entertainment. It’s where you can find the Octagon, primarily known for its impressive heritage buildings and extensive restaurants.
Staying in the city center also means that you’ll be within walking distance to attractions and must-try cafes. While here, you can easily drop by Baldwin Street (the world’s steepest street), join a brewery tour, and get your hands on the most delicious coffees.
Dunedin boasts a varied shopping experience for visitors, too. You can find vintage stores here, preloved shops, and trendy boutiques. Just take your pick!
Pros to staying in Dunedin’s CBD:
- Close to attractions
- Plenty of bars and restaurants to try
- An extensive list of hotels to choose from
Cons to Staying in Dunedin’s CBD:
- Loud area
- Heavy traffic daily
- Limited parking
Related Read: Check out this epic Dunedin to Invercargil road trip itinerary.
5 BEST Hotels in Dunedin City Center
$$$ – Fable Dunedin
Don’t know where to stay in Dunedin for the most luxurious experience in the city? Look up Fable Dunedin and I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Sitting in the heart of the city, a short walk from the Octagon, this designer hotel is a member of Les Clefs d’Or, so you’re sure to get pampered during your stay. It resides in an elegant Victorian-era building that was originally constructed in 1862 but has since been renovated.
Similar to the other Dunedin accommodation, Fable has everything you’d need for a relaxing vacation. There are dry cleaning and laundry services on-site, along with meeting spaces for 250 delegates, a concierge, and a guest library.
I particularly love the hotel’s chic cafe-style restaurant called The Press Club. Serving Southern flavour and a variety of whiskey, it’s one of the best places to grab regional cuisine.
More treats await you in your room, which is equally modern and luxurious. There are 50 guest rooms and suites on the property, all featuring an airy design made for comfort. They’re well-appointed with large LCD TVs complete with a Chromecast, mini bar, tablet-controlled telephone, air conditioning, and luxury beds with premium linen.
My highly recommended suite would be the Mason, where you can indulge in awesome views of Princes Street. There’s nothing better than lounging in your bed as you watch the city come alive in front of your eyes.
Room rates at the Fable start from $365 NZD to $705 NZD, inclusive of breakfast. You can check availability and book The Fable online here.
$$ – Ebb-Dunedin
Compared to the other Dunedin hotels, Edd Dunedin is not your typical accommodation. It’s a more contemporary property offering relaxed luxury for adults right behind Meridian Mall. The moment you see the hotel, you will immediately gasp in awe at its striking steel and glass facade.
But the exterior isn’t the only thing that Ebb is proud of. When you walk inside, its atrium spanning four floors will greet you in all its grandiose. There is a lounge on every level, where you can waste your afternoon reading books, taking in the artwork exhibit of some NZ artists, and enjoying some quiet time. The hotel feels more like a gallery thanks to the lined artworks that I’m sure art buffs would love.
You don’t have to worry about good food, either. Right on the ground floor is Ebb-Cafe, one of the best places in the city to get coffee and seasonal food.
For the units, you have at least 27 guestrooms to choose from, all following the modern vibes of the hotel’s exterior. There are five room types: Classic, Classic Twin, Universal, Superior, and The Suite. Whichever one you pick, you’ll be treated to garden views and luxury touches.
Among the modern en suite amenities you have in the room are air conditioning, kettle, fridge, mini bar filled with local treats, flat-screen TV, designer furniture, and a private bathroom complete with Ashley & Co bathing products. Selected rooms also come with a kitchenette for your convenience.
Staying at Ebb costs from $240 NZD per night. You can check availability and book Ebb-Dunedin online here.
$$ – The Chamberson
From the outside, The Chamberson looks like an age-old brick building, most likely because it’s a heritage-listed former warehouse. But since its renovation, this boutique property has easily become one of the best hotels in Dunedin.
One of the reasons why is because of its central location. Staying here means that you’ll be right between the Octagon and the railway station, two of the most essential spots for a visitor. From The Chamberson, you can also just walk to the best restaurants, bars, and cafés in town, and some of the popular tourist hotspots (like Toitu Otago Settlers Museum and Dunedin Public Art Gallery) are a quick car ride away.
Another one of the reasons behind the property’s popularity is how warm and comfy the vibes of the hotel are. As soon as you step inside, you won’t see any trace of it being a previous industrial building. The interior is very contemporary with little hints of brickwork and beams. The amenities are also up-to-date; you’ll have fast, unlimited Wi-Fi and laundry and dry cleaning.
I love how personalized the services are, too. During your stay, the hotel’s staff will book only the best excursions, restaurants, and activities suited for you.
When it comes to the suites, I couldn’t help but fall in love with each one. The rooms follow a moody color palette paired with elegant Nordic-style furniture, New Zealand wool blankets, and a hand-knotted floor rug. They’re very spacious and feature gorgeous large windows overlooking the city. Speaking of the windows, they’re double-glazed to keep out all the city noise!
