A Valentine’s Day Weekend Like No Other

With Valentine’s Day weekend but four days away, those of us who’re a little bit slower in getting off the mark need to get cracking.

We feel for you, and so, have put together – with the great help of our friends at Honda and the tourism operations of the Daylesford & Macedon Ranges – a list of must-dos should you opt for a romantic, love-fuelled, sun-soaked weekend away of gastronomically sophisticated proportions.

Daylesford, Hepburn Springs and the Macedon Ranges region is one of the gems of Victoria. It’s green, rural, friendly, when the sun shines it’s gorgeous and it’s commonly known as ‘spa country’; the place you go for mineral spas, day spas, massages, manicures; the works.

In our new model Honda Jazz, we kicked-off the hour-and-a-half drive from Melbourne to Hepburn Springs, eager for what awaited us at The Argus Dining Room just out of Daylesford’s town centre, only to crash in the plush five-star luxury of the Hepburn Spa Retreat villas down the road.

The Honda Jazz is a cloudy drive. With snappy leather interiors, heated seats – not that you need them in summer – chrome wheels, wireless connectivity and keyless entry, the car gives you the feel of luxurious living and driving mercifully without the mighty price tag. It’s a noble car for the practical get-out-of-towner.

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The Argus Dining Room

Arriving at The Argus Dining Room, opulence comes to mind. A purpose-built hotel from the 50s, the building has undergone some brilliant and stunning renovations.

Welcomed by a homely, cosy and literally welcoming reception desk that is as computerless as it is rich in Australian timber and the gorgeous fragrance of leather, you know you’re in good hands.

The Argus has three purpose rooms for guests’ enjoyment. Most of their clientelle are couples and lovers off on a city-escape, so the high-back velvet chairs, leather sofas, impressive art collections and dark, moody feel are all as appropriate as you would imagine for keeping the privacy at its optimum.

The grounds of The Argus are as expansive as the restaurant and hotel building itself. Complete with a dedicated wedding planner on full-time staff, the secret hideaway paths and nooks-and-crannies in the garden as perfectly well-suited to the feel of the beautiful establishment.

With parking all around the building, the Honda Jazz – which is a pleasantly pocket-sized-but-spacious-inside little car – was only too easy to fit into pretty-much any space we could find. If ease if your thing, definitely hire one of these for the weekend.

The menu at The Argus is 100% 5-Star. Meticulously developed and tried by head chef David Willcocks (since 2012), it features a great range of master cookery, drawing inspiration from The Argus’ own farm, Vale Hill, a 400-acre haven of farmland, just out of Daylesford.

The livestock used in the cook, the vegetables and the flavour combinations are all derived from the produce that is as on-season as the region will allow. This means that the paddock-to-plate feel of the menu is as guaranteed as the satisfaction you get from trying everything.

The wagyu beef, rainbow trout, snapper or caramelised banana dessert cannot; I repeat cannot be overlooked as being some of the best dishes of their kind available anywhere in Victoria. It’s no wonder the restaurant was awarded one hat. Read the exclusive restaurant review on The Argus here for more on the best of what they have… 

The Argus Dining Room Hepburn Springs 1

The Argus Dining Room Hepburn Springs 2

The Argus Dining Room Hepburn Springs 3

Hepburn Spa Retreat

Conveniently located around the corner (for those who enjoy too much to drink), the Hepburn Spa Retreat is every bit as much of a retreat from the world as its name would suggest.

A modest ten luxury villas make-up the hillside retreat, overlooking tree canopies nestled high above the intermittently busy extension of the Daylesford main road. Modest however, is nothing of the sort.

The villas are spacious and obviously made from quality interior fittings. With marble bath tubs, king-sized beds that you never want to leave, double rain head showers – for the lovers – and glass interior walls, complete with gas fireplace and full retracting doors to welcome-in the outdoors; it’s luxury living at its best.

Complete with all the creature comforts, as any residence of this nature would demand: pay TV, drink options, a fully functioning kitchen, bathrobes and in-built sound system, the Hepburn Spa Retreat is unquestionably appropriate for a two day lover’s romp or even longer, making the most of one of the generous and all-encompassing spa retreat packages they have on offer. Check out more on their website to get yourself enticed.

