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“A memorable experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Tophouse Historic Guesthouse Cafe & Bar

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Tophouse Historic Guesthouse Cafe & Bar
68 TopHouse Road | Nelson Lakes, Saint Arnaud 7072, New Zealand   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #3 of 5 Saint Arnaud B&B and Inns
Australia
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
63 helpful votes 63 helpful votes
“A memorable experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 15, 2012

Arrived here at night with a group and were delighted to find a historic fireplace and great dinner waiting for us.
Thanks Nigel for looking after us. Loved the history and the feel of this place, about an hour south of Nelson which is also pretty. From here it was only an hour's drive to the Marlborough vineyards so would highly recommend this spot as worth a night to enjoy the cozy feeling of your own historic homestead on the edge of the alps.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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36 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    16
    13
    3
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (6)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Aussie
Top Contributor
327 reviews 327 reviews
57 hotel reviews
Reviews in 103 cities Reviews in 103 cities
201 helpful votes 201 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 15, 2012

This was so much fun. We surprised a group of friends going to the Marlborough wine region by pre-arranging a surprise diversion for a night at Tophouse B and B, which is a magnificent, historic homestead with big mud brick fireplace and a quaint tiny bar (the smallest in NZ).

When we flew into Nelson at dusk, we drove our 5 friends south an hour to St Arnaud without them noticing instead of east to Blenheim.

When they thought we were lost, Nigel the owner was magnificent when he came out and told them it was too late to drive anywhere else and there may be a few mattresses to spare!
The surprise was complete when our friends went inside to find a welcoming sign saying "Surprise" and dinner laid out for all of us in front of the historic big old fireplace.
And what a stay it was. Dinner was magnficent and the wild venison was so tender that I wished we had all ordered it.

The rooms were spacious and charming...they had their own heaters and the warmth of the fireplace filtered through the homestead.

Nigel was most entertaining as a raconteur, describing the murderous history of Tophouse from more than 100 years ago over the love of a woman. You can still see the shotgun pellets on the underside of an external roof near the cute little bar.

As another reviewer has mentioned, the small bar has an honour system and you can even pull your own delicious draught beers as well as enjoy the quality NZ wines waiting for you.

Tophouse B and B is history with a capital H and a reminder of days gone by when everything was uncomplicated and fresh.

A really lovely experience only an hour south of Nelson and 3 hours north of Christchurch.

Room Tip: All were historic and lovely
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Taree NSW Australia
Top Contributor
153 reviews 153 reviews
38 hotel reviews
Reviews in 87 cities Reviews in 87 cities
81 helpful votes 81 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2012

We can't comment on the dinners or accommodation (the rooms looked clean and olde-world but comfortable), but we did enjoy a lunch and two morning teas on three separate visits, and a couple of beers in the ultra-small bar (beers on tap, serve yourself). Sitting in front of the open fireplace and listening to the story of the on-site murders many, many years ago made for an enjoyable break between Nelson and Murchison. Very genial host. Take the time to try it.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Perth australia
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 4, 2012

This little pub in the mountains outside St Arnaud is unique. An open fire, beautiful view
sand lovely home cooked food. The smallest bar in NZ and you get the keys when you stay and buy on an honour system, totally unheard of in this day and age. Well worth the trip and the manager randall has so much info regarding the local area. The pool is Lake Rotoitiand the fitness center is walking around the surrounding tracks.

Room Tip: accommodation is limited, but for those who would like a different experience this little pub is it...
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2011

Not everyone will like Tophouse - accommodation is slightly cramped and bathrooms are shared. But these are more than compensated for by the sheer historic interest of the house and the exceptional hospitality of our host. Our general experience of NZ involved a lot of v modern motor hotels. Top House brought a very welcome dose of historic character.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2010

Great place to stay with character, history, charm and friendly hosts. Breakfast simple but all we needed. Shared bathrooms unless you stay in the separate cabins out the back. We had high hopes for dinner after very good food on our NZ trip but it did disappoint. Wild venison came out as a fairly bland stew with boring roast veges. Wild boar the next night was almost identical! Would stay again for B&B only.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tophouse Historic Guesthouse Cafe & Bar

Address: 68 TopHouse Road | Nelson Lakes, Saint Arnaud 7072, New Zealand
Location: New Zealand > South Island > Nelson-Tasman Region > Saint Arnaud
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 5 B&Bs / Inns in Saint Arnaud
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
TopHouse Historic Guesthouse offers accommodation, meals and drinks ( in NZ's smallest bar) to travellers and has done so since 1887. TopHouse is located on the edge of the Nelson Lakes National Park and offers fabulous mountain views from the guesthouse or from your veranda of your chalet. The Guesthouse sleeps 10 people and has a home away from home atmosphere. It is steeped in history so come and experience the atmosphere and feel the warmth. The mountainview chalets are each self- contained and sleep a max. Of 4 adults or a family of five. The Nelson Lakes National park is an outdoor persons delight with, boating, fishing, walks & hiking on your doorstep. In the area there is mountain biking, wineries, 4x4 tracks and more. The property is set amongst farmland and is a safe haven for young children. We have the best views to the mountain ranges. Retreat to your deck of your chalet or the garden terrace and watch the bunnies, cows, goats, sheep meander in the fields or read a good book in utter peace. We have just installed an outdoor bath, Kiwi style, for house guests to soak in while stargazing into our magnificent night sky. ... more   less 
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