There are more accommodation options in the Hunter Valley than you can poke a slice of smelly cheese at. for your holidaying pleasure, Here’s Australian Traveller magazine’s pick of the bunch.
Wandin Estate is situated in the Lovedale area conveniently the first vineyard off the Hunter Expressway down Lovedale Road. Hidden amongst 100 acres it produces wines of premium quality which are exclusively available at Cellar Door, open 10am everyday. It is a unique destination for visitors, encompassing vineyards, villa accommodation, conferencing venues suitable for both weddings and events, our cricket oval, a cellar door and restaurant all in a beautiful natural setting home to native wildlife, kangaroos and birds.
The Estate is home to Wandin Kitchen with chef John Rutherford at the helm producing breakfast, lunch and dinner from quality local produce supported by his thriving kitchen garden for his local herbs and garnishes. Booking preferred with Breakfast and Lunch served from 8am to 2pm Thursday to Sunday and Dinner Friday and Saturday evenings from 6pm.
Villa accommodation is varied in sizes and is set amongst the vineyards including access to the swimming pool and tennis court; and our purpose-built function centre, the Cricketers Pavilion overlooks our country cricket ground. www.wandin.com.au
Cedars Mount View
Four deluxe dwellings – the Vue & The Terrace are very private and secluded villas with their own “no through road” access, while the Ridge and The Gums, more traditional cottage overlooking the stunning property and dams – are dotted throughout this dense, 40ha valley perched on the side of a mountain valley.
This could be the most private and luxurious boutique outfit currently operating in the Hunter. With simple exteriors and expansive verandahs, each cottage’s interior is a study in clean, simple, modern elegance.
AT’s tip: sipping wine in The Ridge cottage’s corner window spa watching a Hunter thunderstorm stalk through the valley is a transcendent experience. Rates vary depending on cottage, number of people and weekend versus midweek. www.cedars.com.au
Every budget level is covered across Hermitage’s 20 rooms – from plush, modern suites ideal for top-end groups to serviceable Lodge Rooms for penny pinchers. The spacious Vineyard Suite is specially designed for wheelchair access and is a real credit to the Lodge. As is its award-winning Italian restaurant, Il Cacciatore (a consistent performer that’s very popular with the locals – always a good sign).
Hermitage has spent a lot of money recently upgrading its high-end suites, and plans to add a boutique day spa this May. www.hermitagelodge.com.au
AT’s tip: the spa on Premier Suite’s outdoor decking, a mere tractor-width from the vineyards, is pure indulgence.
Lillians on Lovedale
Take a right at Cessnock airport down Lovedale Rd and you’ll soon come up on a magnificent white-panelled creation straight out of Mississippi’s deep south. Lillians on Lovedale is ideal for lovers of shiny, stylish, spotless elegance. Dazzling walls, gleaming floorboards and wide open-plan spaces make this a place of light, air and supreme comfort.
Completely self-contained with two bedrooms on a 25-acre tree-studded property, the tariff includes a free bottle of wine on arrival. www.lillians.com.au
Hope Estate’s Wombat Cottage
The massive cellar door at Hope Estate on Broke Rd in Pokolbin is perfect for weddings and other large group functions, especially in the spectacular Great Cask Hall, which – when done up – looks sensational. Unbeknownst to most casual visitors the winery also houses (down the bottom paddock across the lake) a single, simple lodging called Wombat Cottage. Intimate, self-contained and ideal if you’re the stars of the aforesaid wedding or function, Wombat was built in 1910 and sleeps up to eight at a pinch.
Polished floorboards, quite verandah, wood fireplace . . . simple, solitary bliss. From $225 per night midweek for wine club members. www.hopeestate.com.au
Crown Plaza Hunter Valley
No AT roundup of the Hunter would be complete without a short mention of CP Hunter Valley. Its golf course is an admirable play for those fans of a few holes, and the surrounding grapevines add to the spectacle.
Smack bang on the corner of Wine Country Drive and Lovedale Road, it’s the first choice for large groups wanting easy access to everything in the region. The trees and gardens are flourishing apace, and there’s a fresh treatment room called Tea Tree Spa that’s the newest in the Valley. From $150 per night. http://www.crowneplazahuntervalley.com.au/
The Convent Hunter Valley
This one’s a classic, with 17 spacious rooms and wide balconies in this relocated, restored convent. Classy on the outside with a delightful courtyard and gardens, the interior is old-school but with mod cons like iPod dock stereos etc.
Tariffs include breakfast and pre-dinner drinks and canapés, but, best of all, you can walk to the superb Roberts Restaurant nearby. Or, better yet, avail yourself of the Convent’s free bicycles – just remember to appoint a designated cyclist if you’re going to imbibe. From $396 per room midweek. www.peppers.com.au/Convent
Lilies Luxury Retreats, Lovedale
Don’t bother fighting over who gets the better of the two lakeside rooms at Lilies Cottage in Lovedale – they’re both identical, they’re both absurdly large, they both have bathrooms big enough to play table tennis in if you wanted to, and both lead out through French doors onto a sheltered decking overlooking a lovely lake and lily garden.
The home is also cleverly designed so that its open-plan living area is directly in the centre, relegating the twin bedroom/bathroom “wings” to opposite ends of the building – meaning that even if you’re holidaying with another couple, there’s a true feeling of privacy to be had.
All the delights of the Hunter Valley food and wine region are on your doorstep. Gourmet local breakfast provisions are supplied, including fresh herbs from the garden, but beyond that you’re left to your own devices. Just pop the key on the table as you leave. Thank you, come again.
Details // 60 Majors Lane, Lovedale, NSW. From $380 per couple per night. www.lilies.com.au, (02) 4930 7335.