Hepburn Spa Retreat Hepburn Springs THE F 5-3

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Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa

The Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa is mercifully close-by and operates hand-in-hand with the Hepburn Spa Retreat villas up the hill. Offering the best in mineral day spa and body pampering, their packages or one-off options cater to every degree of ailment or relaxation requirement.

Operating as a modern day interpretation of one of the first Bathhouses in the region, the modern day Hepburn Bathhouse is centred quaintly around the original Bathhouse that has been heritage listed.

That’s one of the most magical parts of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs is that wherever you go, there’s a piece of history to see and be amongst. Having expanded to now include a dedicated vitality and wellbeing store, natural bath salts, healing aromas and other trinkets and potions of that nature are available for purchase, all locally made.

See more on the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa at their website – hepburnbathhouse.com

Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa 1

Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa salts-1

The Boathouse

Jumping back into the Honda Jazz and heading southward back into town, the Boathouse makes for a brilliant breakfast option for the morning following a no doubt restful lover’s sleep in the private villa.

The wireless connectivity in the car means that simply programming the destination into the phone and allowing the GPS to do the work through the car’s easy speaker system is only too easy. It’s kind of like having a chauffeur that doesn’t do the work.

Anyway, heading to the famous Boathouse is as much as a staple when visiting Daylesford as having a massage or eating too much. The Boathouse is affiliated with The Argus Dining Room, and offers the same clientelle a different approach to morning or afternoon dining.

Casual, oft sun-soaked and situated right on the banks of Lake Daylesford, the Boathouse is on prime real estate right in the heart of town and plays host to countless families, couples and lovers out to make the most of their time together.

Run by locals for locals, the Boathouse offers contemporary Australian breakfast fare with a country feel. Baked egg skillets, ranges of coffee and chai, scones and the regular spread fill the menu and are wonderfully complemented by the outstanding views of the surrounding waterway.

See the menu and all about the Boathouse at their website – lakehouse.com.au

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Jimmy’s Bar @ Frangos & Frangos

However, if afternoons are more your thing and the idea of having to drive further than necessary doesn’t appeal on account of spending longer at the Hepburn Spa Retreat villa, I don’t blame you.

Try skipping breakfast for lunch at Jimmy’s Bar at Frangos & Frangos, right on the entry roundabout of Vincent Street in Daylesford’s heart.

Tucked nice and elegantly out the back of the pub-like facade of the building, Jimmy’s Bar is a tree-filled, sun-soaked peaceful and quiet haven for a quiet drink, deliciously surprisingly Asian-inspired menu that revolves a hint of ancient Greece.

Overlooked by the very flash accommodation the Frangos & Frangos venue offers guests, Jimmy’s Bar boasts its own privacy right off the street and enough seating – either private or communal – to keep the intimacy alive regardless.

With an entry level cocktail and wines list, the lunch menu touches on casual dining options with the best of local fare: rabbit curries, pork belly and kimchi or the traditional fish and beef options are all available, bringing what’s good in Australian food options to the fore. With dedicated bar staff and waiters as friendly as they are knowledgable, Jimmy’s Bar is an outstanding option for an easy feed with minimal fuss.

See the menu and all about Jimmy’s Bar at their website – frangosandfrangos.com/jimmysbar

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Needless to say, Daylesford and Hepburn Springs are the place to retreat to for a lover’s lounge and enjoyment of each other’s company in seclusion.

The hospitality options are seconded to none when it comes to finding peace and quiet to bond, eat, drink, shop and be entertained or relaxed, depending on your mood.

Daylesford and Hepburn Springs have been crowned ‘spa country’ for a reason, are easy to access, picturesque to be surrounded by and only too ready to welcome guests. Whether you’ve forward planned months ago, or still looking for an idea of somewhere to take your special someone, look no further.

Have a look at more of the region and what it has to offer at their website – visitvictoria.com

Where to book:

The Argus Dining Room 

03 5348 4199

theargusdiningroom.com.au

Hepburn Spa Retreat

03 5321 6000

hepburnsparetreat.com.au

Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa

03 5321 6000

hepburnbathhouse.com

The Bathhouse

03 5348 2199

boathousedaylesford.com.au

Jimmy’s Bar

03 5348 2363

frangosandfrangos.com

Hepburn Spa Retreat Hepburn Springs THE F 2-1

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James Banham
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James Banham

Editor at THE F
James Banham is an Australian lifestyle, fashion and entertainment journalist. His writing can be found on these many topics and more in print and online publications around the country.
James Banham
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