Review: Hilton Queenstown is a lakeside retreat for adventure seekers
Whatever floats your (jet)boat, Hilton Queenstown is a comfortable lakeside base with stunning views at every turn.
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Hilton Queenstown Resort and Spa
King Hilton Deluxe Lakeview
- Nicely designed rooms with ample space
- Phenomenal lake views from a private balcony
- Warm and inviting lobby lounge with roaring fire
- In-room fireplace a perfect backdrop to enjoy a local pinot noir
- Hotel somewhat isolated without a hire car
- No master light switch by the bed
- Air conditioning unable to be adjusted to suit
- Connecting to hotel WiFi is painstaking and onerous
- K-Jet speedboat airport transfer is a unique way to arrive
Surrounded by some of the most majestic and awe-inspiring mountains in the southern hemisphere, Queenstown is New Zealand’s centre of indulgence – capable of catering as much to the adrenaline junkie as the spa aficionado.
Queenstown is built around Lake Wakatipu and in one corner of that enormous loch is the sprawling Hilton Queenstown Resort. A long-time favourite for many, it’s an inviting retreat in which to return and wind down at the end of every action-packed day.
Location & Impressions
Set along the lake’s icy-blue waters, Hilton Queenstown Resort is close to the airport and around 15 minutes drive from the town centre.
While town officials would like travellers to utilise public transport whenever possible, the reality is most people – including guests of the Hilton – will need a car unless they’re right in the centre of town. Hire cars are available at the Queenstown Airport.
Parking is available at the hotel for NZ$16 per night, with very limited alternative spaces anywhere else nearby.
Alternatively, and as a way of getting your stay off to an action-packed start, you can also take advantage of Hilton’s lakeside location by booking a jet boat arrival through K-Jet.
After being met at the airport, you’ll be shuttled to a nearby wharf to board your powerboat for a hair-raising 20-minute thrill ride on the lake, with plenty of spins, twists and turns before being deposited directly at Hilton’s wharf.
Don’t worry about your baggage, as K-Jet will take them to the Hilton, where they’ll either be waiting for your arrival in the lobby or pre-delivered to your room.
Should you opt for a more conventional arrival, taxis and shuttles are plentiful and will drop you at the hotel’s rather small front door.
Hilton Queenstown is deceptively large, with winding corridors much longer than the outside of the hotel may lead you to believe.
The hotel’s 220 rooms are spread over six floors, with the majority purposely on one side to afford greater opportunity for guests to secure a coveted direct lake view.
Decorated to resemble a quaint cabin in the wilderness, rooms feature a three-seat lounge setting around an intimate stone column fireplace.
Behind the lounge and living room (and in some rooms, up two steps), are either a plush king or twin beds, soft and extremely comfortable for your daily slumber.
Lakeside rooms also feature a narrow single-file balcony with a pair of short stools designed more for a short embrace of the scenery rather than an extended afternoon perch.
Bathrooms are large but awkwardly arranged, with the door opening counter to the shower, requiring you to close one before using the other.
Twin vanities are handy if travelling with a partner or friend, with reasonable space to lay out your personal effects.
Despite efforts by the hotel encouraging guests to forgo daily room service and reusing towels, the presence of single-use plastic amenities diminishes this environmental crusade.
While certainly a cosy base for your Queenstown adventure, rooms are dated and in need of an upgrade, not least to the in-room technology.
A centrally-controlled air conditioning unit (in other words, unable to be adjusted to suit) makes the room quite warm at times, which may make you want to leave the balcony door open to allow some cool air inside.
With no Executive Lounge at the resort, your best option for catching up on emails is to work in your room, equipped with a full size desk with a data line to connect to wired internet.
Hilton Honors loyalty members can also take advantage of free Wifi as a perk available to all tiers. Non-members can still access it without signing up to the program, albeit after completing a long and onerous online form.
Even if you’re not among the most frequent guests checking in to Hilton, being a member provides plenty of useful perks, along with the occasional status match opportunity if you hold higher-tier membership with another hotel loyalty scheme.
For a break from the room itself, though perhaps not ideal for work requiring concentration, consider setting up in the elegant lobby lounge and watching the world go by in front of a soothing fire.
If you’re in Queenstown to explore the litany of lakeside attractions, you’ll find no shortage of both quick service and fine dining restaurants in the town centre.
At Hilton, the all-day Wakatipu Grill overlooks the lake and is open from 7am to 10pm, beginning with a sumptuous breakfast buffet featuring all the usual hot items, a waffle maker plus all the cereals, pastries, fruit and juice you can handle.
Both indoor and outdoor seating options are available, and on a nice day, make for an idyllic setting to get you energised for your day.
Take note though that while self-serve tea and coffee is included with the per-person breakfast rate, barista-made beverages incur an additional charge.
The hotel also features the more casual Stacks Pub, complete with outdoor fireplace, gourmet pub food and sports on TV, however this venue is currently closed.
When it’s time to play, the only question in Queenstown is where to begin.
At the hotel, you can soothe any aching muscles with a visit to the indoor heated swimming pool. Swimming in the lake itself is not a realistic option, as water temperatures rarely reach double figures, making it a chilly exercise.
The on-site Eforea Spa features an extensive menu of massage and skin treatments, with individuals and couples also able to utilise a hot tub, steam room and sauna to bring the heart rate back down.
For wine conoissours, Central Otago Wine Region is a major player in New Zealand's viticulture sector, with more than a dozen spectacular wineries a short drive from Queenstown offering tastings and wine education seminars in a spectacular mountainous setting.
The region’s ideal year-round growing conditions leads to the cultivation of some of New Zealand’s finest Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, with some high-end vintages producing only a few hundred bottles per year - making them collectors items and a prized investment for your home cellar.
For something with more punch to it, Queenstown’s Shotover Jet is a quitessential local icon, with highly skilled drivers putting the hammer down along some narrow waterways, bringing riders just inches from the sheer cliffs.
You can also take a gondola to the top of the mountain, where numerous activities await including a luge cart track, zip lines and mountain biking tracks.
Hilton Queenstown provides a comfortable base for an adventure-packed holiday, close to the airport and the Remarkables ski fields and only a short drive to the town centre.
While still offering a stylish stay, there are parts of the hotel in need of some TLC. But as most travellers won’t (or won’t intend to) spend much time in the room itself, little attention is likely to be paid to any, admittedly minor, let-downs.
Let’s be honest, there’s so much to see and do outside the hotel, all you’ll be looking for at the end of the day is a comfortable bed to recharge the batteries, and on that front, you won’t be disappointed.
The writer stayed as a guest of Destination Queenstown, Virgin Australia and Hilton Queenstown.
Virgin Australia flies daily from both Brisbane and Sydney to Queenstown, along with four-times weekly from Melbourne.
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02 Jun 2022
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Also there is the boat shuttle service from the hotel wharf back into Queenstown. Had lunch there a few days ago in the bar on the water front quite nice and fairly priced. Coffee was excellent. Have also stayed in the waterfront ground floor room only 20m from the lake and the kids had a swin (last feb 2002)
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18 Oct 2015
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wondering what the offering is for Hilton Diamond status ?