Savour and Snooze: 6 of the Best Hotel Restaurants in Australia
Posted by Stephanie Mikkelsen on Friday, June 1, 2018
A hotel delivering beautiful spaces for you to snooze is nothing new; it is what a hotel is supposed to do after all.
When a hotel adds a spectacular restaurant to its pack of suites and rooms however, the experience suddenly elevates – especially if it is a restaurant that diners will travel for, regardless of if they’re overnight guests or not. The proof in the pudding (excuse the pun) is the six hotel restaurants listed below. Forget limp salads, tired buffets and dry chicken because these hotel diners are in a league of their own, changing the way we think about eating in while on a luxury stay. Get ready to tuck in and then make sure to head over to the Gourmet Getaways Collection to feed your appetite for even more epicurean escapes.
Appellation at The Louise
It isn’t hard to find good food in the Barossa. What else would you expect from a region dubbed one of Australia’s best gourmet escapes? One of the stars of Barossa’s culinary coterie is Appellation at The Louise. The hotel’s signature diner has scooped a smattering of awards, including being named South Australia’s top regional restaurant. Appellation has also been recognised for its outstanding wine list.
Much like other eateries in the Barossa, The Louise is a champion of all things local. Ingredients for the restaurant’s four-course menu come straight from the hotel’s kitchen garden or from neighbouring farmers and growers. As such, diners can expect to savour dishes that change with the seasons: kangaroo loin with native thyme; sweetcorn and slow-cooked egg; Hutton Vale lamb; and peach served with milk chocolate and bitter almond. Also expect homebaked breads and house-cured meats.
Appellation’s wine list is laden with names of established wine masters, upcoming talent and artisan producers. The entire list comes in at more than 500 drinks, featuring local, Australian and international vintages. Wine matches for each of the restaurant’s courses are provided courtesy of the sommelier.
Image: Appellation at The Louise. Supplied.
Wickens at the Royal Mail Hotel
While the Grampians in Victoria’s west lures travellers for its peaks, valleys and mountains, foodies are drawn to this region for a different reason. The Royal Mail Hotel is one of those reasons. Armed with an acclaimed restaurant, an epic wine cellar and an extraordinary kitchen garden, the hotel is a dream destination for travellers looking to immerse themselves in the Grampians’ food and wine scene.
Wickens at the Royal Mail Hotel is the recently revamped and renamed restaurant. Led by Robin Wickens, who sharpened his knives in the kitchens of Biebendum and Pied a Terre in the United Kingdom, the fine diner offers five- and eight-course tasting experiences. Oenophiles can opt for matched wines, supping pours from the hotel’s award-winning, 28,000-bottle wine cellar. Much of the produce presented to diners comes straight from the kitchen garden, the largest of its kind in Australia. Those ingredients that aren’t pulled from the garden beds hail from neighbouring farms. Tours of the kitchen garden can be arranged.
While Wickens is the gourmet golden child at the hotel, don’t ignore the Parker Street Project. Housed in the former Royal Mail Dining Room, this eatery is Wickens’ more relaxed counterpart. Specialty beers on tap, garden-inspired cocktails and an array of local wines complement the casual-style menu, complete with breakfast offerings and a six-dish ‘Feed Me’ option.
Image: Wickens at the Royal Mail Hotel. Emily Weaving; supplied.
Automata at The Old Clare Hotel
A guest to the Old Clare Hotel in Sydney is not short of nearby dining options. The hotel’s Chippendale location puts guests within wandering distance of boutique bistros, decadent dessert bars and street fare-inspired eateries. But really though, hungry guests don’t even have to leave the confines of the hotel to get their foodie fix. Simply look to one of the hotel’s three diners.
The first cab off the rank – or is that plate off the pass – is the hotel’s fine diner, Automata. Located in a converted warehouse, Automata delivers a regularly changing menu of three, five or seven courses. Clayton Wells is the mind behind slow roasted quail and fermented pumpkin; kingfish tartare and yuzukosho; black pepper ice cream with granny smith and almond crisp. The drinks menu features sips such as Junmai sake, creative house cocktails, and Australian and international wines.
