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Stephanie Holmes stays at Chateau on the Park, a Doubletree by Hilton hotel, Christchurch
Location: On the edge of Hagley Park in Riccarton
Style: A gothic castle meets a 1970s-style country mansion
Price: From $175 per night
Perfect for: A Christchurch getaway in a peaceful garden setting
First impressions: The hotel is grand, in the style of the 70s, with turrets, a gatehouse, numerous wooden columns made of barked tree trunks and even an internal moat that surrounds the property.
There was a warm welcome, from the moment I stepped out of Christchurch airport – the hotel offers a free shuttle service in their comfy mover, printed with a big cookie on the outside. The reason becomes clear at check-in when you are presented with a complimentary hot chocolate chip cookie. “We want the warm welcome to start as soon as you arrive,” one of the Chateau team members told me.
Story: Designed by renowned New Zealand architect Peter Beavan, Chateau on the Park was built in 1975 and became a Doubletree by Hilton property in 2016. Beavan used precise geometries, often with a nod to Gothic.
Beavan passed away in 2012 and the Gothic Revival-inspired hotel remains
one of its last buildings standing after the destruction of several in Christchurch
More recently, the hotel served as one of the country’s MIQ facilities, but after it was no longer needed for that purpose, it closed for a complete “refresh” and is now reopened.
One difference you will find at this hotel is the incredible longevity of the staff. Many have worked here for decades: for example, restaurant manager Amanda has been here for 27 years. She took over her current role from her stepmother, who retired after 40 years of service. Amanda’s daughter now also works at the restaurant. This is something I imagine you won’t find in many other hotel chains around the world.
Rooms: Spacious and comfortable, I can imagine this was one of the most desirable places to do a MIQ stopover. It is now an ideal place to relax after days of sightseeing or long trips. My room had a balcony and a view of the rose garden and didn’t feel like it was close to bustling Deans Avenue, just outside.
The super king bed was one you can sink into, with high quality white linens. Everything was clean and fresh.
Bathroom: A little dated, but spacious with walk-in shower and separate bath. Extremely hot water (be careful, it would be easy to scald) but good shower pressure. The toiletries are Crabtree & Evelyn Verveine and Lavande de Provence.
Food and drink: The on-site GCB restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is a popular destination for locals. Visit in the summer for Sunset Sessions, where you can relax in beanbags on the lawn while listening to live music. There’s also the Den Bar, with cozy booths, a crackling fire and sports on TV. Room service is available 24/7, but the meal I ordered late on a Friday night was disappointing.
Facilities: The heated outdoor pool was well used by a Melbourne family, even on a chilly July day. There is a full gym. If you’re looking for a quirky venue for a conference, wedding, or event, try the Camelot Room, which has tall wooden pillars and, oddly, two giant fireplaces with a cauldron. Medieval themed parties would be perfect here. Wi-Fi was not working well on my mobile and I had to join the Hilton Honors program to use it on my laptop. There are 170 parking spaces on site.
In the vicinity: Stroll through Hagley Park or take the free local shuttle service to the CBD.
Friendly and family: Connecting rooms are available, or rollaway beds can be added to suites for an additional fee. Children 11 and under receive free breakfast at GCB when dining with a paying adult.
Accessibility: The three-story hotel has an accessible elevator for the upper floors. The accessible twin rooms have two double beds and a walk-in shower. The restaurant and bar are stepless and table service can be provided.
Sustainability: There is a soap recycling system for unused bars of soap and guests can choose not to receive clean towels every day. However, the Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries were all single-use plastic bottles, so be sure to take the ones you used with you to avoid them being thrown away.