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All reviews private beach one of a kind magical place chauffeur driven small window fantastic hotel incredible views very special place perfect stay continental breakfast our honeymoon stayed nights new zealand beautiful location wonderful hosts place to stay antonio
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Reviewed 1 week ago

One of the greatest hotel experiences in New Zealand, courtesy the Skyfall Suite. This ambitious, ornate “inn“ in the most stunningly vantage location in Russell, overlooking the ocean, is an exclusive experience. The hotel has only four rooms, all with their own baroque personalities. The upper floor “Skyfall Suite“, the largest of all , with commanding views of the ocean and tropical shores from a king-length balcony, snared our attention and boy ! did it live up to expectations. Tariff per night breasted the NZD 1000 mark, but I’ve spent more on some other enjoyment experiences which have not come close to the unique thrilling pampering feel of this exalted suite.

The design is lavish and quirky, recalling joints like QT Wellington but DBI is more exclusive, secluded and intimate. A steep private road leads up to the gate which you open by entering a code given beforehand. A gravel path leads to the hotel, inside which you’ll barely see any other people – if you’re the type who likes a buzzing house, you may not dig this. The high-ceilinged sitting areas inside are beautifully done up with that inveigling contrast between the classical and modern. One bonus of the Skyfall Suite is that it has a well-appointed comfy sitting area right outside the room – nobody except the staff will come here as it is up the flight of stairs leading exclusively to your room, so the sense of private luxurious space keeps multiplying. The only area where “space“ seemed an issue was a picture of the DB5 suite whose low sloping ceilings risked the wrong kind of knock-out.

Two lovely young ladies attended to us during our stay, starting with a welcome drink on arrival which you can enjoy on that cruise-liner of a balcony, and finishing with arranging our breakfast the next day. The website shows a suited porter carrying your bags inside, but he was a phantom to us. The “ground floor” (set atop a hill) dining area leads to a large deck which spans the length of the hotel, with chairs and tables along the glass balustrade, beyond which there is only the sweeping ocean, enveloping skies and verdant hills on either side – the very best of Russell.

The room is jazzily appointed - the Pope honoured at the entrance in an interesting portrait, the door on the inside red-satin-cushioned, a pair of large scarlet hands holding up a glass table, an Arco lamp anchoring the groovy lounge, a work desk in case you wish to sit down and write to the PM suggesting a nice summer retreat. The wood high-ceiling has solid ribs beaming end to end, and the middle of the whale body has a beautiful four-poster bed with the canopy in rainbow colours. The plush beast of a bathroom has a snazzy large tub that looks straight out into the ocean and the same bewitching views are afforded from the shower – I do not think either of us found any curtains anywhere – beyond the glass, there is only ocean and forest and no matter where you are in this room, the floor to ceiling windows give an unparalleled view of nature’s bounty. I just reposed on the large cushions of the bowling-pitch balcony and got repeatedly drunk on the haunting vistas of water, beach and jungle. Legend has it that the great Maori leader Kupe who led the first expedition stood on this very spot transfixed by what he saw and decided to stay back in NZ but I’m not really sure about what I heard and you need to check this out yourself.

This SS room takes it to the outrageous next level by the leaving the wall between the bedroom and bathroom-toilet short of touching the ceiling – not all sounds and aromas coming out of the restroom are pleasing to register in the rest of the suite, as you very well know, but this does not seem to have bothered the owner and architect. There is a TV but it has no cable channels – many might say it is not needed in a locale like this , but say you’re a sports buff and by an unexpected series of events a rip-roaring match only for a couple of hours is lined up on the day of your stay but you can’t see it ! All this cost poured into setting up a magnificent room like this but no satellite TV ! If you want to practice paternalism, just surprise me by sending in Monica Bellucci, not by subtracting Sky from Skyfall.

Atonements figure in the form of a Rolls Royce which takes you to dinner in town ( there is no on-site restaurant). We thoroughly enjoyed this indulgence, but their usual restaurant recommendation was closed and we had a pretty average meal in the second-choice ‘Gables’ restaurant. Donkey Bay Inn offers a nice breakfast ( included in the room rate) with decent Continental variety, rustled up by the very ladies who are the service staff, although I doubt they will co-operate if management asks them to do the meals as well. The owner met me in the morning in the outdoor lounging areas off the dining space - we had a pleasant if rather tepid confab ( probably he was exhausted after speaking to other guests, or perhaps the coffee he was quaffing was not strong enough). Either way, I am floored by this NZ beaut. It combines modern chic cheek and infinite nature with irresistible luxury. 10/10 = Outstanding. – Upnworld

Room tip: Skyfall Suite
Date of stay: September 2020
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank EarnesTaster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 January 2021

We enjoyed 3 nights at Donkey Bay inn and from the moment we were greeted at the door we felt like we were in a hidden hideaway of epic proportions. The lodge is simply stunning and words won't do justice to the beauty, scale, art, and the views. It is just perfect, and somehow combines the luxury and grace of all the design and art with a feeling of simply being 'at home'

Amelia, Brooke, Rosa, and Tracey, thank you for looking after us so well, for making amazing breakfasts for us, driving us in the Rolls Royce to dinner, for every little thing you did for us that we may, or may have not seen, you were wonderful happy, attentive hosts.

This was a 50th birthday celebration for my wife, and we will never forget the experience of being looked after by the team at Donkey Bay Inn. It is a magical place.

I guess the ultimate question is always, 'would you go back' the answer is yes. We booked for August before we left. Thanks DBI - we will see you all soon.

Room tip: There are only 4 rooms and each is superb!
Date of stay: January 2021
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank David6303
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Donkey Bay, General Manager at Donkey Bay Inn, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

A very humbling review David! Thank you so much for your positive feedback, we loved having you both stay with us and look forward to seeing you in August.
The team at Donkey Bay Inn

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Reviewed 3 January 2021

You could spend a week at Donkey Bay Inn & it won’t be enough. From the moment you set foot in the meandering tunnel - you’re on holiday.
The breathtaking outlook to the Bay of Islands, the architectural detail, the quirky art collection & the lively, personable energy of the staff...makes it truly difficult to leave.

Date of stay: December 2020
Trip type: Travelled with friends
Thank LindyGDavis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Donkey Bay, General Manager at Donkey Bay Inn, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

We appreciate your awesome review Lindy! We would love to have you stay again with us.
The team at Donkey Bay Inn

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Reviewed 30 November 2020 via mobile

Absolute perfection. Staff were amazing! The accomodation is quirky, unique and beautiful. Hospitality, cleanliness and overall energy of both the staff, owner and building was flawless. Will definitely be back for future trips with family.

Date of stay: November 2020
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
Thank Ashlee D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Donkey Bay, General Manager at Donkey Bay Inn, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

Such a lovely review Ashlee, we are so happy you enjoyed your stay, cant wait to have you back.
The team at Donkey Bay Inn

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Reviewed 17 November 2020

Donkey Bay Inn is a unique and beautiful sanctuary. Each room is different and magical. We loved the Emperor Suite with wonderful sea views and amazing 4 poster bed. It seemed that everywhere we turned there was something of beauty. We feel restored and truly rested after 4 days there. we strongly recommend Donkey Bay Inn.

Room tip: The Emperor Suite ground floor no stairs, big bath, lovely sea views.
Date of stay: November 2020
  • Trip type: Travelled on business
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank victoria s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Donkey Bay, General Manager at Donkey Bay Inn, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

Thank you for your lovely review Victoria, we loved having you stay with us!
The team at Donkey Bay Inn

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