This is one of Tasmania's most significant heritage properties, designed by colonial architect Henry Hunter to be Hobart's grandest mansion for one of the city's most successful businessmen (John Pearce). Since then, it's been everything from a home for neglected girls to the Salvation Army headquarters. Bought in 2016 by a local family, 18 months of renovation was put into restoring the mansion to its former glory (and then some).
Located in Hobart's leafy northern suburbs (New Town), the city's just a seven-minute drive away. But nestled as you are within a half-hectare block dominated by market gardens and water fountains and locked behind an electronic gate, Maylands Lodge provides a sanctuary you won't necessarily find at hotels on Hobart's harbour front.
Spread across three levels of Victorian Italianate architecture, Maylands Lodge lets guests feel like they've been let loose in their own museum. There's winding staircases of handcrafted huon and baltic pine leading to balconies and sitting rooms looking across Hobart and up to Mt Wellington. But little touches keep it from feeling stuffy – like a cosy bar beside an open fireplace where guests gather to chat, and drinks are yours to pour (using an honesty system).
Each of the 12 rooms is unique and pays homage to the 132-year-old history of the building. But you're not hearing ghosts at night walk across kauri pine floors – instead there's a modernity to the rooms I'm surprised at, with thick carpeted floors and huge flat-screen TVs. The rooms are enormous too, though the Hunter suites on the top floor are the most generous, with room for gas fires and private terraces looking up to the mountain.
You name the herb, fruit or vegetable and it'll be growing outside in the garden. Guests can watch chefs pick what they're about to eat at an intimate restaurant inside the lodge, which is open each day for breakfast, and Thursday to Sunday for dinner. Menus are changed constantly to match what's available, but the local seafood stars year-around.
Remember when Hobart was a sleepy country town with nothing open outside the weekend? Now it's like Brooklyn. Take a five-minute Uber ride to trendy North Hobart and you're surrounded by some of the country's most innovative new bars and restaurants. Elizabeth Street is full of them: take a seat at the bar of Bar Wa Izakaya for the city's best contemporary Japanese, while around the corner Templo's degustation menu is world-class.
As if Hobart wasn't charming enough, this private little piece of colonial Van Diemen's Land feels like a home away from home – that is, if you'd built a mansion in the late 19th century. The real skill to this renovation came in making us feel so comfortable among an old world of stained glass windows and chandeliers.
Rooms from $245, 40 Swanston Street, New Town. See www.maylandslodge.com.au
Helping yourself to a single-malt scotch at a bar frequented by guests just as enamoured as you by the colonial-era cocoon world we're all part of.
Guests with mobility issues may struggle to climb winding, narrow staircases which take you to tiny reading rooms upstairs.
Craig Tansley travelled courtesy of Tourism Tasmania.