House of the week: Hotel home

Last updated 05:00 30/04/2014
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Chris Parkin's art-filled apartment is located on the top floor of his own hotel.

Indeed, the apartment - which he shares with wife Kathy - spans two floors and both sides of the Museum Art Hotel in downtown Wellington.

One side of the apartment overlooks Te Papa museum and the harbour, the other, Mount Victoria. 

Work is literally on the doorstep. Kathy is general manager of the hotel that Chris bought, and then moved along the street, 20 years ago. 

The property investor and developer-turned-hotelier saved the original, five-storey part of the hotel from demolition (its site was required for the building of Te Papa) before shifting it 120m on railway tracks. 

In 2000, Kathy started work inside the hotel after Chris headhunted her from her business manager role at Downstage Theatre. Now she lives on the eighth and ninth floors with Chris and his ever-expanding, ever-changing array of original art.

The collection sprawls through the couple's apartment, along hotel corridors, inside the restaurant and throughout the lobby into a purpose-built gallery. 

A former city councillor, arts patron and a funder of projects such as the "clown doctor" scheme, Chris' newest endeavour is the national drawing competition that he's created, bankrolled and dubbed the Parkin Prize. 

"Chris gets bored easily," says Kathy. "Which is why it's great to be always doing things. Basically we go out just about every night and eat quite late." 

Chris says his home's interior was inspired by a movie featuring the love affair between fashion designer Coco Chanel and composer Igor Stravinsky. 

"A lot of the movie is taken up in various apartments... for some reason I was really taken with the decor. Black and white, tans and gold," he says of the shiny black lacquer doors and sumptuous, tobacco-hued carpet selected for his own abode.

Chris credits his parents, who emigrated from England, with introducing him to the arts, though he didn't much appreciate classical music or ballet during his boyhood in Otaki. He only saw later that their creative appreciation had rubbed off on him.

"I realised when I started doing up my first flats in my student days that I had a real interest in the way things looked. I can visualise how things will look."

And, if he does need to complete a project, nothing much can stop the man who moved a hotel. "It turns out, you can do anything when you set your mind to it."

This article originally appeared in the latest issue of NZ House & Garden. 

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