Only 20 minutes from the city streets of Adelaide, there is room to roam and relax at Mount Lofty House.
In the years following European settlement, the Adelaide Hills were home to the sprawling summer estates of the city’s elite. The grandest of them all was Mount Lofty House, now a boutique 33-room hotel just 20 minutes from the Adelaide CBD.
Mount Lofty House
1 Mawson Drive,
Walking through the imposing three-metre-high front door, I’m offered a glass of local sparkling on arrival and it sets the tone for a stay full of pleasant surprises. Cookies and a handwritten welcome note await me in my room, along with an invitation to join a tour of the property at 5pm.
The entry-level room is compact but well designed. High ceilings create a sense of space, and the bathroom is discreetly hidden behind the king-size four-poster bed. The louvred windows
are best left closed; they open onto a corridor, making this just about the only spot on the property without expansive views.
Fortunately, I can look out over the fertile Piccadilly Valley from the fine-dining restaurant inside and the terraced lawns below the house, both of which have seen more wedding parties than the staff can count. Lush farmland sparkles emerald green in the afternoon sun, and there’s a hint of Tuscany in the houses and vineyards set between chequerboard patches of trees. But this is a uniquely Australian scene and, just a short walk away, mobs of roos loll about while kookaburras swoop through the open eucalypt woodland forest of the upper Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens.
The freedom to wander the grounds and house is one of the great delights of a stay at Mount Lofty House, and soon I find myself in the open atrium of the library for the daily tour. Over mulled wine, I learn that the solid walls are made of sandstone from local quarries, and remain the only part of the original 1882 building after the devastating Ash Wednesday bushfires. Fortunately the rebuild and subsequent refurbishments have been tastefully done, and the newer elements blend well.
Despite its size, Mount Lofty House feels cosy and warm. There’s a sense of old-school grandeur, especially in the Arthur Waterhouse Lounge, where I spot a vacant seat by the black marble fireplace. But I’ve barely sunk into the brass-studded leather armchair before I’m up again – I’ve spotted a jar of marshmallows on the mantle and a set of roasting sticks nearby.
As night falls, a blanket of mist envelops the property and spindly tree-branch shadows create a distinctly Gothic atmosphere.
Thinking of the solid front door and carefully manicured grounds, it occurs to me that Mount Lofty House would make the perfect setting for a murder mystery. As I slowly turn my marshmallow over the glowing chunks of red gum, I conclude that there are worse ways to go.
A beautiful heritage property that provides a welcome escape from the city.
Feeling welcome to explore the house and property, and to make ourselves at home.
With filtered spring water on tap, plastic bottles of water in the rooms seem unnecessary.
Classic rooms start at $449, but regular accommodation packages begin at $399 with a bottle of sparkling wine and a restaurant voucher included.