At the southern end of the stunning Grampians National Park, you’ll find the Royal Mail Hotel, best known for its hyper-local destination fine diner Wickens, and casual all-day offshoot Parker Street Project.
Surrounded by native gardens, the Royal Mail’s on-site accommodation is more modest than you’d expect for something sitting alongside a diner of Wickens’ calibre, but the rooms evoke a quiet, understated luxury on par with the country surroundings.
The 17 rooms, plus a couple of one- and two-bedroom apartments, were designed by Barrack International Architects in 1998, built using locally sourced sandstone and timber. A full-length glass wall on one side of each room provides views of three Southern Grampians peaks – Mount Sturgeon, the Piccaninny and Mount Abrupt – and all have private balconies, some looking onto the heated saltwater pool. In all rooms you’ll find king beds, Jardan furniture, rainfall showers and vases by Dinosaur Designs filled with native flowers. In the minibar, there’s locally sourced swag including Pierrepoint Estate wine and chocolate by Port Fairy’s Audley & Hall.
There’s more accommodation off-site too, including Mulberry House, a beautifully restored four-bedroom federation house with a wraparound balcony just a few minutes’ walk away, and three kilometres up the road is Mt Sturgeon Station, a 25,000 hectare farm where the restaurants’ beef and lamb is raised. Here you’ll find more secluded accommodation (you’re likely to spot some wildlife, too). Bluestone cottages – former shearers’ and cooks’ quarters – feature log fires and leather lounges. There’s also a homestead that sleeps 12 and can be hired for weddings and corporate retreats. It has a library, formal dining room and lounge, and open-plan modern kitchen. A breakfast hamper of house-made muesli and jams, Dunkeld Old Bakery sourdough, eggs from the kitchen garden, and thick-cut bacon from Salt Kitchen Charcuterie in Ballarat is included, as are transfers to and from Wickens for dinner.
All guests are treated to a morning tour (normally $15) of the Royal Mail’s organic kitchen garden, about a 15-minute walk from the hotel, where a gardener or chef will walk you through rows of tomatillos, beetroot, melons and purple sweet potato, while ducks and chickens act as natural pest control.