About The Criterion Hotel

The Criterion Hotel sits on corner of Tyne and Harbour Streets and introduces visitors and locals alike as a ‘flagship’ to Oamaru’s famous Historic Precinct.

Back in 1877…

A man by the name of William Gillespie commissioned the building to be built in 1877 and the hotel was designed by famous Oamaru architects Forrester and Lemon – Architects who also designed many other buildings in Oamaru at the time. Unlike the bold Roman columns seen in the larger Main St buildings the Criterion clearly emits a softer Victorian Italianate style.
After its completion William Gillespie went on to own the Hotel for four years.


Changing times

In 1906 Oamaru went through prohibition and during this time the Criterion was run as a temperance hotel.

The building started it’s long decline and in the 1930’s the building was deemed unfit as a boarding house.

Gillies Foundry and Engineering Co. Ltd had purchased the building by the 1940’s to be used as a warehouse but a lower floor room was used as a confectionary and soft drinks shop.

Sadly by the mid 1980’s the building had weathered and declined into nothing but an ornament of previous times.


Returning to its former glory

The Criterion gained the Historic Places Trust registration in 1987 and with renewed interest and enthusiasim the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust later received the building and refurbished the interior as well as restoring the exterior walls to their signature whiteness of Oamaru Stone.

In 2012, Sally-Ann Donnelly acquired the building and has given the Criterion a chance to reach its full potential.

The interior and been lovingly renovated with the building back to being both a Bar and Hotel once again. The upstairs rooms have been refurnished and the bar offers a wide selection of drinks with an all day menu available.

Since the Criterion can also host a good function within its walls, it has become a very popular place for locals to relax and celebrate any occasion!

If you are interested in a meal and drink or wish to stay in one of the refurbished rooms drop us a line!