Eichardt’s has long been a reassuring and somewhat regal presence standing proudly on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, its white Victorian facade stark against the mountainous backdrop that encircles Queenstown.
It started life as a woolshed, but when the boom-and-bust Central Otago gold rush began attracting hordes of prospectors in 1862, owner Williams Rees converted it into a basic hotel, the Queen’s Arms. Ownership changed and in 1869, local businessman Albert Eichardt and his wife, Julia, changed the name and set about replacing the wooden structure with the Victorian classical style it’s known for today.
Eichardt’s is a rare find – a luxury hotel which boasts a truly world-class location. The views it affords stretch for miles across the glacial Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding snow-dusted mountains of Cecil Peak, Ben Lomond and Walter Peak. Queenstown, with its excellent shopping, dining and adventure activities, is literally on the doorstep, but at no point do you feel hemmed in by the noise or bustle of the town. It’s the best of both worlds.
The service at Eichardt’s is immaculate – friendly and quietly efficient, though not overbearing. Tip: even if you’re not usually a fan, use the turndown service – it’s very good.
Room with a view
There are seven suites on offer, plus The Penthouse, which costs a cool $13,000 a night and comes with a butler, chef, a Land Rover and driver on call 24 hours a day. A short walk away are Eichardt’s lakefront apartments and The Residence, which are designed for small groups or families.
Eichardt’s also owns the Pacific Jemm, a luxury 24-metre yacht which is available for hire, complete with a chef who will whip up delicious dining treats while you sail Lake Wakatipu.
BusinessDesk stayed in a Lake View suite, which, as the name suggests, has splendid views – watching the steamship TSS Earnslaw come and go from the dock is a highlight.
The suite is generously proportioned, with a sitting/dining room, large bedroom (again, the view!), dressing room, kitchenette and bathroom.
The decor is classic, luxurious and comfortable, done in a palette of chocolate and cream with antique-style wooden furniture – understated in an unapologetically “old money” way. There is an open fireplace, a comfortable sofa draped with stylish woollen throws, and armchairs to relax in.
In place of a coffee machine, there is a coffee pot to make your cup of morning Joe the old-fashioned way, plus a good selection of quality teas, homemade cookies, a fine selection of New Zealand gins (Source, from nearby Cardrona Distillery, and Lighthouse, from Martinborough) and whiskies (batch 10, from Auckland’s Puhoi Valley, and Thomson, from Riverhead, Auckland) and a complimentary non-alcoholic mini bar.
The bathrooms are done in marble, with underfloor heating, twin basins, a rain shower, deep bath, fluffy robes, and toiletries by luxury British brand Molton Brown.
Everything about Eichardt’s is considered – the suites even have a sizable dressing room where you can hang your clothes and stow your luggage and valuables.
Wining and dining
In keeping with its tradition of doing things well, Eichardt’s provides good dining options. You can have tapas and cocktails at Eichardt’s Bar or seriously good French-inspired cuisine at The Grille, its flagship restaurant, where head chef Rodney Clay has designed lively breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.
Even if you’re not an early bird, you should breakfast at The Grille, as it is a joy. Tucking into oatmeal with berry compote, Whittaker’s chocolate and walnuts (or a splash of whisky if you ask nicely) or a Wakanui sirloin with a fried egg and sauce Béarnaise while watching the early-morning sun wash over the lake is a thing of beauty. And if that doesn’t put a spring in your step, the “Morning Pick Me Up” menu could be just the ticket after one too many champagnes the night before – a Bloody Mary with an oyster shot, anyone?
For dinner, start with French onion soup or lobster vol au vent, followed by coq au vin or steak au poivre. Everything on the menu is good.
Located in the hotel’s old gold vault is the spa, which offers a well-curated menu of massage therapies, including Swedish, deep-tissue and foot massage, mānuka honey facials and Pure Fiji body scrubs. You can also book a three-hour early-arrival or late-checkout treatment. And if that’s not enough to lull you into a state of complete relaxation, you can also opt for high tea and bubbles.
Rooms start from $1200 a night.