All Images Credit the Lancemore Group
Just a short drive away from Melbourne, the landscapes change from shiny skyscrapers and heavy traffic to sleepy suburbs and rural farmlands. 150 years ago, one of Australia’s early livestock industrialists created a majestic 19th Century estate designed to rival the most spectacular mansions in Europe. His vision is still an awesome sight to behold for thousands of visitors per year. This majestic estate is much more than a national treasure, it also happens to be one of the grandest hotels in all of Australia, the Lancemore Mansion Hotel Werribee Park.
The hotel is a complete refuge offering guests a countryside retreat with exquisite accommodations, one of the top fine dining restaurants in Melbourne, as well as a world-class spa and sublime 55-foot indoor pool. All of this while being ensconced in the national park of the Werribee Mansion, its gorgeous grounds and the nearby racetrack, a zoo and wineries.
Unlike many of the grand estates and castles of Europe, the Werribee Mansion was not the product of a wealthy heir born with a silver spoon in his mouth. It was quite the opposite. In 1838, Thomas Chirnside emigrated from Scotland and began as a simple farmer. Later he was joined by this brother and together they prospered and became wealthy sheep farmers an amassed a pastoral empire. In 1877 Thomas built the 60-room mansion and had a staff of 55 to care for the estate and five family members.
The mansion was sold in 1923 to the Catholic Church who added the St. Josephs Seminary. After falling into a state of disrepair, the mansion changed hands again in 1973 and was taken over by the government. After an extensive restoration, Werribee Park reopened in 2000 as a national park with lovely gardens, the historic mansion and the five-star hotel in the seminary and a new adjacent building.
The mansion is a daunting structure that to the unaware looks more like a New England University. The mansion impresses with its 19th-century Italian architecture and design, bluestone exteriors and a clock tower. In a separate area of the mansion’s grounds sits the Lancemore Mansion Hotel Werribee Park. Once inside guests are transported to the modern-day in a grand hotel that manages to flawlessly blend artisanal craftsmanship and the nuances of yesteryear with a completely ultra-modern décor, contemporary furnishing, elegant chandeliers, fresh-cut flowers and rooms flooded with natural light.
The former austere residences of seminary students have been reimagined into spaces worthy of the most discerning guest. The 91 contemporary and cleanly designed guest rooms and suites offer a refined ambiance of light and airy spaces, with a neutral color palette of beige and dark wood. The modern annex building offers larger sized Superior Rooms and Junior suites that guests will find well-furnished with king-sized beds, lounge chair and ottoman, and desk. The junior suites are ideal for a romantic weekend with spa baths, and balconies overlooking the grounds.
The Werribee Mansion is akin to a grand Italian palazzo with fine accommodations, manicured gardens, and gourmet cuisine. As such, it is only fitting that the mansion offers their Mansion SocieTEA which is a proper high tea service every Sunday afternoon with and exquisite offering of sweet and savory dishes.
Beyond the royal high tea service, the culinary experience at Werribee Mansion is majestic as well with their highly acclaimed signature restaurant, Joseph’s. The setting is in the former Catholic seminary with vaulted ceilings, finest details and touches in the décor and panoramic views of the picturesque formal gardens.
Joseph’s offers modern European cuisine based on seasonal, local produce and an extensive wine list of over 200 Australian and international wines. The pleasures of the six-course degustation menu are sure to last long after the final fork is set down with inventive dishes plated with impeccable presentation.
There’s so much to do an see around Werribee that it makes it the ideal weekend getaway from Melbourne or side trip for the international traveler. For a bit of pampering, one need not go far as the resort offers a highly acclaimed in Day Spa. Facilities include eight treatment rooms, a VIP suite a sauna, and hammam, as well as an extensive treatment menu including facials to body, wraps to massages as well as couples’ treatments and extended rituals. The hotel also offers a cavernous indoor pool room with whirlpool areas and lounge chairs ideal of lazing away for a few hours or taking a brisk swim in the 55-foot pool.
Guests of the hotel have complimentary access to the historic mansion. This national treasure welcomes visitors to step back in time to see how the Australian aristocrats lived at the turn of the 20th century. The museum offers magnificently restored interiors with fancy parlors and living rooms with priceless antique furnishings and formal dining rooms with tables set with fine china. After ascending the grand staircase, visitors get a peek into the bedchambers with centuries-old clothing again intact as well as the children’s playroom with antique toys and dollhouses from so many years ago.
The mansion is surrounded by the gorgeous sprawling botanic gardens laid out on 25 acres. Melbournians make the drive down to enjoy picnics with family and friends on the meticulously manicured grounds English country garden. Hotel guests will love to spend a few hours on a romantic stroll taking in the magnificent pine and eucalyptus, exotic trees and colorful flower beds and the picturesque pond. The property has Parterre Gardens which are the French style formal round symmetrical garden as well as the Victoria State Rose Garden, largest rose garden in the Southern Hemisphere with over 5000 rose bushes. Around the property there are the constant birdsong, colorful parrots and as evening approaches the skies fill with creepy bats awoken to prowl the night.
The Lancemore Mansion Hotel Werribee Park is an ideal place to explore the Australia of yesteryear while being pampered with the indulgences of today. Exploring the historic mansion and gorgeous gardens, while staying in a grand hotel with impeccable accommodations, dining, and spa, make this one of Australia’s top vacation options for the discerning traveler.