Courtney Whitaker leaves the city behind for the tranquillity of Quail Lodge, Ōpaheke, Auckland.
Location: In the foothills of Drury in Ōpaheke, South Auckland. A picturesque spot around 34km south of Auckland, and 27km from Auckland Airport.
Style: A modern country lodge with a focus on relaxation and gourmet home cooking.
Perfect For: A getaway for jaded city slickers or a night or two to recharge before or after catching a flight at the airport.
First Impressions: We were greeted by host Samantha and her friendly retrodoodle, Ollie. We lucked out by visiting Quail Lodge on a crisp, clear winter's day, and after a quick tour of our accommodation, we decided to rug up and enjoy the cheese platter Sam had prepared for us on the balcony. There are 180-degree views from this premium perch, and we were dazzled as the setting sun radiated shades of red and pink over Auckland city. A bottle of Nautilus Brut had been chilling ahead of our arrival and we enjoyed it with cheese, crackers, and generous dollops of Sam's homemade feijoa chutney.
Room: A "Rising Star B&B Business of the Year 2021" award is proudly displayed on one of the walls of the charming two-bedroom lodge, and there are no surprises as to why it is receiving recognition. There is a stylish lounge, a well-equipped kitchen - if self-catering is your preference - a bathroom, and two good-sized bedrooms. Not a detail has been missed and you could happily ensconce yourself out here for a while. Of the two bedrooms, we opted for the master, with its super-king bed and a wardrobe equipped with a safe, bathrobes and slippers. The second bedroom has a queen-size bed, and both have electric blankets, plush linen, and a selection of pillows. Every inch of the lodge was spotlessly clean, and thanks to an adjustable temperature-control wall panel, cosy and warm.
Bathroom: Large charcoal tiles and white plantation shutters, a fabulous walk-in shower with excellent water pressure, and big fluffy towels. The toiletries are Quail Lodge's own brand and are New Zealand-made, paraben-free and created with fragrant May Chang essential oils. These products are available for purchase at the end of your stay.
Food and drink: All of the food provided is gluten-free. Breakfast is included in the room rate and dinner is provided by arrangement - and you'd really be missing a trick here if you don't include this. We dined with Sam and husband Hamish on their beautiful property and enjoyed a feast, including a perfectly cooked side of salmon, baby potatoes in a green pea sauce, and Sam's insanely good parsnip puff. The meal was paired with a Butterworth pinot noir and we finished with an apple crumble. Delicious! Surprisingly, we had room for breakfast the next morning, and finally settled on the whitebait fritters to share, while I opted for the spicy shakshuka eggs. The Cowboy Hash with potatoes, chorizo and poached eggs was my husband's pick. Sam is a skilled cook, and everything was presented to a very high standard.
Facilities: Undercover parking, free Wi-Fi, a kitchen with an induction cooker, a Nespresso machine and a selection of premium teas. A 43-inch wall-mounted TV has Freeview and Netflix and there is a portable Bluetooth speaker so you can enjoy your music from the balcony. The glassy infinity pool attached to the owners' residence is a showstopper and is available for guest use in the warmer months. Intimate weddings have been held on the property, with the backdrop a photographer's dream. Massages are available on request, and Denise from Hands on Therapy did a wonderful job of kneading the many stress-induced knots out of my back and shoulders.
In the Neighbourhood: The property overlooks Ardmore Flying School and we watched with fascination as the gliders took off in the morning. Pukekohe is an easy 20-minute drive, and Clevedon's Sunday Farmer's Market is also 20 minutes away.
Family Friendly: A small family would fit comfortably here, with the two-bedroom configuration. Care should be taken with children around the swimming pool.
Accessibility: Not suitable for wheelchairs.
Sustainability: The lodge uses a bio-waste disposal system for wastewater. There are also recycling bins in the kitchen and toiletries are in refillable bottles.
Price: $299 per night Sunday to Thursday; $349 per night Friday and Saturday. Breakfast is included in the rate and dinner is available at an extra cost of $80 (including two courses and a bottle of wine).
Contact: www.luxurylodge.nz; email@example.com
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