Jesse Mulligan enjoys a glimpse of a life not his own at the Hotel Montreal in Christchurch.

Getting there:

By nervously wheedling our rental car through Christchurch's elaborate system of one-way streets, construction sites, roadworks and oversized playgrounds.

Check-in experience: Very pleasant. There is a little man behind a little table, and I feel if the process lasted any longer he might have offered me Earl Grey tea and a cupcake.


Room: The Penthouse, baby. Though there was a time when I would have immediately pictured myself in a scene from Entourage, these days my first thought is usually "well this is an ideal set-up to put the kids to bed while we watch Victoria".

Price: From $1500, so suitable for millionaires, celebrities and grifting travel writers. The last person to use it before me was Eddie Izzard who, according to the owner was "very muscular". You should have seen me tense my bicep as I leant in to sign my credit card authorisation.

What's so good about this place? A dreamy view of this beautiful, beaten-up city with more space than a big apartment and enough luxury that you don't ever want to leave.

And the bad? It's very hard to fault. You could complain about the open air carpark if you were really motivated — but don't rich people just buy a new car if their old one gets wet?

What's in the neighbourhood? You're right on the edge of Hagley Park and historic Cranmer Square, though you'll have to get in the car to find dinner.

Food and drink: We ate out but called into the bar/restaurant late at night for dessert and a cocktail to take up to our room. Breakfast the next morning was excellent — the first time I've seen a "buffet plus main" option so there is zero chance of you getting hungry before lunchtime.

Room service: I paid a probably unnecessary $5 to have a staff member bring me my dessert rather than carry it up in the lift myself. I couldn't do that with the Negroni though, as it would have involved sharing the lift with the person carrying my drink, which I think even Eddie Izzard would consider de trop.

A room with a view: The best view, though only in a couple of directions given the configuration of the apartment. There's a balcony with artificial grass which would be great for drinks in the summer, and I could easily imagine the afternoon lapsing into well, if not Entourage, at least one of the spicier scenes from Anne of Green Gables.


Noise: The wealthy live in a post-noise world, where you sleep at a high enough altitude you're only occasionally disturbed by the police chopper keeping an eye on your car.

Would I return? In a second. I glimpsed a life that was not my own, and to be honest I preferred it. The novelty of gin-based drinks and Netflix would eventually wear off but surely not for a month or so? I wonder if Eddie needs an aide-de-camp.