The Boathouses, Leaves & Fishes, Lovedale, New South Wales
Just a two hour drive north of Sydney, this renowned wine region is also blessed with some fabulous accommodation.
By Ute Junker
It may be home to more than 150 wineries, but there is more to the Hunter Valley than wine. From boutique breweries and artisan cheese makers to activities including horse riding and hot air balloon rides, there are more than enough options to fill a weekend away. Which leaves just one question: where to stay? Whether you prefer country classics or sophisticated stylings, one of these inviting retreats will hit the spot.
The Boathouses, Lovedale
It doesn’t get much more intimate than The Boathouses, which consists of just four individual suites overlooking a lily-filled lake. Romance is key at this couples-only retreat; expect marble tiles, timber interiors and oversized stone tubs that provide the perfect finale to an evening spent sipping a bottle of something special on your private deck. The acclaimed Leaves & Fishes restaurant being on site is an added bonus.
Spicers Vineyards Estate, Pokolbin
The Spicers collection of boutique retreats is known for its elegant interiors, and this Pokolbin property does not disappoint. The 12 stylish suites are generously sized and come complete with bluestone fireplaces that are perfect for mid-winter visits. Heading here in summer? Cool off in the pool instead. Throw in a dinner at the superb on-site restaurant, Botanica, and an indulgent treatment at the in-house spa, and you have a great weekend away.
The Convent Hunter Valley, Pokolbin
If you love old-school grandeur, The Convent Hunter Valley will have you swooning. Set amid leafy gardens, this historic building was once home to an order of Brigidine nuns; presumably they didn’t get to enjoy the antique furnishings and the sumptuous high teas on offer today. As an added bonus, one of the Hunter’s best restaurants, Circa 1876, is an easy stroll down the drive.
The Longhouse, Pokolbin
No, you haven’t taken a wrong turn. From the outside, The Longhouse may resemble a rustic woolshed but inside you will find sleek architect-designed spaces with white leather lounges, heritage timbers, and two double bedrooms. With just three separate lodgings available, The Longhouse is a great place to end the day: take a seat on the deck with some local wine and cheese and watch the kangaroos grazing amid the vines.
Tower Lodge at Tower Estate Wines, Pokolbin
This striking Spanish mission style lodge, surrounded by spotted gum trees, manages to feel quintessentially Australian, even though it draws on an eclectic design aesthetic. The rooms, arranged around a central courtyard, share architectural features such as dramatic vaulted ceilings and heavy wooden doors, but each one is individually decorated. One of the suites is even furnished with a 300-year-old four poster bed.
Chateau Elan, Rothbury
You could easily spend a whole weekend at Chateau Elan without ever leaving the property. Wake to the sight of kangaroos hopping through the grounds, then give your legs – and your swing – a workout on the Greg Norman-designed golf course. Alternatively, you may want to indulge in some serious pampering in the sprawling spa. If, however, you are keen to go exploring, the hotel organises tours of the area’s best wineries, available as both half and full day options.
Tonic Hotel, Lovedale
Tonic is not your typical country retreat. A collection of eight iron, glass and wood cabins, Tonic’s pared-back design – think white-on-white interiors and polished concrete floors – has a distinctly hipster feel. So does the PIN code you use instead of a room key, and the fridge containing everything you need for a DIY breakfast. You will also find a selection of delicious easy-to-heat dishes in case you feel like eating in. Should you fall in love with some of the furnishings, you are in luck: pretty much everything in the room is for sale.
The Sebel Kirkton Park, Pokolbin
Follow the tree-lined drive to reach The Sebel Kirkton Park, an elegant property with grand heritage bones and thoroughly contemporary interiors. Set on 28 hectares (70 acres) of land criss-crossed by walking trails, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy, from tennis and billiards to a spa and sauna. Our favourite feature is the Grecian-inspired pool house.