First published on 17 Apr 2013. Updated on 18 Apr 2013.
Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat, in Hepburn Springs, is great for cosy getaways, thanks to its manifesto of keeping the wood fires stoked, the red wine flowing and hotel rooms with heated floors, spa baths, furry throws and mood lighting. This 1935-built former village pub has a combination of Art Deco, Spanish Mission and Arts and Crafts influences and is backed by Tuscan gardens. They even grow their own organic vegetables and run the Birch Estate farm, on which they breed rare cattle and sheep. The award-winning mineral spa itself offers two hot mineral water pools overlooking the stunning gardens, with a colder plunge pool for the daring. There are the saunas and steam room you’d expect, an infrared detox box, face and body treatments using organic ingredients, and some pretty rare soft pak float beds that suspend the user in water to allow the maximum absorption of clay treatments. The retreat has a twilight bathing package on Friday nights and the spa is popular enough to have to employ 25 therapists at weekends.
124 Main Rd, Hepburn Springs 3461. 1300 737 444. Rates: from $264 per night midweek; $670 for two nights. Price includes breakfast.
You’ll be wanting to taste the aforementioned beasts and veg, no doubt, and that’s what fine dining restaurant the Argus is for. It’s overseen by executive chef David Willcocks, who had previously been working as executive sous chef at the world renowned ‘Schilo Kitchen’ at the fi ve-star Hotel Finca Cortesin in Malaga. You can expect dishes like BBQ Sher Wagyu Beef and hay-smoked blue eye. The menu’s quick to change, though, to make the most of local, seasonal produce. Alternatively, you can have high tea served on fine antique china in the lounge... And the retreat even bottles its own mineral water.
Time Out Tip
Nearby Swiss Italian lavender farm, Lavandula, is open Friday to Tuesday. Admire the 1860s stone architecture, stunning gardens, and take tea in the café.