February 16, 2023
6 mins Read
Welcoming travellers for more than 100 years since it was built by returned First World War soldiers as a memorial to their mates, there’s no shortage of places to stay along the Great Ocean Road. Here are seven very different resting spots worth the journey.
2. Lorne Bush House Eco Retreats
5. Deep Blue Hotel, Warrnambool
7. Warilda Farm and Spa, Birregura
Fabulously retro and channelling the vintage motel vibe, the Anglesea Riverside Motel has just emerged from a top-to-toe spruce-up that has restored this waterfront drive-in gem in the middle of Anglesea to all its white, bright, and bold mid-20th century glory.
No need to haul bags upstairs; all rooms are on the ground floor and you can park outside your door. Laze about on sun loungers beside the outdoor pool, stroll across the road to the river, or round the corner to the beach. There’s also a three-bedroom apartment for families or groups and plenty of great places to eat nearby.
Forget about alarm clocks: the kookaburras provide the wake-up calls at Lorne Bush House. A stay in one of these glamping eco retreats is the full bush immersion, even though the bright lights and stellar restaurants (Coda, Movida, Ipsos) of seaside Lorne are only a five-minute drive away. Built into the side of a hill, these canvas-walled cottages have a big double bed complete with electric blanket, en suite, kitchenette, BBQ and heater, but you’ll probably spend most of your stay sitting out on the deck, admiring the view and counting the roos. It’s the perfect place to go wild on the Great Ocean Road.
You’ll feel like you’re floating when you check into one of the stunning Sky Pods on Cape Otway. Perched high on a hill with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, there’s nothing between you and the fabulous sea-forever views. It’s a private wildlife refuge, so chances are you’ll see animals without having to leave the couch. It’s all off-grid, too, so you can enjoy being pampered guilt-free. There’s plenty to do if you want to go exploring – the beach is just a 20-minute walk away and the rainforest is nearby – but fingers crossed the weather will turn and give you the perfect excuse to stay in: amenities include a well-equipped kitchen, coffee machine, wood fire and huge screen and projector with free wi-fi for a luxurious streaming binge.
Most people prefer to keep rehab a secret, and this spot really is one of those places only a few (very lucky) people know about. Rehab 155 at Destination M is a luxurious self-contained off-the-grid bungalow with wrap-round views perched high on a hilltop at Lower Gellibrand, right on the Great Ocean Road, but surrounded by 18 hectares of private farmland and forest. Almost everything at Destination M is eco-friendly, recycled, upcycled, and beautifully bespoke. Meals are provided, should you wish, by host Mark, a former chef, and his partner Matthew, who grows almost everything you eat onsite. If you’ve never heard of Lower Gellibrand (and most people haven’t) it’s just east of the 12 Apostles. This is one stint at rehab you’ll really want to brag about.
Is there anything better than a float and a soak after a day spent on the road? The first hot springs hotel in Victoria has 15 geothermally heated outdoor plunge pools in the sanctuary, which is on the Warrnambool. Choose from floating in a cave, mineral-enhanced rockpools, lavender pools, chromotherapy bathing (using coloured lights), reflection bays or salt rooms, or pool hop between them all. There’s also a day spa, indoor bath house, infrared sauna and a swimming pool. Rooms and suites all have balconies and most have water views.
The bedrooms in the attic at the Merrijig Inn might be small, but what they lack in space they make up for in charm. Built in 1845 opposite Port Fairy’s original jetty it’s the oldest inn in Victoria, although the Caledonian (aka The Stump) down the road, which is a year younger, claims to be the oldest continuously operating pub in Victoria. The Merrijig Inn, or the ’Jig, as it’s known, has been many things over the years including a police barracks, courthouse, municipal office and private hotel. Today, it’s the place to go for early evening cocktails in the fruit and flower-filled garden, and seriously fine food in the historic dining room or cosy front bar.
A stay at this new boutique day spa on farmland on the edge of the hinterland hamlet of Birregurra (famous in foodie circles for its acclaimed restaurants Brae and Yield) is all about indulgence.
Enjoy a massage in the spa cottage, soak in the views during a bathing ritual in the alfresco volcanic limestone bath, and stay in the cute little 100-year-old guest cottage, which is the ultimate Great Ocean Road hideaway. There’ll be no-one else there to spoil the view, apart from the resident alpacas, sheep, horse and friendly dog called Abby. Farm stays have never felt this good.
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