Set in New Zealand's South Island, Queenstown boutique hotel The Spire is an ultra-modern hideaway that successfully combines high style with warm service. Hip, contemporary and comfortable, this sleekly designed sanctuary is one of our top tips for NZ. With just 10 suites and a characterful cocktail bar, it's the destination of choice for those with an eye for detail and an appreciation of stellar service.
Get this when you book through us:
A NZ$50 No5 Church Lane voucher and free airport transfers in a Land Rover Discovery
11am, but there is flexibility. Check-in, 2pm, unless by prior arrangement.
Double rooms from £174.19 (NZ$340), including tax at 15 per cent.
Rates include breakfast.
If you fancy a massage, beauty or spa treatment after indulging in Queentown's many outdoor activities, the hotel can arrange for a therapist to come to your room. If you're heading out to the lake, picnic hampers or packed lunches can be provided for eating al fresco (just give them 24 hours' notice).
We especially love Room 6 for its pretty views of the church spire that gives the hotel its name, but king-size beds, luxe linens, stone-clad fireplaces, design classics and large private balconies feature in all suites.
The Spire doesn't have a pool, but nearby Lake Wakatipu beckons.
There's great mountain biking around Queenstown, so bring your cycling gear. A Swiss Army knife could prove handy out in the wilderness, too.
Extra beds are $220 a night; cots are free of charge. Babysitting can be arranged with qualified nannies from NZ$15 an hour.
In the pretty conservatory, or by the fire on winter nights.
This season’s luxe lakeside loungewear.
No5 Church Lane restaurant and bar serves a tempting array of European breakfast options: mushrooms on toast, truffle-infused scrambled eggs and so on; from 4.30pm, guests can also order contemporary dishes that showcase local produce to accompany the bar's potent cocktails.
Laid-back lounge music and soft lighting make No5 Church Lane, by the lobby, the ideal cocktail-sipping spot. Perch at the bar or at a table by the fire and familiarise yourself with the mezze menu.
The bar is open every day from 4.30pm and sees action from 5pm until late.
Take breakfast or dinner (you can even order a late-night pizza) in your room or on your balcony.
Located in the heart of Queenstown, The Spire is close to all the city’s major attractions, shops and eateries.
Queenstown Airport (www.queenstownairport.co.nz) is only 10 minutes from the hotel. International flights stop over in Auckland, Singapore or Australia, depending on where you're flying from. Our Smith24 travel experts can help book your flights. The Spire has a fleet of Land Rover Discoveries that'll pick you up at the airport and take you to the hotel (included in booking).
If you want to explore the area then you can hire a car at the airport from one of the major hire car companies. When you get into the city park anywhere on Earl Street (preferably next to Milford Galleries opposite the Novotel Gardens Hotel); alternatively, park at the hotel (AU$10 for 24 hours). Leave all but your hand luggage in your car and walk down Church Lane. You’ll find the entrance to The Spire on your right. Staff will collect your luggage.
Worth getting out of bed for
The Spire can arrange almost any acitivity you fancy; this is the adventure capital of the world, so it would be churlish not to have a go at something extreme. Take your pick from adrenalin-rush heli-skiing, bungee jumping or jet-boating and – to smooth ruffled feathers afterwards – in-room beauty and spa treatments. If you really aren't the adventurous type, gentler pursuits such as golf, hiking and horse riding are also an option.
For a rustic Italian downtown, head for the daily menu and wood-fired oven at Bella Cucina (+64 (0)3 442 6762), at 6 Brecon Street, for fresh pasta, pizza and breads. Or check out well-respected Amisfield Winery and Bistro (+64 (0)3 442 0556; www.amisfield.co.nz), a country-style eatery with a pretty courtyard at 10 Lake Hayes Road, 15 minutes’ drive from central Queenstown. Head to Smith-approved Eichardt's Private Hotel at Marine Parade for delicious bar nibbles, hearty mains and brilliant cocktails.
Vibrant local Vudu Café (+64 (0)3 442 5357) at 23 Beach Street serves up generous, tasty breakfasts, lunches and dinners, with a play area for kids and online access.
The outdoor courtyard with roaring fire at Barmuda (+64 (0)3 442 7300) on Searle Lane draws the crowds whatever the weather, and the original cocktail list keeps them here until closing.
