Helen van Berkel checks into Meadowood Country House.

Where is it:

Meadowood Country House, Fernhill, Hawkes Bay.

Distance from the airport: A 12-minute drive.

Check in: We let ourselves in.


Price: $145-$195 per couple, per room or book the whole house for $600-$750 a night (minimum two nights) for up to eight guests, including breakfast, depending on season.

The room: Four to choose from. I had the Peacock Room - so named for the peacock-etched glass sliding door to the bathroom - which had a fireplace, well-appointed en suite, windows on to the garden and a big fat bed that looked like a slice of heaven after a day at the nearby vineyards.

In the neighbourhood: Cycle trail, wineries, golf courses, wineries, rivers, wineries, markets, wineries and it's only a few minutes' drive to the famous Marine Parade and Mission Estate (a winery).

Bathroom: An art deco-modernist delight with fabulous water pressure.

Drinks: Tea and barista-coffee facilities, juice in the fridge and a bottle of wine I regretfully forgot to tuck into my suitcase.

Toiletries: Imperial Leather shower creme.

Food: Croissants, toast and bagels and other breakfast makings.

Exercise: The garden, almost wholly emerged from decades of neglect, makes a pleasing power/leisure walk, or pick up a bottle of something divine from one of the local cellar doors and exercise your elbow on the curved front deck.

What's so good: The astonishing attention to art deco detail. No wonder it's won awards.

What's not so good: The bugs and their futile love affair with the night lights.

Perfect for: A family weekend away or a wine trail and art deco trail with sophisticated friends.

Contact: meadowoodhouse.co.nz
The verdict: "Next generation caretakers" Shelly and Mark Witchalls have dragged this once-derelict house back to the 1930s - although, it probably came willingly - and paired 1930s aesthetics with 21st century conveniences. You don't have to be a design buff to marvel at the effort that has gone into the faithful restoration.