Courtney Whitaker reviews the Hilton Lake Taupō
Location: The hotel sits beside the popular DeBretts Hot Springs, just a five-minute drive from Taupō's city centre, on Napier Rd, and 15 minutes from Taupō Airport.
Getting there: We drove from Auckland and it took us just over three hours. The hotel offers free outdoor car parking, which was brimming with rental cars and four-wheel-drives with bike racks attached (we happened to time our stay the same weekend as the Ironman event in Taupō).
Check-in experience: Smooth. As a Hilton Honours member, I had received an email the day before offering an online check-in - similar to a flight - and with the option to choose my room. I opted to check in on-site but the online check-in is an interesting time-saving idea, especially for late-night arrivals. The reception area was relatively quiet when we arrived - given the hotel was fully booked for the weekend - and we were checked in quickly. Large complimentary carafes of lemon iced tea and mint and cucumber water were available for guests.
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The Hotel: The fresh white Victorian-style "Heritage Wing" of the 113-room Hilton was originally The Terraces Hotel and the building dates back to 1889. This part of the hotel houses the reception area, function rooms and restaurant and has been tastefully restored. Most of the hotel accommodation is housed in newer, more modern buildings, called the "Mountain Wing".
Room: Number 333: a King Guestroom with lake view, best enjoyed from one of the seats at the dining table on the room's covered terrace. The room was generously sized, with a small indoor table and chairs, 32-inch TV, wardrobe with ironing board and iron (especially handy as we were attending a wedding during our stay), and coffee and tea facilities. We were happy to see the safe in the wardrobe, then dismayed when we discovered it was so high a ladder was almost required to deposit valuables inside. Framed black-and-white photos of the original hotel buildings were featured on one of the room's walls, in a nice little nod to the hotel's history.
Food and drink: Gareth Stewart's Bistro Lago is on-site and is a lovely space with an impressive food offering. A special Bluff oyster-based set menu was available during our stay, as well as many delicious a la carte options for lunch and dinner. We enjoyed drinks on the outdoor terrace at sunset, with a gorgeous view of the lake.
The bed: Comfortable Super King. We ordered goose down pillows from the pillow menu because, why not?
The view: A gorgeous view of glassy Lake Taupō and Mt Ruapehu beyond.
Bathroom: Large and very clean, with double sinks, a deep bath, and shower with excellent pressure. No complaints.
Toiletries: Verbena and Lavender products by Crabtree and Evelyn.
Wi-Fi: Fast and free.
Noise: None. Which is quite a feat considering the hotel was full to the brim.
Facilities: As well as tennis courts, a restaurant, function spaces galore and, of course, DeBretts hot pools next door, the hotel has its own lovely outdoor heated pool, sauna and spa. The well-kitted-out gym got a big tick from my husband as well.
Extras: Handwritten notes from the cleaners left in the room each day outlining what they'd done was a nice touch.
Contact: www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/new-zealand/hilton-lake-taupo or email email@example.com.
The bottom line: A tranquil spot for a future weekend getaway once we're allowed to travel again.