Clifftop at Hepburn Springs new villas review: Shipping containers converted to luxury spaces

Our rating

4 out of 5

The location

Hepburn Springs, the sister town to Daylesford, is in the heart of Victorian spa country. The picturesque region northwest of Melbourne has been a renowned escape for more than 100 years. It is home to Australia's largest concentration of mineral springs, which you can bathe in at the local bathhouse or taste from various pumps in the Hepburn Springs Mineral Springs Reserve.

The space

Clifftop first opened three years ago with just three villas, but has now expanded with four more. Sitting on the edge of the dubiously named Breakneck Gorge, above Spring Creek, the rooms offer lovely views over the bush landscape and into the hills beyond.

Each villa is named for a romantic city – Paris, Venice, Rome and Vienna – with the rooms featuring an illuminated wall carving depicting a scene from its namesake city. Individual villas have different elements, such as massage chairs, pinball machines, wooden bathtubs or a chromatic shower (see below).

The room

The creators have aimed to come up with something different to your typical B&B or hotel accommodation and they have certainly done so. The rooms are formed from old shipping containers and, while the rusted metal of the exterior divulges their origins, inside they offer gorgeously designed spaces featuring a luxe interior with a rustic edge – reclaimed wood, sheepskin blankets and cowhide rugs meet modern touches such as a wireless entertainment system and giant TV.

Lighting throughout is sophisticated, yet simply controlled through a digital colour wheel similar to that found on old iPods, offering a wide variety of patterns and style. An iPad installed on the wall offers a Spotify connection to add music to the mood lighting through the Bose sound system.

A highlight is the glass conservatory in a corner of the room, featuring a day bed and with floor to ceiling windows and even a glass floor, looking down on to a babbling brook.

I'm in "Vienna" which has no bath but in its place is a huge "chromatic" shower, which allows you bathe under a wide selection of different lighting colours. Purple rain, indeed.

The only design flaw is the lack of privacy in the bathroom. Like so many modern hotel interiors, the bathroom, including the toilet, is separated from the bed and living area only by half a wall.

The food

There's no dining options on site, but it's a three-minute drive to some of the fabulous eateries of Hepburn Springs. I dine at Frank and Connie's – a modern, Greek-influenced restaurant with a delicious menu that changes weekly. Highlights include the lamb ribs, blue-swimmer crab broth and an outstanding baked mushroom dish.


If you prefer remaining in romantic seclusion at Clifftop, meals can be delivered by local catering company Dele, which delivers us a beef pie, two excellent salads, roast potatoes and locally made desserts. See

Stepping out

There's plenty to do around the region for lovers of food and drink. The Daylesford Cider Company offers traditionally brewed cider from 17 varieties of apples sourced from its own orchard and other local suppliers. The cellar door is open seven days a week while the English-style tavern and courtyard serves lunch Friday-Monday. The cidery won several medals for its cider at October's Australian Cider Awards. See

The verdict

Clifftop is offers stylishly designed accommodation in a gorgeous (and gorge) setting.


From $395 a night midweek. See


Relaxing on the daybed, with panoramic views, as wallabies hop about on the other side of the gorge.


The current trend for accommodations to not provide privacy in bathrooms is an unwelcome one. Let's hope it dies out soon.

The writer stayed as a guest of Clifftop at Hepburn Springs.

See also: Great escapes: Victoria's best weekends away

See also: One of Australia's best national parks has a new way to stay