With Steph’s move to New York City fast approaching, we were well overdue (and running out of time) for a cheeky Stylephiles getaway. Something accessible from Sydney, something indulgent… and of course something distinctly Australian ahead of Steph’s US adventure. Naturally we turned to Mr & Mrs Smith to search their boutique collection of hotels – a must for anyone hunting down unique and stylish accommodation options.
Overnight bags packed, excitement levels peaking – we headed out of the city and into the Greater Blue Mountains to Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley. Well – we did say indulgent didn’t we?! At just three hours by car from Sydney it’s an easily accessible destination to escape the city.
Between the two of us there was not a moment of silence for the entire journey as we contemplated all the features of our ultra luxe escape – to spa or not to spa? Bike riding or horse riding? Red or white?
Three Spotify playlists and a packet of Pringles later we pull up at the Jurassic Park-esque gates. Shrouded in darkness and silence there’s an air of magic that comes with arriving to an unfamiliar destination by night. We were happily greeted by Max – our french-native ranger (complete with Akubra) and with overpacked luggage in tow, we’re whisked away through the property in a truly Out Of Africa 4WD. The local wildlife are in full show in the headlights – kangaroos, bunnies, wombats, baby wallaroos (these are not, as you might think, a cross between a kangaroo and a wallaby!), all vying for our attention – but this is quickly diverted as we arrive to the main homestead.
A warm greeting and fuss free check in process are supplemented with a glass of Mudgee shiraz – oh Wolgan, you had us at hello. After a quick tour of the homestead we’re left doing what we do best and surveying the decor. Think beautiful hues of soft greens and pinks which are completely sympathetic to their bush surroundings, offset against earthy materials of timber and sandstone. The homestead exudes a warm welcome feeling with bespoke upholstered lounges and over-plumped velvet cushions providing the perfect place to enjoy the roaring fire. Don’t mind if we do!
Two wines in and we head down to our Heritage Villa, the perfect slice of Australiana elevated to 6* luxury. Executed on point, the federation period details are front and centre: timberwork, expansive verandah and the leadlight entry. Add to this the sandstone double sided fireplace, private plunge pool (heated to 27 degrees), star gazing shower, and a tub with a view … they’ve absolutely nailed the “high-end Aussie” brief.
No detail has been overlooked – we immediately noticed the scent of lemon myrtle permeating the villa, the carefully selected reading material on Australian wildlife, the RM Williams cable knitted throw styled over the leather reading chair and our favourite Sodashi bathroom products.
Despite getting lost in the details, the packet of Pringles we scoffed in the car en route is now a long distant memory and so we make our way back up to the Homestead for dinner. After a quick freshen up and a few Instagram pics later, we stepped out on our front veranda and opted to head up to dinner on the provided villa mountain bikes. (In villa dining was of course an option for those who just can’t seem to shed their fluffy robes and venture into the night).
On entering The Wolgan Dining Room we’re full of warm and fuzzies, that glazed deep-sigh kinda feeling when everything just clicks into place . The dining room is a masterclass in refined country style – the lofty vaulted ceilings give ample breathing room for oversized custom furniture and plenty of bespoke decor pieces to shine. Mood lighting and plenty of space provided the perfect spot for us to discreetly pinch ourselves under the table and speculate on how we might somehow move in on a more permanent basis.
Dinner was an a la carte feast of locally sourced produce which would be right at home in any of Sydney’s hatted restaurants, and that Mudgee Shiraz is tasting better by the second. The longer we sink into our leather banquette were concerned about needing human assistance to get back to our villa… and we’re quite sure a request even this ridiculous would not be too much to ask – the service at every point has been friendly, helpful and never in your face.
With full bellies and our room nice and toasty from the roaring double sided fireplace, we rolled ourselves into bed complete with crisp linen and heavy duvets, and awoke to the big reveal of the valley.
Surrounded by beautiful mountains in every direction, the place is absolutely buzzing with wildlife. Apparently there are more species of birds here than in the entirety of New Zealand. Wolgan Valley truly is Mother Nature’s Disneyland! Since we’re up with the birds we opt to make the most of it and took the bikes for a ride around the property. Of the 7,000 hectares of pristine perfect wilderness I think covered 0.2% by pedal power – so after breakfast we’re going to channel our inner Man From Snowy River and hit the trails on horseback.
Opting for the horsetrail ride meant to we had to sacrifice the spa experience (although we did hear this is fabulous) but we really wanted to spot more wildlife and experience all the beauty of the creeks and natural ridges of this estate.
Even in the stables Wolgan Valley’s attention to detail was not forgotten. As we waited for our group to get fitted with riding helmets we relaxed in the most divine custom oversized leather butterfly chairs and admired the integrated shelving housing all of the horse riding equipment.
Having not been anywhere near a horse for over 20 years, we were both a little nervous but were put at ease immediately by the well trained horse whisperers. We were then introduced to our horses for the day (or forever if we had my way) Split Ear & Bandit – two docile, friendly, fern loving horses who were quite happy to go slow! A quick introduction and a cuddle and off we went.
This was a perfect way to get deeper into the Wolgan experience, to take in the vastness of the space and to really breathe. You couldn’t help but feel incredibly lucky to have been given a little glimpse into this untouched wilderness. We should add that once again the staff were incredible, highly knowledgeable and extremely patient with all of us non-riders, and the horses were beautiful and gentle.
Regrettably returning back from our horse ride signalled the home stretch of our stay at Wolgan, so for our final hours we pulled back our pool windows and plunged away in complete privacy. Gazing over the sandstone pool edge, we are once again in awe of the surroundings. Thinking we might have to call on Mr & Mrs Smith later tonight and extend our stay for an extra night, week, year…