Glen Isla House, Phillip Island review: Warming the cockles

Read our writer's views on this property below

Mary O'Brien finds breakfast and service is generous at a heritage escape in Cowes.

It's raining cats and dogs (and possibly horses) - a crazy month's rain in a day - as we arrive at the beautiful Glen Isla House boutique hotel on Phillip Island. But the weather doesn't daunt Madeleine Baker, a co-owner, who conveniently appears out of nowhere with a large umbrella to welcome us and tell us the best place to park.

I've already had a long chat with her on the phone, when she advised me about local attractions and where to dine. She's not complaining about the rain, telling us that only two years ago Phillip Island was almost out of water so the deluge is welcome for her heritage gardens comprising three 100-year-old oaks, five mature Norfolk pines, a Magnolia grandiflora, a kitchen herb patch and a multitude of blossoms.

The original Glen Isla homestead, built in 1870 for a Scottish family, has been restored by Madeleine and her husband, Ian, as their home. Guests can stay in the Anderson heritage suite, part of the original house, the self-catering gate cottage or the purpose-built hotel rooms.

Imbued with old-world charm, the hotel building has a large lounge and dining room in the centre with two wings either side comprising three rooms each. We're booked into the "classic" oriental room and our children are next door in the English rose room. French doors lead from a verandah into each room.

The rooms are decorated beautifully with stylish furniture and sumptuous fabrics. There's complimentary port on the dresser and bottled water in the fridge, a selection of teas and coffee (some plunger coffee would have been nice) and chocolates. The rooms have a great sense of space due to the generous walk-in dressing room/luggage/utility room, where the fridge and kettle are kept.

Contemporary comforts aren't forgotten either, with a discrete wall-mounted LCD TV, integrated CD/DVD player, climate-control heating-cooling and combination safe. The en suite bathroom with shower is decorated tastefully.

Each room has an outdoor table and chairs on the verandah but, unfortunately, the weather isn't suitable for sitting outside. Luckily, the main guest lounge is open to all and has a welcoming gas fire, large satellite TV and newspapers and magazines.

There are separate tables dotted around for breakfast, which is a treat served on linen with stylish cutlery and wares. Help-yourself offerings (cereals, yoghurts, compotes and fresh fruit) are generous and good quality with a local apple juice a big hit. Orders are taken for the cooked component of breakfast. Freeranger eggs from Grantville are served with smoked bacon, field mushrooms, tomatoes and herbs.

The weather is still wild but the rain is clearing so we don jackets and head out the back gate, down a lane and onto the beach. Our walk is a bracing one. Luckily, we've seen the penguins recently so we don't have to brave the inclement weather to visit Phillip Island's star attractions.

The hotel is well located, about 1.5 kilometres from the centre of Cowes and 100 metres from the beach. The area is quiet and it's still possible to walk to the shops and cafes.

Glen Isla House (which has no connection with the apartments nearby) is an elegant escape from the pressures of daily life.

The stylish, individually decorated rooms, the manicured gardens and the chatty hosts make it a memorable break.


Glen Isla House

Address 230-232 Church Street, Cowes, Phillip Island.

Bookings 5952 1882,

Getting there Take the Monash Freeway (M1) and turn off at the Cranbourne exit. Take the South Gippsland Highway (M420), then the Bass Highway (A420) to San Remo. Cross the bridge and take the A420 to Cowes.

Price Classic rooms B&B $285 a night for two; heritage suite B&B $425; self-catering gate cottage $270 a night. Not suitable for children under the age of 12.

Summary An elegant escape set in pristine gardens with welcoming hosts.

Verdict 17

The score: 19-20 excellent; 17-18 great; 15-16 good; 13-14 comfortable.

All weekends away are conducted anonymously and paid for by Traveller.