Updated: Aug 9, 2019
The rise in popularity of Airbnbs in Queenstown has meant that hotels and accommodation providers have had to adapt to meet the new preferred style of today's traveler. Nowadays more and more visitors are looking for interesting and unique places to stay when visiting Queenstown. Forgotten are the times when all folks wanted was a comfortable bed, clean room and satellite TV. There's a fresh new wave of hotels and boutique lodges that are redefining what accommodation can be as well as some established, quirky local classics that shouldn't be missed. Here's our top picks for the coolest places to stay in Queenstown that aren't just for the uber wealthy.
1. Hulbert House
One of the pricier hotels on this list but so worth the mention. Hulbert House is hands down one of Queenstown's most stunning boutique accommodations. The house itself is one of the oldest remaining in Queenstown and dates back to 1888 (that's bloody old for New Zealand standards). It is perched up on Queenstown Hill with grand vistas over the town itself, Lake Wakatipu and all the way to Cecil and Walter Peaks. There are a number of elegantly designed suites available to stay in or the entire property is available for exclusive use for special events and occasions. Drinks and canapés are served in the lounge each evening giving guests a chance to meet and socialise or curl up with a drink and book by the fireplace. More than just a place to rest your head. This is your home away from home!
Rates: From NZD$850
2. Kamana Lakehouse
Think big views, boutique and brand-spanking new! Kamana Lakehouse hotel is Queenstown's highest altitude boutique hotel, and with all that height comes some truly breathtaking views! The large windows and outside viewing deck offers the perfect way to take in the epic landscape that Queenstown has to offer. Grab a drink or some food and dream up your next big adventure whilst staring out over Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding peaks. The hotel has recently undergone a re-branding and a renovation to bring it up to a standard such an awesome location truly deserves. The interior is super stylish and elegant with some quirky and fun features thrown in the mix to brighten it up. It's uber cool without being pretentious. After all, in the adventure capital of the world, you need to keep that sense of adventure and Kamana Lakehouse does just that.
Rates: From NZD$225
From a distance you would be forgiven for thinking it was just another dated motel from the 70's. Take a closer look and the whole place continuously reveals itself to be one of Queenstown's most interesting and cool places to stay. Rather than pulling down the old motel and starting from scratch, the team behind Sherwood decided it was far more environmentally friendly to re-purpose what already existed. The result of the update is one of the most interesting accommodations you will ever stay in. On site is an incredible bar and restaurant (of which they grow much of the produce in their own veggie garden), yoga studio, sauna, bike track and games room to name a few. The whole space is designed to encourage a sense of community and it pulls it off perfectly. Even if you don't end up sleeping here, make sure to add it to your list of restaurant and bars to visit during your stay.
Rates: From NZD$240
Mi-Pad is New Zealand's first 'Smart Hotel'. You might be asking "what on earth is a smart hotel?". Basically the team behind this new accommodation realise that for lots of guests minimising their time with check-ins, check-outs, bookings etc and maximising their time exploring and discovering Queenstown is very important. Guests are encouraged to download the app that will then guide them through the process they would normally need to queue up for as well as being able to remotely control their rooms lighting, temperature and act as a key card. Along with the cool tech aspect, Mi-Pad has a number of communal spaces that guests can use how they like to either socilaise or relax in. The hotel also focuses on running energy efficiently as to fit in with their sustainability model. Mi-Pad is definitely one that tech-fans will get a kick out of.
Rates: From NZD$247
5. Camp Glenorchy
Say g'day to New Zealand's first Net Zero accommodation. Finally completed back in 2018 after years of planning and development, Camp Glenorchy redefines what accommodation can be. It's a camp ground, dorm rooms, boutique accommodation and community space all rolled into one. It would be by far New Zealand's most environmentally friendly place to stay. Every aspect and material of the property has been meticulously, chosen, planned and built with the impact it has in mind. The result is this state of the art place to stay that fits seamlessly into its stunning surroundings. If eco-friendly and warm old world charm are your type of thing (and you don't mind not being about 45 mins out of Queenstown) then this is definitely the place for you!
Rates: From NZD$75
Ecoscapes are two very unique accommodation units that sit on the Kinloch Lodge property at the top of Lake Wakatipu (25 min drive from Glenorchy) each of the units are built to a high sustainable architectural standard and offer uninterrupted views of the lake, mountains and rivers that surround them. Guests can make use of the Kinloch Lodge facilities as well as the Ecoscape's spa bath, to soak under the Milky Way on a clear night. The location offers a gateway to many of the region's best hiking trails or get out on the lake and visit the surrounding areas, including Paradise, Glenorchy and the Rees & Dart rivers. The perfect getaway for those looking for a little bit of eco-friendly luxury in a remote setting.
Rates: From NZD$395
7. Paradise Trust
A true Kiwi experience. The Paradise Huts are a group of classic bush style huts that will take you back to basics and back to nature. These are no-frills style accommodations set in Paradise, a short drive past Glenorchy. Each hut, which vary in size and amenities, offers some of the best views and locations you will find in the Wakatipu Basin. The backdrop to these tiny house sized accommodations are the Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks where visitors will find some of the best hiking New Zealand has to offer. The Paradise area was also a backdrop to many scenes from Peter Jackson's The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy. Not for everyone, but if a true unique experience is what you seek and you don't mind roughing it then check out the Paradise Trust Huts for some of New Zealand's most affordable and remote accommodation.
Rates: From NZD$55
8. QT Queenstown
Another newcomer to the Queenstown accommodation scene, QT has brought its highly successful resort model (originating in Australia) from an urban to an Alpine setting with a tremendous result. The cool and quirky interiors immediately show that this is not just another run of the mill hotel. The hotel is fun and vibrant and this is reflected through the friendliness of the staff members. It seems nothing is too small to be overlooked by QT and guest experience is paramount. Even down to what seasonal changes of room and bathroom amenities. For a fresh and funky vibe make sure to check out what QT Queenstown has to offer.
Rates: From NZD$289
Queenstown is all about getting out and making the most of what the region and landscape has to offer. That doesn't mean you should settle for an average hotel room. These places all, in their own way, enhance the guests overall Queenstown experience and will help to make your stay a very memorable one.
Stay cool, folks!