Joanna Wane dines in at Rydges Latimer in Christchurch
Location: Overlooking Latimer Square, a tree-lined urban park in the central city that was once used for horse racing. Many of the surrounding buildings were badly damaged during the Canterbury earthquakes and a sculpture by Neil Dawson, "Spires", stands at the southern end of the square to commemorate the lives lost.
Style: Opened in late 2013 as part of the post-quake rebuild, this is a modern 4.5-star hotel for both the business and recreational traveller. A new wing was added late last year offering a selection of more luxurious rooms.
Perfect for: A weekend break for a couple or family exploring Christchurch's re-emerging city centre, wrapped around a dinner booking at Bloody Mary's.
First impressions: A pair of impeccably restored classic cars were parked up at the entrance. Sadly, they were privately owned by a couple of guests, or I'd have booked one for a soiree about town.
Rooms: I was upgraded to a top-end Executive King in the new wing that came with all the trimmings: fresh milk, a coffee pod machine, bathrobes, slippers and opening windows with "hush glass". Minibar on request and you can order room service at a charge of $5 a tray. My room was oriented over the city but the penthouse suite on the fifth floor has views stretching from the Port Hills to the Southern Alps.
Bathroom: Take my advice and go for a room with a bath. I was soaking in the tub with a book and a cup of tea 10 minutes after checking in.
Food and drink: Bloody Mary's brasserie and grill is a dining destination in its own right and opens onto Latimer Square. Famous for its tenderised prime rib, which is dry-aged for seven days using the air from Himalayan salt bricks, slow-cooked, rubbed with truffle and green peppercorn, and sliced at the table on a butcher's board (available Friday and Saturday nights or by appointment, with a minimum 24 hours' notice). Next to the bar is a whisky library fashioned on a gentlemen's club where connoisseurs can sample some rare finds, including a 25-year-old Glenmorangie, and Master Ridley's Private Dining Hall, which seats up to 70 people.
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Facilities: Free Wi-Fi, plenty of on-site parking and also unmetered spaces on the street. There's a small gym for hotel guests and the largest hotel-based conference facilities in Christchurch.
In the neighbourhood: Both the Cardboard Cathedral and New Regent Street, with its pastel-coloured 1930s Spanish Mission-style architecture and chic boutiques, are only a few minutes walk away. New Regent St is also the main tram stop and where you're most likely to spot the Wizard around lunchtime. Check out what's on at the Isaac Theatre Royal, the "grand old lady" magnificently rebuilt and restored at a cost of $40 million. A few blocks south is the moving Canterbury Earthquake Memorial on the banks of the Avon and the 7-day Riverside Market (open till 9pm Thurs-Sat).
Family friendly: Family Getaway packages include full buffet breakfast, and the new wing has two-bedroom family rooms that come with a true luxury — separate bathrooms. A mini-golf course and the marvellous Margaret Mahy Playground are just up the road.
Sustainability: Soap scraps are reprocessed by Soap Aid, part-used toiletries are recycled through The Hotel Weka programme, and leftover food from events is donated to the Christchurch City Mission.