Category: 2000s

27 Steps to Heaven

Purported to have been a brothel, this name of this flat instead refers to its proximity to the pub across the road. This flat is an excellent example of how the meaning of named flats can morph and change over time. Once famously known as the Ori, (The Oriental Tavern) is currently known as Starters Bar. The Ori was well known as a student bar for several decades and in the 1980s and 1990s was a popular band venue. Historic venue details for the bar

The original flat sign (2007) painted black with white lettering and detail, depicts 27 askew foot steps leading from a smaller sign THE ORI, implying a drunken pathway home.

27 Steps to Heaven

27 Steps to Heaven (2007)


A later sign depicts heavenly cloud forms and opening golden gates, but no reflection of the origin of the name or connection to the pub across the road.

27 Steps to Heaven

27 Steps to Heaven (2009)

This photo (2016) from the Prime Campus account appears to have been taken from Starters Bar.

This artwork commissioned by Prime Campus for the flat, certainly plays on the aspect of the pearly gates.

The Muff Inn on Great King Street

The Muff Inn was created in 2006 by a group of six female students. The sign was painted white with pink lettering. Miriam Kirkpatrick remembers, “We are totally the original muff inn girls lol – in fact do you remember how we named our house?! It was your idea [Sarah Wakefield] coz we all had bfs at the time except you and we were going to put “one vacancy” 🤣 (Facebook comment, 16 October 2017).

The Muff Inn//

The sign was later replaced, and the name made its way on to the recycling bin and also the flat van which was often seen parked nearby.

Hilton on Clyde on Clyde Street

Hilton on Clyde

Hilton on Clyde, Clyde Street (2007)

Sprayed using a stencil on a couple of pieces of board, this sign utlises the Hilton Hotels logo (below) as inspiration. The name is indicative of many similar names that are reflective of the physical environment students find themselves living in. Some names clearly point out the deficits of these homes while others bestow lofty or ironic names on the flats that contrast starkly with the poor state of the building. Being a prestigious international hotel chain, clearly this flat can not compare, the use of the name and logo is ironic.

Hilton logo – this image is reproduced under fair use terms as part of the discussion about named flats in Dunedin, specifically to compare the company logo with a named student flat using that logo.

Later iterations of the Hilton sign (2008) include one that utlises a single bedhead as the basis of the sign but the Hilton logo is no longer evoked. The house features in Villa by Patrick Reynolds and Jeremy Salmon (2012).

The Hilton

The Hilton, Clyde Street (2008)


The Hilton features in “Ghetto flats in Dunedin” by Justin Hawkes (2003). He directed this for a New Zealand TV Show ‘Space’.