In terms of en suite amenities, you have a full kitchen with a dining table, a big sofa and lounge chair, and a coffee table. I personally like staying in the Lookout Suite, which sits in the corner and has breathtaking views of Dunedin from two sides.
The cheapest unit in The Chamberson is the Attic for $193 NZD a night, while the most expensive one is the two-bedroom apartment for $465 NZD a night. You can check availability and book The Chamberson online here.
$ – 315 Euro Motel and Serviced Apartments
315 Euro Motel and Serviced Apartments is one of the best hotels in Dunedin that is both centrally located and very much within budget. You can find it right in the city’s café and retail area; only a quick walk away from Meridian Mall. Although it’s close to everything Dunedin has to offer, I find the property very quiet, so you’re guaranteed a good night’s sleep.
There isn’t much that 315 Euro can offer in terms of on-site amenities aside from complimentary Wi-Fi and parking, laundry service, tour booking assistance, and an outdoor terrace. But what it lacks in shared facilities, it makes up for in its well-appointed units.
Inside all the rooms, you can find a flat-screen TV with over 50 satellite channels (perfect for those lazy afternoons), fridge, microwave, leather sofa, and tea/coffee maker. I love how the windows are also soundproof and double-glazed, adding to the privacy of the units.
The studio suites here come with a balcony and awesome views of the city, while the apartments have a terrace/patio with equally nice views.
For the Studio Apartment, expect to pay $185 NZD a night, while the two-bedroom suite costs from $290. You can check availability and book 315 Euro Motel online here.
$ – On Top Backpackers
A budget traveler’s paradise, On Top Backpackers is just what you need if you’re searching for a Dunedin hostel right in the city center. It’s a quick jog away from The Octagon’s shops, and you’ll also be close to the nightlife! My favorite thing about On Top Backpackers is that they’re a mere one-story above The Poolhouse Bar & Cafe, so you won’t need to wander far for entertainment.
As you would expect from other budget-friendly Dunedin accommodation, this property offers very affordable shared dorms. There are mixed and female-only dorms, so you can pick wherever you’re comfortable with. If you prefer more privacy, they have single and double rooms with shared facilities plus a deluxe private room with ensuite bathroom.
The rooms can be a bit stuffy, though, but when you’re in On Top Backpackers, I doubt that you’ll spend your time inside the units that much, especially since you can find plenty of things to do right on the property. Stay on the sundeck and enjoy the view of the city from above, grill some BBQ for lunch, or play a round of pool at one of the many pool tables on site.
If you plan on exploring the city, the staff at the reception can help you with tour bookings and shuttle services. You can also ask for a free map of the city. After returning from your tour, you can prepare your dinner in the fully-equipped kitchen before retreating to your room.
The dorms at On Top Backpackers start at $29 NZD a night, while the private rooms cost from $59 a night, both inclusive of breakfast. You can check availability and book On Top Backpackers on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.
About Staying near the Beach in Dunedin
No one can deny the fact that the beach is one of the go-to havens for either relaxation or fun. Stunning sunsets, a peaceful atmosphere, and exciting activities like swimming and surfing are just a few of the reasons why people don’t get tired of visiting the beach. It’s one of the best spots to catch a wave in New Zealand!
If you can relate, then it would be the best decision if you stay close to the beach during your vacation in Dunedin. Surrounding the charming city are a couple of different beaches that are all worth checking out. You definitely won’t experience boredom throughout your stay.
Pros of staying near the beach in Dunedin:
- Near beaches and fun beach activities
- Peaceful environment
- Chance to see wildlife
- Plenty of parking spaces
- Ocean views from many hotels
Cons of staying near the beach in Dunedin:
- Limited hotels to choose from
- Further from the city
- Less choice for bars/restaurants
- No hostels for backpackers
5 BEST Hotels near the Beach in Dunedin
$$$ – Majestic Mansions – Apartments at St Clair
If you prefer a luxury stay near the beach in Dunedin, then I highly recommend Majestic Mansions – Apartments at St Clair. This high-end hotel is just within a minute’s walk from St. Clair Beach and only a few minutes’ drive from the heart of the city.
Featuring art deco accents, Majestic Mansions houses serviced apartments excellent for both short getaways and medium-term stays. You can choose whether to have one bedroom or two bedrooms with a sea view or a city view.
In my case, the one-bedroom apartment with sea views is my favorite. You’ll have a separate lounge, a fully-equipped kitchen, a private bathroom with a shower, plus a couch, a desk, and a Sky TV. Room rates for this type of apartment start at $175 NZD per night.
Besides room amenities, other conveniences you can expect at Majestic Mansions are complimentary parking and free Wi-Fi access.
When it comes to attractions, the St. Clair Golf Club is another nearby recreation site you can go to apart from St. Clair Beach. You can also find a variety of cafés and restaurants within 200m of the property, which will come in handy during times when you don’t fancy cooking your own meal.
$$$ – The Hydro Esplanade Apartments
The Hydro Esplanade Apartments is my other top choice for cutting-edge seaside Dunedin accommodation. It is situated directly opposite Dunedin’s well-known St. Clair Beach, which is just four minutes away by foot.
