Beth and I had an amazing five day adventure in Queenstown, New Zealand. Queenstown is one of the most beautiful places we had ever visited and the DoubleTree by Hilton Queenstown was a perfect place to stay at. Before coming to Queenstown we had spent a week with some friends in Melbourne, Australia and also drove the amazing Great Ocean Road. All this was part of our itinerary to visit both Australia and New Zealand thanks to free award tickets and in business class!
Back to the hotel we stayed at, the DoubleTree by Hilton Queenstown which is situated right on the water that connects to the beautiful Lake Wakatipu. Being a hotel point and airline mile aficionado I managed to get the room for free using 120,000 points for five nights. It runs between 25,000 – 30,000 points per night depending on the time of the year and as a Hilton Honors Diamond elite I received the fifth award night free! All elites do!
The rooms are located right behind the building in front which are permanent residences. Despite having a building in front the majority of the rooms are high enough to have a beautiful view of the lake. Right next door to the DoubleTree is the Hilton Queenstown. Both hotels essentially share almost all of the facilities the big difference being the rooms design.
The area around the DoubleTree and Hilton is simply beautiful. There is a biking and walking path that you can take either way along the shore. You could even walk or bike into downtown if you want to. Powered bicycles and regular bicycles are available for rent on the property if you are so inclined. If you think that is too much i’d suggest at least walking the shore towards the lake as it is very beautiful and passes through some really nice houses. In the summer it looks like you could even hop into the lake at one of the many rocky beaches along the trail. It was a little chilly for that when we went with it being the beginning of fall. Of course I could’t resist at least skipping rocks on the lake, tons of good skippers on the shore!
The hotel is not close to downtown Queenstown but it is an easy 15 – 20 minute drive via your own car or the free hotel shuttle. We never took the hotel shuttle but there is an even better option that I recommend everyone to take at least once. A water taxi runs about every hour between the hotel and downtown providing a great chance to get on the water for even better views. Please note the schedule changes seasonally and there is lull in the mid afternoon. The water taxi is totally worth the 10 NZD per person each way. We had a car the entire time we stayed at the DoubleTree and took advantage of the free parking in the covered garage underneath the hotel. It is a first come first serve lot but we never had a problem with finding a spot.
As for the room overall it was great! We were “upgraded” to a king room with a view over the lake on the Hilton Honors floor. I believe the only upgrades at this DoubleTree are to a lake view which is much better than looking at the side of a hill or the construction behind the building. Note while there was construction we never noticed any noise or had any issues with it. The room was kind of odd but there is a lot of living space. The entrance way opens up to a small kitchenette with a small fridge, burners, oven, and dishes. A great feature if you want to cook your own meals, we didn’t really use it except for a couple of snacks.
Walking past the kitchenette it opens up to a small living room with a TV and the worlds smallest balcony. Literally only one person could fit on it. The bedroom has a sliding door and is sort of like a cave which for me was a plus. I love sleeping in complete darkness and the sliding door made it easy to close off the bedroom if someone wanted to stay up later in the living room area. However, there was no TV in the bedroom for all those people who fall asleep to there favorite travel show… I slept like a baby in the massive king bed.
Now for the worst part of our stay was the freaking bathroom. I don’t know who thought any of it was a good idea. It had an oversize sink which mean’t zero space for toiletries. The shower was really high making it difficult to step into and the shower curtain did not really block the water. Beth’s toiletry kit got filled with water while taking a shower and the shower head would leak on to the floor every time. An interesting feature which took almost the whole stay to figure out was the heated towel rack. There is a switch on the bottom of the small cable coming out of the metal rack which turns the heat on. The switch was not intuitive so you can’t really tell if it’s on or not. We used it to help dry our swimsuits but would also be useful for snow gear in the winter when you hit one of the nearby ski slopes.
Being a a Hilton Honors Diamond member also mean’t we received free breakfast from the next door Hilton everyday. The buffet spread was massive and filled us up. You also have the option of ordering some small dishes off the menu in addition to the buffet. While the selection was great nothing stood out at the buffet.
Once again another perk was we received were two complimentary drinks at the Cru Wine Bar and Lounge while checking in. They said it was because they were slow checking us in but I think all elite members receive it. The voucher said it was only good for a set hour each day, from 6 PM to 7 PM making it a little difficult to use. We just made it our pre-dinner drink one night.
Stacks Pub which is closest restaurant to the DoubleTree had pretty typical pub food but wasn’t overpriced and not a bad option. We dined there one night and enjoyed it. It is also the only restaurant onsite that does not require reservations for dinner. The last night we dined at the Wakatipu Grill which requires reservations and I highly recommend it. Food was delicious and reasonably priced for a nice restaurant. Prior to eating we had a some drinks outside underneath the covered fire pit. It was raining making for a nice calm night chatting with some interesting Australians and Kiwis. For dinner I had the Salmon which was perfectly cooked with a polenta cake as a side. Honestly the best meal on our entire trip through Australia and New Zealand.
One perk that I was not aware of until the last day unfortunately was that Diamond members staying at the DoubleTree receive complimentary access to the Hilton pool. It typically costs 20 NZD per person to receive access while staying at the DoubleTree which in my opinion is really expensive and only worth it if it is storming out. Anyway on our last day it was storming and thought we would try out the pool so we called down to the desk and they said that pool access was free for Diamond members. Sweet! It requires picking up a room key at the Hilton to get into the pool area. The pool itself was long and skinny great for laps if there aren’t too many people there. A hot tub, sauna, and steam room were also available. We didn’t not partake in the latter two but he hot tub was nice a temperature. One issue however was that there was not any button to turn the jets on harder which would have been amazing on our aching muscles after a week of hiking.
Overall, we really enjoyed our stay at the DoubleTree. Some people might complain about the location being faraway from downtown but I liked being somewhat secluded. It was easy enough to get to Queenstown and most of the expeditions we did on our five days led us away from the area anyway. We only had a couple of minor issues that were not deal breakers at the DoubleTree. Honestly, we would love to head back and stay here again but New Zealand is just so far!