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In driving distance to Queenstown, but set on a gloriously serene perch overlooking Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge is a New Zealand showstopper.
Eichardt’s Private Hotel
Charming, stylish Eichardt’s sits at the edge of the marina looking much like a saloon from a western frontier town. Originally opened as a pub with rooms in the mid 1800s, when gold drew an onslaught of newcomers to this area, the hotel today occupies the original historic building. The cozy bar/tapas restaurant downstairs has a whiff of historic lore, thought all interiors are deeply stylish.
There are seven suites upstairs—five in the original structure and two in the modern add-on—all of them well-sized, apartment-style extravaganzas. Three of them face Lake Wakatipu, and at night, guests are treated to sunset panoramas from the comfort of their rooms. The luckiest guests booked into Room Number One get the extra perk of a balcony from where they can gaze across town and perhaps be reminded of the days when Eichardt’s was called the Queen’s Arms. There is also a penthouse suite at the top of the hotel, and down the street are three lakefront apartments and a residence.
Rooms focus around large gas-burning fireplaces and king-size beds that sit up a couple of stairs for an elevated view. The industrial-chic design scheme makes the most by mixing stone, dark wood and charcoal/black iron, but everything is accented by softening touches like large flower arrangements, skylights above the bed and in the bathrooms, and comfortable furniture with colorful pillows and throws.
There’s not much of a lobby, so guests either spend time in their comfortably sized rooms, in the cozy pub (where breakfast is also served) or in the charming sitting room, another blast from the past with gorgeous artwork, deep cushy couches and chairs and complimentary whiskey served in the afternoons when light floods the room, catching the antique mirrors. It’s a lovely spot for a breather at the end of an active Queenstown day, and just another corner of Eichardt’s where past and present beautifully meet.
Located at the end of a suburban street, a six-minute drive from Queenstown, Azur has just nine villas and a main lodge, making it a great choice for couples who like to hole up in an incredibly romantic setting at the end of an active day. All of the nine villas boast the same generous size and open floor-plan layout, with a large sitting area in front of a gas fireplace, a nook for a round dining table and a massive, oversized king-size bed. Everything is pointed in the direction of floor-to-ceiling window panels that overlook Lake Wakatipu and Cecil Peak and stretch onward to the Remarkables mountain range (featured prominently in The Lord of the Rings movies).
Interiors are modern and sleek, with lots of warm wood and splashes of color in greens and blues. Bathrooms – spacious and with views – are tiled in charcoal grey, boasting showers the size of small Manhattan apartments, and bathtubs come with Jacuzzi jets. The mini-bar is stocked with local treats, the balcony has comfortable loungers, there’s wine upon arrival – in short, once you have arrived, the Azur villas are not easy to leave.
That’s a good thing for couples happy to hole up here and not so great for types who need hotel amenities. Azur doesn’t have a pool, a gym, a spa or a restaurant. Massages can be organized in the rooms, and the lovely staff is happy to pick up some food from a Queenstown restaurant – a fancy version of take-out – and set up the table with candles in your room. The main lodge has a comfortable dining room where breakfasts are served communal-style, and the library where afternoon wine and canapés are presented, but for the most part, Azur is the type of place where guests are touring in the area during the day and are holed up in their villas in the evenings. Queenstown is close by (it feels more accessible than at Matakauri) and guests can request to be shuttled there, in case driving on the left side of the road after dinner does not sound appealing.
The staff at Azur is terrific – young, motivated and full of great recommendations for touring in Queenstown and beyond. And thanks to the intimate size of the property, the experience of staying here feels personal and customized.
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