Late last year, with our working commitments coming to an end for the Polka Dots, Mr. Polka and I set off for the weekend to kick-start the festive season with a weekend in the country. Our destination? The Mansion Hotel & Spa at Werribee Park. A place we were both so familiar with through photographs, bridal shoots and weddings but one that we have never had the pleasure of visiting ourselves.
The quick hour drive from Melbourne city took us past working farms and wide open fields – it was clear a relaxed weekend escape was on the agenda. The atmosphere and feeling of the weekend was only enhanced as we entered the long winding driveway to the mansion itself, past the giraffes and rhinos in the neighbouring zoo. The road to the hotel, private from the rest of the park, is lined with leafy trees and is akin to driving up to the Australian version of a beautiful old English mansion.
We’re greeted at the door by the very dashing Cedric who whisks us through the beautifully decorated hotel lobby, past Joseph’s Restaurant and bar and through the long corridors to our suite – all the while telling us the history behind the beautiful estate.
With 91 guest rooms, The Mansion’s two wings marry old and new, with the heritage rooms being renovated students’ rooms while the newer rooms, located within close proximity to the spa, are newly built with all the luxury one would come to expect from a fine hotel. The building maintains historic features – arched doorways, elegant wooden balustrades and picture rails; the details are as rich and as fine as an episode of Downton Abbey.
Our room, a junior suite, is located in the Spa wing directly over the spa (for easy access!) and looks out over the stunning trees of Werribee Park from our private balcony. Our enormous king size bed (complete with pillow menu) takes centre stage with a well stocked mini bar, flat screen TV, coffee machine, lounge area, working desk and closet and bathroom with enormous spa bath (and Appelles toiletries, including body sponges, scrubs and body wash).
The finishing jewel in the crown of course was the bottle of chilled French champagne with handwritten note welcoming us to the hotel – the perfect way to kick off our weekend staycation.
I always think an amazing hotel like this can only be made into a complete weekend experience if there are good facilities, and the Mansion Spa is a winner. Located in the spa wing of the hotel, the Mansion Spa comes complete with couple treatment rooms (perfect for a honeymoon treat or a girls’ weekend away). Adding to the luxury experience, they’ve partnered with leading skincare brand Guinot – a true treat for your skin. Our candle-lit spa room with fresh flowers set the scene for an afternoon facial lulling us swiftly into relaxation mode for the afternoon ahead.
We couldn’t visit Werribee Mansion without seeing the actual Mansion, so in our slightly dozy state and with glowing faces we wandered in the sunshine to the historic building. Part of the perk of being a hotel guest is free entry to the house as many times as you like during your stay. The majestic building holds a multitude of stories within its walls and was decorated for Christmas on our arrival. The dining room table set with a richly toned Christmas feast, a grand Christmas tree twinkling in the corner of the living room. Garlands and wreaths hanging from the stairs and balustrades among the beautiful paintings and art.
My favourite part of the house though was the sunlight filled salon with its blue and gold trimmings, the vintage glamour of which left me dreaming of bands and balls and dancing the night away. This is truly a mansion of grandeur.
After enjoying a glass or two of champagne in our room, with the doors open, enjoying the soft breeze from the eucalypt trees, we made our way to onsite Josephs Restaurant for dinner. The restaurant, with its expansive windows, overlooks the gardens of the hotel and is situated right next to the hotel bar. Boasting Australian cuisine with an extensive Australian based wine list, we kick off our three course meal with dukkah-crusted lamb and perfectly cooked scallops as we sip on the beautifully toned Lindenwarrah Pinot Noir. For mains, we choose the special of the day – a chargrilled rib eye steak complete with crusty potatoes and salad (adding French fries is our favourite), the shared style of digging in together becoming a highlight of the meal.
Chocolate and olive oil cake and a cheese platter filled our bellies ready for an evening treat. Tonight, the local Wyndham carols by candlelight are booked in front of the mansion. We get front row seats as we wander across the lawn and sit on the hotel side of the lawns, watching the Mansion light up and listening to the sweet tones of Christmas tunes drift across the gardens.
It becomes clear that the Mansion is the focal point of the hotel, and the next morning after we’re full from the delicious and freshly prepared buffet breakfast (offering delights like freshly blended smoothies with colourful paper straws, pastries, cheeses, fruits and the usual cooked and cold breakfast fare) we wandered out the door to take in the view. The Mansion sits proudly amongst the perfectly manicured lawns, the bright colourful blooms popping from the gardens, the glasshouses and the lake. I think this is my favourite time at the Mansion. The morning peace before the general public is allowed in the door, we have the gardens practically to ourselves in the cool morning air.
Some people love to get away and do absolutely nothing on a weekend break, while others love adventure and activity, and Werribee Mansion offers the rare combination of a tranquil, stunning surroundings with plenty to do. Hotel guests not only have access to the spa, indoor pool and gym, free entry to the Mansion and roaming of the grounds before they open to the public, but they also have free wine tastings at neighbouring Shadowfax Winery.
With the Werribee Open Range Zoo and State Rose Garden close by, it is easy to see how a weekend here could easily turn into a week without running out of things to do! The Mansion complex makes it the perfect way to spend a honeymoon at home, or a weekend away or even a wedding – the hotel housing the beautiful recently opened Refectory as well as the classic library theatre, Josephs Restaurant and pavilion for wedding receptions. With endless garden settings and on site accommodation, you and your guests can check in on Friday and stay the entire weekend with everything right at your fingertips.
As we check out, Cedric tells us that later in the day there’s to be a jazz concert on the lawns. A day on the green before an afternoon in the spa almost tempts us to stay in a haze of pampered relaxation. Our life calls us back to reality – but this hidden haven will call us back soon, for another weekend that only an hour away from Melbourne, feels like another world.
Polka Dot Bride stayed at Werribee Mansion as a guest of the Lancemore Group for editorial consideration in accordance with our disclosure policy.
Images by Polka Dot Bride.