Pokolbin, Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia
Australia’s Hunter Valley wine region has the kind of rural quietude that seems straight out of 1950s Iowa, minus the corn. Rustic wineries hide behind stands of rustling gum trees, and a misty, golden light bathes the hillsides, just 120 minutes from Sydney’s CBD.
I arrived at Tower Lodge, still frazzled from navigating through Sydney’s morning rush hour, and I was suddenly transported to a Spanish mission, decorated in the style of a Moorish palace mated with a French country chateau. Weird, but it works. The number of visiting celebrities means loads of privacy – even the screens on the patios off of the rooms are “one-way,” I suppose to block out the potential for prying paparazzis. Then again, this is the Hunter Valley, not Sunset Boulevard, so you’re more likely to have a run-in with resident ‘roo than someone from the Enquirer.
Located on the Tower Estate, known for its Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz, the Lodge has 12 sumptuous guest rooms that give new meaning to the word “palatial.” While the dï¿½cor is a bit of a hodge podge, it’s all decadent, yet utterly Australian in its unpretentiousness.
Each room has its own deep-bath tile spa and separate shower (the bathrooms could house a family of four, and you could swim laps in the Jacuzzi tubs), the beds are big enough to sail to Samoa and coma-inducing in their comfort, and if you don’t have the room with the private outdoor plunge tub, the property’s swimming pool and sauna are still shrouded in solitude. If you’re feeling particularly jet-setty, you can always play a little golf or tennis, or arrange for a horse and carriage, instead. Personally, I was perfectly happy to play with the full cadre of Aveda products while swilling Shiraz in the bathtub and practicing my Golden Globes acceptance speech (you never know when one will come in handy).
A stay at the Lodge includes a full country-style breakfast, which should be sufficient to power you through to at least the 18th hole. I know I ate enough of the housemade muesli, smoked Tasmanian ocean trout, and fresh passion fruit to last me through the winter. When hunger next strikes, stroll down the road to Tower Estate’s Robert’s Restaurant, built in the style of a traditional Australian hunting lodge, for wine region cuisine featuring local ingredients such as rabbit, duck, and cheese.
If you’re craving total solitude and exclusivity paired with friendly, top-notch service, as well as a few nightcaps in front of your own fireplace while listening to the screech of geckos and galahs, Tower Lodge has it. Special seasonal weekend packages for couples are also available.
Pokolbin, New South Wales, Australia 2320