Staying somewhere beautiful is always going to lift your travel experience to a different dimension. And although there are plenty of luxury accommodation options in the Hunter Valley, Tower Lodge and its five suites will elevate your stay in NSW’s premier wine region.
Set amongst the vines and rolling lawns of Tower Estate Winery in Pokolbin, Tower Lodge strikes a grand pose, packed with Spanish elegance and subtle European nuance.
The great antique carved timber front doors open into a terracotta floored reception replete with carriage clocks, silver-handled walking canes and even a piano in one corner.
Check out our video walkthrough of Tower Lodge here:
Once checked in, we’re taken through to the impressive drawing room with its magnificent fireplace and well-stocked bar, where we’re left to relax with a glass of bubbles.
There’s a lovely level of detail to this hotel.
The broad coffee table, surrounded by comfy armchairs and couches, has everything from boardgames and books to vases and Gillie & Marc ornaments, and the lofted ceiling with its great-hall style exposed beams only adds to the grandeur.
At the back of this room, hidden behind a floating wall, is the lodge’s vaunted restaurant, Sebastian. But more about the restaurant later.
Check up some of our other stories on the Hunter Valley:
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- Escape To The Chateau – Where To Stay In The Hunter Valley
- 10 Things To Plan For When You Visit The Hunter Valley
- Vamp By Lisa McGuigan – A Cellar Door Like No Other
- Uncork The Extraordinary – A World Beyond Wine-Tasting
What Are The Rooms Like At Tower Lodge?
As we pass into the central courtyard, the hacienda feel of the hotel really kicks in.
Columns hold up the veranda roofs of each wing of suites. At the centre fountain tinkles, and more terracotta tiling and white granite bricks pave the way down towards our suite.
To one side, another water feature bubbles away, on the other a timber deck with a tree sunk in the centre traps the sun.
It’s not a huge leap to imagine you’re in a beautiful villa somewhere in the Basque countryside.
Where To Stay In The Hunter Valley—Our Estate Suite
Through the tall double doors of distressed antique timber, the room is a bright open space. Its lofted ceilings and tonal decor reiterate the luxury we enjoyed in the drawing room.
The same dark rich terracotta tiles from reception and the courtyard are throughout our suite too. They work well with the warm whites of the rendered walls, and the greys and taupes of the soft furnishings.
There’s a low coffee table and comfortable lounge as we walk in (we both also make a mental note of the backgammon set that we’ll be setting up after dinner) and to our left the bed. It’s set up some steps, elevated from the lower part of the suite, which adds to the grandeur.
Through a doorway behind the bed is the walk-in wardrobe and then through to the bathroom.
The shower, equipped with Leif amenities, looks very welcoming, but it’s the deep, sunken bath that really catches our eye.
Interestingly, there’s kind of stable door that opens from the head of the bath through to the other side of the bed where you can look out over the rest of the room.
It doesn’t make sense at first, but then we realise it connects the room and the bath perfectly. In fact, you can even have a view outside if you open the back door too.
This back door opens out onto views across the grounds and over to the vineyards of Tower Estate and to our low-walled veranda, where we can sit, enjoy a glass of wine and admire the view across the lawns.
These lawns are a favourite spot for kangaroos, especially in the mornings and at dusk.
But as we said before, all these elements create a lovely place to sleep, but it’s not only the high ceilings or the deep-fill bath, the throne-like bed or the heavy oaken doors that make up the luxurious feel here.
It’s the attention to detail.
It’s the beautiful iridescent tiles in the bathroom, it’s the oil paintings and other artwork that hangs from the deep plaster of the walls, it’s the frieze above the bed and the elegant lighting throughout the suite that make all the difference.
Sebastian Restaurant at Tower Lodge, Pokolbin
Sebastian Restaurant is more than just a nod to Spain’s celebrated Basque Country, the kitchen uses techniques and flavours inspired by this incredible food destination of northwestern Spain.
Sharing the high exposed-beamed ceiling with the drawing room that we first came into with our welcome drinks, Sebastian has a light airy feel that could easily feel echoey and empty.
But thanks to careful decoration and an intimate yet well-spaced seating plan is cosy without feeling squashed in.
From the wonderful four-course menu, Christina chooses the rich and sumptuous Basque fish soup with fried caper, saffron and herbed sourdough for entree.
I go for the sweet and juicy seared scallops and tender pork cheek with puffed crackling and cauliflower puree.
For mains, Christina has the perfectly French-trimmed lamb cutlets with an indulgent eggplant puree, cauliflower tabouli and tangy yoghurt.
My main is the impressive Basque-inspired beef tenderloin, cooked perfectly to medium-rare, with spiced beans, chorizo and a potato tortilla.
Finally, our desserts, threatening to finish us off rather than the other way round, come. Christina’s deconstructed Basque cheesecake with meyer lemon, sable and plum gel is incredible—baked to perfection with dots of the various gels and sauces highlighting the savoury sweetness of the cheesecake.
My warm chocolate frangipane tart with salted caramel, poached pear and vanilla ice cream is almost my undoing and we stagger the mercifully short distance back to our suite, discarding the ambitions of backgammon we’d had earlier.
It’s a superb meal and one that justifies Sebastian’s reputation and Chef’s Hat awards.
Tower Lodge’s Pool & Sauna
We don’t often talk much about a hotel’s pool, but this one deserves a bit more of a mention.
Set aside from the main complex, the pool area is surrounded by a high circular wall. Inside, apart from the long lap pool, is a sauna steam room, roofed area and bar.
It’s here more than anywhere at Tower Lodge that you’re transported to your own private villa in the hills above San Sebastián, your own slice of Spanish paradise.