An hour from Melbourne down the M1, Red Hill is prime real estate on the Mornington Peninsula, and Lindenderry, owned by Australian family company Lancemore, has held its 12-hectare spot on the ridge for the past 20 years. It's in the news for its deft, "multi-million dollar" renovation by Melbourne team Hecker Guthrie, which has created a polished take on the country getaway.
A string of quiet spaces links the 40 rooms: a billiards lounge here, a sunny, heated indoor pool there. Each has its own character, such as the moody library stocked with a fireplace and a flawless range of magazines, and the airy Peninsula Room, dominated by a John Peart artwork from the collection of Lancemore founder Jan Clark. Custom-made furniture provides ample places to rest your wineglass, and every single window frames a calming view of manicured lawns, potted citrus trees, vines or bushland, echoed in the hotel's new nature-inspired palette of mossy greens and taupe. Vineyards yield a glowing range of wines capped by its Blanc De Blancs sparkling, and little woodland trails lead to a secluded lake and tennis courts.
The low-rise hotel has a bona fide country-house vibe, with Courtyard and Linden rooms looking onto Mediterranean-style sunny terraces. Top of the range are the five Balcony suites which, along with the modestly named Garden rooms, are vast spaces with doors opening out to the gardens and lake beyond. My Garden room includes a sofa and fireplace, and the mini-bar is a study in Mornington Peninsula produce, with neighbour Bass & Flinders' gin and a pilsner from Red Hill brewery cooling in the fridge. The long, slender bathroom includes a tub but has no natural light: do your blush in the bedroom to avoid a spectacle at the breakfast buffet.
If chef Paul Witherington tells you he's been playing in the kitchen, say yes to whatever he's offering. Our five-course degustation is bookended by quenelles of duck: at the front is a super-smooth duck liver parfait with a zesty zucchini pickle, but it's other end that we're all talking about. Going off-piste, his duck-fat parfait is served with a sprinkle of popping candy, and rounds up an exceptional evening that starred the local asparagus risotto with a slow-cooked egg and a Western plains lamb noisette. The service is stylish and staff extremely well-informed, without being condescending. Take an early morning walk around the lake to work up an appetite for a country breakfast.
Red Hill is booming – in a stylish, peninsula fashion. Two minutes up the road, the new American-style Red Gum BBQ sends plumes of fragrant, woody smoke over the village, which includes must-stop The Epicurean Red Hill cafe, restaurant and larder. Shop the apple pies at Johnny Ripe bakery or book in for lunch at the super-stylish dining rooms of Jackalope's Rare Hare or newcomer Point Leo Estate: work up an appetite with a pre-prandial walk around Point Leo's celebrated sculpture garden. Weekenders should ask about the peninsula's famed farmer's markets: Red Hill's top-notch market is a 10-minute, tree-lined walk from the hotel (first Saturday of the month).
Long overlooked, the Lindenderry's recent renovation sets the property among the best in its class on the peninsula.
Lindenderry at Red Hill, 142 Arthurs Seat Road, Red Hill, (03) 5989 2933.
Garden rooms start from $320 a night.
A picnic by the lake with a bottle of Lindenderry Estate chardonnay.
The lack of dividers on the shared balcony means everyone can see you quaffing aperitifs in your swimmers.
Belinda Jackson stayed as a guest of Lindenderry at Red Hill.