Next up is Kensington Street Social. The restaurant has a Michelin-starred chef leading the kitchen and a menu that reflects relaxed Mediterranean cuisine. Its doors welcome diners for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and there is even a bottomless brunch on weekends. Grab a glass of wine at the bar, or sit down to a multi-course dinner with matched wines. Rounding out the hotel’s onsite eateries is the Clare bar. Located adjacent to hotel reception, guests can pull up a bar stool and work their way through the sips on the impressive cocktail menu.
Image: Automata. Facebook.
Doot Doot Doot at Jackalope
This modernist vineyard escape, Jackalope, opened on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula to much fanfare in 2017 and cause for such excitement wasn’t just for the hotel’s warren of suites. The hotel’s headline diner, Doot Doot Doot, made a splash too. Named in accordance with the Jackalope myth that runs throughout the hotel ('doot doot doot' is the collective noun for jackalopes), the restaurant is helmed by Guy Stanaway and presents a five-course degustation experience.
A mammoth installation of 10,000 golden light bulbs bedecks the restaurant ceiling; diners perch themselves on black leather banquettes, using heavy black-and-gold cutlery to tuck into plates of glazed quail with shiitake cream and Jerusalem artichoke with hazelnut mousse. And although the restaurant doesn’t gift the same vineyards views offer by its more casual sibling, Rare Hare, it is likely that diners will be too preoccupied to notice.
The matched wine experience is exceptional. Vintages are sourced only from vineyards 11 hectares or fewer and all drops are poured from magnums – a particularly lavish touch that makes an indulgent evening become even more so. At the conclusion of your meal, move your way through the hotel’s neon-lit hallway to your room, ready to collapse in a heap onto your king bed or into the Japanese soaking tub that you arranged to have pre-filled.
Image: Doot Doot Doot. Facebook.
Palate at Saffire Freycinet
As one of Australia’s most luxurious lodgings, it is befitting that Saffire Freycinet has a restaurant to match. This serene sanctuary is home to Palate, a modern diner set against a backdrop of truly breath-taking scenery of Tasmania's East Coast. The restaurant is exclusively for guest-use only and meals at Palate – breakfast, lunch and degustation dinner – are inclusive of the hotel’s rates.
Palate’s kitchen turns its focus to an ingredient’s provenance when planning menus; there is a real focus on showcasing top-end Tasmanian produce. This means a diner may feast on fresh Freycinet oysters, pasture-fed Flinders Island lamb or potatoes from the Huon Valley. Highlights of past menus include boarfish with southern Indian spices, slow-cooked rabbit encased in crème fraiche pastry, and chestnut japonaise meringue.
Naturally, the wine list is a continuation of Saffire Freycinet’s penchant for all things local and it is sprinkled with Tasmanian vintages, covering the Derwent Valley, Tamar Valley and East Coast. It is an extensive read with options for every wine drinker.
Image: Palate. Supplied.
The Long Apron at Spicers Clovelly
The Long Apron at Spicers Clovelly has long been one of the Sunshine Coast’s brightest dining stars. This is, in part, thanks to a slew of gongs this fine diner has picked up in its time delivering modern European cuisine. The restaurant is open to the public so even if you don’t have a suite at this French Provincial hotel a visit to this restaurant is worth swapping coast for hills (albeit temporarily).
Dishing up breakfast, lunch and dinner, The Long Apron has all mealtimes covered. Those making The Long Apron their first taste of the day can pick between morning mouthfuls such as brioche French toast with parsnip and dark chocolate ganache or hot smoked salmon with hay-baked sweet potato. Evening visitors can pluck plates from the à la carte menu, umming and ahhing between miso-braised eggplant, suckling pig with sage, black kingfish or carrot cake with macadamia and passionfruit. Not sure what to choose? Allow chef Chris Hagan to take the lead by opting for the chef’s tasting menu.
The Long Apron’s drinks list takes diners on a wine voyage of sips throughout France, Italy, United States of America, Australia and New Zealand. There is also a selection of cocktails and mocktails, as well as top-shelf range of spirits, liqueurs and aperitifs.
Image: The Long Apron. Supplied.