Unveiled: this Hunter Valley hideaway’s $6m renovation

Inside the Hunter Valley’s $6m lodge

Spicers Tower Lodge brings a new level of luxury to wine country.

Words by Ute Junker

Photos supplied


The history

When Tower Lodge opened its doors in 1999, there was nowhere else like it. Created by Len Evans, the man who taught Australians to love wine, it offered a bold vision of what hospitality could be.

It has been years since this Pokolbin property welcomed guests, but Spicers Retreats has lavished it with love to create a third Hunter Valley property in its portfolio, sitting alongside Spicers Vineyards Estate and Spicers Guesthouse.


The vibe

Arriving at Tower Lodge was always a special experience, thanks to those imposing 19th-century French coach house doors. They still swing open smoothly, and the welcome is warmer than ever.

The original Spanish Mission style, complete with terracotta tiles and cloistered walkways, has been preserved, but Spicers has brought a sense of relaxed comfort to the interiors. These are spaces where you want to linger in front of the fire on a cold night, or relax in the courtyard on a balmy evening.


The suites

Each of the 14 sprawling suites has its own signature style, and its own history. One morning I ask for coffees to be delivered to our suite, explaining which one we are in. “Oh, the one with the Elton John bed,” the staffer confirms. Turns out our lodging – the Tower Suite, as it is called – is the place where Elton John once rested his head.

The bed, with its elaborately-carved timber frame, isn’t the only special thing about this oversized suite. We love spending  time soaking up the sun on the terrace, and in the late afternoon head up to the rooftop hot tub to catch the sunset while we soak.



In the mood to taste some wine? The Tower Lodge team has exclusive arrangements with a number of local cellar doors, and can tee up a visit before you arrive.

There are also daily master classes, covering everything from cocktail-making to cooking, so you can take a deep dive without ever leaving the premises.


The food

Back in the 1990s, meals at Tower Lodge were high-concept. The restaurant, tucked into a downstairs wine cellar, was called Nine. It contained nine tables, and every meal consisted of nine courses.

These days, the light-filled dining room is upstairs, the restaurant is known as Sebastian, and chef Gianni Moretto delivers delicious Basque cuisine, complete with pre-dinner pintxos (the crab tostada in particular is superb). Dinner highlights include sea urchin lightened with a creme fraiche and apple salad, and a slow-cooked pork neck with a glorious plum sauce.

Breakfast is equally impressive, with choices including a Basque omelette and a shakshuka-influenced take on eggs en cocotte.

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