New ZealandRefurbishment

Leisure Accommodation Collective to open the first Drifter hybrid hotel

Christchurch is the first of five Drifter locations across New Zealand and Australia currently being progressed by LA Co

New Australian lifestyle accommodation venture, Leisure Accommodation Collective (LA Co), will launch the first Drifter hybrid hotel on June 1, with the opening of 95-room Drifter Christchurch.   

Housed in one of the city’s great heritage buildings, Drifter Christchurch’s historical beauty and contemporary aesthetic is representative of rebirth and rejuvenation in a city famous for its resilience.

Drifter Christchurch is the first of five Drifter locations across New Zealand and Australia currently being progressed by LA Co. 

Read the new Autumn print edition of AccomNews HERE

“Drifter represents LA Co’s premium brand offering, a truly unique and exciting combination of stay, food and beverage, wellness and experiential travel. We plan to expand our Drifter footprint to all major tourism markets in ANZ, to complement our existing portfolio of high-quality shared accommodation venues.” LA Co CEO Luke Moran said.

Adds Drifter Co-Founder and LA Co Chief Investment and Strategy Officer Hugh Stephenson: “Drifter Christchurch is the realisation of a dream 10-years in the making, to throw out the rule book on mass produced accommodation and bring a brand to market that is authentically and purely designed for travellers of all walks of life.”

CTRL Space Founder and Director Chris Stevens, LA Co CEO Luke Moran and LA Co co founder Hugh Stephenson

Located at 96 Lichfield Street in a growth precinct next to famous SOL Square, Drifter Christchurch spans five floors and will comprise of 95-rooms across a mix of premium hotel rooms, private suites, and premium shared suites including female only accommodations.    

The communal spaces have all been designed as places for guests to engage with each other and include The Revel Room which is a social lounge and courtyard featuring an outdoor fire pit, The Drifter Leisure Club which incorporates a wellness studio and mindfulness lounge, and a 150-seat bar called The Rambler (opening in August).  

A communal kitchen, laundry facilities, co-working space and meeting rooms, a cinema room and library round out the offering at Drifter Christchurch, with additional bar and retail areas to also open in the coming months.   

Drifter Christchurch Design

Auckland based designers, CTRL Space, are delivering the project for LA Co, with the brief of creating a contemporary design-led hybrid hotel and lifestyle precinct for free-spirited, young and young at heart travellers that has shared social experience at its core.   

Luke Moran said: “We set out to create a completely new kind of travel concept with Drifter, something that’s more of a lifestyle precinct and experience than just a place to stay. Design is a huge part of this for us, and spans not only the aesthetics and functionality of the venues, but also the way the spaces within them are experienced and shared by our guests.

“CTRL Space have absolutely nailed the brief with what they’ll deliver in Drifter Christchurch. As the first version of the Drifter concept, it was imperative for us to work with designers who would set the tone and a benchmark for what we’re trying to achieve with the brand. What we’re on track to open will be a completely new lifestyle experience for the free-spirited traveller and a true expression of Drifter.”

CTRL Space Creative Director, Sam Griffin, says the project allowed them to dig deep on the history and heritage of the original building and area it’s located in, and pay homage to some of the great art and design movements of the 20th century.    

Drifter Christchurch
Artist render of bar area.

“The historical significance of the building and its location is something we really leaned into with our design approach,” Mr Griffin said.

“When it was built in 1919, it was considered a progressive, modern piece of architecture so naturally we looked to modernism as a design style to reference and specifically the Bauhaus movement of the 1940’s for certain elements including the colour palette.   

“The idea of creating a lifestyle precinct for travellers of all walks was one that also really informed our design. So, while we’ve incorporated modernist elements throughout the hotel, particularly in the communal areas, the design approach is fundamentally minimalist with a touch of modernism as we landed on this being a more universal foundation to build on, and one that would appeal to a broader demographic of guests.   

“Much of the modernist influence is delivered through furniture, art and finishes and give each of the spaces across the five floors have a different tone and mood. As spaces require more energy and visual engagement, we’ve introduced more modernist design through stronger colours, materials, art, and decorative elements. Creating different moments and guests move through the building was central to our design, and one we really feel we’ve achieved with this approach.”     

Luke Moran adds: “Drifter Christchurch is a true amalgamation of heritage and contemporary, minimalism and modernism. These design elements delivered by CTRL Space, combined with Drifter’s unique product offering, will no doubt cement the brand as a revolutionary lifestyle experience that travellers from around the world will want to seek out.”  

Built in 1919 and designed by prominent New Zealand architect, William Henry Gunner, the building Drifter Christchurch is housed in was originally a manufacturing facility for The Wellington Woollen Manufacturing Company. At the time, Lichfield Street was home to Christchurch’s clothing and textile trade, with the industry being a key driver of the local economy in the late 19th and 20th centuries.   

This manufacturing history was something CTRL Space wanted to reference and have introduced via contemporary interpretations of factory nuances throughout the hotel, with some of the most apparent versions in finishes including the use of chrome, raw and galvanised steel, various upholstery applications including leather, as well as industrial style light fixtures.   

CTRL Space have used neutral light tones, simple clean lines, and more minimal elements in the accommodation areas, with moments of modernist design like strong and timeless colours inspired by the Bauhaus movement of the 1940’s, statement materials and bold layered design being used in the communal spaces throughout the hotel.      

They also looked to incorporate vintage elements throughout with fabrics, furniture, art, lighting and finishes to give soul, texture, and eclecticism.     

Drifters Christchurch Beni Single atrium mural
Beni Single alongside his atrium mural.

Mexico City based Australian artist Beni Single has been commissioned by LA Co and CTRL Space to paint large-scale, vibrant murals that intertwine throughout the hotel. Beni’s abstract paintings are defined by playful and simple mark making, with some of his best-known work covering the walls at The Dolphin Hotel in Sydney’s Surry Hills.   

At Drifter Christchurch, Beni’s art will feature on the ground floor in Rambler Bar, the second-floor communal areas and the main atrium and continue to the door numbers and level directories on each floor.  

The façade facing Lichfield Street is adorned with Tākaka marble and is one of only three buildings in New Zealand featuring it, with the others being the New Zealand Parliament and a church in Nelson.   

These combined design components have allowed CTRL Space to create varied energy levels throughout the building which depend on the flow and functionality of the spaces, so guests engage with the overall Drifter experience area by area.   


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