Review: Hilton Queenstown

Filed Under: Hilton, Hotels

Queenstown is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s truly magical, so I was excited to be able to return, and take Ford there for his first visit.

Queenstown, New Zealand

We planned this portion of the trip pretty last minute and were going during peak season. One of the only hotels that still had availability was the Hilton Queenstown, which worked out for me, as a Hilton Diamond member. The rate was ~250USD per night.

It’s worth noting that they didn’t have any standard rooms left for sale, but rather I had to book a lakeview room, which was the lowest category they had available. As a result, it also wasn’t practical to redeem points, given that no “standard” rooms were available.

While I usually talk about a hotel’s location towards the end of a review, I think it’s worth starting with in this instance. Below is a map with Queenstown Airport, the Hilton Queenstown, and the Crowne Plaza Queenstown (which is right in the middle of the actual city of Queenstown).


As you can see, the Hilton is actually further from the city than the airport.

The good news is that there’s a convenient shuttle and water taxi between the hotel and town, as I’ll talk more about below.

We took a taxi from the airport to the Hilton, which took about 10 minutes. Interestingly there’s both a Hilton and a Doubletree in Queenstown, and they’re connected. While I didn’t have a chance to check out the Doubletree, from the outside it looked very nice.

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Hilton Queenstown signage

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Hilton Queenstown exterior

The driveway to the Hilton is covered, and upon arriving we were welcomed by the bellmen and directed to reception.

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Hilton Queenstown driveway

Reception was located immediately inside the lobby, where we were quickly helped. The associate was friendly, and shared all kinds of information about the hotel’s features, the water taxi, the shuttle to town, etc. She also informed us we had been upgraded to a suite thanks to my Hilton Diamond status — sweet!

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Hilton Queenstown reception

The lobby featured large windows overlooking gorgeous Queenstown. Personally I didn’t really love the lobby decor. It was furnished more like a cigar bar than a lakeside lodge, in my opinion, and didn’t do enough to capitalize on the natural beauty of the area.

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Hilton Queenstown lobby

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Hilton Queenstown lobby

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Hilton Queenstown lobby bar

The hotel is a bit of a maze, in the sense that there are several buildings, all quasi-connected. Our room was a pretty short walk from the lobby, though was still rather tough to find.

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Hilton Queenstown room exterior

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Hilton Queenstown floorplan

Our suite was gorgeous. Upon entering the suite we found ourselves in the living room, with a small couch, chair, and then a desk as well.

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Hilton Queenstown King Lake Wakatipu Suite living room

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Hilton Queenstown King Lake Wakatipu Suite living room

The desk featured a comfortable leather chair, as well as a coffee machine (a rather odd place to put it, in my opinion).

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Hilton Queenstown King Lake Wakatipu Suite desk

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Hilton Queenstown King Lake Wakatipu Suite coffee machine

Waiting on the table were two bottles of water.

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Hilton Queenstown King Lake Wakatipu Suite bottled water

Across from the desk was a minibar, as well as a kettle.

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Hilton Queenstown King Lake Wakatipu Suite minibar

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Hilton Queenstown King Lake Wakatipu Suite tea & water

I loved the fact that the room had a fireplace. While we were in Queenstown during the summer, it still got cool in the evenings, so it was great to turn it on.

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Hilton Queenstown King Lake Wakatipu Suite fireplace

The living room was separated from the bedroom by a door. The bedroom featured a king size bed (not the most comfortable, but not uncomfortable either), facing a flat screen TV and a long bench.

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Hilton Queenstown suite bedroom

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Hilton Queenstown suite bedroom

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Hilton Queenstown suite bedroom

The bathroom was just off the bedroom, and had double sinks, a tub, a walk-in shower, and toilet.

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Hilton Queenstown suite bathroom

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Hilton Queenstown suite bathtub

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Hilton Queenstown suite toilet

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Hilton Queenstown suite shower

Toiletries were Peter Thomas Roth branded.

