Elisabeth Easther stays at the Heritage Hotel, Christchurch
Location: Smack bang in the centre of Christchurch, right beside Cathedral Square.
Style: Designed by Joseph Clark Maddison in the opulent Italian High Renaissance Palazzo style, the hotel opened in 1913 and is listed as a category one with Historic Places.
Price: Book direct to get the best current rate. Advance purchase rate from $216 per night.
Perfect for: Romance, city weekends, family vacations, and with the fully equipped suites featuring extensive kitchens, washing machines and dryers, you could even move in full-time.
First impressions: An impressive facade of Ōamaru stone, and opulent interiors. The heavily carpeted corridors provide a wonderful hush. It's worth visiting for the staircases alone, and be sure to take your finest evening wear so you can float down them floor by floor, in the style of Audrey Hepburn.
Bolstering spirits: The only inner-city building to survive the 2013 quakes intact, this was also the first heritage building operational following the devastation, which locals saw as a beacon of hope.
Awards: This iconic hotel has won the Historical Hotel category for World Luxury Hotel Awards 2016 and 2017 in the Australasia and Oceania region.
Rooms: Let's call a suite a suite, and Suite 108 on the first floor was so divine, I had to FaceTime my partner, who was arriving later, so he could experience the wow factor with me. The windows looking out to the cathedral were at least 12-feet high and everything felt super sumptuous, from the sheer size to the fully appointed kitchen, separate dining area and television lounge.
The bedroom: Upstairs in its own little mezzanine eyrie, truly comfortable bed, excellent linen, right amount of pillows, and to ice the cake, little squares of Whittaker's chocolate on the pillows, while the regular ding ding of passing trams made it feel like rooming at Auckland's Motat.
Refreshments: Massive range of teas and a better class of instant sachet coffee bags and a well-stocked minibar.
Bathroom: Upstairs by the bedroom, generous bath with shower over, ideal for a good old wallow. Fluffy towels and robes. Manuka Spa toiletries, shampoo conditioner, moisturiser and a soothing bath bag.
Food and drink: The kitchen is so well equipped you could cook any type of meal including a full roast, which is my benchmark for a good hotel. Although the surrounding area is loaded with restaurants. Downstairs, O.G.B (Old Government Building), is a speakeasy-style bar and restaurant that's open for business till late. O.G.B has won Christchurch's Best Bar five years running, and it has a really buzzy atmosphere, with the staff dressed like extras from Tom Brown's School Days.
Facilities: Free Wi-Fi, a spa and a pool for lane swimming, and the gym is ripped, like a regular hotel gym took steroids. Valet parking is also available if you're happy to pay for it.
In the neighbourhood: Right in the centre of town, you could shop yourself senseless if you're that way inclined. Or go for a punt on the Avon River; visit the botanical gardens or museum; play at the Margaret Mahy Playground or head to the Christchurch Art Gallery.
Family friendly: One, two and three-bedroom configurations are available if you're travelling with the tamariki.
Accessibility: Most rooms are unsuitable for wheelchair users as they are split level, with bedrooms upstairs. There is one three-bedroom suite with one bedroom and a bathroom on the lower floor, but neither have specific accessible features. As a category-one heritage building, structural changes are prohibited, which unfortunately means changes cannot be made.
Sustainability: Guests are encouraged to separate rubbish, with facilities provided, and you'll also find a "goodie bag" so if you use the toiletries, you can take what you've started with you, then recycle the containers once finished.
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