Frances Cook finds a rare blend of comfort and history at the Hanmer Springs Hotel
Location: The heart of Hanmer Springs village, with easy access to shops, restaurants, and the spa.
Style: A Spanish-style building dating back to 1932 forms the main hotel, set among beautifully sculpted gardens. Formerly the Heritage Hotel, it was reopened in December thanks to new owners CPG group.
Perfect for: A romantic weekend in the centre of Hanmer, with an indulgent onsite restaurant, and easy access to the spa and famous thermal pools.
Price: Get a classic room for $180, breakfast included. If you want to splash out on a fancy romantic weekend, upgrade to the Food Lovers Package, where you can stay in a suite, enjoy a three-course dinner for two with a bottle of wine, breakfast and a late checkout for $480.
First impressions: The hotel immediately makes you think of the golden era of travel, when grand and imposing was the order of the day. The hotel began as an 18-room wooden lodge in 1897, but the current Spanish-style building was built in 1932, with extra, separate units added over the years.
This history has been preserved through updates and renovations, rather than built over, and the hotel proudly displays old photos and newspaper clippings to further keep that history alive. Manicured gardens add to the alpine luxury, with towering misty hills in the background.
Rooms: We stayed in a suite, an elegant and well-appointed room with plenty of space, and its own lounge connecting to the bedroom. A view over the gardens from the balcony gives a pleasant start and end to the day. Despite a busy conference held downstairs, we were totally undisturbed by noise.
Bathroom: Rooms come with a simple and tidy en suite, with toiletries provided.
Food and drink: The hotel restaurant is the star of the show here, transformed into a destination in its own right.
The Italian head chef, working together with his chef son, loves to whip up anything from mussels in a tomato, feta, and ouzo sauce, to a braised merino lamb shoulder, slow-cooked for 11 hours until it melts in your mouth. The chef was often seen checking in with diners that they were enjoying their meal.
This face-time with the chef allows you to not only enjoy the flavours of the meal, but the inspirations behind it as well. A mix of Mediterranean flavours and local ingredients means meals that are recognisable, but at first bite, revealed to be a new experience.
Facilities: Ample onsite parking, ensuring we had no problem getting a park despite the busy conference being held that night. Wi-Fi was reliable.
In the neighbourhood: The hotel gives easy access to the rest of Hanmer Springs alpine village. Head down the road to indulge in the famous thermal pools that give the town its name. Or head next door to The Spa, for a massage, facial, or body treatment.
When your fingers are too pruney for any more, take a stroll down the street to enjoy local shops or restaurants. If you feel the need to stretch your legs further, there are plenty of hikes and walks to help you work up an appetite for dinner.