After the February 2010 earthquake most of the city’s hotels either fell down or were so badly damaged they had to be permanently closed. Accommodation around the edges of the CBD were largely fine though, but it’s fantastic news for tourism that the Ibis Hotel is about to open on September 4th.
Meanwhile I’ve been staying in 2 properties on my whirlwind #RebuildChch tour to let everyone know what is open and the good news stories of businesses who have fought the good fight of red tape and are now in business – and needing your custom.
The historic home is opposite the Arts Centre on Worcester Blvd. It originally opened in 1897 as the chaplain’s house for Christchurch Boy’s High School. In 2005 Peter Morrison bought it, added a new wing out the back and opened 12 rooms. During the earthquake he was closed for only 2 weeks for minor repairs, but mainly because power and water was off. Incidentally he found an old artesian well in the back garden from a tap he thought was a remnant of another era. They had fresh drinking water right from the start.
The Classic Villa is a cute “boutique hotel”. More of a bed and breakfast really. A large communal dining table greets you when you walk in the door in front of Peter’s kitchen from which drinks and snacks are made available any time. A Continental breakfast is served from 6.30am until 10.30 and the island bench is laden with fruits, cereals, pastries and breads, cheeses, cold meats and juices – and Berocca and Eno for those who’ve had a large night on Christchurch’s newly opened tiles! Peter will do dinner for groups by arrangement.
This location is also opposite the Christchurch Museum who have a very moving earthquake exhibition in there at the moment. Well worth going to see. You’re easy walking distance from Restart, the new shopping precinct in the CBD, and about 10 restaurants and cafes are within a 10-minute walk.
The George is a 5-star hotel and part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. It’s located opposite Hagley Park which is about to burst into blossom as I type. Again, it’s location meant it was not badly damaged, apart from some cosmetic work needed. Immediately following the February 2010 earthquake, the George was the accommodation base for police. Today I am sitting in my suite with a gas fire, 2 flat screen TVs and a view over the park.
As with most of Christchurch, it’s pretty easy to walk around. One block over is Victoria Street which is enjoying new restaurants and bars just opening their doors for the first time even this week. Their own restaurant Pescatore offers fine dining or you can choose 50 Bistro. Expect to spend about $35+ for a main course.
But the cutest touch of all is each guest is given a cuddly bear named George. George has his own Facebook page and photos of him doing exploits all over the world are up there.