A two-hour drive from Sydney will land you in the Hunter Valley, Australia’s oldest wine region. With more than 150 wineries, the area attracts a variety of people, from hens parties on a vino weekend to oenophiles looking to expand their palate – the latter smartly choosing a mid-week break to avoid the crowds. After a day indulging in the region’s fruits (where there’s wine, chocolate and cheese), you’ll need a place to nurse the inevitable hangover. Here’s our curated guide to the best hotels in the Hunter Valley region.
In the heart of the Hunter Valley, Château Élan is the kind of place where you can sip on your morning coffee while watching kangaroos hop across the front lawn. A golf lover’s haven (thanks to the Greg Norman-designed 18-hole golf course), it also has an expansive spa if you prefer a day of pampering than a day on the green. There’s even a spa suite with an “air bridge” to ensure privacy when going to and from the spa.
As you enter voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley through its tree-lined driveway, you’ll immediately get the sense that you’ve landed somewhere special. Set among 28ha (70 acres) of rolling hills (with the Brokenback Ranges visible in the distance), the hotel is achingly modern with an art deco flair, which extends to the rooms. Both restaurants offer paddock-to-plate dining, and whatever can’t be sourced from the hotel’s garden is brought in from no more than 150km (93mi) away.
One of the Hunter Valley’s most celebrated hotels, the Convent was once home to the Brigidine Order of nuns – hence its moniker. Behind the inviting grey-blue, white-trimmed façade, the 19 individually designed rooms and suites reflect the hotel’s manor home heritage, each more opulent than the next. The award-winning restaurant, Circa 1876, is well worth a visit, with produce grown by the in-house horticulturist.
As the name suggests, Villa Provence takes inspiration from the famed region in southern France. The terracotta-hued exterior houses nine self-contained suites. Each room boasts a lovely balcony, the perfect place to perch with a bottle of vino from the vineyard next door and watch the kangaroos graze on the lawns. When you’re not wine tasting, take a dip in the sun-soaked pool.
Set among 8ha (20 acres) of gardens, native trees and its own vineyard, Thistle Hill Guest House takes its architectural cues from French Provincial farmhouses. Each of the stylish guest suites has spotted gum timber floors and French doors that open onto the covered veranda. For those looking for a touch more privacy, opt for the well-appointed two-bedroom cottage. If you stay longer than two nights, you’ll receive a bottle of wine and a cheese platter on arrival.
With the Brokenback Ranges as its backdrop, H Boutique Hotel sits neatly between Pokolbin’s best vineyards. Choose from one- or two-bedroom villas, or opt for the sprawling four-bedroom homestead – perfect for group getaways. The hotel’s eco-credentials are impressive, too. It’s completely self-sufficient, with all of its power coming from solar energy, and rainwater is harvested, then UV sanitised for use within the hotel.
On the main street of historic Morpeth, the Bronte Boutique Hotel dates back to 1822. Refurbished by its current owners in 2014, the hotel fuses an eclectic mix of Victorian and Asian antiques, including cuckoo clocks, ornate fireplaces and many china teapots. The decor is almost gothic, with its charcoal walls, mahogany fixtures and deep-red accents, but it only adds to its allure.
When you want to combine wine tasting with a heady mix of pampering, Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley is your best bet. The on-site Ubika Spa offers a variety of scrubs, wraps and facials that will leave you feeling refreshed. Take advantage of the outdoor pools in the summer months, or escape the heat by lounging in your contemporary room.
Surrounded by lush gardens and an inviting pool, Mercure’s Hunter Valley outpost is perfect for soaking up the famous Australian sun. On cooler days, relax in the lounge by the crackling fireplace, or make a reservation at the in-house restaurant, Elements. Here, French fare inspired by the elements earth, fire and water is served alongside wines sourced from within the Hunter Valley region.
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