Suzanne McFadden checks into the Commodore Hotel at Christchurch Airport.


A three-minute free shuttle from the airport, and 10-minute drive to the central city. Set in seven acres, with award-winning native gardens.

What's in the neighbourhood: The airport obviously, Burnside Park Tennis Courts and Russley Golf Course are neighbours, and the International Antarctic Centre is just down the road. You can hop on one of the hotel bicycles to explore more of the central city.

Check-in experience: It was kind of special to me. One of the modified Massey Ferguson tractors that Sir Edmund Hillary took to Antarctica in 1956 was on display in the lobby. Sixty years ago, my dad had climbed over it, visiting Hillary's team prior to their expedition - part of the best school trip ever (but that's another story). The porter took our many bags by trolley to our room (well, there were three of us starting our three-week South Island odyssey).


Exercise: A pleasant swimming complex with a 12m indoor pool heated to 29C, a spa and sauna; tennis court; and a well-equipped fitness centre. A personal trainer can be arranged if you're staying awhile.

Room: A 36sqm premium room, with Sky, two lounge chairs, desk and a small table. It was on the ground floor, and glass doors opened on to a private balcony in a native garden. Very zen.

Bed: Our premium room had two queen-sized beds, with a generous selection of feather or synthetic pillows.

Noise: Other than the gentle trickling of the waterfall in the glade outside the room, it was quiet.

Bathroom: A bit odd. Split in two - with toilet, shower and bath squeezed in one room and a sprawling vanity outside it.

Toiletries: Forest and Bird range, with manuka and harakeke.

Price: From $235 premium room to $500 for a business-level suite.

Free wi-fi? Yes, unlimited.

Food and drink: The hotel has its own restaurant, Pattersons. Each guest was given a voucher for a free drink or bowl of fries in the bar. The bar has a cosy Discovery Lounge, named after the Nasa astronauts from the final space shuttle voyage, who visited Christchurch to boost morale after the 2011 earthquake.

Perfect for: Travellers looking for something more than the usual mundane airport hotel.

Return: Yes, most likely if we're stopping here on our way to another Mainland adventure.