Margaret River is one of my favourite places on the planet. I try to get down south a few times each year. It’s awesome in summer because there are so many stunning beaches – some with impressive surf while others are idyllic calm bays that remind me of Sardinia. Summer is made for white wine – Margaret River’s chardonnays are some of the best in the world. Forget pungent oaky, buttery chardonnays, Margaret River produces refined and complex drops. It would be unfair to list wineries that produce great chardonnay because there are so many.
In the cooler months Margaret River is a great place to go because it’s perfect red wine drinking weather, and Margaret River produces some ripper reds – Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvingon, as well as some decent Shiraz.
When giving advice on when to visit Margaret River, any time is a good time. Just go! I often time my visits with an event if I can – some of my favourites are:
- Margaret River Gourmet Escape – no foodie should miss this one, now in its third year – November
- Emergence Creative – a very cool conference for those in the creative industries, held in February
- Drug Aware Pro Margaret River WCT surfing event in April
Check out margaretriver.com event listing for more events and info.
So, you’ve decided when to ‘head down south’ as Western Australians say, next task, find somewhere to stay.
Cape Lodge is one of the loveliest and most comfortable places I’ve ever stayed, anywhere in the world. Driving in along the winding red-gravel drive flanked by neat rows of vines and views of rolling hills, to the pretty rose garden in front of the Dutch inspired boutique hotel main residence, Cape Lodge impresses from moment you turn off Caves Road. From large spa suites with heated bathroom floors, to the exceptional linen on the huge beds, to the free freshly baked muffins for afternoon tea, and the award-winning restaurant, Cape Lodge is an amazing place to stay. It is expensive, but worth it for a special getaway.
Make sure you book in for dinner in the restaurant at least one night during your stay. The new executive chef, Michael Elfwing originally from Sweden, has worked at The Grange in South Australia, The Fat Duck in the UK and a host of Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe. He has filled the (huge) shoes of outgoing revered chef Tony Howell (now at Aravina Estate) exceptionally well. It’s well situated for exploring wineries in the Wilyabrup sub-region and about a thirty minutes drive from Margaret River town.
Smith’s Beach Resort was built with the environment in mind, designed to blend into the undulating landscape. Opened in 2008, the self contained apartments are spacious, modern, well appointed and luxurious. Lamonts Restaurant is on site and an excellent dining choice. It’s located spitting distance to the beautiful Smith’s Beach, less than fifteen minutes drive to Dunsborough, and about forty minutes to Margaret River town.
Set on 240 acres, Forest Rise Eco Retreat is perfectly secluded and completely private. With only a few chalets spread out on the huge property, you won’t see anyone else during your stay -not even at check in or check out. Take a free mountain bike to explore the property, sit back and star gaze from the spa enclosed with a glass ceiling, book a private chef to come and cook for your in your chalet, or just relax in your luxury surrounds. King size bed, wood fired heater, and fully equipped kitchen are just some of the features that will make you want to stay forever.
The following two guest houses offer some of the same services as hotels, similar levels of luxury, but your dollar will stretch further. Same with staying in a holiday rental.
Loaring Place B&B is a hidden gem. The modern house has a large welcoming common room complete with leather couches and an open fire. The rooms are modern, well appointed, with King size beds and spas. Owners Pam and Dirk Hos have thought of everything. They ask guests to be environmentally conscious and offer tips with what they can do to help while during their stay – I love that. Sit outside and gaze across the garden to the adjacent bush – at the right time of day you could be sharing the garden with local kangaroos. Chickens live in a caravan and their fresh eggs are served for breakfast, as well as a variety of bread, freshly baked muffins and a selection of home made jams as well as cereals and juices. For the price per night, Loaring Place is exceptional value for money and is just a five minute drive into town.
Loaring Place, 15 Loaring Place, Margaret River
Tel: 08 9758 7002
As soon as I drove into the Margaret River Guest House and spotted the pretty rose garden, I knew I would be in for a comfortable stay. Once a covent, the Margaret River Guest house retains its historical charms. Rooms are large, the bed was big and comfortable, the bathroom was functional if a little dated, but what won it for me was the breakfast. A good hearty country breakfast is served in the main dining room and included with the room tariff. Walking distance to town is a bonus.
Margaret River Guest House
5 Valley Road, Margaret River
Tel: 08 9757 2349
6. Rental Accommodation
Self catering and staying in a house can be a great option when heading down south. Check out the listings on Margaretriver.com for a good selection of properties of all sizes across the region. From central apartments, large houses with coastal views, to farm stays, there’s something to fit every taste and budget.6. Holiday rentals
For more information on what to see, do, stay, and where to eat, visit www.margaretriver.com
Check out my post on Aravina Estate – that’s one winery lunch you won’t want to miss.
Disclosure: Dianne Bortoletto travelled to Margaret River in February 2014 as a guest of the Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association, staying at Loaring Place Bed and Breakfast and Margaret River Guest House and ate at Cape Lodge. Dianne has stayed and eaten at Cape Lodge at her own expenses several times in the past.