When setting out to create accommodation on the Victorian country property that houses one of Australia's finest restaurants, Brae, the team behind it chose to build only six suites. Before they opened the suites were booked out. Now, within a few weeks of opening, they require booking months in advance for weekend nights.
Chef Dan Hunter and his wife Julianne Bagnato wanted to ensure they supported local B&Bs and the community in the Otway region town of Birregurra, that had supported them since the restaurant's inception in December, 2013. So, rather than competing, they set about filling a gap in the market, creating a luxury offering that fits with the fine dining Brae restaurant experience.
Hunter and Bagnato also wanted to create something "where we'd like to stay," as Hunter says.
The resulting Six Degrees Architects-designed attached villas with interiors by Studio Round are understated but spectacular in the details. They range from tiny things such as interesting and tactile pieces of pottery holding toiletries, to big things such as heated slate floors, environmentally efficient systems, recycled bricks and glass in the construction, and beautiful lighting and view orientation, including a stargazing window above the bed.
Add to this organic linen, luxury throws, fine wool carpets and upholstery and a huge comfortable bed, and a bit of fun: a deep bath with duel aspect views, a turntable and sound system accompanied by a Hunter-curated vinyl collection, and an in-room small-batch wine and spirit collection with quality accoutrements to make cocktails, plus snacks from Brae's kitchen.
Breakfast is served simply and honestly – there is house-made bread, preserves, yoghurt, muesli and stewed fruit and fresh pastries and The Age delivered at 8am.
"We are a restaurant with rooms, not a hotel," says Hunter of his multi-award-winning offering set on 12 hectares of vegetable gardens and orchard, 90 minutes' drive from Melbourne. "And I still see it as a farmhouse where people visit to eat. Now it's like people are coming to our house to stay."
Accommodation, including breakfast, from $425 a night (Monday) to $565 a night (Friday, Saturday, public holiday). Brae: 4285 Cape Otway Road, Birregurra, Victoria. Phone (03) 5236 2226. See www.braerestaurant.com.