Grant Bradley and Estelle Sarney check into one of NZ's best-known hotels.
Check-in experience: A fantastic step into history. This hotel traces its origins back 120 years to a site 150km north of Rotorua in Waihi. It's been a Rotorua landmark for the past century after being moved there nail by nail, board by board. The (Lizzie) Marvelly family owned it for a while. We were welcomed in a grand lobby by friendly check-in staff, who tried the age-old hospitality trick of trying to sell us a $75 dinner and cabaret. No sale this time.
Room: A one-bedroom suite in a slightly retro apartment block next to the historic wooden hotel. We booked the night before for $175. The rooms in the old hotel are generally smaller but have more of that 120-year-old feel about them. Our suite had facilities for rustling up a decent meal if you wanted — a range, fridge, microwave and plenty of crockery and cutlery. Someone on TripAdvisor gave the closets a bad rap — how could you diss a place that provides an iron, an ironing board and plenty of space to hang garments?
What's in the neighbourhood? Everything you would want to do in Rotorua central, even if you didn't have a car. The Government Gardens, Polynesian Pools and the rapidly improving Eat Streat are an easy walk.
Food and drink: The hotel's lovely bar runs a happy hour between 4.30pm and 6pm and offers good local beers. We passed on the banquet and cabaret, instead heading to a splendid South American barbecue restaurant up Arawa St. A full breakfast for $30 each at the hotel was OK, the setting great but the food so-so.
The bed: A double — comfy enough but a bit small.
The view: A nice line-up of maples just starting to turn colour. The exterior had the feel of a European mews.
Bathroom: Large — a bath with a shower above it. Shampoos and soaps were there.
Room service: Not necessary, as so many all-hours' dining options nearby. The mini bar offered a bottle of wine for under $30 and a Heineken for $8.
Value for money: Fantastic spot, great room and facilities, friendly staff, but look elsewhere for breakfast and a bigger bed.
Facilities: We made the most of the thermally heated pools out the back. There's free Wi-Fi and marvellous lounges. We heard the final (aka death) throes of the cabaret and it didn't sound great, but maybe that's just us. Bring back Lizzie!
Perfect for: Getting a taste of fascinating history, enjoying a comfy room, in-house hot pools and being a walk away from Rotorua's great central attractions.
Would I return? For the right price.
Prince's Gate Hotel is at 1057 Arawa Street, Rotorua. Phone: 0800 500 705.