Work up an appetite exploring Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens
Mt Lofty House 74 Mt Lofty Summit Rd, Crafers 8339 6777, mtloftyhouse.com. au
IT WASN’T the best shape to be arriving at the reception desk of the elegant Mt Lofty House. Having passed the manicured front gardens on our way up the gravel drive, we sheepishly approached the front desk, covered in sweat, clad in gym gear and sneakers caked in dirt.
The reason for our uncouth appearance had everything to do with our location. My boyfriend and I (well, mostly I) decided it would be a great idea to work up an appetite for a picnic lunch by conquering the infamous Mt Lofty trail. Two hours and almost 10km later (owing to the only park we could find being another kilometre from the start of the 7.5km return trail) we arrived in the beautiful grounds of Mt Lofty House. We had just enough time to set up in the sun, with a view over Piccadilly Valley, and enjoy our packed lunch before checking in around 2pm.
The lady at the front desk didn’t bat an eyelid at our attire as she checked us in. Once inside, a nice warm shower, a fluffy white bathrobe and a glass of wine on our private balcony had us in a more civilised frame of mind.
We were booked for dinner at the inhouse restaurant at 7.15pm so we had time to kill. Thankfully, staying at Mt Lofty House is like entering a real-life game of Cluedo (minus the murder, of course). There is a billiard room, which also stores equipment including bocce sets and tennis racquets. Down the hall is a drawing room offering tea, coffee and comfy leather armchairs. At the head of the corridor is the library, open and airy under a large skylight. There is a fire for the winter months, more couches, books and board games (including Cluedo) to pass the time.
Our stay coincided with a public holiday so we decided it would be easier to eat in. The Piccadilly Restaurant has a nice ambience but is quite pricey for what we found on our plate. It might be better to explore the nearby area for a good pub or café. Our booking included breakfast, so we returned the next morning to a varied continental spread. However, I wouldn’t bother again with the hot breakfast upgrade.
Our room was spacious and clean but the bed was a disappointment. Advertised as king size, it was two singles pushed together which created a dip in the centre.
The Mt Lofty House estate is close enough to the city for a quick break but far enough to offer a quiet and calm hideaway in the hills. Outside the hotel grounds guests can visit Cleland Wildlife Park, Adelaide Hills wineries or trek one of the many trails where you might, like me, encounter a curious kangaroo or an ambivalent deer crossing the road.