Norma Holmes checks into the Chateau Tongariro Hotel.
Location: In Whakapapa Village in the heart of Tongariro National Park, a busy ski area in winter and popular for hikers year-round, especially those doing the Tongariro Crossing.
Getting there: We drove from Taupō, taking about 90 minutes.
History: The Chateau was built in the 1920s to encourage tourists to visit the park.
First impressions: Driving along the approach road, the Chateau stands out majestically, surrounded by mountain ranges. It looks so elegant with its blue/grey roof, red brick upper floors and cream lower floors.
Check-in experience: Fast and friendly and, although we were early, our room was ready.
Room: We didn't have a room with a spectacular view — we were on the side, looking on to grass and trees. There was a king-sized bed with lovely crisp, white linen sheets, comfy pillows and cushions. There was plenty of space for cases, bags and possessions.
There were two beautifully upholstered easy chairs and thick curtains ceiling to floor. The bathroom was large and had Forest and Bird toiletries, which smelt divine.
Facilities: The hotel's Ruapehu Lounge is massive, with lots of plush, velvet sofas, easychairs and small table and chair sets. Light food is served into the evening while a pianist plays a grand piano. There is a large billiards table and a large window — the Ngāuruhoe Window — in front of which are tables and chairs for guests to have a traditional afternoon tea while admiring the view. We had scones, jam and cream, which was delicious.
Amenities: Golf course; basement conference room; laundry room; drying room for wet skiing/hiking equipment; small cinema showing a daily-changing schedule of six different films a day; a pool/sauna (although this was closed while we were there); and an exercise room.
Eating: Breakfast and evening meals are served in the Ruapehu Room, where smart dress is required. There's also the Pīhanga Cafe for coffees, snacks and evening meals. Across the road from the hotel is Tussock Tavern, more of a pub serving fish and chips, sausage and mash-type foods.
Would I return: Definitely. There was an olde worlde charm, attentive staff and a relaxed atmosphere.
Downsides: Having to leave; seeing people in casual clothes that didn't seem to fit with the grandeur of the hotel.