This review of The Boathouse in Auckland is taken from our guidebook Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection Australia/New Zealand.
Things had not got off to an auspicious start. Flights to Auckland were full and we’d been put on stand-by, only to leave 24 hours later. Mr Smith’s luggage was lost somewhere in Abu Dhabi (it did finally arrive… three days later) and, as we travel across the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand on the passenger ferry to Waiheke Island, the weather is dark and stormy.
Mercifully, the managers at the Boatshed had organised for a taxi to collect us from the jetty. The driver also randomly collected another older man, who lived locally and needed a lift. ‘The weather’s a bit crook,’ he says from the front seat, turning around to give us a wink.
Thankfully, things start to improve almost as soon as we arrive at the Boatshed, five minutes away. The sun peeks through the clouds, and Jonathan, the owner of this small, unique hotel, greets us warmly. As he’s showing us around, he tells us that the house, which is just what this feels like, started life as the beachside getaway for his designer father, David Scott. Shutters open out towards the bay, the common areas in the main house are strewn with travel books and magazines, and everything feels very homely and beachy. We finally begin to relax.
The attention to detail extends to the accommodation. There are just seven rooms and Jonathan shows us to our Boathouse Suite (there’s no official check-in, forms to fill out or talk of money – how chic and discreet). Even Mr Smith, who’s still feeling put out about his bags, raises a smile. The pale tones, nautical touches (a large model yacht reminds us of what this part of the world is famous for), comfy sitting area and huge bed made up with super-soft linens and piles of pillows are completely gorgeous. There’s also an entertainment system with a selection of CDs. ‘Look,’ says Mr Smith, holding up discs by V V Brown and Sebastien Tellier, ‘there are even ones we like.’ Things are definitely on the up. Then we notice our private deck. There’s a view of the ocean, a pair of deckchairs and it’s undercover, so we can retreat there for book-reading and snoozing if the rain makes a reappearance.
Our international flight means we’ve arrived early, so Jonathan has organised breakfast for us. Fruit, yoghurt, toast and freshly brewed coffee certainly are a welcome change after more than 24 hours of aeroplane food. We even make a new friend; Jonathan’s sweet pooch, Rupert, nuzzles up to Mr Smith and makes him finally forget that he’s supposed to be grumpy.
With jet-lag taking hold, we could easily come over all supine on the deck and watch the day disappear, but Waiheke Island is waiting to be explored. The closest village, Oneroa, is just a 10-minute walk away along a beachfront path. It’s a peaceful village, with a few shops, cafés and galleries. We stop at the i-SITE (for the uninitiated, that’s the tourist information office) and are told that while there’s no shortage of activities on offer – Connells Bay Sculpture Park, sea kayaking, horse riding and scuba diving – we shouldn’t miss the wineries.
We jump on the local bus and tell the driver we’re heading to Stonyridge Vineyard. He drops us at the end of a dirt track with just a sign pointing us in the right direction. Fortune favours the brave, so we traipse off and soon feel as though we’ve been transported into the heart of Tuscany. The afternoon has turned on the sunshine, before us are rolling fields of vines, olives and lavender, and there’s a spectacular building housing a café and cellar door. There’s also a tour of the winery, but we decide instead to grab a table on the veranda and sample the tapas menu and merlot.
Eventually we call a taxi and take our tipsy selves to the east side of the island and the village of Onetangi. There’s not a whole lot to do but take a long stroll along the beach, admiring the houses that overlook the bay. We loved the wine at Stonyridge so much that we decide to stop at Charlie Farley’s, the local bar, for some more but instead put away a couple of shandies.
With the sun setting, we head back to our love nest at the Boatshed. Mr Smith, sent to fetch a DVD, comes back with – well, it’s a chick flick if you must know. But let’s pretend it was something arthousey. What more could you want? To stay awake for it, for a start. I nap through most of the second half of the film before Mr Smith rouses me for dinner at the main house. Jonathan is playing chef tonight and serves up some beautiful canapés, glasses of wine and a three-course meal. We love the entrée of ravioli with crispy pancetta, king prawns and burnt butter sauce. Back at our boudoir, the turndown fairies have been: the candles are lit, music is playing softly and we slip between the crisp sheets. I know, I know, call the cliché police – there’s just no other way to put it – it’s the perfect end to a perfect day.