With a host of hot chefs taking over, Australian hotel restaurants are levelling up. All of a sudden, Australian hotels – new and existing – seem to have received the memo. So are we entering Australia’s golden age of hotel restaurants?
Image credit: Nikki To
Kiln at Ace Hotel Sydney1/12
The energy at the 257-room Ace is palpable the moment you step through the doors – from the chatter-packed lobby to the buzz at 18th-floor restaurant Kiln, led by ex-ACME chef Mitch Orr. His infamous Jatz cracker snack is polarising – how very Sydney to pay for a supermarket biscuit! – but genuinely delicious. Orr also does marvellous things with vegetables, especially marinated and coal-kissed mushrooms, while the drinks list is overseen by harbour city favourite Mike Bennie. On a nice day, the terrace roof opens up to the sparkling cityscape.
Image credit: Greg Elms
Audrey’s at The Continental Sorrento2/12
“The Conti” is the newest and swankiest hotel to open on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, about 90 minutes south of Melbourne. Its most upscale restaurant, Audrey’s, is the work of Scott Pickett – the man behind Smith St Bistrot, Chancery Lane and Matilda (itself a hotel restaurant, attached to United Places in Melbourne). The seafood-focused menu is complemented by a cracking wine list from head sommelier Andrew Murch.
Oncore by Clare Smyth at Crown Sydney3/12
This gleaming property has a showstopper restaurant to suit any taste: Woodcut for fire-cooked proteins, Nobu for world-famous Cali-Japanese fusion and a’Mare for classic Italian. But the Crown’s jewel is Oncore, led by London star Clare Smyth. At this white-liveried, special-occasion stunner, the cooking is refined British using Australian ingredients and the views take in every landmark on the harbour.
The Dining Room by James Viles at Park Hyatt Sydney4/12
Since closing much-loved Biota Dining in the NSW Southern Highlands, chef James Viles has bounced around a bit but has now found a home heading up the food at Park Hyatt Sydney. Viles doesn’t cut corners when it comes to sourcing the best ingredients (some he forages himself) and the team here make vinegars and cook over coals – not things you see every day in a hotel restaurant.
Peppina at The Tasman, Hobart5/12
When Marriott brought its first Luxury Collection property to Australia – inside a grand 19th-century sandstone building with a clever modern extension in Hobart – installing a luxury-level chef in the restaurant’s kitchen was essential. Enter Massimo Mele, who was commissioned to lead the food offering at Peppina, the Italian-Tasmanian eatery that’s loved as much by locals as hotel guests. Pasta is a big player here but the woodfired proteins are equally on point and the wine list, by sommelier Michael Fisher, is just as exciting.
Garum and Settimo at The Westin, Perth and Brisbane6/12
Following the success of Garum, Guy Grossi’s Roman osteria at The Westin in Perth, the Melbourne superchef has opened Settimo at the Westin’s Brisbane outpost. The restaurant takes its cues from a different part of the boot, one that fits the Queensland lifestyle: the Amalfi Coast. Grossi’s menu is fresh and seafood-centric, with a seaside-chic vibe. Antipasti, pasta al limone and an Aperol Spritz? You’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Positano.
Image credit: Kristoffer Paulsen
For almost a decade, chef Dan Hunter has been feeding guests at his farm on a hill in Birregurra, about a 90-minute drive from Melbourne. That Brae is one of Australia’s best restaurants is not up for debate: Hunter’s elegant evocation of the farm’s bounty has earned three chefs hats. And then there are the six zero-emissions suites, designed by Six Degrees Architects with cool details and comfort front of mind. Think couches by Jardan, record players from Thorens and a late check out that allows plenty of time for exploring the grounds after breakfast.
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The brilliance of Launceston’s Stillwater is that it’s all things to all diners. For overnight guests, there’s the promise of a lazy in-room breakfast of local treats and house specialties while the rest of the city wakes up. Stop by for lunch or dinner and you’re in for some of the finest food on the Apple Isle – from wallaby wings with a gochujang glaze to rich venison ragú – and a wine list of homegrown Tasmanian favourites. Housed in a 19th-century flour mill, there are seven guestrooms upstairs, each with a calming atmosphere courtesy of original timber fixtures and windows overlooking the Tamar River.
Lake House, Victoria9/12
There’s a good reason why Lake House, the Daylesford restaurant founded by Alla Wolf Tasker and her late husband, Allan, in 1984, is one of the country’s most renowned gourmet destinations. Set amid 2.5 hectares of glorious country gardens about 90 minutes outside Melbourne, the fine-diner’s sublime setting is matched by its menu (which boasts two chef hats), accommodation and easygoing luxury. The restaurant was spotlighting the seasons long before it became a trend, while the property’s suites exemplify country chic and are decorated with art from the family’s personal collection. The experience is so idyllic, guests travel from all over Australia – and the world – to stay the night (American humourist David Sedaris even wrote an essay about his time there for The New Yorker in 2009). And with Lake House’s 40th birthday coming up next year, there’s never been a better time to book.
Tedesca Osteria, Victoria10/12
At her 30-seat restaurant in Red Hill, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, chef Brigitte Hafner cooks lunch – and only lunch. It’s the one meal on offer, available Friday through Monday, but what more could you want when Hafner’s ever-changing, Italian-style menu is designed around fresh pasta, seafood and local produce? The relaxed yet refined fare is the reason it’s almost impossible to land a reservation and it’s only marginally easier to book into Graceburn House, the three-bedroom cottage Hafner and her husband, architect Patrick Ness, have restored nearby. Decked out with plush furnishings and rustic antiques, it’s warm and inviting – just like a meal at Tedesca.
Image credit: Grant Harvey
Argyle Inn, NSW11/12
Drive about three hours south-west from Sydney to find sanctuary at Taralga’s Argyle Inn. The bones of this gastropub date back to 1875 and a loving restoration by co-owner and chef Hugh Wennerbom has brought fresh life to the inn, along with a new generation of guests. Wennerbom cut his teeth at Bondi’s beloved Sean’s and it shows in the menu: simple, produce-led, with rotating fresh pastas and housemade sourdough to start. But if you only order one thing before retiring to one of the eight elegant, old-world suites, make it the roast chook. Wennerbom is the man behind Holmbrae farm, which supplies birds to some of Sydney’s most beloved restaurants.
Image credit: Colin Page
Eighteen dishes. Four courses. One superb dining experience. Since 2009, chef Michael Ryan has been delighting diners who make the three-hour drive north-east of Melbourne to former gold-rush town Beechworth. Inside a grand old bank, Ryan and his team use Japanese flavours and techniques to lovingly transform stellar regional produce into other-worldly offerings. Spend the night in what was once the bank’s stables to discover similarly Japanese-led design, such as dark timber furniture and screen-printed artworks. Full immersion comes courtesy of an impressive sake list, plus Japanese ceramic tableware that you’ll want to take home.