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Hilton Queenstown suite toiletries

While the suite was beautiful, the highlight was the huge patio overlooking the lake.

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Hilton Queenstown suite balcony

There was a table with four chairs.

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Hilton Queenstown suite balcony

The views were just breathtaking. We bought a couple of bottles of sauvignon blanc in town and in the evenings just sat watching the beautiful views.

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Hilton Queenstown suite balcony view

All-in-all I thought the suite was great. Add in the fact that it was a Hilton (where I almost never get suite upgrades), and it was a huge win, in my book.

One of the benefits of the hotel consisting of several small buildings is that you can easily get outside from your room. There was a lovely path along the waterfront, where a lot of people seemed to be jogging.

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Hilton Queenstown walkway

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Hilton Queenstown view

Just to the side of our room was an area with a pub, convenience store, restaurant, etc.

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Hilton Queenstown restaurants & shopping

Breakfast was served at the Wakatipu Grill, which was complimentary thanks to my Diamond status. The restaurant itself was quite nice, with a variety of seating options.

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Hilton Queenstown Wakatipu Grill

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Hilton Queenstown Wakatipu Grill

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Hilton Queenstown Wakatipu Grill

My favorite part was in the back corner, where there was seating with direct views of the waterfront.

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Hilton Queenstown Wakatipu Grill seating

In addition to the buffet, we could order something off the menu if we wanted:

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I should note that the restaurant was chaotically full. It might not look like it based on the above pictures, but that’s because we went to the restaurant right as it opened on the third day, so I was able to snap those pictures. The other days it was crazy, as we went at more reasonable times. There were some tour groups staying at the hotel, and they added a bit to the chaos.

The breakfast spread itself was quite good, though. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Hilton Queenstown breakfast buffet

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Hilton Queenstown breakfast buffet

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Hilton Queenstown breakfast buffet

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Hilton Queenstown breakfast buffet

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Hilton Queenstown breakfast buffet

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Hilton Queenstown breakfast buffet

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Hilton Queenstown breakfast buffet

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Hilton Queenstown breakfast buffet

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Hilton Queenstown breakfast buffet

I also ordered a veggie omelet one morning.

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Hilton Queenstown breakfast omelet

The only other time we ate at the hotel was the last night, where we had room service. We had been sightseeing all day, and just wanted to head back to the hotel early in anticipation of our early start the next morning. The room service food was excellent, and quite reasonably priced.

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Hilton Queenstown room service dinner

The hotel also has an indoor hot tub and pool, though I didn’t have a chance to use it.

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Hilton Queenstown pool

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Hilton Queenstown pool

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Hilton Queenstown hot tub

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Hilton Queenstown pool area

There was also a decent gym, which I didn’t have a chance to use either.

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Hilton Queenstown gym

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Hilton Queenstown gym

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Hilton Queenstown gym

As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, the location of this hotel is a bit off, as it isn’t in the town of Queenstown. As you can see based on the below map and timetable, there are frequent services offered by both bus and water taxi.

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The bus is operated by Hilton, and is complimentary. The hotel shuttle runs about every two hours, and wasn’t my preferred way to get to town. While it’s free, sitting in a crowded shuttle for an almost 30 minute drive isn’t especially fun.

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Hilton Queenstown shuttle

What was far more fun was using the water taxi. It’s not operated by the hotel, so it costs 10NZD per person each way. That’s not cheap, but it was a beautiful ride, and also quicker, at about 15 minutes each way.

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Hilton Queenstown water taxi

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Hilton Queenstown water taxi

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Hilton Queenstown water taxi

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Hilton Queenstown water taxi view

I really enjoyed the water taxi, so while we took the hotel shuttle once, otherwise we took the water taxi.

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Hilton Queenstown water taxi

It drops off right on the Queenstown waterfront, which is beautiful.

