Luxury lodges key:
When it comes to lodges we have some world leaders, writes Ewan McDonald
We thought we'd set the bar pretty high when we decided to profile "some of New Zealand's greatest luxury lodges and what makes them so special". Perhaps we didn't realise how many high-end lodgings you can find in and around Aotearoa. So we decided to focus on the best of the best.
Some centres have more than their share of these; some establishments fit into more than one category. In case the Cumberbatches or Cambridges googled and booked the place you fancy, we've listed "Check Out" options following each category.
When the two-thirds of New Zealanders who don't have the outrageous fortune to live in Auckland think about the city, they probably imagine Ponsonby. The Hotel Fitzroy, curated by Fable, is tucked away in one of the suburb's historic villas, its 10 suites styled with contemporary touches and beautiful artworks.
Downtown, the multi-award-winning Hotel Grand Windsor transports guests back to a bygone era; notably 1928, when the art deco building opened. Try to score its elegant Duchess Suite, the epitome of luxury with king-size bed, sitting-room and pearlescent-tiled bathroom.
In Rotorua, the central location of the five-star Pullman Rotorua and Regent of Rotorua make them convenient for guests to enjoy the foodie scene and shopping. Each of the Pullman's 130 rooms and suites offers views of lake, geothermal, mountains or forests; the Regent invites guests to stroll to restaurants, lakefront or enjoy its outdoor heated pool and indoor mineral pool.
Cleverly sited betwixt Napier's style and Havelock North's vineyards, Hastings' Mangapapa Hotel is a historic homestead with 12 suites, day spa and fine-dining restaurant (it was Sir James Wattie's place but don't expect frozen peas).
One of New Plymouth's oldest buildings has been expertly refined into the Nice Hotel, with host Terry Parkes' eclectic art and furnishings adding to the city's appeal to culturally inclined visitors, and an excellent restaurant.
Missing that trip to Paris? A petite bit of the place comes to Wellington's Sofitel. Opulently reflecting the luxury chain's motto, "Live life the French way", chocolate-uniformed staff greet with "Bonjour", the Jardin Grill and La Serre bar are tres bon, the rooms luxe, and the hotel definitely knows what's quoi.
Crossing the trench, Pihopa Retreat lifts the game in Nelson, luxury private suites just a couple of minutes' drive or an easy walk/bike from the CBD.
With more international awards than a concierge could polish, The George in Christchurch can claim the title of Aotearoa's leading boutique hotel. Put that down to the attention to detail in accommodation, facilities, service and the stylish 50 Bistro.
Hard to pick one but the quintessential Queenstown inn has to be Eichardt's Private Hotel, given that it's the only one that's been around since the 1862 gold rush. Much of its rich and, er, vibrant history has been preserved but make no mistake, this is a 2021-class property. Aim for a lakefront apartment.
Dunedin has a number of new, small, upmarket establishments, many created in the city's stunning refurbishments of heritage buildings. The Fable Dunedin, in an 1862 hotel, is exceptional; its Press Club restaurant memorable. The room with a view – and much more – is the vast Mason Suite, high stud and heritage bay window overlooking Princes St. For modernist tastes, Ebb Dunedin is a new and contemporary boutique hotel.
On your southern roadie or heading to/from Rakiura, The Lodges at Invercargill's Transport World offer six apartments with quirky flourishes and luxury touches evoking Southland icons.
Auckland: Park Hyatt
New Plymouth: King & Queen Hotel Suites
Wellington: Boulcott Suites, CityLife, Quest on Johnston
Blenheim: The Marlborough
Christchurch: The Classic Villa, Heritage
Dunedin: The Burlington Apartment, Bell Hill Apartments