The lastminute lovelies in Daylesford
They say that Daylesford is a place to live a double life – indulgent wining and dining one minute, rejuvenating spa treatments and mineral soaks the next.
The thing is, while Daylesford plays congenial host to out of towners looking for a quick escape, it’s busy leading a double life of its own. Equal parts quaint, quiet town and chic getaway hotspot, this little regional gem is a pleasure, a treasure, and a must see.
As is always the case when I travel, when I think back on the lastminute lovelies’ time in Daylesford, it’s really all about the people. While we came across some lovely ladies – our hosts at The Grande were the epitome of sincere, personalised attention – it was the men who really left their mark.
To start, the waiter who made our night at Koukla, the funky little bohemian cafe that gave us our first peek at Daylesford’s foodie delights. He was tall, lanky, covered in tattoos, had the face of a model and the skinny jeans to match. Anybody who brings me 10 hour-cooked pork belly with baked peaches is bound to get a smile, but honey, he got a grin. Our hearts collectively broke when a cute girl with a rounded belly came up and kissed him – his wife, pregnant, glowing, gorgeous. Congrats…
Next morning, after a breakkie of homemade jams, muesli and freshly squeezed OJ at The Grande, we headed to The Convent. A gallery come cafe come bar come nuns museum, all housed in an amazing 19th century mansion, this sprawling slice of history came to life with the descriptive enthusiasm of our guide, Liam. A spunky, sparky 19 year old local, we wanted to stuff Liam in our suitcase and take him back to the office, but settled for sharing a plate of scones and a cuppa instead.
Next stop, the Lake House. A Daylesford institution, this highly awarded boutique hotel, day spa and restaurant epitomises what makes a trip to Daylesford so special – fabulous accommodation, amazing food and incredible pampering. With just 33 rooms and suites spread across six acres of gardens, waterfalls and streams, before we’d even left I was already mentally scheduling a return visit, boyfriend in tow – picturesque, private and downright gorgeous, the Lake House reallyis the ultimate setting for a romantic weekend away.
And then came lunch.
One of the culinary highlights of my lifetime, dining at the Lake House is an experience not to be missed. At $82 for three courses it may not be cheap, but I can say, with hand on heart, that it’s worth every penny. Think quail tempura with shiso, coriander, baked egg custard and shitakes for entree, duck breast with orange braised witlof, duck chipolata and eggplant chutney for main, and mille feuille brut rosé parfait with poached white peach, raspberries and rose petal jelly for dessert. I know, right?
Even better than the food, however, was the restaurant manager, Martin. A character, a gentleman and bloody good at his job, our every wish was his command – but in an unobtrusive, friendly manner that counterbalanced the formality of the food.
Speaking of characters… After rolling ourselves out of the Lake House, promising both ourselves and Martin that we’d be back, we headed off to Peppers Springs Retreat and Spa, where we were greeted by the inimitable hotel manager, Bern Barry. A true denizen of old school hospitality, Bern is all about making guests feel welcome and wanted.
Having done that for the lastminute lovelies, Bern whisked us off to the on site Mineral Spa, where we in turn whisked off our clothes and slipped on fluffy white slippers and a robe. Minutes later we were alternating between the two hot mineral water spa plunge pools, the invigorating (!!!) cold plunge pool and the trio of saunas, said to improve circulation, kick start the body’s natural cleansing processes, and clear sinus and chest congestion. Coupled with a divine facial and massage, I had never felt so relaxed, so revived, so… reborn!
Having rushed from lunch to the Mineral Spa, it was time to check into our accommodation for the night. Bern showed us the huge variety of rooms and suites on offer at Peppers, from more traditional hotel rooms to ridiculously spacious spa villas and the truly incredible Villa Parma. Built in 1864, this heritage listed self contained villa has four bedrooms and ensuites, making it the perfect option for a group of friends going away together. Again, I mentally scheduled my return, this time with friends… Ah Daylesford, you’ve really got me!
The lastminute lovelies xox