If you’ve ever been to, or even researched on, Queenstown (from New Zealand, not the one after Redhill MRT station in Singapore), you would have had to take 3 days to recover from just knowing how much it costs to stay there a night.
Even on a lull period.
Therefore, when I decided to return to Queenstown for a short getaway the past autumn (spring for us “Northerners”, I was all prepared to pay a handsome sum for the stay.
For starters, I was visiting during a lull period; the NZers were just weening from the summer, and autumn had yet to set in full-blown to paint the trees a full palette of fall colours.
Since I had been there before, I knew exactly what I wanted when I was in Queenstown: Not adventure, no bungee jumping. Just plain admiring of the beauty of the Southern Alps.
After a good search (and being tempted by really good accommodations that would have cost me an arm), I found Mercure Queenstown Resort that provided good views with a reasonable price tag.
The picture above showed the view that greeted me every morning. From my bed. I don’t think I need to explain more about how good the view was.
One of the reasons why MQR was cheaper than the rest of the hotels in town, was because it was an old establishment. That meant no full-length floor-to-ceiling windows, and the room was big for an angmoh hotel in a town with astronomical real estate prices.
Not only was the room spacious, the double room was fitted with queen size beds each. Just how good can it get?
The only thing lacking was lounging chairs (like a typical hotel room, there was a single armchair) that allowed me to sit in front of the window and enjoyed the scenery the room had to offer.
Bathroom and Amenities
The bathroom was just as spacious, with sufficient room for toiletries both at the counter and in the shower area.
Toiletries wise, they had everything that would suffice.
There was no bath tub, though I would not want to spend too much of my time inside a windowless bathroom, when there was so much to offer outdoor.
There were 2 eating places within the hotel, which was good considering the distance the hotel was from the town centre (I will elaborate later). Interestingly, one was for breakfast and the other for lunch. Both offered superb, panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu nonetheless. There was also a bar above the dinner place (the lobby area of the hotel was terraced), where one could chill. Alternatively, they had outdoor terraces beyond the restaurants that also had lounge chairs and unblocked views of the mountain ranges. We tried to chill out there, though it became too chilly for us to stay beyond half an hour!
Back to the restaurants, we only dined at the breakfast place, which was meant to charge us up for the day’s activities. Really, when you are at a place as beautiful as Queenstown, you don’t really want to spend your time indoors at the hotel!
That being said, the food at the breakfast place was really… just for recharging.
The coffee was nothing to rave about (though it was not made from generic coffee bags), and the food barely made the mark for being edible. The only redeeming aspect of the breakfast was the view it provided. If possible go there very early, as there was a crowd between 9 to 1030am.
There was a small but functional gym, which also had a good view of the lake. Other than a treadmill and a bicycle, there was also a chest press machine, a set of free weights, as well as free exercise area equipped with a yoga ball and mat.
One level down from the gym was the sauna, which was in a rather secluded area.
On the way down to the gym, from the hotel lobby, was the laundry area. Guests could use the washer and dryer on their own as the machines were coin-operated.
A good reason for the superb view that the hotel enjoyed was the fact that the hotel was located halfway up the mountainside, providing a vantage view.
It took us about 30 minutes of strolling from the hotel to the casino in the town centre; we tried to climb our way back up on 2 occasions, but we gave up thereafter, turning to the city bus instead.
The bus cost NZD9 for a return ticket, though we always only took the one-way trip from town (NZD5.50). After all, the view on the way down was superb and it would be a waste if we spent the journey whizzing past on a bus. On the other hand, it was usually sun-down by the time we made our way back to the hotel, and add on the grueling climb up the hill, taking the bus was the more practical option.
The distance from the town centre also meant that it was hard to buy groceries. For people like me, who needed to stock up the room with sufficient supplies of water, the first trip down to town centre mean bring empty luggage with us.
Although it was possible to travel between Queenstown Airport and the hotel on buses, I’d recommend taking the taxis since it would be more convenient. If the traffic was bad (as was the case during peak seasons), it would be a nightmare to navigate through town with luggage in tow!
The taxi ride one-way cost about NZD 70 – 90 (depending on traffic conditions), at about 30 minutes.
Neighbourhood and Safety
Since we were halfway up the mountain in a small town of a very developed country, it was really difficult to say that safety was at the top of our minds. In fact, we rarely met anyone else on our trips down to the town centre, except when we were at the lakeside promenade.
The hotel vicinity could be considered “residential”, though I could not really say, since I saw more trees and greenery than buildings around the hotel!
Mercure Queenstown Resort
Sainsbury Road, Fernhill, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
+64 3-442 6600