HOLIDAY HUNTER: DAYLESFORD
IN OUR NEW HOLIDAY HUNTER SERIES, WE FOLLOW OUR FAVOURITE TRAVELLERS AS THEY UNCOVER GREAT WEEKEND GETAWAYS AND CHARMING COUNTRY TOWNS.
Photographer Rhiannon Taylor shares her love of Daylesford, Victoria, in the first of our new Holiday Hunter travel series.
AUSTRALIAN PHOTOGRAPHER Rhiannon Taylor has a unique eye for space, design and light. Her work sees her travel within Australia and around the world, with clients and assignments in the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, USA, Maldives, New Zealand, South Africa and South America. Rhiannon’s travel blog In Bed With is a creative outlet where she shares photographs and writes about the places she has visited. Here, she talks about her love of the pretty Victorian town of Daylesford, a two-hour drive north-west of Melbourne, where she stayed at Saint Etienne — a Federation-era guesthouse with a design-savvy aesthetic. Rhiannon’s pick of the places to stay in Daylesford, this three-bedroom home maintains its period features while adopting a minimalist and contemporary style and is surrounded by a woodland garden. Completely redesigned by a husband and wife team and featuring layers of calming white in its interiors, Saint Etienne combines creature comforts with a touch of country hospitality. Visit inbedwith.me or follow Rhiannon @inbedwith.me on Instagram. >
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR BLOG. In Bed With is a blog-cum-escape portal that publishes reviews on boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, eco-lodges and resorts. We try to find the most unique places in the world, from beach shacks in Tulum, Mexico, to palaces in remote Rajasthan, India. It was spawned from my career as an interiors and travel photographer — shooting in the commercial and editorial space over the past 10 years. I was looking for a creative project to sink my teeth into and the blog combines my love of interiors and my addiction to travel, all in one platform.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT TRAVELLING? The profound power travel has to connect us with each other. Experiencing different cultures through food and customs can make us more understanding, patient and compassionate human beings.
SAINT ETIENNE IS IN DAYLESFORD, VICTORIA. WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO THE AREA? Being from Melbourne, Daylesford is a town that I frequent regularly as it’s less than an hour’s drive from home. I can easily pop down for a long lunch, or a day in the spa. I’ve visited many times in the past and will continue to for years to come. WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF THE TOWN? It’s an incredibly charming place. As soon as you hit the outskirts of Daylesford you’re met with quaint heritage homes, gorgeous gardens and artisan makers. Entering the main strip, you’ve got an endless supply of great cafés, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries.
WHAT IS THE LANDSCAPE LIKE? Ballarat (20 minutes away) was a hub for Victoria during the gold rush era and Daylesford retains much of that 1800s architecture — it’s like stepping back in time. Hepburn Springs — a part of the region — is home to mineral springs that were formed more than five million years ago through volcanic activity and have been visited by locals since 1860. It’s the reason why there are so many good day spas and bathhouses in the area.
WHAT DID YOU MOST LIKE ABOUT SAINT ETIENNE? It is such a unique property in Daylesford. The Melbourne-based owners have a great understanding of design versus functionality and implemented it in a 1912 Federation home. I love the denim fridge and the attention to detail throughout the house is outstanding. Best of all, it’s a short stroll to the centre of town. HOW WAS YOUR STAY? Saint Etienne feels more like a home than a hotel. The kitchen allows you to cook up produce from local vendors and you can easily spend an afternoon sitting in the back garden sharing a bottle of wine with some friends. It’s perfect for switching off.
WHERE DID YOU GO FIRST AFTER CHECKING IN? We headed straight to the Lake House for a long lunch. Culinary director, Alla Wolf-tasker, is one of Victoria’s best chefs and the approach to food at Lake House is simple, with a focus on sourcing from small-scale local suppliers. The menu changes seasonally and features delectable ingredients such as Winter Nelis pears, rabbit and hare, as well as spring lamb with asparagus, taking you on a culinary journey down country lanes through to farm paddocks. The dining room is a beautiful place to sit, with huge windows overlooking Lake Daylesford.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE SPOTS IN DAYLESFORD AND WHY? I always say no visit to Daylesford is complete without a stop at the mineral spa at Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel. It overlooks French provincial-style gardens and leaves you feeling very relaxed and rejuvenated. >
WHAT ELSE DID YOU DO WHILE IN TOWN? For me, Daylesford is all about downtime so I usually fill my days trying out the different spas. My go-to, however, is Salus Day Spa (at the Lake House) for its treehouse-style treatment rooms.
ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR DAY TRIPS? The Pyrenees wine region is on Daylesford’s doorstep and is one of my favourite places. It’s not as busy as the Yarra Valley and you can have a really peaceful afternoon. If you’ve got kids in tow then I’d head to Ballarat and visit Sovereign Hill — loads of fun!
WHAT WAS THE BEST EXPERIENCE YOU HAD IN DAYLESFORD? There’s just something in the air in Daylesford. It’s peaceful, there’s a sense of old world charm, there’s impeccable dining and world-class spas. I think every time I leave after a weekend in the town I feel relaxed and recharged. And that feeling lingers with me and keeps me coming back when life gets a bit too stressful. It’s what a country escape should be.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR TRIED-AND-TESTED TRAVEL TIPS? I always research local customs before visiting a destination — either online or via someone I know who has been there. I particularly try to find out about getting around, tipping and what to wear. It’s essential to avoid getting ripped off and having uncomfortable arguments over money. I also always have a carry-on travel kit with cleansing wipes (for removing make-up on long-haul flights when you are desperate for a shower), toothbrush and toothpaste (brushing your teeth has the brilliant ability to make you feel fresh), moisturiser (face and body), lip balm and a BB cream. If my luggage is lost, I can survive. Saint Etienne can accommodate up to six guests. To book, telephone 0430 068 999 or visit saintetienne.com.au
Saint Etienne’s soft white-on-white interiors have a calming effect on visitors. FACING PAGE Travel blogger Rhiannon Taylor.