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Tuesday 18 November 2014

Every gourmet region needs a boutique hotel like this one

Choosing a boutique hotel in a gourmet region of country Australia can be a process fraught with danger. 

Many rural Australian properties promise a lot more than they can deliver; sometimes offering untrained staff, rooms that need a good renovation (although they look good on the website) and restaurants that are only open on certain days of the week, or when guest numbers are high enough. Otherwise it can be pub grub or no grub. 

That's why staying at Lindenwarrah in Milawa, north-east Victoria, last weekend, was such a pleasure - and pleasant surprise.

From a cheerful check-in to excellent buffet breakfast and well-equipped rooms, thoughtful touches like a personalised greeting card in the rooms, jars of colourful macarons and umbrellas at the ready when it was raining, this is a boutique hotel that gets the details right.

Part of the Lancemore Group, Lindenwarrah was opened across the road from Brown Brothers in 2001. It is an ideal base from which to explore the Milawa Gourmet Region and the neighbouring King Valley - and is less than three hours' drive from Melbourne and just a short detour from the Hume Highway linking Melbourne and Sydney. 

There are 40 guest rooms here, an on-site restaurant and bar, a swimming pool and day spa. The reception staff are a fount of local knowledge and can recommend the best local cellar doors and eateries.

Staff are generally alert. I noticed the breakfast buffet was constantly being monitored to make sure nothing ran out, and a request for an extra bath towel proved no problem. 

The only complaint I had was a very minor one; insufficient morning newspapers when the hotel was busy at the weekend. 

Restaurant Merlot, overlooking vineyards, is open daily for breakfast (which runs until 10am at weekends) and for dinner every night bar Monday serving "modern Australian cuisine". There is a range of local wines by the glass. 

The buffet breakfasts were excellent (the mushrooms are outstanding) and there are bicycles for hire to work off any excesses.

There is free wi-fi throughout the property (great to see) and a good selection of brochures and travel magazines. 

Rooms overlook either the vines or a garden with ponds; and several share a balcony area with chairs that are perfect for taking in the sunset with a good book. All have king-size beds, high ceilings and modern furniture, writing desks, flat-screen TVs and mini bars. 

Lindenwarrah, Milawa-Bobinawarrah Road, Milawa, Victoria. 
(03) 5720 5777.



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