As far from the Old World as you can get, the Henley Hotel in Cambridge, New Zealand mixes the charm and luxury of an English country manor with the spritely nuance of the world’s youngest nation. It’s also but a hobbit’s throw from Bag End and the Hobbiton movie set.
At the end of its grand, tree-lined private drive proudly stands the Henley Hotel. Surrounded by 29 acres of green lawns and gardens, it’s the very picture of grandeur.
Inside, sweeping balustrades, crackling fireplaces and regal portraits complete this boutique hotel’s old-money feel.
However, far from a stuffy, courtly atmosphere, the Henley has a fun, unique sense of humour that goes so well with the luxury that’s so immediately evident.
It’s a recipe that makes staying here relaxing, comfortable and interesting.
Check out our walkthrough video of the Henley Hotel, NZ:
Outside the Henley
We were impressed from the moment we drove through the gates at the entrance to the property. The long curving driveway and tall trees hides the impact of the hotel until you drive right up to it.
Fountains and Victorian-style streetlamps welcome you while twin lions stand guard at the front door.
Also hidden amongst the property are orchards, rotundas, picnic spots – even a lake. You can explore the grounds on foot or on the hotel’s bicycles.
Inside the Henley
It talks a moment to process it all the moment the grand, black doors to the hotel swing open.
The vast, double-height entrance hall with its beautiful staircase are so impressive, and the monochrome colour scheme is so striking.
Instead of rich reds and dark colours, the bright white walls with the black and grey accents turn the lobby from old-school grandeur to tasteful modern elegance.
But it’s the quirky furniture and decorations that give this hotel a true sense of humour and modernity. The full-size horse lamp in the lobby and curated paintings on the walls, Union Jack cushions and chairs nodding to the Old Country, and the Palm Springs style pool all mix perfectly somehow.
What’s that? Pool? Of course there’s a pool
Encased in its own conservatory at the back of the hotel, the heated pool is beautiful in the daylight, and moody and seductive with the night sky overhead. Steam from the bubbling jacuzzi in the far corner makes this room even more enticing.
Stylish recliners offer you a spot to relax after your swim and the full day spa next door temps you with a pampering session.
Rooms at the Henley
Being a boutique hotel, there are only 14 rooms here at the Henley – certainly lucky for you to be staying here!
There are three room types – amusingly named Good, Better and Best – where the clever styling and detailed touches are really at their height. From a cute teddy on each bed and fresh flowers to comfortable sofas to relax on, rooms at the Henley are much more than where you rest your head.
Little touches like fun ornaments, face cloths for makeup and sleeping masks put the Henley Hotel above most other places to stay in New Zealand.
Other things about the Henley
The Henley Hotel is one of those places that the more you explore, the more you fall for. The breakfast, which is included with your stay, is served in the broad dining room, decorated with Union Jack chairs, chandeliers and almost as much attention to detail as the bedrooms.
Enjoy the small continental buffet and then choose from the a la carte options. Jim’s eggs benedict with potato rosti and bacon is superb, while my avocado on toast would have any Bondi hipster weeping with happiness.
Joined to the dining room is the living room, replete with comfy sofas and armchairs, more portraits and a welcoming open fire.
On the top floor, there’s a movie room with a large-screen smart TV, comfy cinema seats and plenty of DVDs to choose from if you’ve finished everything on Netflix.
Best of all, tucked away in an intimate corner is the Gin Bar. Well-stocked and – as with every other part of the hotel – beautifully decorated, the bar makes for the perfect punctuation to an evening here.
Nearby the Henley
The Henley Hotel and its expansive grounds is wonderfully private and gives you the impression you’re a long way from anywhere. However, the truth is quite the opposite.
Most importantly, you’re only a 25-minute drive from the Hobbiton film set, perhaps one of Waikato’s most popular attraction. You’re also about 25 minutes away from one of the most fascinating ecological projects in the country – Sanctuary Mountain.
You’re also only 30 minutes from Hamilton and under an hour from the Waitomo glowworm caves and Legendary Blackwater Rafting.
Our next stop after checking out of the Henley and enjoying the fascinating sights of Hobbiton was Rotorua, which is only an hour further east. This is an incredible, unique place to visit, where the geothermally heated lake steams constantly.
And day spas like the Polynesian Spa really make the most of the onsen-like conditions here.
To get back to the city, it’s only a 2-hour drive to Auckland from the Henley. And of course, you’re only a few minutes outside the town of Cambridge if the peace and luxury of the hotel just gets too much for you.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Henley Hotel is that if feels like it’s been here forever. However, its stately Edwardian style frontage and opulent interior have only been standing since 2001 and has only been a hotel since 2018.
But in spite of its youth, this hotel certainly knows how to make you feel at home. In fact, every night you spend there makes it even harder to leave in the morning.