This is where I’m staying next week: Classic Villa Christchurch

The Classic Villa has five stars, is eco-friendly – and this beautiful bright pink villa has lived many lives! it’s also been awarded many awards.

From the home of an early minister of religion through to an old-folks home: its’ current reincarnation is a superb Italian style luxury B&B boutique accommodation. With 5 Stars, it’s also friendly, laid-back, efficient, and comfortable with the hosts serving sumptuous Mediterranean, or traditional breakfasts.

I once stayed here during a snowy spell!

Step outside and you’re in the centre of Christchurch’s cultural precinct including the Arts Centre, Art Gallery, Museum, Botanic Gardens, the Cathedral Square, historic tram, punting on the Avon River, the Hagley Golf Course, and of course, restaurants, cafes & inner-city shopping: see more on their website The Classic Villa

As you can imagine I’m looking forward to staying here again 🙂

Breakfast is set at the fabulous Classic VillaC

Christchurch accommodation increased with homestay beds

In Christchurch recently to check out Look After Me, a New Zealand-wide web-based accommodation group, I stayed at two of them, the modern Merivale apartment, and Country in the city: I also had the chance to meet some of the other hosts.

With a shortage of accommodation in Christchurch these beds increase places to choose from, and as most are in the suburbs they’re idea for those who are concerned about being in the post-quake city centre now – although this need not be a concern as sadly most of the beautiful old, and many of the new buildings, have been demolished because of quake damage.

Two of the questions I had in mind as I flew south were,

  • Why use this service?
  • What is the difference between this concept and other homestays?

Lois Connelly, a local host and a previous a guest of some North Island hosts told me she ‘liked the feeling of being instantly comfortable and like being at home.’  She also said both she and her husband enjoyed the experience and will use Look After Me again.

The only other homestays I have used were in Malaysia and Hungary and they offered the same advantages as these Christchurch ones do – getting to know local people and having a great room with a different level of hospitality than in other accommodation. As a travel writer I like to try many places and this service is one I can recommend for international travellers as well as locals.

Many women find travelling alone daunting and this provides a great alternative … travelling alone but staying with locals, and in Christchurch right now, local knowledge of what’s open and what’s shifted is invaluable.  This assurance is reflected in the name to ‘look after me.’ The costs are reasonable too – ranging across the different homestay levels which include classic and premium.

The target groups for this concept are not only women travelling alone, but small groups of women travelling to the same destination for a common purpose – they can all book a bed on the website but each will stay in a different room, in a different area, with hosts with different interests.  Julia Charity tells me, during a phone call, that she “expects her idea to be really popular with mature women travelling alone who will like the safety of staying with people.”

As to my question about what’s the difference between this idea and other homestays, well, the biggest difference I noticed is that the majority of women who have signed up are people who have a spare room (often as children have left home) and are interested in others.  Many enjoy walking and are happy to include their guests in their daily walks!

These Christchurch women are also keen on helping their city by providing a bed in an area that is short on accommodation:  and, with this group of people assisting the city, Christchurch, like the Edmonds brand that was born there, the city is ‘sure to rise.’

Thumbnail sketches of the people I met follow:

  • Yvonne and Trevor (Merivale Townhouse) – she is interested in education issues and the politics of education, and Trevor loves music.
  • Sandy and Trevor (Country in the City) love family, animals, hiking, mountain biking, and boating
  • Wilma (Home away from Home) loves embroidery, walking and rugby
  • Annie and Bert (Oak View) are movie and art buffs with a lovely dog called Molly – they also love walking
  • Sandy (Lavender Towers) Lovely cottage garden; has two cats and a dog and says many overseas guests ‘stay here so they can be with my animals’

I laughed when I saw what Te Radar said about the founder of look After Me I thought NZ used to suffer from Tall Poppy Syndrome. Now I reckon we just suffer from lethargy. That was until I met Julia Charity. Look at her. She’s a pocket rocket with as much passion and power as I’ve ever seen. She’ll go places that one.”

An eclectic set of photos for you …

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Dargaville: the south of the north has lots to see

My last day of my travels in Northland . . . only two things left to do: check out the Pad Thai restaurant, and go to Matakohe for the famous Kauri Museum tomorrow.

Today I had a pen made for me out of beautiful kauri, visited a paper maker, met Ernie and his kumara (great)  and tonight I’m staying at the fabulous old Commercial Hotel B&B which was built by, or for, John Logan Campbell.

As it’s the end the journey, my energy level is low so tonight its links for you to check out and more photos than usual to make up for the lack of words! Smile But stories will follow I promise

The Woodturners Kauri Gallery & Studio

The Kumara Box

Zizania Paper Products

The Commercial Hotel


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