HOTEL, SWEET HOME
The designer’s eye for detail sparkles in this residence of renown
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
The mountain-view suite in Eichardt’s private hotel, Queenstown, brims with warmth and a lovely, understated elegance.