Indulgence doesn’t start with wine and end with cheese in the Hunter Valley; here, hedonism is as fruitful in the darkness of night as it is by day. A famed wine region dissected by winding lanes, patches of wild green and rows of vineyards, beautiful hotels and lodges crop up around every corner. So after a long day of taste-testing, scenic exploration and leisurely relaxation, put your head down in one of these top five places to stay in the Hunter Valley.
Location, location, location... this warm and classic 72-room resort has it in spades. Perched within easy strolling distance of downtown Pokolbin, the village centre of this sprawling wine region, the Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens also touts spectacular vineyard and misty mountain views. To make it even rosier, it straddles the beautiful Hunter Valley Gardens – the largest display gardens in the Southern Hemisphere, where 10 stunning feature gardens snake and bloom their way over 60 verdant acres. In house, each of the meticulously appointed rooms opens out onto a private balcony or courtyard, the onsite restaurant Elements dishes up incredible local fare, and the pool, sauna, spa and library are perfect for those quieter moments when not out and about exploring.
Spicers Vineyard Estate, Pokolbin
Supreme luxury meets the raw beauty of nature at Spicers Vineyard Estate, a boutique 12-room property nestled in natural bushland on its own private eight acre vineyard. A 10 minute drive from central Pokolbin, there’s not a neighbour in sight except for the beautiful vistas of Broken Back Ridge in the distance. The scene is set for five-star seclusion, indulgence and relaxation. Two room types offer the distinctive Spicers ‘relaxed luxury’ ambiance, complete with spa baths, king beds, fireplaces and fine views from either a verandah or balcony. The award-winning Restaurant Botanica dishes up top-notch food creations from breakfast ‘til dinner, while the indulgent pampering on offer at Spa Anise is as extensive as any large-scale resort.
Genuinely authentic, naturally beautiful and brimming with local wildlife, Eaglereach Wilderness Resort offers a unique experience in the Hunter Valley accommodation stakes. Custom-built on a breathtaking mountaintop on 1000 acres of natural bushland, this nature-based resort is about an hour’s drive north of Pokolbin and is brimming with flora and fauna, from parrots to kangaroos. Whether in a Family Lodge, Superior Resort Room or Spa Lodge, sweeping verandah views extend either to the magnificent Barrington Tops National Park or all the way to the Pacific Ocean. An a la carte restaurant, canopy level deck for dining under the stars and a Char-grill pavilion offer varied dining options, while kayaking, swimming, bushwalking, bike riding and freshwater fishing are all free. There’s also a great day spa on site.
Chateau Elan at the Vintage, Rothbury
Overlooking the green, grassy fairways of New South Wales’ only publicly accessible Greg Norman-designed course, world-class golfing waits right on your doorstep at Chateau Elan, located halfway between Rothbury and Pokolbin. As well as The Vintage championship course, this award-winning luxurious lodge offers famously extravagant pampering as one of Australia’s finest golf and spa retreats. With an extraordinary 17 treatment rooms, a relaxation area, Hydrotherapy lounge and two salt water ‘thalassotherapy’ outdoor hot tubs, the day spa is popular also for non-guests. Guests however get to enjoy the whole experience: fine dining, delightful service, breathtaking views, a gym and 25-metre salt-chlorinated lap pool, and accommodation in super luxurious Spa Suites or Private Villas.
Variety really is the spice of life at the highly-acclaimed Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. A modern 316-room hotel that’s set out to create a lovely country resort feel, it touts its own sparkling pool, day spa, 24-hour concierge and sports courts as well as having its own brewery on site, Lovedale Brewery. On weekends, the hotel puts on free wine tastings, and with various room types (including self-contained villas), restaurants and bars to choose from, the choice is always in your hands whether you’re here for a night or a week. One of the biggest drawcards for travellers however is its prime location right next to the Hunter Valley Golf and Country Club, an 18-hole championship course, and near the Cessnock Airport and Hunter Valley Visitor Centre.
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