Mr Smith is adamant. He has nothing against the series that keeps the Kiwi coffers ticking over – he's rather worryingly fond of orcs, in fact – but he does not want to share a bus with a bunch of wannabe elves and hobbits rabbiting on about Isengard.
Problem is, the pamphlets we've picked up seem to imply every tour revolves around Peter Jackson and the making of The Lord of the Rings. And the late 2012 arrival of the trilogy's prequel, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, has only increased the likelihood of obsessive fans occupying the seat next to you.
But Gemma doesn't seem fazed. I'm beginning to realise not much fazes Gemma, outwardly, at least. She has the kind of demeanour that hotel operators dream about: calm, efficient and naturally pleasant. When I had earlier mentioned that a full ashtray had been left on our balcony (the previous guest obviously missing a few neurons to smoke in the winter freeze) and that there was only one pair of fluffy slippers in the cupboard (I hadn't slipped mine into my luggage, honest), her sincere apology was all the reassurance required to prove that these sorts of oversights are as rare as hen's teeth at the Spire.
And here we are, at the risk of becoming The Difficult Guests, asking for mission impossible: find us a Queenstown tour that doesn't revolve around hobbits. ‘Leave it with me,’ replies Gemma, as fearless as Aragorn riding into battle, ‘and I'll see what I can come up with.’ Sure enough, by the time we return from lunch a few hours later, she's found a local operator who can take us on a personal tour with as little orc-on-elf action as we wish.
They take service very seriously at the Spire, but there's nothing stuffy about the staff at this warm, intimate hotel. As seems to be the norm in this tourist town, most are drawn from overseas – the UK and Ireland, in this case – and all have brought their sense of humour with them.
Mr Smith likes to sit up at the bar in bars. This may sound logical but there is usually more comfortable and intimate seating available, and No5 Church Lane, the Spire's elegant bar-cum-restaurant, is no exception. I, for one, am partial to the cosy corner by the gas fire where we sat for a sumptuous breakfast (I’m still dreaming about my French toast with honey-poached pears) and some tantalising tapas the night before. However, you can't regale the barman with stories or work your way through the local beers with quite the same bonhomie if you opt for the latter, so we're perched up high and the barman's lending an obliging ear and knows more than a thing or two about the local wines, as well as the brews. Who am I to argue?
When we adjourn five paces for dinner (Mr Smith now a Monteith convert), our English waitress, Lucy, keeps the service with a smile going. She seems to know when guests need more attention than others, lingering at the table of a couple who don't have much to say to one another, drawing a laugh, then just as easily melting into the background after serving four friends engrossed in gossip. The food is every bit as delightful: Asian fusion with a good touch of spice but not too much heat.
Tucked down a lane in the heart of town, the Spire is by no means the flashiest of Queenstown hotels – that's not a criticism – nor are the views of the Remarkables the most remarkable (the vista from our room somewhat diminished by the rooftop of the building in front), but there's no doubting the generosity of spirit within.
It's as evident in the beautifully appointed rooms as it is in the people. Decorated in rich, warm tones, our large and inviting Spire King Room is full of those little touches that go such a long way to welcoming you: gas fire already lit for arrival, free bottle of wine and bowl of fresh fruit, a warm rug at the end of the lounge to snuggle up with a magazine. There's a bath so big it's bound to soak away any aches from the ski-fields (not that we hit them, being more the slothful breed of tourist), and the enormous bed's so comfortable it's a wonder anyone ever gets up to do any exploring at all.
But explore we do. On our last day we find ourselves standing in the middle of a field surrounded by snow-capped mountains about an hour from Queenstown. It's Paradise. (Really, that's its name.) There are only a few houses and many more large cows – Mr Smith wants me to pose with them, cheeky devil – but, oh my god, it's gobsmackingly gorgeous. No wonder Peter Jackson keeps coming back to film in this corner of the South Island. Alan from Glenorchy Journeys has taken us to one jaw-dropping spot after another, from the charming little hamlet of Glenorchy overlooking a pristine lake straight out of a Swiss brochure to a magical forest where (fictional) Ents once roamed and (real) robins flit around your feet, and the weather gods are smiling. The sky’s blue, the sun’s shining and a well-timed cup of tea from the back of Alan’s 4WD takes the nip out of the air. Now this is a tour, says Mr Smith. Thanks, Gemma.