My wife and I stayed one night as part of a $248 overnight “Grabone” package which included dinner, breakfast and an evening visit to the Footwhistle glow worm cave. For the price it was fair value, especially the tour of the cave, which needed the night-time visit to properly appreciate the many glow worms in the banks of the cutting through which you descended into the cave entrance.
As other reviewers have indicated, the Waitomo Caves Hotel is in a magnificent location with a special charm felt as we sat out on the balcony in the early evening sun for a pre-dinner drink. The hotel would once have rivalled The Chateau and The Hermitage as one of New Zealand’s tourism gems, but inadequate attempts many years ago to provide en-suite bathrooms which are now shoddy like the rest of our room (#19) make the accommodation adequate, but only 3 star value.
The staff were friendly and helpful, but one senses lacking in training and experience which reflected through into a mix of excellent and poor dining room service. The soup was delicious, but the main fish dish was meant to be served with jacket potatoes and steamed vegetables. However, the chef had prepared roasted vegetables which we accepted from the apologetic manager (doubling as maître d), rather than wait for some vegetables to be steamed. The roasted vegetables were too greasy and did not include any greens. Desert was an apple strudel with vanilla bean ice cream which would have come with custard had the waiter not alerted me to the proposed menu departure.
Breakfast included a lovely fruit selection, but there was not a choice of low fat milk and the hot water (for tea) and coffee obtained via pump action flasks pretty poor options.
My last grizzle relates to the Wifi (free up to 75Mb) which varied from frustratingly slow to zero at night through until around the time the reception and dining opened at 8.00am when the download was the expected fast service.
One hopes that significant money will be put into restoring the hotel to something like its former glory, but my observation was that the renovations underway appear to be happening piece meal so it is likely to be several years before changes appear and unless the service standards can also be lifted, then the Waitomo Caves Hotel will only represent value for money if you get significant discounts on the rack rates. All in all it was an interesting experience and an enjoyable break from our regular routine.
One final observation. The old wooden building appears to have sprinklers through-out, but as an engineer who has gone through the Christchurch earthquakes it was concerning to note two large brick chimneys rising above the roof in the Art Deco wing.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Waitomo Caves Hotel provides a taste of the early 19th Century grand tour hotel experience in our own time. Majestically positioned on a promontory above the Waitomo village and the world famous Waitomo caves the hotel offers sweeping views across the lush farmland, the hills and bush of the King Country. The hotel boasts sparkling crystal chandeliers, a vast art collection, spacious clean rooms, deliciously comfortable beds and a decadent spa area. Stay with us and experience the elegance of travel from a bygone era. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Waitomo Caves
- Waitomo Caves Otorohanga