The first hotel to stand on the site of today’s Grand Hotel was built by Christian Waeckerle in 1860. Waeckerle, one of the Germans who arrived in Akaroa in 1840 on the Comte de Paris, had a varied career as hotel-keeper, mail contractor and town mayor. (See Waeckerle’s Cottage.)
From 1865 his original large (for its time) wooden hotel was known as Waeckerle’s Hotel. In 1876, Waeckerle sold the hotel to his son-in-law, Robert Bayley. The hotel burned down in 1882, as a result of an arson attack by, it was suspected, a temperance extremist. Bayley had the hotel rebuilt immediately, to an Italianate design prepared by the Christchurch architect Thomas Cane.
The building’s rusticated pilasters and segment- and round-headed windows are typical of the style. It was built of brick, with a plaster finish, perhaps with a view to thwarting another arson attack. The new hotel opened in May 1883 as “Waeckerle’s New Grand Commercial Hotel”.
Since 1918 it has been known simply as the Grand. Despite unsympathetic extensions it is a notable example of New Zealand Victorian hotel architecture.