There are more than 150 vineyards and wineries scattered across verdant Hunter Valley, the oldest wine region in Australia. Pair this with olive groves, artisan cheese and gourmet restaurants – plus the fact it’s just a two-hour drive from Sydney – and it might just be the perfect destination for an indulgent long weekend. Luckily, there are plenty of homely holiday apartments to facilitate your cellar door tours.
Quest Maitland sits halfway between the coastal city of Newcastle and the wineries of the region – making this the perfect base for a bleisure trip. Each of the 42 modern studios and apartments comes with a kitchenette – most have a balcony, too. Wander around Maitland Regional Art Gallery, or for a quintessential Australian experience, drive 10 minutes southeast to see a pair of giant roadside UGG boots at the Mortels Sheepskin Factory.
These 12 chic apartments sit within the Vintage Resort, a village of luxurious private holiday homes with a shared outdoor pool and tennis courts. Sit on your balcony with a glass of wine for great views of the Brokenback Range – you might even spot kangaroos lounging on the nearby golf course. The colourful blooms and sculpted shrubs of Hunter Valley Gardens – plus a smattering of wineries – are just a five-minute drive away.
The two-bed, two-bath Villa on the Green sleeps six and sits within the Crowne Plaza resort. The apartment overlooks a lake and the first tee of Hunter Valley Golf Course. Get an even better view from a hot air balloon (Beyond Ballooning and other operators take off from fields a few minutes’ drive away) or pack a picnic and go hiking, biking or birdwatching in Werakata National Park.
Neutral tones punctuated by black industrial features and subway tiles make Gunsynd Studio Apartment a standout stay in Scone. This suburban studio sleeps up to six but is ideal for couples; the Crittal-style partitions around the double bed make the compact space extra cosy. Scone is the horse capital of Australia – catch a race at the nearby course or saddle up and hit local country trails on horseback.
Seeking seclusion? The four private boathouses at Leaves & Fishes in Lovedale overlook a lily pad-filled pond and feature king-size beds, waterfront decks and light-filled bathrooms with deep stone baths, double showers and marble tiles. If you can bear to leave your dreamy digs, venture to the onsite restaurant for Aussie-Asian cuisine or walk to the nearby Saltire Estate for wine tasting.
Three secluded cottages sit among eucalyptus trees at Blackwattle Luxury Retreat in Lovedale; they come with large decks and floor-to-ceiling windows, inviting you to soak up panoramic mountain and vineyard views. There’s a sunken seating area around a fire pit in the garden, hammocks for afternoon lazing, and the largest cottage has an outdoor hot tub – all you need to top it off is a glass of local wine.
Chances are you’ve come to Hunter Valley for the wine – so why not stay in a vineyard? The self-contained lodges at Adina overlook acres of vines and olive groves, and feature three ensuite double rooms, gas log fires and outdoor barbecue facilities. Treat yourself to a post-swim spa treatment, or book a table at the restaurant to sample seasonal, locally sourced cuisine.
The villas at Bimbadeen Estate may be a little dated, but their vineyard vistas never get old. Open your complimentary bottle of wine (they grow shiraz, sémillon and pinot noir grapes here) and sink into your spa bath to soak up the view. There’s a small shared pool and barbecue area for DIY garden parties – but don’t miss the chance to eat at nearby Bistro Molines, a local favourite where you’ll find authentic French dishes and tantalising desserts.