There’s nothing like a local’s knowledge to get the best from a place. Here’s where to stay and where to eat in the little tucked away country town of Scone, New South Wales – the horse capital of Australia.
Surrounded by the rolling hills of the Upper Hunter, the small rural community of Scone, NSW is the largest horse breeding region in the country – in fact it’s the 2nd biggest in the world.
Apart from the horses, the country around Scone is impressive to say the least. And if that’s not enough for you, then the friendly folk who live here and the perspective of country life you get here certainly will be.
Talking of friendly locals, our buddy ‘L’ – born and bred in Scone – has given us her top tips for where’s good to stay and where’s good to eat in her hometown.
So before you travel the 3 and a half hours north from Sydney, here are some local pointers to make your time here even better.
Scone, NSW – where to stay and where to eat
Where to stay in town
Mostly because of the yearly spectacle of the Scone Horse Festival, there are plenty of pubs, motels, hotels and serviced apartments right in town. For convenience and to get the feel of Scone proper, here are our local’s picks of places to stay.
Right on the main street of Scone, this beautiful Victorian mansion, built in 1895, is full of the elegance of country style. The recently renovated rooms look bright and comfortable, and the suites on the 1st floor give that added layer of romance.
Probably the best located of all the accommodation here, the 3 one-bedroom cottage style apartments INN Scone provides are all fully self-contained and well furnished.
They’re decorated to make you feel completely at home. And the attention to detail of these apartments makes this an easy preference when you’re looking for where to stay here. These guys are also sponsors of the annual Scone Horse Festival.
Boasting a host of tourism awards, the Scone Motor Inn’s rooms are comfortable with original exposed brick motel-style features. The serviced apartments are more spacious with a few more amenities. There’s a good range of room types here too.
For that classic Aussie motel, you can’t go wrong with the Colonial. Its rooms are spacious and well furnished, there are plenty of room types and suites, and its bar matches the true blue country Aussie vibe of the rest of the motel. Rumour has it, the restaurant here is well worth checking out too.
Where to stay out of town
If you really want to get away from it all, staying a bit further out will give you more privacy and a real ‘escape to the country’ experience. You’ll certainly find the romance of sleeping beyond the borders here with these local tips.
You’ll have the run of this colonial cottage set in the beautiful Belltrees property. The owner Peter White and his family are instrumental in the Scone community and polo club, and can trace their family history and ownership of Belltrees back all the way to 1831.
On the 9000 hectare property there are 5 different cottages you can stay in, from the smaller 2-bedroom mountain retreat to the 4-bedroom country house.
With the best views out over the Upper Hunter and the Scone stud farms – and still only 5 minutes out from Scone – this bed and breakfast is the way to experience the NSW countryside.
As well as the amazing views, you get a 2-bedroom villa, delicious home-cooked breakfast and gorgeous gardens.
These two places also have the advantage of not being near the train line that runs through Scone – and those fright trains start early!
Where to eat in Scone
Thanks to its proximity to the Hunter Valley and all the delicious things that come from there, Scone has some great places to find a good feed. Be warned though; this is a country town and places close pretty early! Don’t leave dinner too late.
This mother-and-daughter-run café in the middle of town takes full advantage of the local produce of the area. You’ll find delicious simple meals here and great cakes.
At the north end of Scone town, Crowded House Café offers a large food menu that spans breakfast to afternoon tea. We didn’t visit this café, but we’re happy to our friend’s local knowledge as a good enough tip.
Certainly our favourite place to eat in Scone, the Cottage serves beautifully prepared local fare, including superb dry aged steak, which Head Chef and owner Colin Selwood does himself in house.
You might need to wait a bit at the weekend for your coffee and croissant, but this cute corner café is worth it. The hot food’s great too – just be mindful of the opening hours, which have been know to be a bit inconsistent.
This historic landmark of a building is great for a pub meal and to soak up some of those country vibes. We’re fairly confident the beer garden and back bar have some stories to tell.
An honorary mention
Right in the middle of town, this old pub has probably seen better days, but the staff are all really friendly, the beer’s cold and the locals love it here. You won’t get a much better view out over the main street – especially during the annual Scone Horse Festival Parade, which marches up and down Kelly Street to mark the start of the festival proper.
We didn’t eat here, but felt we couldn’t leave this crusty yet entirely endearing pub off the list.
It’s always interesting visiting somewhere like this that’s a bit out of the way – especially in Australia. The characters you meet, the things you see – it’s certainly nothing like what you’ll find in the cities in this country.
Scone is one of those places where, on the surface, not much seems to be going on. But a couple of minutes spent with any of the locals you find here will tell you otherwise.
Have you been to Scone, NSW? What do you look for in a country retreat? Tell us in the comments!