It was years since I had been down to Red Hill and I was a little concerned the building boom that has transformed the Mornington Peninsula’s coastlines might have crept inland to ruin the beautiful hamlet.
I needn’t have worried. Apart from more grazing land making way for grape vines and a few fancy “cellar door” buildings, the tiny town retains its rural charm while hosting plenty of opportunities to experience life’s finer things.
A popular day trip destination for Melburnians, Red Hill has a growing number of accommodation options.
Chief among them is Lindenderry at Red Hill, a European resort-style property set amid 12-hectare grounds with manicured gardens, ornamental lakes and a vineyard servicing its eponymous wine range.
The 40-room hotel was recently refurbished by the Lancemore Group, which runs The Mansion Hotel & Spa at Werribee Park. The update provides an old-school relaxation experience with modern touches.
The rooms at Lindenderry are spacious, with the refurbishment paying homage to a bygone era and the antique furniture blending nicely with contemporary décor.
Rooms are along four wings, with ground-floor and first-storey options.
The Garden Wing room we stayed in opened out to a lawn that formed part of the long-established English-style gardens, their geography betrayed only by the giant gum trees.
The rooms have the usual appointments of hotels of this standard although, unlike many five-star establishments in Australia, ours had free wi-fi.
A few things survived the refurbishment, including the en suite, which looked a little dated but was large and well equipped with a big bath with spa jets.
The floral pattern of the curtains seemed dated too, but they were luxuriously thick and ensured the room remained in total darkness after the early-spring sunrise.
The comfortable king-size bed contributed to the good night’s sleep.
Further relaxation can be achieved in the swimming pool and sauna. They’re in a spacious pavilion with full-length sliding windows that let in plenty of air and light and lead to a quiet courtyard featuring one of the many sculptures that adorn the gardens.
The pool and spa are surrounded by deckchairs and round loungers, perfect for curling up in and reading a book.
You can indulge yourself further by making an appointment at the day spa, which offers a range of treatments starting at $120 for a full body massage.
Other activities include tennis, billiards, table tennis, simply chilling out in the library or lounge near an open fire and, of course, walking around the gardens.
Then there’s the food and wine.
Soon after arriving, we tasted a few Lindenderry wines – from Red Hill and its sister winery at Macedon – in the Cellar Door restaurant a short distance from the hotel foyer.
Open between 11am and 5pm on weekends, the Cellar Door serves a selection of light meals, including wood-fired pizzas and the popular Graziers Plate, a selection of house-made terrines, pates, cold meats and pickles served with a toasted baguette.
Breakfast and dinner are served in the Linden Tree Restaurant, which is dominated by a magnificent ceiling-high window overlooking the vineyard.
The restaurant was quiet on the night we were there, which gave it an intimate feel. With only one waiter, we had to wait a while to be seated and served, but the service itself was very friendly.
The food was good and priced in line for such a location, with entrées about the $20 mark and mains about $37.
I opted for the pork belly salad starter, while my partner tried the caramelised spring onion broth. Both were delicious.
Being lovers of steak, we both opted for the Wagyu rump, which was full of flavour and went down well with Lindenderry pinot noir.
Breakfast was standard hotel buffet, but the surroundings made it a much more pleasurable experience than your average city hotel.
Lindenderry is popular for weddings, with the nuptials taking place in the vineyard or gardens, and celebrations in the reception room. It’s also located near many of the Mornington Peninsula’s popular attractions, should you want to wander.
Lindenderry at Red Hill
142 Arthurs Seat Road, Red Hill.
Room prices start at $220 a night for a courtyard room.
David Bonnici stayed at Lindonderry at Red Hill as a guest of the Lancemore Group.