Quality regional restaurants? Great. Quality regional restaurants with great rooms so you don't need to worry about getting a taxi back? Even better. Here are six new spots that are well worth the drive. All together now: Road trip!
1. Campbell Point House, Leopold
A dusty back road 15 minutes drive out of Geelong may seem a most unlikely location for a luxury French-style chateau with magnificent lake views, but that's exactly where you'll find Campbell Point House, a new hotel offering the most instagrammable experience imaginable.
Wind your way along the long pine-tree lined driveway to the grand mansion, accommodating just 30 guests in suites ranging from spacious lake view rooms to a self-contained Lake House literally perched upon swan-topped Lake Connewarre. Graze on cheese and sip champagne on arrival, stroll around beautifully manicured gardens, and dip at least your toe in the incredible infinity pool before sashaying to the stunning conservatory for the main event: dinner. But not just any dinner.
Ex-Gladioli chef Tobin Kent prepares a fittingly French-influenced eight-course fine dining degustation exclusively for guests, featuring locally caught seafood (often by Tobin himself) and produce from their own kitchen garden. Also included, a cooked-to-order breakfast, featuring the fruit toast of your dreams. Rates start at $1250 per couple per night which includes dinner, breakfast, mini bar, and welcome champagne and cheese platter.
199 Matthews Road, Leopold campbellpointhouse.com.au
Creamy, dreamy mussel soup at Campbell Point House. Photo: Supplied
2. Terrace Restaurant and Castleview Cottage, Waygunyah
It's a long way to Waygunyah. So long it has a NSW phone code (but a Victorian postcode) but the new accommodation at All Saints Estate, home of one-hatted Terrace restaurant, makes it a very tempting food and wine focused roadtrip.
After you've oohed and aahed at the grand and leafy surrounds of the winery, merge into the relaxed, enclosed, marquee-style one-hatted Terrace Restaurant. There you can get snug with a window seat on eye level with the lawn, watch birds skitter through the leaves, then turn your attention to the compact, seasonal menu featuring bright, generous dishes like stracciatella with charred radicchio,sweet baby beetroot and candied walnuts. Or soft jamon with smoked ricotta and salt-baked celeriac.
You don't need to worry about holding back on the extra glass of All Saints wine either. Castleview Cottage directly opposite is just a short stumble away, offering chic, comfy accommodation in a country setting. It also has great facilities for cooking your own food, should you wish to create your own wine-matched feast.
315 All Saints Road, Wahgunyah allsaintswine.com.au/terrace-restaurant
3. Captain Moonlite, Anglesea
Helping shift Anglesea to the top of every seachanger's (or sea-dreamer's) bucket list is this coastal gem, which ticks all the boxes with thick black pen. Sweeping surf coast view. Relaxed, retro restaurant. A warming fireplace for winter and sunny balcony for summer. Easygoing hosts who won't frown at sandy feet. Tick tickety tick. How great, then, that the food smashes it, too. Unsurprisingly, seafood is the speciality. From the simple - the golden fish and chips of your final supper fantasy, to pillowy crab doughnuts, or bass groper boosted by the colour and crunch of gnudi, cavolo nero and hazelnuts.
Until recently, it was recommended to book dinner before sunset, to make the most of those views. But now there's some swell accommodation too. Owners Gemma and Matt have created the seaside shack of dreams, complete with chef's kitchen and a stocked fridge and pantry to make sure you don't go hungry, or tired, before getting up to catch a big wave the next morning.
100 Great Ocean Road, Anglesea captainmoonlite.com.au
Aye aye, Captain Moonlite is the dream seaside escape with great food too. Photo: Julian Kingma
4. Seville Estate, Upper Yarra Valley
As if winning a slew of awards for its winery wasn't enough (the Shiraz and Pinot Noir are especially sip-worthy and James Halliday recently named it 'Winery of the Year'), Seville Estate, just an hour out of Melbourne in the Upper Yarra Valley, has now got a great weekend-only restaurant and boutique accommodation, making it the perfect short break destination.
The four-bedroomed homestead is available for private stays, overlooking the original Cabernet vines planted in 1972, with a private pool. Or nab one of three self-contained luxury apartments that are just a short stroll through Chardonnay vines to the cellar door and restaurant. With wonderful wine, food and now accommodation, this one's a triple treat.
65 Linwood Road, Seville sevilleestate.com.au
Cool tones of the accommodation at Seville Estate. Photo: Supplied
5. The Provincial Hotel, Ballarat
Built in 1909, the iconic Provincial Hotel on Ballarat's grand Lydiard street has served plenty of punters, but none in as much style as it offers today. Simon and Gorgi Coghlan (of television's The Project fame) have created the restaurant-with-room combo of dreams, with Lola restaurant and luxury fitted-out boutique accommodation upstairs ranging from suites to a two bedroom apartment.
Lola restaurant gets its name from Lola Montez - a dancer, actress and comic from gold rush days with a real twinkle in her eye. Her playful spirit lives on here, with head chef Shaun Thomson (ex Quay and Rockpool) shaking the pans and making the most of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create fine European-influenced fare, and further bolster Ballarat's growing reputation as a top dining (and now sleeping) spot.
121 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat theprovincialballarat.com.au
Lola restaurant at the Provincial in Ballarat. Photo: Marcel Aucar Photography
Also... Wine Down Pop Up
So it's not exactly a room and a great restaurant, but it might be even better. For the next few months you can spend the night in a pop up hotel in a regional vineyard. Wine Down Pop Up is a unique vineyard escape which sees two beautifully crafted eco-luxury pods move across three premier Victorian wine regions until July 2019. From May 6 until June 2 the hotel will plonk down at Dal Zotto winery in the King Valley. Then it's to Macedon and the Mount Towrong winery until July 7. There's fab food and wine options available too, naturally. More info and bookings
Wine Down Pop Up is a portable hotel winding its way around Victoria's premier wine regions in 2019. Photo: Daniel John Bilsborough