The Dairy Private Hotel (by Naumi Hotels), Queenstown
Location: Brecon St, a 7km drive from the airport. Five minutes walk up the hill to the Skyline gondola; five minutes down the steps to the lakefront, shops and restaurants.
Style: A boutique hotel where rustic charm meets bold design.
Perfect for: A romantic alpine getaway.
Price: Rooms from $199, including free Wi-Fi and parking if you book direct.
First impressions: As the name suggests, The Dairy began life as the original Queenstown corner store, but the original facade belies the size and magnificence of the accommodation offered inside. We're warmly greeted at the front door by our host Maria, who ushers us immediately into the plush lounge and offers us complimentary refreshments, explaining a little about the hotel's features before taking us to our room.
Rooms: There are 13 rooms here, each individually decorated with botanical wallpapers from the renowned House of Hackney. They're divided into Habitat and Oasis rooms (and with her bespoke booking service, Maria decides which room will suit which travellers, sometimes even changing her mind once she meets them). We're in the premium Junior Suite, which has its own balcony looking out across Queenstown to the stunning Remarkables, but I'm too gobsmacked by our room's interior to pay much attention to the landscape. It doesn't look great on paper (in fact, one Trip Advisor reviewer surmised the decorator was "a Scots goth on acid"): the plush carpet is pale blue and bright orange tartan, our ceiling is wallpapered with autumnal flowers, and the electric blue armchairs are adorned with golden African wildlife - but it somehow all works, and works wonderfully. In fact, it's so classy that my other half starts putting on a posh accent ("the name's Bond. Hus Bond"). However, his joke is drowned out by my squeals of delight when I discover my dream hairdryer, a Dyson Supersonic, in the wardrobe beside the plush bathrobes.
There's a 32" flatscreen smart TV with Netflix, and the usual fight over who gets the luggage rack is avoided with the thoughtful provision of two. Similarly appreciated is the plunger coffee and Nespresso machine, along with a selection of premium teas, and we're delighted by a welcome treat of salted caramel macarons. The only surprising exclusion is that there is no fridge in the room; it's only a small trip downstairs for milk, but I don't much fancy doing that in my pyjamas when I blearily make the morning coffee so that job is allocated to the Husbond. It's also disappointing if you're wanting to chill a bottle of something special to enjoy later on your balcony.
Let's face it though, a room is only as good as its bed. And in this instance, it's king-size and decked out in Naumi's signature snowy-white bedding. I'm not a person who sleeps well away from home, but I can honestly say I had the best slumber I've enjoyed in years in this bed (and proven by my Fitbit giving me an unprecedented sleep score of 94). Undoubtedly the bed was aided in its triumph by the quiet of the room, despite the hotel being just 250m from one of Queenstown's busiest tourist attractions.
Bathroom: Charming but on the small side; however the bright addition of a skylight and white tiling prevents it from feeling claustrophobic. The shower is spacious and there's a heated towel rail. Makeup pads and shower caps are provided, along with premium toiletries from superfood skincare line Soak. I'm a big fan of their Skin Booster body lotion, while the Husbond declares their Hair Shine shampoo the best he's ever used.
Food & drink: There's no restaurant on-site, but for a small charge you can start your day with a continental breakfast in the front room that originally housed the corner store itself. If the beverages, pastries, toast, spreads, cereal and preserves (the infused peaches!) don't appeal, you're literally next door to arguably the best breakfast spot in Queenstown, Bespoke Kitchen.
The Dairy provides complimentary water, juice and soft drinks for guests to help themselves to throughout the day, and not surprisingly, their bottomless happy hour between 5 and 6pm (included in the room rate) is popular with guests.
Popular with us though, is the complimentary Sweet Station - load up on jaffas, jet planes, pineapple lumps and jelly beans in a welcome throwback to the hotel's origins as a dairy.
Facilities: Free wifi is located throughout the hotel, including the bedrooms, with the password (along with the front door keypad code) helpfully provided on cards that match the wallpaper. There's also free on-site parking but not a lot, though street parking is plentiful.
There's lots of space to relax in this home away from home, including the lounge with its sumptuous couches and inviting fireplace, and the den with its plentiful books and board games. There's plenty to look at too, with quirky artworks, fascinating light fixtures and interesting artefacts to browse.
And then there are the outside attractions, not least of all a perfectly placed outdoor jacuzzi that can be reserved by guests; a private place to relax with a glass of bubbles and gaze at the mountains.
In the neighbourhood: You're literally a stone's throw from the best that Queenstown has to offer. On our first day, we head up the Skyline Gondola and drink in the most breathtaking views of Lake Wakatipu and beyond from Stratosfare Bar along with our cocktails, filling our Instagram boots in the process. Our host Maria recommends Tanoshi for dinner - it's a five-minute walk in the other direction and is a teppan and sake bar in the traditional Japanese style. While it specialises in shared plates, neither the Husbond nor I are keen on sharing the deceptively simple-looking salmon aburi, a delightful dish that's a must next time you're in Queenstown.
Family friendly: Not at all. Children under 12 are not allowed at The Dairy (a fact for which these harried parents were more than grateful). Leave the kids behind and indulge yourselves with some grown-up time.
Accessibility: While there are ground-level rooms that may provide easy wheelchair access, the vast majority are reached by stairs and there are even some floor-height changes at ground level which might prevent easy access for some.