Work up an ap­petite ex­plor­ing Mt Lofty Botanic Gar­dens

Mt Lofty House 74 Mt Lofty Sum­mit Rd, Crafers 8339 6777, mt­lofty­ au

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - ESCAPE - words and pic­tures l au­ren novak

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.

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