BreakFree on Cashel (Christchurch): A Review

Posted by Patrick Lam on Wednesday, July 15, 2020


Exceeded expectations. Great value-for-money.

Related Work

See also Yotel: A Review, a stay in AMS Schiphol Yotel back in 2016 after a conference.

Staying near the bus stop

For our night between getting off the TranzAlpine round trip and taking the 7am-bus-then-ferry back to Wellington, we wanted a place close to the bus stop. The BreakFree was as close as you could get (3 minute walk), and also cheap, at C$63 (NZ$70) for an “Inner Urban Double”. More expensive than the Mount Somers Holiday Park at NZ$55, but way more posh, in a more central location, and in particular, with better mattresses. (A review on the Internet also mentioned the mattresses). Apparently cheaper than Yotelair Schiphol, but who can compare prices in these pandemic times anyway.

Christchurch doesn’t have a lot of tall buildings these days. I wonder if they did before the earthquake. This was in a 6-storey building which seemed tall for the city.


BreakFree appears to be in a similar niche to Yotel city locations: that is, the tiny-rooms stylish-hotel. (Yet, only one TripAdvisor on the review makes the Yotel comparison as far as I can tell). BreakFree looks to be an Australian chain with a couple of locations in New Zealand and perhaps elsewhere. This location had staff wearing Accor brands.

I guess I was a bit unsure about the low price—price sometimes (but not always) being correlated with quality—and not knowing anything about the BreakFree brand. But it looks like a pretty simple paying-for-square-footage issue. It costs less to provide fewer square feet (or, alternatively, to pack more people in the same number of square feet). Should have better margins, too. Notably this does not feel like the ultra-cost-cutting numbered US motels (6, 8) with towels so thin they’re kind of mean (see towels picture below).

Hard product

As the reviews said, the room itself is indeed tiny, with the (comfortable) bed being against the wall and the shower/bathroom pod in the other corner. Same kind of purple light scheme in the rooms as the Yotel. A number of reviews had mentioned the bathroom design. “Space age” is pretty accurate. The water was also warm and copious, several steps above the DOC huts we’ve been staying at, even those at Great Walk standard (and way less than $140pp/night, though DOC is walking back on that). There were a lot of controls for the lighting, and I never understood the mood lighting controls, but I found suitable non-harsh light settings. The TV was mounted above the foot of the bed and there was a small desk/counter integrated with the bed as well. In particular, the room was not overlapping other rooms, unlike the Yotel.

Space-age shower.

This room size wouldn’t be out of place in the European hotel room market. There’s more floor space than the 4sqm that we guarantee to Waterloo grad students and enough space to do some exercises. On the other hand, compared to NZ hotel rooms which regularly come with kitchens, I could see that this is way smaller than market average. (Other weird-but-welcome quirk of NZ hotels: usually they come with a pint of milk, but sometimes it’s a bunch of 15mL milk capsules).

Being in the middle of the city there was a bit of noise but not excessive.

On the whole I enjoyed my experience with this hotel. I’d rank it above the Amsterdam Schiphol yotel. Highlights include good use of space, decent lighting, and excellent mattress.