The Provincial Hotel
Ballarat’s heritage-listed Provincial Hotel was built in 1909 in a grand Edwardian style. In 2018 the well-loved (read: derelict) building was transformed into an award-winning boutique hotel, under the stewardship of new owners Simon and Gorgi Coghlan, and local hospitality legend Drew Harry. The hotel has been exquisitely renovated in a French provincial style, while retaining its art nouveau architectural character, with striking domed turrets and elaborate exterior decorations. Local art, mostly by women artists, colours the interior.
The 23 spacious suites are uniquely decorated and run to an elegant ivory and blue colour-scheme, decked out with antique furniture, soft beds and boisterous spa baths. Some rooms open directly to the stately baroque balcony, or overlook the internal courtyard with an open fire and cocktail caravan (perfect for a pre-dinner drink).
The French influence continues in the hotel’s decedent downstairs restaurant, Lola, open for breakfast seven days a week, and lunch and dinner Wednesday – Sunday. Lola’s Winter Express Lunch has just launched and includes two courses and a drink for $45 per person. Try the grilled swordfish or chargrilled spatchcock, and don’t be shy with sampling one of Lola’s four fun cocktails, including a Lola Spritz (with Kilderkin gin, quince, prosecco and lemonade) and the Pear Penicillin (nashi pear, lemon, ginger and whiskey).
Head chef Philippe Desrettes has crafted a classic French menu to celebrate Bastille Day on 16 July, with wines matched to each course by winemaker Gilles Lapalus of Maison Lapalus Winery.
The hotel is directly opposite the train station on the heritage-rich Lydiard Street, making it the perfect base for city wanderings.