I totally agree with the others that Russell is a quieter and more characterful spot to base yourselves. Paihia can get very hectic and can be a bit of a party town at night in the season - I stayed at the Waterfront Apartments once for $250 a night and had no sleep till after 3am when the nightclub next door finally turned off the music! The restaurants are a bit hit and miss too.
Russell Cottages are really lovely - interior decor is first class, and the units have gas fires which add a nice ambience - hopefully not needed in November! There is a pool, but it is quite exposed to the view of all - surrounded by cottages - and a bbq area adjoining. They are charging about $155 for a one bedroom cottage in November currently.
Triton Suites are another option - they too are very stylish and have great spa baths suites available. Prices start from $90 for a studio and up to $155 for a one bedroom suite with spa bath. No pool, but nice sundeck.
Both options are close to the centre of Russell and can be walked easily.
There are a number of restaurants - try The Gables or The Duke of Marlborough Hotel. The nicest thing about dining in Russell is you get the last of the sun as it goes down over Paihia - and super sunsets from the waterfront dining strip. There is a lot of history to soak up here too, plus walks - make sure you go over to Long Beach on the seaward side.
For a day out head over on the car ferry and then head up to the fishing village of Mangonui - more history, shops and cute cafes, and a pub right on the water. Kerikeri is another nearby town which you could easily spend a day exploring - cafes, historic sites, maori village, a plethora of galleries and much more.
Enjoy your trip!