Snow-capped Alps to the west, oceans to the east, and glassy lakes in the middle, New Zealand’s South Island region of Canterbury is full of stunning scenery. Breathe in the Garden City’s green spaces in Christchurch, soak in the hot springs or indulge in outdoor expeditions around Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park – the highest mountain in the country. Of course, for dedicated urbanites, there’s always the thriving nightlife and colourful shops and restaurants you’d expect from a city break. Here’s our guide to the best hotels in Canterbury.
Rooted in sustainability – Sudima is the only carboNZero-certified hotel chain in New Zealand – the group has been leading the way in environmentalism. At the Christchurch city location, this extends to a dedication to accessibility with lower check-in desks, lifts with tactile numbering and a fully trained emergency team. The indulgent Moss Spa and Vices and Virtues Restaurant are also accessible and, in keeping with the conservation ethos of the group, offer flavourful plant-based menus – that’s if you can pull yourself away from the French toast slathered in cinnamon mascarpone, summer berry compote, verjuice syrup and pecan crumbs.
Three breezy suites make up the Establishment, a beachy boutique hotel in the prestigious Fendalton suburb of Christchurch. The Garden City – as Christchurch is locally known – is a launchpad for activities that span skiing and whale watching, as well as picturesque vineyards and the Hanmer Springs thermal spa. In the apartments, modern touches such as ceiling speakers and plasma TVs slip seamlessly into the mid-century decor. Every detail is included to ensure a stress-free stay, from valet parking and airport transfers, to a selection of restaurant partners that’ll let you charge your meal to your room.
This plush mountainside lodge has been with the same family since 1988, so expect expert knowledge of the local wildlife – chamois, red deer, wild pig and goat to name a few – and popular sports such as fishing skiing, tramping or kayaking. Surrounded by the elements, this country estate is an adventurer’s paradise – be sure to reward yourself with a holistic massage in the Alpine Wellness Spa or stacked Alpine burger with lashings of French fries, aioli and extra trimmings in Francisco Benavides Mesa’s on-site restaurant.
With a casino on one side and botanical gardens on the other, Distinction is a pristine and fuss-free hotel that offers 179 rooms spread across three floors. The charmingly inoffensive decor makes for a business-compatible stay with plenty of desk space and superfast wifi. Those who choose play over work will benefit from the rich natural resources of the area. A day trip to the hot pools of Hanmer Springs can be organised by the hotel, and they can plan outdoor winter adventures at Aoraki/Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo, plus hiking expeditions at Arthur’s Pass for the daredevils in your group.
With more than 150 properties, Quest leans on a wealth of hospitality experience to ensure every guest gets a care-free stay. At Quest on Manchester, this means fully kitted kitchens and breakfast packs for a stress-less start to the day. The hotel group continues to cater to business travellers with dedicated workstations, fast broadband and audio-visual equipment and corporate accounts – as well as being conveniently close to central business areas. Tourists needn’t be deterred thanks to a host of services like valet, laundry and dry-cleaning services, babysitting bookings and selected local restaurant chargebacks.
Eliza’s Manor is an irresistible, wisteria-clad stay specialising in homely country charm with a dash of extravagance. Vintage tea sets elevate your afternoon brew into a photo-worthy sensation, and rooms come with plush pink Versailles-style armchairs and stained glass windows. Eliza’s implores you to sip high tea or a glass of Pimm’s in the pretty courtyard, then enjoy Franco-influenced fine dining in the restaurant where you can feast on monk fish, saffron potatoes, leek velouté, spinach and noir paper. Once suitably stuffed, soak in the roll-top bath in your room or recline on the cushy super-size bed.
A monochrome palette combines with warmly lit drawing rooms, adorned with velvet armchairs and traditional country lodge touches. The George prides itself on catering to guests’ every whim. The award-winning 50 Bistro, where you’ll find an extensive list of dishes as well as a dedicated Canterbury beef menu and vibrant plant-focused menu, is further evidence of this commitment to dazzling service. There is an array of on-site facilities including complimentary mountain bikes and helmets and an on-site gym. Helpful touches include 24-hour concierge, later check-outs and a one-to-one staff-to-guest ratio.
Sitting alongside the snow-capped Southern Alps is Maruia Hot Springs, a mountainous landscape in the hiker’s delight of Lewis Pass national reserve. Maruia attracts young forest-bathing types who come to soak in nature’s goodness – in short, that means lapping up minerals in the geothermal pools, embracing a “you are what you eat” attitude with nourishing organic food and booking into daily mind and body wellness classes. The bath and sauna infusion, which blends yoga and basking in hot pools, is especially popular.
Crowne Plaza caters to both travelling professionals and visitors, and focuses on the little details other accommodation might overlook. Rooms are filled with decadent Rituals toiletries and a range of tea and coffee facilities, as well as thoughtful touches like relaxing Elemis room spray and glossy magazines. Thanks to the focus on business travel, there’s an array of bookable meeting and conference spaces, as well as large desks in each room. For the more tourist-minded guests, there are plenty of activities available, which are only a short distance away.
Driven by a desire to meet people from across the globe, hosts Bruce Whitfield and Martine Marshall-Durieux have created an intimate six-room hotel rife with Franco-flair. French bedding adorns the Biarritz room, a quaint ensuite that leads onto a private terrace via the French doors. Load up on the complimentary breakfast – unsurprisingly, croissants and brioche feature quite heavily – before heading to Sumner beach just across the street.
The thundering peaks of the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park erupt around the Hermitage Hotel, which benefits from huge picture windows and telescopes and balconies in most rooms. Enjoy your morning Nespresso in front of the majestic mountainscape, or sip a nightcap while stargazing. The adorable A-frame chalets are surprisingly spacious – each fit two single beds and one double – and lead right onto the peaks. Despite the enormous size and floor-to-ceiling windows exposing the towering mountain range, the resort has a cosy atmosphere, with high-beamed ceilings and plenty of open fires.