Size: 92.5 square metres | Price: from $1000 per night | Reviewed by: Kelly Allen | Details: lakehouse.com.au
A stay at Daylesford’s Lake House is to witness just why the property has enjoyed such rich success across its 36 years. Co-owner and culinary director Alla Wolf-Tasker has created an Australian icon, where the beautiful rhythm of life is emphasised and honoured.
The hotel is positioned on the edge of Lake Daylesford, a vantage point that can be enjoyed from various points throughout the property, including from the inviting lounge chairs set up by the infinity pool. With just 33 rooms and suites, the Lake House is a genuine boutique hotel and the ambiance that label brings is evident at every turn.
We find it hard to be away from our dreamy Atrium Villa for too long. The deep linen sofa and leather armchair in front of the gas fireplace, the luxuriously soft bed, and the huge assortment of magazines and books keep calling us back. In the bathroom, the freestanding tub is perfect for soaking, the warm marble floors are a cosy touch, and the windows, which stretch along two sides, look out into a private courtyard. With its striking vaulted ceiling, the lounge room features multiple windows looking out to a veranda and gardens, and to the lake beyond.
Daylesford is located in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, less than 90-minutes’ drive from either of Melbourne’s commercial airports. It is renowned for its mineral springs and considered a place of healing, which has lured visitors for generations.
A walking track runs the entire perimeter of the property, perfect for burning off calories before the next meal. If you are in need of something more strenuous, nearby Wombat State Forest provides about 70,000 hectares of virgin bushland where wallabies, kookaburras and, of course, wombats can often be spotted.
An old gold rush town, Daylesford has retained much of its original architecture and is a nice mix of cafes, old pubs, upscale boutiques, quirky bookshops, art galleries and country bakeries.
Under Wolf-Tasker and head chef Brendan Walsh, the Lake House team has been consistently acknowledged for their farm-fresh seasonal menu. While we are here, the Lake House collects two Chef Hats as part of the 2019 edition of the Good Food Guide, an accolade they are accustomed to – the restaurant has been awarded a total of 72.5 hats across its 36 years.
I indulge in one of the Lake House’s signature menus, ‘The Art of the Vegetable’, and it is an exquisite tribute to the seasonal bounty found on site. Shark fin melon and smoked tofu dumplings in a rich shiitake broth; roasted leeks in parmesan sauce; and new season asparagus with truffle pecorino curd are just a few of the mouth-watering items on the menu. For dedicated carnivores, there is a meat-friendly signature menu and you are welcome to mix and match.
The generous country breakfast includes an impressive assortment of baked goods, smoked fish, muesli, frittata and locally produced yogurts along with a cooked-to-order menu. I’m not normally one to choose the same thing twice, but the kimchee pancake with smoked trout, wasabi hollandaise and poached egg could be the best breakfast I have ever had, and I end up ordering it both mornings.
When we’re not busy eating, there are plenty of other activities and facilities to entertain, including tours of resident artist and co-owner Allan Wolf-Tasker’s studio – his colourful landscapes are scattered throughout the guesthouse. But it is the Lake House’s Salus Spa, surrounded by waterfall-fed streams overlooking the lake, that has the strongest pull. The signature Salus Bliss treatment, which included a 90-minute warm-oil massage, a lime and ginger mineral salt scrub, a face and scalp massage, and a final rinse in the Hydrostorm ‘pod’, was a dream.