There’s more to Victoria than Melbourne. This second smallest of Australia’s states is big on variety. Around Victoria you can find merino sheep, historic towns, endless coastlines, and snow-capped mountains. And while Melbourne may contain most of the state’s 5-star hotels, if you travel further afield in Victoria you will easily find somewhere luxurious to stay where you will be pampered and looked after in a way that only Victorians can do. With a rich heritage of gold-mining and pastoralism, Victoria offers travellers an exceptional mix of luxury and country hospitality. It is surprising where luxury hotels can be found in Victoria especially if you visit the state’s wine regions, such as the Yarra Valley, or the ski resorts dotted about the Snowy Mountains. Along Victoria’s coastline, in places like Croajingolong National Park, you will find eco retreats and boutique resorts in the most out-of-the-way places where you can experience the spectacular scenery and unique wildlife of this part of Australia.
60 Tiberius Rd, 3941 Saint Andrews Beach, Australia
Rating: 9.0 Superb
Situated within 500m of St Andrews Beach, Yaringa St Andrews is the perfect place for travellers who are searching for a secluded beach getaway that has the feel of a luxury hotel. It is only a short drive from the Peninsula Hot Springs, Rye Ocean Beach and St Andrews Beach Golf Course.
The large, modern beach house has a bright, open plan kitchen and living room. There is floor to ceiling windows and two sets of full-length sliding doors that open to an outdoor entertaining space. Guests can utilise the well-appointed kitchen to create a gourmet spread, or step outside for a grilled meal from the BBQ. With four bedrooms and two bathrooms there is plenty of space for larger groups who are looking to take a private getaway.
The bathrooms are designed to feel open and warm, cleverly using earthy, wooden tones. The main bathroom has a rain shower and bath, whilst the master ensuite features a rain shower, double vanity, and deck access. The large backyard is fully fenced and secure. There is an outside shower for guests to rinse off after visiting the nearby beach, and there is plenty of grassed space for visitors to play or picnic.
25 Harrisons Road, 3936 Dromana, Australia
Rating: 9.3 Superb
Lakeside Villas at Crittenden Estate is a luxurious and secluded haven which overlooks a picturesque lake. Located on the grounds of a family-owned winery, the luxury hotel villas are surrounded by vineyards, perfect for any wine connoisseur. They are five minutes’ drive from Safety Beach and ten minutes from Arthurs Seat State Park.
Each villa is fully self-contained, allowing guests to experience their stay in complete privacy. The villas are contructed entirely over the lake, creating the sensation that they are floating through the vineyard. The warm wood fire, open plan kitchen and large amount of natural light make the rooms feel inviting, while the double spa bath, premium linens and Appelles Apothecary toiletries add to the luxury experience.
A short walk from the villas is Stillwater Restaurant, one of the Mornington Peninsulas’ finest dining experiences. Head chef and owner, Zac Poulier, uses locally sourced fresh ingredients to bring his visions to the plate. Also located on Crittenden Estate is the award-winning Crittenden Wine Centre, where visitors can taste and learn about the estate’s diverse wines. Guests can enjoy the experience at their own pace and are guided through their wine tasting by qualified and attentive wine educators.
Trent Jones Drive, 3939 Cape Schanck, Australia
Rating: 8.6 Fabulous
At RACV Cape Schanck Resort, the contemporary design and modern comforts are enhanced by the beauty of the surrounding natural environment. Located on the Mornington Peninsula, this secluded luxury hotel is within a 15-minute drive of the Peninsula Hot Springs, stunning Bushrangers Bay and historic Cape Schanck Lighthouse.
The well-appointed rooms have floor to ceiling windows, giving guests a magnificent view of the surrounding area. The spacious rooms feature plenty of natural light, comfortable seating areas and a well-lit, luxurious bathroom. Guests have access to complimentary Wi-Fi, room service and a choice of pillows.
At the resort guests have access to a wide range of premium facilities. The experienced therapists at OneSpa can provide a range of beauty and wellness treatments. For those looking to relax outdoors or be active, the resort has a pool, fitness centre, spa, sauna, tennis courts, walking trails and golf course. There is also a games room and playground facilities for the children.
The restaurants at RACV Cape Schanck Resort showcase the finest-quality regional produce. At Cape, diners can delight in a modern grill menu, while Samphire serves contemporary Australian cuisine with stunning views of the bay. Mantellina offers an Italian-influenced menu in a relaxed setting.