Due to its proximity to the sea, you can have leisurely walks on the long white sandy beach any time you want. Dropping by local cafés for a hot cup of coffee or having fun at the family playground are other things you can do during your visit.
You also have the option to hang out at the hotel’s rooftop terrace and take in the stunning view of the ocean alongside the sunset. By the end of the day, you can dip in the heated saltwater pool, or have casual dining at the award-winning on-site Italian restaurant, which offers an a la carte menu.
If you wish to visit Dunedin city center or the Chisholm Links Golf Club, you can take advantage of The Hydro Esplanade Apartments’ shuttle service for an additional charge.
With regard to the hotel’s apartments, all of them provide ocean views! Other room comforts include free Wi-Fi, a well-equipped kitchen, air conditioning, ironing facilities, quality bed linens, and a bathroom, just to name a few. Prices start at $229 NZD per night.
$$ – Hotel St Clair
A wonderful seaside experience also awaits you at Hotel St Clair. This luxury hotel, which is located just 30m from St. Clair beach, offers unmatched oceanfront views—which is why I keep coming back here. The property also boasts proximity to numerous attractions of the St. Clair Esplanade, so you’re sure to have a hassle-free tour around the area.
An array of cafés, bars, and restaurants are just within walking distance of the hotel as well. This is really convenient for the guests, especially since there’s no on-site restaurant, though you can cook your own meals in the comforts of your room. Meanwhile, if you’re into playing golf, the St. Clair Golf Club is only within 1km of the property.
And speaking of rooms, options at Hotel St. Clair range from executive studio rooms to luxury apartments. We got ourselves the executive ocean view room, which features floor-to-ceiling windows that make it easier for us to enjoy the scenery outside. There’s also a super king-sized bed, kitchen facilities, and a private bathroom with heated tile flooring. The full rate for this type of room is $405 NZD per night.
$$ – 555 Motel Dunedin
Centrally set in Dunedin, 555 Motel Dunedin is just 15 minutes’ walk from St. Kilda Beach— which is one of the top three beaches in the city. This beach is very popular during the summer months, so if you plan to visit during the said season, expect a crowd at this vibrant beach.
In addition to enjoying the sun and sand on the beach, you can also book local activities at the motel’s tour desk. You can choose from Yellow-eyed Penguin watching, a visit to the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, Albatross Encounters, and Speight Brewery tour.
Before heading back to 555 Motel Dunedin, you can stop by some local shops and eateries, which are only a 15-minute walk from the property. For snacks, you can purchase some at the grocery store located across the road.
About the accommodations, the motel offers four different types of rooms, all of which feature various amenities including tea/coffee making facilities, a work desk, a seating area, and a kitchenette. If you want a spa bath in your room, I recommend that you book the Studio Spa. Room rates range from $162 NZD to $261 NZD per night.
Among the on-site amenities and facilities at the motel are meeting/banquet facilities, complimentary Wi-Fi, free private parking, BBQ facilities, a terrace, and a garden.
$ – Ocean Beach Hotel
Ocean Beach Hotel is one of the best budget-friendly Dunedin hotels close to the beach, particularly St. Kilda Beach (which is only a four-minute walk away). You can book a newly refurbished and air-conditioned unit for as low as $99 NZD per night. Despite paying less, I was still able to have a comfortable and enjoyable stay.
In each room, there are tea/coffee making facilities, a flat-screen TV, a refrigerator, and an en suite bathroom. Extras include towels and complimentary toiletries.
Besides the units, there’s also a restaurant at the Ocean Beach Hotel. Here, you can enjoy some bistro-style meals. If you opt for other food options, there are a number of cafés and restaurants within a 15-minute walk.
You can find an on-site bar as well, where you can order some refreshing drinks. You can even play games such as billiards (additional charge) and darts, or use the gaming machines. What I love the most about the bar is that there’s karaoke and live music each weekend. So, if you happen to be here during weekends, don’t forget to stop by for a moment.
Other conveniences Ocean Beach Hotel offers are free parking, complimentary Wi-Fi in all areas, and shuttle service (extra charge).
Related Read: Learn about the best time to visit New Zealand!
Travel Insurance Has Your Back!
Life can be unpredictable and when you’re traveling abroad the last thing you want to worry about is getting sick or injured and having to pay out of pocket for treatment.
If this concerns you, SafetyWing can help! SafetyWing specializes in very affordable and comprehensive medical and travel insurance that is aimed at digital nomads, remote workers, and long-term travelers. It costs just $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage you must purchase it after leaving your home country, so we usually purchase it as soon as we land in the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada before the border closed!
Thanks for reading!
Now you know abut all of the best hotels in Dunedin, New Zealand including options both in the city center as well as at the beach! If you found this guide helpful, be sure to check out others including: