A 24-hour layover in Christchurch, New Zealand’s second-largest city, would break up the long return journey between departing Queenstown and catching Air New Zealand business class from Auckland to Los Angeles.
We’d simply need a one-night hotel stay in Christchurch, and just like elsewhere in New Zealand, I found Hilton’s footprint (which consisted of one hotel) to be significantly stronger than Marriott’s (which consisted of zero).
In particular, I booked the Chateau on the Park Christchurch, a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, for a very reasonable cash rate of NZ$189. I could’ve also redeemed Hilton Honors points for the stay, but given my 0.7cpp valuation of Hilton Honors points, I felt that paying cash made more sense for this stay.
In This Post
- Location & Arrival
- King Room
- Other Facilities
- The Best of Christchurch
Chateau on the Park Christchurch – Location & Arrival
The hotel is located in the Riccarton district, on the outer edge of Christchurch City Centre and immediately opposite Hagley Park, the large urban green space that dominates much of the city’s western side. It’s an easy 15-minute drive from the airport – a straight shot down Memorial Road – and we made the journey via Uber for a NZ$28 fare.
As you arrive, the first thing you notice is the property’s old-school exterior, with the entryway marked by a dramatic steepled awning. It’s somewhat rare to find a DoubleTree hotel that also goes by an official name as well, which leads me to believe that the hotel was once known simply as the Chateau on the Park, and was later incorporated into the DoubleTree by Hilton brand at a later date.
This would be my first stay at a DoubleTree – a popular full-service brand that’s generally considered a step below its sister chain, Hilton – which left me feeling rather curious as I made my way to the front desk.
Chateau on the Park Christchurch – Check-in
As a Hilton Diamond member thanks to holding the Amex US Hilton Aspire Card, I was welcomed to the hotel with an overwhelming number of bells and whistles.
Our Diamond amenity bag consisted of some bottled water and candy, and we were also given two complimentary drink vouchers as a Diamond member. Finally, Jessy and I each received a warm chocolate chip cookie, which I later learned was the DoubleTree brand’s signature amenity for all guests.
Our reservation had been booked for a base-level King Guest Room, and unfortunately, there would be no upgrade forthcoming on this stay.
On one hand, this was understandable given that we were staying on December 22, only a few days before Christmas, and I could see from the Hilton app that the hotel was indeed nearing its capacity. But on the other hand, I had chatted with the hotel front desk on the app prior to my arrival, and the chat associate had assured me that I’d be upgraded to at least a Deluxe Balcony Room.
I decided to head to the room first to see what kind of room we really received, and revisit this issue with the front desk later.
We headed up to the third floor via the elevators, although the hotel also has a circular staircase that you can use.
My first impression of the hotel’s interiors was that everything felt quite disjointed, decor-wise.
For example, on the third floor, the Victorian-era ceiling beams seemed out of place against a glass skylight and a funky carpet pattern. There was a bit of a “mental asylum” vibe about the hotel, which I definitely didn’t like very much.
We had been assigned Room 323, which turned out to be – you guessed it – the base-level King Room that we had booked, with no balcony in sight.
Chateau on the Park Christchurch – King Room
Instead, it was a pretty simple room, although I was happy that it did seem to be newly renovated compared to the rest of the hotel, and I quite liked the minimalist modern decor in here.
Positioned centrally is the king bed – while I was slightly disappointed in the bed quality at the Hilton Queenstown earlier, this bed was much better and gave us a pretty good night of sleep.
A single chair and a side table are found at the far end of the room, while an ergonomically-arranged desk, television, and cupboard take their places in the corner.
Inside the cupboard, the mini-fridge was located on the top shelf above everything else, which is not something you’ll see every day. The room also came with a kettle for boiling water, but not a coffee machine – which wasn’t an issue for us on this particular stay, but something I do pay attention to, since I do love waking up with a Nespresso in the morning before heading down to breakfast.
The opposite side of the room featured a full-body mirror and the wardrobe, which contained a set of bathrobes – something I wasn’t necessarily expecting to find at a DoubleTree, so that’s a plus.
The most disappointing part of the room, however, would have to be the bathroom.
While the rest of the room seemed like it was recently renovated, the bathroom was old and sterile in comparison. Functionally, it did the job fine with a bathtub and shower combo, a toilet, and a sink, but I certainly didn’t enjoy spending more time in the bathroom than I needed to.
It was around 7:30pm by the time we settled into our room, which left us with about two hours before the sunset here in the gloriously long Southern summer. And since we’d only have one day in Christchurch, Jessy and I decided to take advantage of the daylight and go out and explore a bit, returning to the hotel just as it was getting dark.
Chateau on the Park Christchurch – Bar
We decided to make use our complimentary drink vouchers at The Den Bar, the hotel’s onsite drinking establishment, where voucher holders are invited to order from a select list of wines and beers.
