KELLI BRETT ENJOYS PIONEER HISTORY & CONTEMPORARY LUXURY AT EICHARDT’S PRIVATE HOTEL IN QUEENSTOWN.
If you are a visitor to Queenstown you will find yourself on the magnificent lakefront – it’s what you do in Queenstown. And once there, you can’t miss the glorious, palatial façade of Eichardt’s Private Hotel, dating back to 1867. It’s a significant local landmark, born as a result of the rich vein of gold that attracted many prospectors and opportunists from around the world to the shores of Lake Wakatipu.
What started as a woolshed, built by William Gilbert Rees in 1859, soon became the Queen’s Arms Hotel, as the entrepreneurial Rees turned to hotel keeping on what we would now call premium retail frontage. In early 1866, Rees entered into a partnership with Albert Eichardt who went on to become the sole proprietor and renamed the property Eichardt’s Queen’s Arms Hotel. That old woolshed has come a long way. Now owned by the Imperium Collection of Luxury Boutique Hotels, the property has undergone an expansion project overseen by award-winning Queenstown architect Michael Wyatt. Completed in 2016, this saw the excavation of the original stables and Eichardt’s now houses seven lakeview suites, four lakefront apartments plus The Residence and The Penthouse and enough elegantly diverse dining options to keep you happily ensconced inside this historic and luxurious setting for days.
The aforementioned penthouse comes with an in-suite sauna, a 100sqm balcony, sweeping views of the famous lake and all-day-long services of a butler, private chef and a driver. The team is tight-lipped about the identity of their guests, but at roughly $10,000 dollars a night I’d imagine The Penthouse guest list would be pretty impressive. At the time of my visit, the staff were excited at the prospect of welcoming their guests onto the Imperium Group’s new toy, the Pacific Jemm – a 24-metre Falcon 80 S yacht offering hotel guests the opportunity to navigate the region’s pristine glacial waters and breathtaking geography in serious style. There are high hopes for what is to be Lake Wakatipu’s first premium nautical offering. Still, I’m more than happy to go back to my lakefront apartment with its cosy fire and gracious rooms, elegantly decorated by renowned NZ designer, Virginia Fisher.
The dining options at Eichardt’s are smoothly run by general manager of food & beverage, James Worthington. James is no stranger to looking after high-end guests having headed up the food-and-beverage operation at the Intercontinental Dubai Marina. Worthington works closely with Eichardt’s group executive chef Will Eaglesfield, whose approach to food highlights inspiration from Europe and the Mediterranean, with a keen eye for local product and a passion for foraging. The team at Eichardt’s is proud of the Parlour, open to guests who may want to linger or gather for cognac at the end of a brisk day on the slopes. Here you’ll find more crackling log fires and decadently overstuffed sofas with an exquisite backdrop of antiques and objets d’art.
But it is the hotel’s stunning waterfront restaurant, The Grille, where you will find one of the best steaks in Queenstown, the Angus eye fillet on the bone, and their legendary seafood chowder that rivals even my own Mum’s (which was also legendary), served with hot sourdough, wakame and lemon. The restaurant boasts a sophisticated interior that blends the slickness of a New York City bistro with the warming tones of a French brasserie. Head chef Heidi Shaw delivers classics and some modern touches such as parmesan churros, served with black garlic puree and wild watercress pesto.
After dinner, take a stroll around the corner to No5 Church Lane (also owned by the Imperium Collection of Luxury Boutique Hotels) where you will find a mature bar serving world-class cocktails and offering an interesting local and international wine list and an array of boutique New Zealand artisan beers.
Though not all of us have the budget for a stay at this luxurious, historical hotel perhaps next time you visit Queenstown you could pop into the renowned Eichardt’s Bar for a glass or two and a bite from Will’s tapas menu. Surrounded by luxury you can enjoy the company of an eclectic mix of visitors and Queenstown locals alike. You might even catch a whiff of those brave, and probably very colourful, characters that frequented the Queen’s Arms Hotel back in 1867. eichardts.com
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE…
Should you be able to pull yourself away from the comfort of Eichardt’s and want to venture out for a bite, here are our recommendations for more top experiences in and around town.
A short drive out of town but definitely worth the trip. Executive chef Vaughan Mabee invents New Zealand haute cuisine with a level of sophistication, technical wizardry and impeccable delivery, taking humble food memories (Vogel’s bread, Goody Goody Gumdrops ice cream, paua pies, a simple feijoa) and reinterpreting them in contemporary and clever ways. / amisfield.co.nz
Velvet-upholstered armchairs, quirky, meat-cleaver door handles, lush wallpaper and lots of fireplaces – great for an Otago winter – make Botswana Butchery a very welcoming spot on the Queenstown waterfront. Settle down on the lakeside terrace or sink into big leather sofas, and put yourself in the hands of executive chef, Thomas Barta, for a menu selection that’s truly stupendous. /botswanabutchery.co.nz/queenstown
Rata oozes the essence of New Zealand, warm and relaxed, yet elegant and served with a pinch of fun. Co-owners Josh Emett and Fleur Caulton have hit the sweet spot, serving up thoughtful food brimming with inspiration from the southern landscape. / ratadining.co.nz
Consistently busy, consistently fresh, Queenstown’s Fishbone has been a constant for years in a fast-changing region. Owner-chef Darren Lovell sources the freshest fish as close to home as possible and his own Fishbone Farm grows much of the produce. / fishbonequeenstown.co.nz
An uber-cool eco-hotel, yoga and wellness retreat and restaurant, Sherwood is built on the premise of a respect for nature and sustainable practices and this wholeheartedly carries through to the restaurant. The biodynamic kitchen garden supplies more than 60% of the vegetables and herbs used in the kitchen and some others are foraged locally. / sherwoodqueenstown.nz