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Queenstown waterfront

In a previous post I shared my thoughts on Queenstown as such. I had visited many years prior and remembered loving it, and I enjoyed it just as much this time around. It’s a gorgeous area, though was certainly more overrun with tourists than when I last visited, which isn’t a surprise given that it was the peak of summer.

Hilton Queenstown bottom line

Given our situation, the Hilton was a great option. It was one of the only hotels that still had availability, and I thought the hotel was beautiful. However, it’s not ideal to not have direct access to the city, but rather have to take a shuttle or water taxi. In terms of location, I’d suggest considering the Crowne Plaza Queenstown or Sofitel Queenstown, as they’re right in town.

The last thing I’d note about the Hilton is that they have a policy of scamming guests on currency conversions, and it’s a practice condoned by the general manager. Sadly things like this seem to be pretty common…

Do you have a favorite hotel in Queenstown?

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  1. If I did not know better, I’d say that we have come a long a way and @Lucky may be ‘warming up’ to Hilton and HHonors. Congrats on scoring a suite upgrade!

    I am now in Seoul, SK, on the 4th night of my 5-night revenue stay at Millennium Seoul Hilton (strangely named since typically Hilton properties are typically named with ‘Hilton’ preceding the name of the city or location). With YUGE columns, a spacious interior, a great architectural design, 5 restaurants (Italian, French, Japanese, Chinese, “International”) on the property, and a great location near touristy Itaewon district, this is one incredible Hilton property. In my opinion, this Hilton dwarfs Park Hyatt Seoul, where I stayed a couple of years ago for 5 nights, in almost every respect. Of course, it does not hurt that I was upgraded to a suite here as a HH Diamond, whereas at the PH I had no such luck as low HGP ‘Platinum’.

    There is Grand Hilton Seoul and Conrad Seoul, which I may check out in the future (likely just the Conrad, as the Grand Hilton does not seem that ‘grand’), but in the mean time I wholeheartedly recommend the Millennium Seoul Hilton. As icing on the cake, one of the city’s top casinos, the “Seven Luck Casino”, is right next door!


  2. Stayed at the doubletree. It was also great! And a bit cheaper. Same breakfast though.

    Breakfast was at points overrun by rude Chinese tourists. RCTs

  3. As much as the Hilton is great, I can’t stay there. I love Spire, St Moritz, and the Sofitel. Of course, if budget isn’t a concern, Eichardt’s is the best. Another great place is Azur. Love Queenstown. Heading back myself next year.

  4. VERY unlikely I would stay at a hotel like this, based on my personal preference: location.
    I would much rather stay at even a modest motel/hotel IN TOWN so that I could walk out the door to enjoy the lovely Queenstown downtown area and waterfront. And my taste in food is more about simple & low calorie than extensive buffets. I usually pack my own cereal when I go to New Zealand: coffee, cereal & a piece of fruit & I’m good to go.

  5. @Lucky – Great review! Did Hilton give you the option of charging your card in NDZ? We stayed at the Rees a few years ago, and they gave us the choice at checkout. I remember their rates were mediocre, so I let the credit card company handle the conversion instead.

  6. Glad you addressed the big issue from the start. I read the headline and thought, “There’s a Hilton in Queenstown? I walked all over town and didn’t see one”. Yeah, that’s a bit too far out of town for my liking. Looks nice, though.

  7. Stayed at both the Hilton and Doubletree in Queenstown in 2013. The Doubletree is rather minimal so switched to the Hilton asap (2nd night). Also was upgraded to probably the same suite as Lucky.

    Hilton Queenstown is one of my favourite Hiltons – especially in New Zealand. Unfortunately it lacks an Executive Lounge but otherwise it is a wonderful stay.

    There is a walkway from the Hotel to downtown along the water that takes a little over an hour each way that was a good way to work off the breakfast ;-). In the time we were there, wife and I walked to town each day even though we had a rental car. It was summer so a tad warmish in the afternoon but since it was NZ the temperatures were very moderate (22C?).

    You always have such great pictures in your reviews so thanks.

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