HO­TEL, SWEET HOME

The de­signer’s eye for de­tail sparkles in this res­i­dence of renown

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - DESTINATION | QUEENSTOWN - JANA FRAWLEY THE WRITER WAS A GUEST OF EICHARDT’S

There’s no place like home. There’s no place like a ho­tel. There’s no place like a ho­tel that looks and feels like a beau­ti­ful home. Eichardt’s in Queen­stown is just that, a text­book ex­am­ple of res­i­den­tial in­te­rior de­sign and styling used to stun­ning ef­fect in a pub­lic place.

This pri­vate ho­tel on the fore­shore of Lake Wakatipu has been a lo­cal pres­ence for more than 160 years. One half is housed in a his­tor­i­cally pro­tected, neo-clas­si­cal-style build­ing; the other is a very con­tem­po­rary but com­ple­men­tary ad­di­tion fea­tur­ing trape­zoid win­dows, glass and con­crete.

The front door is dis­creetly po­si­tioned be­tween the two and in guests walk, past an out­door fire­place and into a lobby that seam­lessly com­bines stone walls of the old with in­dus­trial beams and glass of the new.

There’s no fan­fare or os­ten­ta­tion here; in­stead, a small concierge desk, more like one you’d find in the study of a coun­try house, and if you’re in­clined, big leather arm­chairs in which to flop.

The ho­tel-as-fab­u­lous-home vibe be­gins to take hold with clocks, vases, sump­tu­ous cush­ions, or­na­men­tal trinket boxes, as­sorted can­dle hold­ers and lamps which look like they’ve been lov­ingly col­lected over time.

Up the stairs I go, on pol­ished tim­ber floors with sisal run­ners, along the way pass­ing lounge rooms which bor­row from the dis­creetly ex­pen­sive de­sign ethos of New Zealand’s world­fa­mous lux­ury lodges. The colour pal­ette is burnt orange, choco­late and caramel, the fab­rics linen, heavy cot­ton and suede, with orig­i­nal pho­tos and draw­ings framed on walls and heavy wooden side­boards and ta­bles. Guests can play board games, drink whisky, read a book or just sit qui­etly by an open fire.

The moun­tain-view suite brims with warmth and un­der­stated el­e­gance. A gun­metal fire­place – which starts with the flick of a switch – a sofa, two arm chairs and chaise lounge make up the sit­ting room. The bed is all premium linens and blan­kets, topped with a faux-fur throw. The white mar­ble bath­room with dou­ble sinks and twin­kling mir­rors is flaw­less.

There’s a wet bar which in­cludes a small wooden chop­ping board com­plete with a par­ing knife and a lemon, which to me says, “Hello guest, if you’re keen for a gin and tonic af­ter a day trav­el­ling, tramp­ing or tack­ling moguls, we know a citrus wedge makes it all the bet­ter.”

There are also six dif­fer­ent flavours of loose-leaf tea, with a trio of egg timers to en­sure you can brew to your per­sonal pref­er­ence, mugs as well as cups and saucers, and a jar of house­made cook­ies. In­stead of tiny pack­ets of salty snacks there’s a bowl of un­shelled peanuts ready for crack­ing; the choco­late is lo­cal and hand­made.

These are all small clues that Eichardt’s is in the up­per ech­e­lons of ac­com­mo­da­tion, a place where call­ing out the floor­plan, fin­ishes and ex­tras that add to the guest ex­pe­ri­ence in such de­tail may seem ex­ces­sive, but il­lus­trate the high cost and dis­cern­ing de­sign that has gone into one of Queen­stown’s most cel­e­brated and high-pro­file ho­tels. The ex­pe­ri­ence is a real-life ver­sion of the room re­veals on The Block or Grand De­signs, only if Neale Whi­taker or Kevin McCloud took the reins rather than am­a­teurs.

As much as I could co­coon my­self in the suite for days, the prom­ise of the leg­endary Eichardt’s seafood chow­der in the ground-floor bar calls me away. It’s a cosy space with an open fire, and also the place for break­fast, morn­ing or af­ter­noon snacks, and mid­day-’tillate tapas and drinks. It fronts onto one of Queen­stown’s busiest pedes­trian ar­eas, so even if you don’t have keys to an up­stairs room, add it to your list for a post-hike snack or af­ter­dinner drink.

For break­fast Will Ea­gles­field, ex­ec­u­tive chef at the bar and neigh­bour­ing restau­rant, The Grille, rec­om­mends the Havoc ba­con and eggs with house-made tomato rel­ish. Havoc Farm’s motto is “the home of happy hogs” and Will says “one of the own­ers even plays them the bag­pipes if they feel a lit­tle down”.

The din­ner menu at The Grille, a more en­er­getic and ex­pan­sive space, con­tin­ues the theme of lo­cal in­gre­di­ents. Parme­san chur­ros with wild wa­ter­cress and a lamb tast­ing board are my picks. To com­ple­ment it all, and again, with Will di­rect­ing my choices, I go for the Mount Ed­ward “Eichardt’s”. It means my whole main course has been sourced within a 40minute drive from Queen­stown.

I look hard to find some­thing to gripe about, or at least of­fer a sug­gested im­prove­ment, but I can’t find a sin­gle fault. Eichardt’s is a stand­out and de­serves every gold medal that comes its way.

CLOCKS, VASES, CUSH­IONS, TRINKET BOXES AND LAMPS LOOK LIKE THEY’VE BEEN LOV­INGLY COL­LECTED OVER TIME

PIC­TURE: SUP­PLIED

The moun­tain-view suite in Eichardt’s pri­vate ho­tel, Queen­stown, brims with warmth and a lovely, un­der­stated el­e­gance.

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