After polishing off our first glass, that’s when I remembered that I still had a small bone to pick at the front desk, having not been granted a room upgrade despite receiving an upgrade confirmation over chat. I returned to the front desk to speak to the manager there, who was highly apologetic about the mix-up, and asked that I forward her the chat screenshot so that they could investigate what happened.
Of course, I didn’t really care about the upgrade situation too much for a simple one-night stay. So when the manager asked if there was anything she could do to rectify the situation, I replied that we’d be happy with another handful of drink vouchers.
That got us a few more glasses of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc at the bar before we turned in for the night. 😉
Chateau on the Park Christchurch – Breakfast
The next morning, our day began with a complimentary breakfast as a Diamond member in the Garden Court Brasserie. The restaurant had the vibe of a casual diner, with wait staff regularly milling around offering to refill your coffee.
The buffet spread was your standard selection of greasy breakfast foods with a few healthy items mixed in there. It was a nice enough meal to kickstart our day in Christchurch, which is all you can really ask for from a DoubleTree property.
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Chateau on the Park Christchurch – Other Facilities
Before heading out for the day, I spent some more time exploring the rest of the hotel.
It really is a bit of an oddball in terms of design. I mean, just look at these enclosed artificial ponds in the middle of the building, surrounded by the Victorian gabled roofs that almost reach the ground themselves. Hmm…
In terms of other facilities, Chateau on the Park offers a rather makeshift gym in one corner of the building.
There’s a set of computer workstations in the lobby as well.
Perhaps the best part of the hotel’s public spaces is its outdoor gardens, which are kept in nice condition and make for a pleasant stroll around the building with a coffee in hand.
I was also pleased to discover that the Chateau on the Park offers space-available complimentary drop-offs in the house car to the city centre, which is only about a 10-minute drive away at most.
Normally, Jessy and I prefer to discover a new city on foot, but since we had already walked around the neighbourhood the previous night, we took advantage of this service to get dropped off closer to Christchurch’s main attractions.
I didn’t get a close-up picture of it, but I found it hilarious that the DoubleTree house car had a picture of a chocolate-chip cookie on it (you can see a glimpse of it in the photo below).
The Best of Christchurch
I’ll also take this moment to quickly mention some of the things we did in Christchurch, since I’m not sure it would warrant a separate post of its own.
The Chateau on the Park’s location is quite ideally situated for a quick visit to the South Island’s largest city. It’s conveniently situated right next to the expansive Hagley Park, and the first point of interest we visited was a very significant site on the western edge of South Hagley: the Masjid Al-Noor mosque, where 51 worshippers tragically lost their lives in a heinous shooting attack in March 2019.
Jessy and I stood in the park on the opposite side of the street, watching the steady flow of people coming to pay their respects, and paying some of our own as well.
The next day, we were dropped off by the Canterbury Museum, which occupied us for a solid few hours.
The museum provided insight into a good mix of the more serious and whimsical sides of New Zealand’s history, geography, culture, and daily life, covering everything from the delicate balance of the country’s unique biome, to the groundbreaking Dunedin Study, to the delightfully wacky Paua Shell House that was run by a couple who had amassed a huge collection of beautiful seashells and mounted them to their walls.
From the museum, we proceeded east until we arrived at the ChristChurch Cathedral, named after another cathedral in Oxford, England, and from which the city takes its name.
Like many buildings in the rest of Christchurch, the cathedral was unfortunately badly damaged in a series of earthquakes in 2011 and 2012. Indeed, as we walked around the city, we couldn’t help but take note of the fact that large swathes of it were still being rebuilt and redeveloped, with many city blocks having seemingly sat unused for many years.
A little further east, and we arrived at the 185 White Chairs monument, which commemorates the 185 individuals who lost their lives in those earthquakes. Take note of the baby’s high chair at the very front.
We then stopped at an outdoor cafe for one last impeccably smooth flat white before leaving New Zealand, before heading back to the hotel by way of the City Mall, a busy pedestrian shopping centre.
It would soon be time to pick up our bags at the Chateau on the Park and head to the airport for our flight to Auckland and then back across the Pacific, leaving behind the sweet Southern summer and returning to Canada just in time for Christmas Eve.
The Chateau on the Park Christchurch falls squarely into the “bang average” category in my books. My first stay at a DoubleTree by Hilton property left me with just as many positive impressions, like the pleasant guest room and the complimentary drink selection, as negative ones, like the unimpressive bathrooms or the failure to deliver on a promised room upgrade.
There aren’t too many other chain hotel options around here, so if I’m ever back in Christchurch again, I think it would be time to expand my horizons and try out a boutique hotel or something like that.
As for Christchurch itself, I’m happy that I had a chance to visit and see another side to New Zealand, and the strength and resilience of the city in recovering from a serious earthquake, followed by a devastating shooting attack, is quite admirable to witness.
Nevertheless, I thought it was a bit too quiet and easy-going of a city for my taste, and I’d definitely prefer to hang out in Auckland when I return to New Zealand for a longer period.