Stay in a slice of viticulture history with this traditional gem
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Food & wine
Taking pride of place in the village’s leafy central square, The Martinborough Hotel has been the town’s focal point since the 19th century. It rubs shoulders with similarly historic buildings, now host to cute cafés and boutique shops. It’s the perfect springboard into the surrounding wine region with the hotel within striking distance of more than 30 vineyards. In fact, most are walkable from the lobby. For the more energetic, perhaps take to the Rimutaka Cycle Trail, stopping off at boutique cellar doors along the way. Further afield, the dramatic coastline to the south has inspired everything from Lord of the Rings to surfing enthusiasts. It’s dotted with quaint fishing villages and mountain-backed lighthouses.
The hotel’s rich past is evident throughout – whether it’s the battered suitcases of a gentleman traveller in reception, the sloping floors or the historical sketches of Wairarapa personalities adorning the walls. There are nine Heritage Suites, set at the top of the grand flight of stairs, four suites at the Petit Hotel, located through a private gateway, and seven spacious Garden Suites, reached through the hotel’s pretty courtyard. Whichever you choose, your room will open onto a private verandah or flower-filled square. Inside, you’ll be treated to plush armchairs and high quality linen as old world charm meets contemporary accents.
At the attached bar and restaurant, your staples will be good, honest food and local wines that have put this little town on the map of world viticulture. Pinot noir is Martinborough’s flagship, its elegance and rich flavours garnering an international reputation. The menus are equally local, with ingredients sourced from nearby farms wherever possible. This being New Zealand, the steak is particularly good. In fact, it’s possible that you’ll meet the farmer at the bar.
Given the hotel’s history – it was first established in 1882 – you won’t find resort-style amenities here. Instead, the Martinborough’s memorabilia and antique, oak-filled bar promote a relaxed ambience, aided by the cosy lounge area. In spite of this, you’ll still be treated to WiFi along with Sky TV in your room, bringing the property into the 21st century.
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