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Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

Motel Bar, Wellington, New Zealand (bar)

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Name: Motel Bar
Type: Bar
Street: Forresters Lane
City: Wellington
Postcode: 6011
Country: New Zealand
Phone: 04 384 9084
Status: Operational

This bar is located in an upstairs location in a lane off Tory Street, a stone's throw from Courtenay Place, the centre for much of Wellington's nightlife. You have to buzz at the door to be let in, and the establishment famously refused entry to Liv Tyler during the filming of The Lord Of The Rings in the early 2000s. The bar opened in 1999, although it had a 1950s dive bar look until February 2014, when it reopened after receiving a tiki makeover. It has a maximum occupancy of 50 people, and has a main room where the bar is, a lounge (formerly the smoking room), and a smaller room at the far end of the bar. Opening hours: 5 pm (Mon.-Fri.)/6 pm (Sat. & Sun.) till the early hours of the morning.

E-mail: [email protected]
Website: http://www.motelbar.co.nz

[ Edited by: Club Nouméa 2015-03-27 23:50 ]

A tour...

Business card front

Business card back, showing location and contact details

At the time of writing, to the best of my knowledge, Motel is not just the only tiki bar in Wellington but is also the only tiki bar in New Zealand. It is picking up where The Watusi, a now defunct rock'n'roll exotica bar ( http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=39035&forum=2&hilite=Watusi ) left off a few years ago.

Motel has a bit of a reputation for refusing entry to people. Famously, during the filming of LOTR, Liv Tyler was refused entry to Motel; but the official explanation is that Elijah Wood was among her party and he was not of legal drinking age at that time. Apparently other hobbits from LOTR were allowed entry. Among its other celebrity clients was Adrien Brody, who hung out there during the filming of the remake of King Kong.

Once you are buzzed in, there is a long concrete staircase that leads up to the floor the bar is on.

Sign upstairs at the entrance.

Illuminated tiki art near the entrance.

The first encouraging sign as you enter is that your eyes have to adjust to the darkness:

The second thing you notice is how well-stocked the bar is:

That's just one end of the bar; you would need a panoramic photo to take it all in.

Motel serves various of its drinks in tiki mugs and other exotic mugs:

One of their most popular drinks is Big Don's Sing Along, which comes in a Don Ho mug:

The bar also sells the mugs its menu drinks come in, along with a wide variety of other tiki mugs (mainly made by Tiki Farm, by the looks of it).

With a barfly friend of mine who has been in the hospitality trade since the 1980s and who worked in some of Auckland's swankest bars, I drank my way through the whole cocktails menu and can report favourably on the recipes. My picks of the bunch are The Dacquiri Of Mass Destruction (gunpowder rum, Chartreuse, lime, sugar and bitters) and The Motel Zombie (3 types of rum, apricot brandy, orange, pineapple, lime and fire). There were lighter, sweeter drinks on the menu too - variety for various tastes - and they are quite happy to mix up drinks that are not on the menu. In terms of rum and other exotic cocktail ingredients, Motel is the best-stocked bar in Wellington. From its earliest days it has had a good reputation for cocktails and they are of a high standard.

Some shots of the décor...

Booths facing the bar.

The area immediately in front of the bar.

Small room at the far end of the bar.

View from the small room towards the lounge at the other end of the bar.

Lounge entrance.

The lounge. This used to be the smoking room, before legislative and by-law changes forced smokers out into the street.

The décor is contemporary Hawaiian in style, as are the tikis featured in the signage etc. Further tiki clutter may come with time, but for now the general look is quite sparse (apart from the enormous number of mugs behind the bar).

Toto, j'ai l'impression que nous ne sommes plus au Kansas !

[ Edited by: Club Nouméa 2015-03-27 23:48 ]

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