Although tracking down a luxury hotel outside of Victoria’s main centres may prove a bit more tricky, you are bound to be able to find all sorts of excellent accommodation options around the region. Away from the main centres, you will be able to find quintessential Australian experiences in the small towns, mountain ranges, farmland, and wide-open spaces of Victoria. Let’s get you and your travelling companion going with a few starter ideas.
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s iconic drives. The spectacular coastal landscape of eroded pillars, towering cliffs and booming surf, is spectacular and awe-inspiring in any weather and in any season. There are so many things to see and do along the Great Ocean Road that you could spend ages exploring it. One especially poignant and amazing place to visit is Loch Ard Gorge, with its story of a deadly shipwreck and of the desperate struggle of two young survivors who managed to clamber ashore.
Celebrated in song and verse, most notably in Banjo Patterson’s epic poem The Man from Snowy River, this is a region of high, snow-capped mountains, deep forests of snow gums, and rugged rivers cascading down from the hills. The almost vanished world of the mountain stockman is kept alive and well in the Snowy Mountains, and wherever you go you’ll find friendly people and all manner of adventures as you explore the back roads and small towns of the Snowy Mountains.
Located on the far eastern corner of Victoria, the Croajingolong National Park is a wilderness of endless beaches, towering cliffs and seemingly impenetrable forests. This landscape of endless sunsets is a place you can go in order to find the real wilderness of Australia, but you’ll also find some stunning coastal towns such as Mallacoota, where you can get some of Australia’s best seafood…and a pretty good coffee as well.
This iconic surf spot near Torquay is famous for its big surf and attracts surfers from all over the world. You don’t have to be a surfer to enjoy the laid-back surfie lifestyle of Bells. The beach itself, framed by tall sandstone headlands, is a lovely place for you and your lover to stroll, and you can sit on the clifftop and watch the surfers shred the epic reef and point breaks offshore.
Dozens of caverns honeycomb the limestone formations of Buchan. These underground wonders have been carved by an underground river over a period of 100 million years. This is the largest cave system in Victoria and is full of stalagmites and stalactites, ripple pools and a quietly flowing stream. The Buchan Caves is a highly significant area to its traditional Gunaikurnai owners and there is some remarkable Aboriginal cultural heritage to be found in and around the caves.
The Gippsland Lakes are one of Australia’s iconic holiday destinations. The towns of Lakes Entrance and Bairnsdale are great places to base yourself while you explore the lakes, beaches, and forests of the Gippsland Lakes region. There is superb fishing, lake cruising, sunbathing, or you can just hang out in the area’s small beachside towns, where you and your partner can experience that quintessentially Australian holiday thrill of being at the beach in your shorts and flip flops.
Victoria’s fortunes were based on the gold rushes of the 1800s. Goldrush towns like Ballarat, Bendigo and Wedderburn are all redolent with gold rush history and, indeed, the Eureka Stockade incident in Ballarat was one of the upheavals that helped to form Australia’s national identity. Touring the goldfields of Victoria, and exploring the boom and bust lifestyle that was lived in these early gold towns, will provide you with a great insight into the early days of Australia’s history.
The Grampians are a range of sandstone mountains near Halls Gap in the western part of Victoria. This World Heritage-listed park is chock full of vast mountain panoramas. The Grampians are one of Australia’s most recognisable landscapes with shorn off ridges, precipitous valleys, golden escarpments and densely forested valleys. The region features a large number of ancient Aboriginal rock art paintings, and hikers come from around the world come to climb the highest peaks in the Grampians, including Mount William, and to wander along the dozens of wilderness walks around Halls Gap.
Victoria is famous for its bucolic rural landscapes, vineyards, and beaches. But as you drive north in the state, the landscape broadens out, and the vistas become wider and wider until, before you know it, you are in the Outback. You and your travelling companion can stop in small country towns and get to know the locals in the pub, and find a surprising number of excellent cafes where you will be served amazing food and great coffee by friendly and welcoming country folk.
And of course, no trip around Victoria would be complete without sampling some of the extraordinary vintages produced in places like the Yarra Valley and in the Barossa. You could set off from a luxury hotel in any part of the state, and before long you could be sipping fine wine, or perhaps a locally-brewed craft beer while enjoying the best of Victoria’s fresh local produce and listening to a busker or a performer singing their heart out.