Visiting Christchurch and finding a city with an exciting future

Everyone knows how the region of Canterbury was badly damaged by earthquake events in September 2010 and February 2011 and that the Christchurch City central business district was so badly damaged it has been largely demolished in the ensuing years. I have visited Christchurch on a regular basis since the first earthquakes and have watched it being demolished to the point it looked like a war zone with piles of rubble and empty land forming the bulk of the city centre.

When ever I visit now I ma heartened by the amount of building rather than demolition happening. Having to design buildings to withstand any possible future shaking has seen some world leading technology and building techniques developed and used in stunning new structures. Christchurch is reinventing itself as a city of the future.

While many businesses relocated to the suburbs around the city centre so they could keep operating large format stores soon moved in to new simply structures on the edge of the city and the hospitality sector has made a couple of city streets its own. Victoria Street is now the beating heart of late night fun, entertainment and all day dining. Simple, flavoursome, interesting food cooked very well in establishments designed to turn over tables three, four or five times a night are the flavour of the moment. This isn’t fast food per se, rather it is quick efficient service in settings that don’t encourage you to hang around for several hours.

There are many places for more relaxed fine dining but the heartbeat of this city is urgent, needing satisfaction quickly and then move on to the next new thing popping up. Christchurch is spoiled for exceptional dining experiences, there is something for everyone.

Only a couple of low-rise hotels remained standing in the CBD after the earthquakes and these reopened reasonably quickly, all of the high rise hotels have been demolished but are now in various stages of rebuild.  Among the first accommodation developments to open is a new four story boutique hotel, Hotel Montreal. on Montreal St and situated about 200 meters from the Victoria St dining and entertainment precinct. Hotel Montreal has risen fromthe badly damaged, but not destroyed, Chateau Blanc. About a third of this luxury apartment building was demolished after the earthquakes and rebuilt while the balance of the buildings were extensively refurbished creating a luxury boutique hotel with small apartment size rooms.

The hotel’s Polo Bar has added an outdoor dining facility to the part of town with an Argentinian inspired tapas menu, outdoor pizza oven and plenty of space for guests to relax and enjoy the stylish, informal atmosphere. It may appear casual but this is a stunning facility, exceptional rooms and facilities and outstanding service – 5 stars all the way.

We stayed in this beautiful hotel for four days and when we compared it to other five star accommodation in New Zealand this comes out on top for various reasons; it beats The George in Christchurch hands down for the size and quality of the rooms and while the staff at Hotel Montreal are dressed less formally in an Argentinian polo theme their skill and attention to detail is perfect.

The Hilton in Auckland may have stunning waterfront rooms, friendly and efficient staff but again the rooms win at Hotel Montreal and the atmosphere is much more relaxing, you feel comfortable kicking back and not taking life too seriously while at the Hilton you are aware you are in a hotel in a big city. AND guests get access to free wi-fi throughout the hotel so like me you can work in the Polo Bar or in your room without a hefty internet bill and if you have left your favourite device behind then Hotel Montreal provides a iPad in each guest room for you to use during your stay.

Finally they have great booking terms; at the Hilton to get reasonable rates you must pay in full when you book but at Hotel Montreal you don’t pay anything until you leave (not even a deposit is charged to your credit card) and you can cancel with notice without penalty. Check their booking terms and conditions for full information.

Hotel Montreal ticks all the boxes and we will stay there again when we are in Christchurch.

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