Greg Fleming stays at an award-winning boutique hotel in Canterbury
Excellent — overlooks the Avon River, across the road from Hagley Park. It's a short stroll to good bars and eateries (try Mexicano's, just stop before you get to the taco cheesecake). The George has been voted New Zealand's Leading Boutique Hotel six years in a row.
There's also The Residence, which is connected internally to the hotel. This is home to the royals when they are in town; rock royalty too — management was discreet but I have it on good authority Bruce Springsteen stayed here when he was in town.
In the hotel there are 53 rooms over five levels and a one-to-one ratio of staff to guests — if you call the concierge or room service, they're up in the blink of an eye. Some nice touches too — bowls of apples in the hallways; a lobby full of art from local artists (the hotel has an enviable art collection including pieces by Ralph Hotere, John Pule and Bill Hammond).
Room: Room 211 on the second floor — a premium executive room — very comfortable king-size bed and a window that opens! You get George-branded chocolate squares each evening and a small teddy bear too — free to take away. Complimentary Wi-Fi. In-room Les Mills video workouts are available for a fee.
Facilities: Two on-site restaurants: 50 Bistro and the award-winning Pescatore, a fine-dining venue. This is a much vaunted two-hat restaurant — NZ's equivalent of Michelin stars. Both are open to the public. There's also a slew of business and conference facilities. No gym but you can get access to one nearby. There's even a Tesla battery-charging station in the carpark.
Breakfasts: From 6.30am in the bistro — good barista coffee and your usual range of options but the toaster takes a while and they could do with more fresh fruit.
Bathroom: Modern and clean. My room had a bath and shower and bespoke bath products. Like many eco-conscious hotels, if you want your towels changed, leave them on the floor, if you want your linen changed, leave a pre-printed card on your pillow.
Noise: Whisper quiet, even with the window open. You'd never know the big rebuild is taking place just a kilometre away.
What's in the neighbourhood? Hagley Park, the Avon River, Mexicano's, Canterbury Museum, Botanic Gardens, the Arts Centre and the very impressive Christchurch Art Gallery. A short walk to the tram tours.
Perfect for: Business or pleasure.
Would I stay again? The George is considered the best in Christchurch and I'd agree. Good service, clean, modern rooms and small enough to keep a sophisticated, boutique feel.
The George is at 50 Park Terrace, Christchurch. Phone: (03) 379 4560.