If Mick Jagger were to shack up on the south island of New Zealand, it would be at Sherwood. It is to Queenstown as Chateau Marmont is to LA, albeit run by a slick team of new generation hoteliers and hipsters. A wild blend of rock n roll, wilderness retreat and eco-designed accommodation, Sherwood has a lot on offer for the curious traveller.
Snapped up in 2014 by a trio of business partners whose entrepreneurship includes countless accolades in hospitality, property development and advertising, Sherwood was once a link in a chain of 1980’s mock-Tudor motor inns. Retaining the original façade, it’s all happening on the inside, which is where it counts.
Using recyclable and sustainable materials, the hotel’s Scandinavian-like design doesn’t leave you feeling cold. Cork panels insulate the walls; monogrammed blankets using fine New Zealand wool are draped over beds and heavy curtains keep out the Queenstown frost.
There’s a deep air of authenticity about Sherwood, with some rooms still running original Kelvinator fridges and the kitchenettes stocked with enamel crockery. Premium rooms come with a mini bar of artisanal teas and locally made granola and there’s a hostel-style quad double bunk-bed room for travelling groups. Little touches like custom wall art, manuka honey and myrtle body wash and welcome aperitifs marry the humbleness of a lakeside cabin with the intimate luxury of a boutique hotel.
On-site, Sherwood’s bio-dynamic garden grows most of the fresh vegetables used in the restaurant. Unused veggies make their way on to the restaurant’s marvelous wall of pickles and sauerkraut with the rest of the kitchen’s ingredients coming from local suppliers. Bringing in what could only be described as the ultimate hotel squad, Sherwood has a set of accomplished staff, including head chef Ainsley Rose Thompson. A wholefood specialist, she serves up a menu that draws from the earth, sea and land, focusing on natural produce, lesser known cuts and innovative combinations that are bursting with flavour.
Connecting the restaurant to a live music area is Sherwood’s long and comprehensively stocked bar. Rare liquors from around the world sit next to a selection of hand picked natural and organic wines from New Zealand wine makers. Matched with a grazing menu of the chef’s choices, it's a dining experience that leaves you nourished, not groggy. Post-dinner wander over to the stage where Sherwood host shows for renowned local and international bands.
Sherwood’s wellness philosophy continues upstairs where you’ll find a tranquil yoga and pilates studio run by yogi, Ayumi Gallagher. Small classes are approachable and open to guests and locals alike. Massages are also available, with Gallagher (a trained masseuse) providing treatments for guest’s aches and ailments. Healing massages are a favourite, with Gallagher’s ability to source tight points and release pressure. It's a relief after a day of activities around town.
Next to reception is an activity centre for those keen to explore the outdoors. Table tennis is on hand for a quick hit or book in to use Sherwood’s sauna. A dual slalom dirt track is on Sherwood’s doorstep, with bike hire available. Ski and snowboard gear can also be rented in winter on site.
Leaving Sherwood feeling nourished and connected in both the body and soul, it's the kind of experience that's hard to come by, especially in a place that's accessible to all. Sherwood is one of those rare gems that gets under your skin.
FEEL: Lakeside cabin.
ROOM PICK: Anything lakefront.
WIFI: Yes, complimentary.
RATES: Starting at $150 NZD per night.
IN ROOM: Each room differs, but most have kitchenette, mini bar, TV, crockery and cutlery.
CHILDREN: Yes, Sherwood can accommodate all types of travellers.
I stayed courtesty of Sherwood.