It was raining when we arrived at the County Hotel but we were warmly welcomed by Fiona. It was a lovely surprise to learn that our room had been upgraded and we were to stay in the 'Huia Suite'. Whether Fiona knew I was celebrating a 'big' birthday or whether it was because we were booked to stay for four nights this upgrade was much appreciated. I was even more astounded when I saw 'our room' - the suite had a large modern bathroom with spa bath and view of the atrium, a separate bedroom, and large lounge & dining room which opened out on to a large terrace. Everything was clean and tidy and tastefully decorated. We had a large terrace and we used the outdoor furniture on a number of occasions - a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by while enjoying the warm weather and sampling some of the local wine. The location of the hotel was excellent with one of the main shopping streets, Hastings Street, just around the corner, the Museum and Arts Centre right across the road and the sea, the fountain and iconic statue of 'Pania of the Reef' at the end of the street. We did not have a car with us but there was plenty to do within walking distance of the hotel. The location of the County Hotel is excellent and I was pleased we were not staying on busy Marine Parade. I was particularly surprised to see logging trucks and large trucks carrying containers using this road to get to the port. Yes, the port was there first but there is an alternate route and if the 'powers that be' want to attract tourists to the area the trucks should use the other route. We did enjoy a few meals at the Masonic Hotel however the proximity of that hotel to Marine Parade would put me off staying there. The location of the County Hotel is preferable. It is much quieter.
We celebrated with a bottle of bubbly in the Churchill Bar on the first night and the service was excellent. We then had dinner at Chambers Restaurant and I would rate the food as very good. The service was excellent. We ordered the continental breakfast on three mornings and I would rate that as very good especially the fresh fruit salad & homemade yoghurt. On the last morning I ordered scrambled eggs and they were disappointing - they were overcooked & the two slices of toast that accompanied them were not buttered.
The County Hotel has a very English 'feel'. Several of the staff we encountered were English - in fact it took me several days before I realised which one was Chris i.e. the owner! Everyone on the staff was very helpful and friendly and appeared to 'muck in' to get done whatever needed doing. The furnishings, the wood panelling, the Library complete with long polished wooden table set with glasses and port in the decanter - and the Rolls Royce parked across the road - all contributed to the ambience.
My only concern during our stay was that we could hear the occupants in the adjoining room, 'Kotuku'. We could hear them talking and also their music. I was a little concerned they might be able to hear us using the bathroom! This is probably unavoidable in a hotel that has been created in a building that was once offices and council chambers. Fortunately we were able to close our bedroom door to get some peace and quiet. And, they only stayed one night!
All in all we had a most enjoyable stay and I hope that we will have the opportunity to stay at the County Hotel again in the future. Next time we will drive to Napier rather than fly and spend a bit more time exploring this beautiful part of our country.
The hotel is a credit to the owners. It was very special to stay in a building that survived the earthquake and has been so lovingly restored. I especially liked the old safes that remain 'in-situ' - the one in Chambers Restaurant being used as a cellar and the one on the second floor being used by the cleaning lady as a storage cupboard.
Thank you all for helping making my big birthday so special.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Retreat to the splendour of an Edwardian Boutique hotel inthe heart of Napier, the Art Deco capital of the world and the centre of the Hawkes Bay Wine Country. Experience the enchantment and elegance of former times with the comforts of today in a beautifully restored hotel. Faithfully refurbished as a boutique hotel in 1995 the County Hotel now stands as Napier's flagship Hotel. 18 luxury rooms ranging from grand to exquisite. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- County Hotel Napier