Six of the best: NSW Southern Highlands stays

THE BOOK BARN COTTAGE, BERRIMA

The enterprising Berkelouw family are not content were not content with having added a spectacular new cellar door – featuring a striking John Olsen original and a grandiose medieval-style circular fireplace – to its much-loved restaurant, cafe, winery and Book Barn complex, Bendooley Estate at Berrima, a 90-minute drive from Sydney. Now, after all, they're expanding their accommodation offer with five new luxury cottages set to open late this year. In the meantime, enjoy the long-standing, self-contained Book Barn Cottage. A former gatekeeper's residence, it's located away from main buildings just near the entrance to the property. The unpretentious, light-filled, two-bedroom weatherboard cottage sleeps five. Tome sweet tome and all that. Rates start from $275 mid-week. See bendooleyestate.com.au

THE OLD BANK HOTEL, MITTAGONG 

Local Southern Highlands farmers Barbara and Warwick Wainberg last year transformed – at what appears to be considerable expense – the erstwhile 1880s Commercial Banking Company building in the main street of Mittagong into an impressive bedroom boutique-style guesthouse-cum-boutique hotel. Despite a few customarily quaint touches, such as oversized teddy bears and knitted tea-cosies, the Old Bank is an impressive addition to the Southern Highlands. Check out the former bank vault, with its one-tonne door originally crafted in London, which has been converted into a novel wine cellar. Doubles start from $295, including a cooked breakfast. See oldbankhotel.com.au

PEPPERS MANOR HOUSE, SUTTON FOREST

One of the Southern Highlands most well-known hotels, the 140-year-old Peppers Manor House, a 15-minute drive from Bowral, last year received a belated multimillion-dollar makeover. The refurbishment included refreshed guestrooms, public spaces and Katers, its excellent, once The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide-hatted restaurant with an award-winning wine list highlighting the increasingly lauded local drops. Relax in the hotel's quaint baronial-style Great Hall, replete with towering ceilings, comfy sofas and roaring log fire with the spruced-up courtyard and gardens a treat for morning or afternoon tea in the warmer months. Doubles start from $164 per night for a Highland Queen Room. See peppers.com.au

THE LOCH, BERRIMA

Along with helping to shake-up the Southern Highlands under-developed food and wine scene, dynamic Sydneysider Brigid Kennedy has injected some much-needed panache into the Southern Highlands accommodation scene. Up the hill from the historic Georgian village of Berrima, the energetic Sydney chef has crafted four stylish rooms, each named in honour of a Scottish town or city, from a once prosaic stables building. On Sundays, The Loch comes alive with an elaborate "farm stall" featuring fresh local produce and prepared meals as well as bucolic antiques by Kennedy's partner, Kevin Nott. Look out for regular food-focused gatherings held in the grounds of The Loch or inside its huge barn. Doubles start from $210, minimum two night stay. See theloch.net.au

HOWARDS LANE VINEYARD, MITTAGONG

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Damien and Justine Monley, owners of the swish Grand Bistro in Bowral's Grand Arcade, just off Bong Bong Street, the town's main drag, have turned their companion winery's former cellar door into a luxury self-contained retreat. The stylish cottage-style, open-plan space boasts towering church-like beamed ceilings and views overlooking the vines and surrounding countryside punctuated by the nearby Hume Freeway. At this hidden gem, there's also a separate, fully-equipped kitchen with an espresso machine and a selection of Howards Lane wines as well as a luxurious bathroom. Doubles from $285 per night with a minimum two nights stay. See grandbistro.com.au/grand-stays 

THE STABLES, MITTAGONG

The latest accommodation choice from the canny and ambitious owners of the aforementioned Old Bank, The Stables is a converted former 19th century butchery that once served as the horse and buggy stables for the bank manager and his family. Located at the rear of the main building, The Stables, minus the nags, is now a lovingly and carefully-restored cottage housing a separate bedroom, lounge, dining and kitchen space with walls decorated with historical photographs and letters. Despite being separate to the Old Bank, guests at The Stables (which is also wheelchair accessible) can utilise the facilities of the main building where breakfast is served in the main dining room. Doubles at The Stables start from $425 per couple including a two-course "country breakfast". See oldbankhotel.com.au

Anthony Dennis stayed as a guest of the featured properties.

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