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Proper Kiwi luxury in Queenstown: a night at Eichardt's Hotel

Fine Tours New Zealdand founders, David and Kerry Kettle, recently enjoyed a night of luxury accommodation at Queenstown’s Eichardt’s Hotel. What is luxury? Read on to find out how David feels after his weekend at Eichardt’s.

Kerry Kettle on the balcony of Eichardt's Hotel in Queenstown

Kerry and I stayed at Eichardt’s Hotel in Queenstown a few nights ago. It was a pretty rare night of luxury for us, and not just because we stayed in a wonderful hotel, but because we had no children to consider for a full 24 hours!
(I can feel a collective deep sigh being exuded from all parents reading, as only they will truly understand the profound meaning behind that statement.)

So, with the children gone and the whole night to ourselves, we have to ask – what is luxury? The answer is quite simple. It is everything that matters at that point in time to that person enjoying it. For Kerry and I, it was being able to browse the wonderful Queenstown stores at leisure, being able to relax with a couple of wines in the late afternoon, and having the opportunity to hold a conversation that doesn’t include “don’t touch that”, “no you can’t”, or, a favourite amongst all parents, “I’m going to count to three…”

With the extra bonus that comes with being parents without children aside, what was Eichardt’s like?

Firstly, the location has to be one of, if not the best in Queenstown. Right on the lake and nestled in amongst the towns fabulous cafes, restaurants and shops, there are few places that can boast a more convenient location.

Eichardt's Hotel in Queenstown

However as with any popular destination, Queenstown comes with its own problems, a key issue being parking. Not only does Eichardt’s location mean you don’t need a car to explore town, you can also simply abandon your car at reception and it will be whisked away to some secret parking garage that only Eichardt’s know about! (I do in fact know that it is just next door at the paid carpark, but it’s the magic of your car disappearing and reappearing at will that’s one of the extras that adds to the luxurious experience - and that’s what matters).

The welcome at reception was what I would call proper Kiwi hospitality. Eichardt’s is a luxury hotel, but you certainly don’t feel like you are walking into a space where everyone is going to judge you by what you are wearing. You know what I’m talking about – those places where the staff in their stiff, polyester uniforms give you the once over as you stand awkwardly in your shorts and t-shirt, baseball cap perched precariously atop your travel-mussed hair.

The lobby at Eichardt's Hotel

The team at Eichardt’s welcome you as a customer should be welcomed – they were expecting us, they knew our names, there was no ridiculous long-winded check in process. (I’m unsure why we are still asked to fill in a form at desk check ins when we have already completed the information on booking sites – well actually I do know – so we can be constantly spammed and because of inefficiencies in systems but that is a whole other rant!)

There’s always a moment of tension when first being shown to your room – what will it be like, will it look like the pictures on the website, will it be better than the pictures on the website? Well at Eichardt’s I can categorically say, yes – it was better. Stepping through the door you immediately think ‘yep, this is a room I could happily live in’. The rooms are warm, welcoming, superbly equipped, and perfectly fit the character of Queenstown and the history of the hotel. Making our way over to the balcony, we looked down over the lake, and we could just imagine the pioneers in times gone by, doing exactly the same as we were, looking out across the lake in wonder, from what was then just a small gold mining town.

View over Lake Wakatipu from Eichardt's Hotel in Queenstown

A decent minibar that treats adults like adults is always a bonus and a great entertainment system added to the experience. Pre-dinner drinks and canapes were served in the study, another room befitting the history of the hotel, and with the whiff of burning logs on the open fire, everything just added to that ambience, we were effectively in a gold miners bar. We chatted with other guests, sharing stories of travels – it’s amazing how random strangers from across the globe can always find a common interest, theme or place they have visited. We live in a very small world nowadays.

Eichardt’s also owns and operates an increasingly popular restaurant called The Grille, also with a beautiful lakefront location. The Grille boasts an excellent menu and equally excellent service (which, for me, is just the right balance of attentiveness and distance, from informed and friendly staff who you can relate to). Who could ask for more?

So, what is the measure of a good hotel – luxury or not? It can only be one thing, can’t it? Would you go back again? With Eichardt’s, the answer is yes – and I would also tell other people to go there.

I’m sure there are some reading this and thinking it’s not much of a review on a luxury hotel – what were the linens like, was the soap in the bathroom nice and the towels fluffy etc etc. For me, those aren’t the important things. Eichardt’s is a hotel that describes itself as a luxury hotel, it has a price that ensures the sheets are nice and the towels fluffy, but that’s not what makes this place a luxury. The luxury comes from the relaxed welcome, it comes from the beautiful location, and it comes from the simple and relaxing stay that you only get from a well-run, top-class hotel. That’s luxury isn’t it?