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“An enjoyable stay, but...”

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Waitomo Caves Hotel
Ranked #4 of 5 Hotels in Waitomo Caves
Reviewed January 25, 2013

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.

Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
2  Thank Peter M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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406 - 412 of 538 reviews

Reviewed January 21, 2013

Majestic old heritage mansion. Needs repair but clean with heaps of character. Big comfy beds and friendly service. Felt like a member of the family. Didnt see any ghosts ;-( but reportedly there are some. Would definately stay there again. Most relaxing stay.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with family
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Thank tkerr29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 12, 2013

We only had time to stay 1 night wished we could of stayed longer. Yes the hotel is a bit dated, but this just gives it character, very neat old building lots of history. The owners are starting to renovate so hopefully they can retain some of the character. Great location handy to the caves etc, staff were great very friendly and helpful. Nice menu and wine selection in the bar/restaurant. Great breakfast also available. We will definitely be staying again. Steve & Christine, Whangaparaoa NZ.

  • Stayed: January 2013
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1  Thank whanga69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 10, 2013

the staff were a little thin on the ground, i tried to check in shortly after 12noon but was told the room was not ready yet, i explained we had an activity at 2pm and would not be able to check in until the evening-checking that front of house would still be around then i returned later in the evening.

after checking in: the 1st room had a leak on the bathroom floor after investigating it seemed to be the shower dripping pooling water to the floor.
5mins after checking in i returned to the front desk not finding anyone i rang the bell, TWICE * then called out and had a wander, the reception staff was the waiter in the restaraunt too.
i stood there for another 5mins while he talked to the couple he was waiting on in the restaraunt,

i said if we can switch rooms to one exactly the same - i did not want someone to mop up the leak and us to make do. we got switched to a room two doors down.

the tv in the 2nd room was not working and
I found out after ringing reception that the reception/waiter was also the on duty manager. he said he'd be up shortly.

after he tested the TV too, i explained that the tv in the other room (with the leak) was working and we proceded to switch it.

overall the hotel is run down, (i know it's over a 100 years old) but everything has not been maintained, carpets worn/fixtures old fashioned, paint peeling. no air con in the rooms, thin walls.

for the price in summer that was all that was available, i wish i had read some more reviews, i would say poor value for money, perhaps if it was $100 a night it would be acceptable for one night, not what i paid for it.

i was planing on dinning in but having a look at the inflated tourist prices $30+ a main, i asked for some other recomendations- I can Highly recomended the HUHU cafe just up the road, fantastic quality food a reasonable prices-mabey a bit more than fish and chips, but then again cheaper than you'd pay in big city, with large filling portions

IT's not recommended to stay at this hotel, it's a fantastic location, but not worth it.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Kingsenton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 9, 2013

This hotel is in a fabulous location with great views over the surrounding countryside. From outside the hotel doesn't look too bad but the internal decor lets it down. Nor is it helped by the quite bizarre artwork on display & the plastic flowers dotted around the place.
The receptionist greeted us warmly and all looked to be on the up. I'm happy to forgive some shabbiness if the service is good. We made the huge mistake of booking for dinner at the hotel. We were lead to believe that the restaurant gets very busy & that booking was recommended.

There was one table of approximately 6-8 people in just before us & no-one else for at least another hour after we arrived. Our order was taken & the waitress brought us the bottle of white wine we had ordered, along with an ice bucket. The wine had never been near a chiller, so was warm. Our dinner took an hour to arrive, when we enquired why it was taking so long the waitress explained it was due to the 'large party' that were before us. I asked for a steak knife for my steak (possibly the worst steak I've ever tasted in NZ) and the waitress didn't know what a steak knife was!!!! Then there was a mix-up with the bill.

The room (16) itself wasn't too bad if you go armed with a sense of humour. The furniture is cheap & functional. The bed itself was comfortable which is important. However, the door is poorly fitting so rattles everytime someone walks past it in the corridor, rather annoying. The bathroom had me in hysterics, I last saw something like it in my Nan's house back in the '60's. Shower was adequate, the Mor toiletries are a nice touch though. The door from the bathroom sticks, so I kept getting stuck in the bathroom.

We didn't make the mistake of having breakfast in the hotel as who knew how long it would take. We couldn't understand why the hotel only starts serving breakfast at 8am. Surely for a tourist resort where people may need to be up & out early (as one of our party was), breakfast should start at 7am.

Requesting more English Breakfast tea bags & milk, seemed to be a problem for the receptionist. Two tea bags & four small cartons of milk are not enough for 24 hours in my view.

Whilst we realise that this hotel needs significant investment, there is no excuse for poor service. The owners need to decide what they want this hotel to be & charge accordingly. It is most certainly not value for money in its current format.

Room Tip: The Abseil Inn is fantastic, stay there instead.
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  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank MrsACN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 1, 2013

I almost feel bad reviewing this place because it feels a bit like making fun of the poverty stricken kid in the back of the classroom who is wearing a member's only jacket, is slouching in his chair and kind of smells bad. The staff did try hard in a sort of defeated this-is-what-it-is sort of way and I truly have nothing but sympathy for the folks running the place.

Having said this, we did just spend close to $200 NZ for a very sub par experience. On arrival it is hard not to appreciate the beautiful location on top of the hill and some hint of the victorian sheen does still cling to the overall architecture. As you walk in the lobby, however, the faded liver carpet, water stained ceiling, and buzz of an occasional insect present play counterpoint to your efforts to carry your own luggage up the steep stairs. There is no lift nor is there a offer from the staff to help you with your bags.

We stayed in room 15 which was relatively clean, had all amenities (like the en suite) listed in the reservation, however, the bathroom itself was about the size of a 747's with a shower tacked on. Indeed, our bathroom - a converted closet - had a waft of sewer gas leaking up from the floor drain so we had to keep the pocket-door open lest we be overcome.

In summary, I would definitely not recommend this place to anyone I know. I feel like for the price we paid we were all but robbed. $85 NZ? Maybe. For 185, definitely was hoping for better food, better service, a better room... Entropy has finally taken its toll here folks - in my opinion there is no victorian charm left in this place; not even the haunted house version evocative of "The Shining" hotel. The Shining would have been a major upgrade. Stay elsewhere.

Room Tip: A room in a different property all-together would really be your best choice.
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  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank kennedan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 26, 2012

Extremely dated but must have been fantastic in its day, a long, long time ago. Given it asks double the price of other accommodation close by I think it is only fair to expect a little more for the money.
The cracked paint on the ceilings is not a big deal but please clean the bathroom ceiling, that is not a good look. An alarm clock would not go a miss either, saves getting out of bed to where the phone was plugged in. Huge room, not a great bed or sleep in it, bathroom a little cramped and once again, very dated.
Staff were very reserved, but once pushed provided the information required.
Food was average at best with a small menu and the bread appeared to have been heated in the microwave.
Staff struggled to use the till and had to come to my room between 9.30pm and 10pm twice to get the bill right for a few very basic drinks.
The place looks great on the hill, big round about and roses at the top and so quiet, however, simply too pricey for what you get.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank Ericstravelguide
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Waitomo Caves Hotel

Address: Lemon Point Road | RD7, Waitomo Caves 9999, New Zealand
Phone Number:
Location: New Zealand > North Island > Waikato Region > Waitomo Caves
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 5 Hotels in Waitomo Caves
Price Range: $59 - $90 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Waitomo Caves Hotel 3*
Number of rooms: 7
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

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