Queenstown's most historic haven, Eichardt's Private Hotel has bagged the best spot on the lake for shoreside romance, offering super-chic interiors and no-holds barred luxe. Quintessentially boutique, there's an air of refined exclusivity here (thanks to the sumptuous interiors by Virginia Fisher, apartment-style boudoirs and cult-status Eichardt's Bar), yet this genteel cocoon is just a hop from the heart of the action.
Ten suites, including four Lakefront Apartment Suites and the three-bed Eichardt's Residence separate from the main hotel.
11am; check-in, 3pm, both flexible subject to availability. Guests are welcome to use the lounge, all public areas and luggage storage if arriving early or departing late.
Double rooms from £387.62 (NZ$766), including tax at 15 per cent.
Rates include full à la carte breakfast and espresso coffee, welcome drink, evening cocktail, all non-alcoholic minibar items (juices, bottled water, soft drinks and snacks), nightly turndown with house-made chocolates and fresh flowers.
Style addicts will love the eye-catching, clubby design details curated by New Zealand decorator Virginia Fisher (who also prettied up Smith escapes Matakauri Lodge, Huka Lodge, the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs and Dolphin Island). Rich colours, warm textures, top-notch fittings, bespoke modern pieces and atmospheric antiques up the decor ante, ticking the drama box (oversize clocks in the conservatory-esque lobby) as well as ensuring comfort (cosy fireplaces and dreamy dressings areas in boudoirs).
At the hotel
Bar, restaurant, concierge, library with DVDs and films, free WiFi throughout, lakeside beach, free valet parking on-site. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, CD player, iPod dock, minibar, Gilchrist & Soames toiletries. Lakefront Apartment Suites also sport kitchenettes; the Eichardt's Residence villa has a full kitchen.
Our favourite rooms
Of the five rooms in the main lodge, we love the three Lake View Suites for hard-to-beat Wakatipu vistas (Room 1 sports an original exposed stone wall and blissful balcony). For more privacy and space, bag a one- or two-bedroom Lakefront Apartment Suite, a short stroll from the main building. For glam group getaways or family flings, treat yourself to a stay at the standalone triple-floor, three-bed Eichardt's Residence, which has a killer kitchen, private dining room, cinema space and balconies galore.
Pack as much as you like, as the dressing rooms here are the size of a small London apartment. In winter (June to October), bring stylish kit for heliskiing (or après-ski posing). Queentown's aglow with activities year-round though, so take gear for cycling, walking, lake cruising and winery-wandering, too.
Although Eichardt's is a sophisticated adult retreat, children are welcome. Baby cots can be supplied for free and extra beds for older children cost NZ$260 a child a night. Family-friendly two- and three-bedroom apartments are also up for grabs nearby.
Eichardt's uses locally sourced, seasonal food and is committed to recycling.
Sink into one of Eichardt's sofas on either side of the fireplace in winter or take to the tree-lined courtyard in spring or summer.
Ralph Lauren meets Agatha Christie (we're talking natural-fibred smart-casual, with upscale knits, wraps and boots galore).
Swelligant Eichardt's Bar hosts breakfast, lunch, tapas and dinner, or you can request a spot at Georgian-chic Eichardt's Parlour, a private lounge and dining area on the first floor. Chef Will Eaglesfield hold the reins, whipping up delicious dishes such as the hotel's legendary seafood chowder with house-made sourdough, wild game terrine with house pickles and mustard, and salted cod and potato croquettes with herbed aioli. Gracious service, comfy sofas and a toasty fireplace put the dandy into dining here, making it a red-hot favourite with guests and locals alike.
Famously fabulous, Eichardt's Bar has bagged more awards than we've had hot dinners (including a listing in London newspaper The Times' top 10 global bars with a view). World-class wines are poured here, starring some New Zealand Otago region faves and a few exclusive-to-Eichardt's drops. Top Kiwi bartenders keep the cocktails coming, too.
Eichardt's Bar is open from 7am until 11am for breakfast, lunch, dinner, tapas and drinks; Eichardt's Parlour plies the same hours for sipping or supping on request.
Available from 6.30am to 11pm, there's a full room service menu, including child-friendly options. Minibars also come well stocked with chocolates, cookies and crisps, juices and a tempting array of regional and global beers, spirits, wine and champagne.
Eichardt's Private Hotel has a ringside seat on Lake Wakatipu in the centre of Queenstown, the nature-blessed adventure capital of New Zealand's South Island.
Fly into Queenstown Airport, eight kilometres east of town, which receives domestic flights from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, as well as international flights from Australia and further afield. Try Air New Zealand, Qantas, Jetstar or Virgin Australia for good deals.
New Zealand's limited, geographically-challenged rail service doesn’t extend to Queenstown.
Eichardt's can organise private limousine transfers from the airport for NZ$80 for the 15-minute drive to town, or you can grab a taxi. If you're arriving with your own wheels, there's free parking with a gratis valet service at the hotel; alternatively, you can hire a car at the airport.
Mainland Air offers charter and scenic flights across the South Island.
Worth getting out of bed for
Shaded gardens and a family-friendly beach area by the lake will lure you outside, with a host of watersports up for grabs with recommended operators. Prefer your pampering indoors? A full menu of treat-you, in-room treatments can be provided by a local spa. Eichardt's has exemplary contacts in the area, so take advantage of them to hook up private visits to 'closed' wineries in the area and Otago region vineyard tours. As New Zealand's adventure capital, it's no surprise that Queenstown offers endless outdoor activities, from trekking to cycling, jetboating, parachuting and bungy jumping. Highlights include helicopter sightseeing over the Alpine region, paired with lake cruises. There are also three award-toting golf courses nearby: Jack's Point (www.jackspoint.com/golf), The Hills (www.thehills.co.nz) and Millbrook (www.millbrook.co.nz).
Mr & Mrs Smith have just returned from a stay at this style-savvy boutique hotel, and just as soon as they've unpacked their skis and local wine, a full account of their New Zealand adventure will be with you. In the meantime, just to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Eichardt's Private Hotel in Queenstown…
The oldest – and most historic – hotel in Queenstown is also one of its most beautiful. Occupying an enviable lakefront position, this graceful grande dame has undergone many transformations since it was first built in 1859 to accommodate opportunists and optimists who came to the area in search of gold. Today it is elegant, stylish and utterly luxurious, and exudes the kind of New Zealand charm that will have you wishing you could sell up and move in permanently. Each of the five luxurious suites in the main building, and the clutch of five uber-luxe apartments and villas a stone's throw away, have been individually designed and blend contemporary chic with alluring antiques, tactile furnishings and the odd quirky curio.
Yet for a hotel that has played such a pivotal role in Queenstown's history – not to mention the part it played shaping the locals' drinking habits – Eichardt's is remarkably unassuming. There's no denying that this grande dame is gorgeous but there are no airs and graces here. Instead this heritage lakefront hostelry has been brought back to life (following various incarnations as a pub, nightclub and flood victim...) with a breezy confidence that you can't help falling in love with. No sooner do you enter via the modern glass structure that sits comfortably against the original stone building than you wish you were staying longer. An oversized train station clock hangs from one wall hinting at the fashion-forward - but fun - design that defines the hotel, and this pattern continues in the award-winning bar, restaurant and boudoirs.