What some call charming others just call old and this hotel is much more the latter. It's like going back in time, but not in a charming, antiquey way, more a moldy, threadbare, run down way. It looks like nothing has been updated in 70 years (I don't think anyone's even produced a carpet that horridly pink in at least half a century). I've never seen a toilet or tub so old and the one-temperature-and-it's-scalding, watering can strength shower came up to my chin, and I'm only 5'5". Please don't look up while you're in there though lest you spend the rest of the time thinking giant dust clumps are going to fall out of the filthy vent onto your head while wondering how a ceiling rusts like that. Round that out with musty smells, chipped paint, peeling and battered wallpaper (I tried to figure out how you get a wall to look that bad and am at a loss), ceiling stains, mysterious aged items and you get the picture. My wall heater was smeared with lipstick - what on earth happened in here? They try to cover up the musty smell throughout the hotel with heaps of carpet and room deodorizer (in a grandma's house sort of cloying scent) and I'm not all that fragrance-sensitive and I had a headache in minutes. Word to those who are, the bathroom products are also heavily and badly scented. Thankfully I was able to open one of the windows in the room (one wouldn't budge but had a nice large dead insect on the sill when I went to try) and while it didn't stay open I was able to prop it open using the 30 year old kettle. (Carefully, using some of the pre-stained towels to protect the relic.) I had a room at the back so I thought there might be a redeeming view but its just someone else's parking lot.
The final and most disturbing flaw was coming in and standing around the lobby for 15 minutes at prime afternoon check in time, waiting for someone to show up at the front desk (I couldn't bring myself to ring the bell, I thought that only happened in old movies) and noticing on the unattended desk that they had all the day's reservations printed out with complete credit card numbers (not to mention names and addresses) clearly visible.
I've stayed in great places throughout NZ, in similarly touristy areas, for half the price and this place would still be overpriced at that. There's not a lot of options in Waitomo, it seems it's either low end motels/backpackers, B&Bs or this place. I thought the extra money might be worth it after a day of cave activities but you still get that staying in someone's house feel you get in a B&B as the walls are paper thin and you'll hear everything from all rooms around you and the hall. Also, weirdly, there's a notice on the wall that management has to approve any visitors you might have. Was this place once a 1950's boarding school, (which might explain the lipstick), or are they really serious? I didn't eat in the restaurant, menu wasn't impressive and there's a dress code (and I didn't have a ball gown handy while here cave rafting). Nice roses out front though.
- 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