Read our writer's views on this property below
Dinner Plain, 10 kilometres from Mount Hotham's ski slopes, is a village that is often snowbound.
Established in 1982, Dinner Plain architecture is based on cattlemen's huts. Design and colour covenants give it a uniform look with buildings, including this lodge, making heavy use of timber and stone. The lodge has 15 rooms, mostly doubles but some larger. There's also a lounge/bar with oversize open fire and the in-house Graze restaurant.
My double bedroom (No. 4) is small but homely and includes a flat-screen television, basic coffee-making facilities and an empty bar fridge. The bathroom, with amenities, is also snug. There is no Wi-Fi in the bedrooms but it is available free in the lounge.
Plenty of seating and nooks in the cosy lounge/bar. There are leather sofas near the open fire, lounge chairs where you can play chess, and plenty of tables to sit around for drinks, cheese plates and bar snacks. The decor is Australian alpine/rustic and the restaurant includes alpine antiques such as timber sleighs and skis. It all feels so good that these are spaces where you want to linger, relaxed enough to wander around in socks. The property was originally built as an officers' retreat for the army.
The lodge is the only catered accommodation in Dinner Plain. The Graze restaurant is back under the stewardship of chef Leigh Irish, who has returned from South Australia's Flying Fish Cafe. The emphasis is on local produce. Depending on availability, there could be free-range Milawa duck, Benambra Welsh black beef, which is also on the menu at Melbourne's Cutler & Co, organic pork belly from Kiewa, Harrietville trout and Mount Buffalo goat. Five-course degustation dinners using local produce are $89. Off the menu, starters are $15-$20, mains $35-$42 and desserts $15-$25. The smoked duck breast is one of the standouts. There's also daily lunch, which can be taken in front of the fire. I try the $28 flathead special, generously proportioned and tasty with light batter. There's also a bar menu with offerings such as spicy tacos.
Across the street, on Big Muster Drive, the South American Sola Copa restaurant is picking up good comments in its first season, and within two minutes' walk is the outstanding Japanese Tsubo with highlights such as ponzu oysters, soy-fried chicken pieces, hot smoked trout and pork neck.
WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR
Dinner Plain has its own novice slope with ski lift and toboggans, as well as dog-sled rides and a Japanese-style onsen retreat with massages, spa treatments and pools. Some of Victoria's best skiing is just down the road via shuttle bus ($20 return). There are also cross-country trails around the village.
Quintessential snow accommodation: big open fire (I can't think of a better one in the Victorian snowfields) and all-round cosy. Welcoming hosts Fiona, Gary and Margaret Battershill are still in charge with the property now under the Peppers banner.
HOW TO GET THERE
Driving from Melbourne via Bright and Mount Hotham takes about five hours. Via Omeo, it takes about six hours. QantasLink has 80-minute flights from Sydney to Hotham Airport, see qantas.com.au.
Three nights in a Peppers king room, daily breakfast, a five-course degustation dinner and onsen bathing costs $479 a person, twin share. Available September 9-29. See rundells.com.au, onsen.com.au, visitdinnerplain.com.
The writer stayed courtesy of Peppers Rundells Alpine Lodge.