Shandelle Battersby checks into the King and Queen Hotel Suites in New Plymouth.
Getting there: Taranaki is less than an hour's flight from Auckland on either Jetstar or Air New Zealand, or just over four-and-a-half hours in the car, southwest. You've got no excuse not to find the hotel — its name references the fact it sits on the corner of King and Queen Streets in New Plymouth.
Check-in experience: Speedy and pleasant. We were given a "survival guide" with relevant info such as the wi-fi code (free).
Room: A studio in the Left Wing, the newer part of the boutique hotel, which looks down on to the very cool enclosed courtyard downstairs — part of the new West End Precinct. This part of the precinct, built on the footprint of the historic White Hart Hotel (1886), features Snug Lounge bar, Ms White (wood-fired pizza and beer garden), Et Vous (high-end fashion boutique), Plantation Design House (homewares) and The Public Catering Company (bakery). Also interconnected is fair-trade coffee shop and roastery Ozone.
The rooms overlooking the courtyard have one-way blinds and blue steel shutters, which completely block out the noise. Also nifty is the ironing board that pops out of a drawer. It's the little things.
Bathroom: A well-designed space with a walk-in shower with two shower heads: rain and normal.
Toiletries: Koha Spa.
Price: Studios start from $180.
What's so good about this place? There are only 28 rooms, which means it feels quite private. And we loved the location — you're right by the Len Lye Centre at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (a must-see), with its funky, much-photographed curved, mirrored facade; the beach and coastal walkway are at the end of the street; and the West End Precinct is awesome — there is so much good food both here and at Monica's Eatery across the road, and The Social Kitchen a few minutes' walk away, that you don't have to worry about what you're going to eat.
The decor: Sophisticated, with lots of fresh flowers dotted throughout, unique artworks, industrial light fittings and Moroccan and European furnishings. The striking doors in the lobby came from an ancient police station in Alexandria, Egypt. Some of the White Hart's original building has been retained, so there's the odd section of interesting concrete beams and pillars there as a reminder. Also still there, at the opposite end of the building, is the hotel's white stag, standing proudly to attention.
Food and drink: There are nine eateries that you can eat at or order food for your room and charge to your hotel bill. Genius.
Exercise facilities: No, but there is a gym up the road guests can use. You can also exercise on the Coastal Walkway, or hell, go and climb Mt Taranaki if the mood takes you. It's close enough. Plus, there are plenty of places along the coastline popular with surfers.
Perfect for: Experiencing a taste of one of the coolest parts of New Zealand we've ever visited. You should go there at once.
The King and Queen Hotel Suites are on the corner of King and Queen streets, New Plymouth. Phone: (06) 757 2999.