Cape Lodge

Yallingup, Margaret River, Australia Book from

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
Sumptuous country hotel with lake-filled gardens and a top-notch restaurant in the heart of the Margaret River wineries
Three hours south of Perth is Margaret River. It's not just a river: it's an arty gastro-town, a premium wine region (which produces 1/4 of Australia's top wines), and a beautiful coastline stretching 100km between a pair of capes, where fabulous empty white beaches and limestone caves are washed by the cobalt Indian Ocean.

Amidst these wineries and just 3km from the coast, Cape Lodge started out in the 1990s as a luxury B&B, and has been evolving upwards ever since. A $3m injection has seen the completion of luxury rooms and suites and the spacious lakeside restaurant, with a famous 14,000-bottle temperature-controlled wine cellar. You enter through working vineyards and native woodland, then the drive sweeps round to reveal 40 acres of gorgeous private parkland, including a tennis court, a free-form swimming pool, manicured lawns and rose gardens set around ornamental lakes. This is top-dollar indulgence for food, wine and beach lovers.

Highs

  • Charming setting in landscaped gardens, with 2 lakes, a pool and vineyards
  • Secluded lake-view rooms and suites, housed in 6 different buildings
  • Also, the impressive Vineyard Residence for 6, set in its own grounds within the estate
  • Delicious, innovative menus
  • Heaps to do nearby: wineries, beaches, karri forests, fishing, whale-watching, diving, surfing
  • Discreet, professional and friendly service

Lows

  • A tad pricey in high season, but Margaret River has good weather all year round so it's worth going out of season
  • The lodge buildings are varied in style - some are neo-classical, others modern - and some rooms lack character
  • No children under 8 are allowed, a high for some
  • Some of the buildings are a long walk from the restaurant (but this keeps them tranquil)
  • The restaurants is closed on Monday evenings from May until September

Best time to go

Margaret River has a lovely climate all year round. The busy season is summer (November-April); expect to pay premium prices during December and January, and over Easter when the wine harvest is gathered. Spring (October-November) is particularly pretty, with carpets of flowers and lovely blossoms. Winter (June-September) is best for whale-watching.

Our top tips

Bring an empty suitcase for your wine purchases, plus beach stuff if you're spending time on the coast, and smarter clothes for dining out.

Great for...

Beach
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 22 + 1 villa
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • Over 8s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Tennis Court
Room: Garden View Room

Rooms

Carefully positioned in 6 buildings around the grounds are 20 rooms and suites, plus a large cottage, all very plush and very secluded. The décor is contemporary Australian, the style is uncluttered and understated, the lighting is subtle, and the materials are luxurious. Best of all, most have a private terrace or balcony from which to soak up views of the estate's lakes.

The Lodge Suite has 2 double bedrooms: a master bedroom with a marble ensuite holding a large spa bathtub and a separate shower, plus garden views, and a second bedroom facing the rose garden with a lounge area and its own marble ensuite. There’s also a Garden View Room has a sitting area, a kingsize bedroom and a walk-in shower.

The rest of the Garden View Rooms are in a single-storey wing next to the main lodge, which is architecturally less characterful but is fronted by pretty roses and lavender.

Flanking the main lake are the lake and terrace wings, holding the Lake View Suites and Garden Deluxe Rooms; those upstairs have balconies and those downstairs, terraces. Interiors bear a French influence: high ceilings, spacious lounges and wonderful views of the lake and gardens. Each has an open-plan spa bath and an ensuite bathroom with a shower.

There are 8 more Lake View Suites a short walk from the restaurant. They're surrounded by landscaped woodland; with sumptuous bathrooms offering spa tubs with forest views, plus separate showers.

Standing alone in 3 acres of rolling lawns, with a private putting green and even a helipad, is the crème de la crème, the Vineyard Residence. You can spread out in the palatial living-dining-kitchen area, or slip outside to an equally huge BBQ and a dining area. Upstairs, the master suite has 2 queensize beds, its own sitting area, a large ensuite bathroom and a walk-in wardrobe. The other 2 bedrooms have kingsize beds and share a marble bathroom. If you need more space, you can also book the 2-bedroom Residence Guest House (only available in conjunction with the Vineyard Residence).

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dvd player
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

You dine in style here, sitting by the lake on an alfresco deck shaded by peppermint and marri trees. The Cape Lodge Restaurant is only open to guests and their friends, with a glass-fronted kitchen so you can watch the staff in action.

Chef Michael Elfwing is justly proud of his menu - modern Australian with a Mediterranean twist - created from fresh local produce, often organic, and with subtle changes each day. We relished the seared scallops on grilled duck with a soy and black bean sauce, the twice-cooked spatchcock on greens, and the lamb loin stuffed with mushrooms. All dishes come in both entrée and main-course sizes; or there's a 5-course tasting menu for gourmands. Desserts were lemon and passionfruit curd tart, and poached summer fruits.

If you want something lighter you can sample the harvest produce platter in the lounge; seasonal platters are available for evening in-room dining, but must be ordered in advance.

The temperature-controlled wine cellar is truly remarkable: 14,000 bottles and 200 labels, mostly local, including many now unavailable vintages. In winter, the bar's fireplace is the perfect place for pre- and post-dinner drinks.

A large and hearty breakfast is served either lakeside or in your room. Don't miss the house-smoked salmon and soft poached eggs served on grilled bruschetta with a tomato, lime and corn salsa.

For lunch, hampers can be ordered for picnics. Or, if you plan a wine-tasting tour (and it would be a crime not to), ask staff to recommend the best of the many excellent winery restaurants. Voyager Estate has a striking "cellar door" Cape Dutch-style restaurant serving local concoctions such as pickled Geraldton octopus.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity: Swimming pool

Activities

  • A wine tour is a must. The region produces a quarter of Australia's premium wines, and new wineries are sprouting everywhere. It's amazing to think that, in the 1960s, there wasn't a single vine here; but the last 40 years have seen a veritable Wine Rush
  • Take a scenic drive through rolling hills and vineyards, stopping at craft shops, farmers' markets and lush gardens (the Secret Garden at Brookland Valley is magical). Or book a private flight from Busselton airfield to see the Cape to Cape region in its full glory
  • But it's not all about easy living. The dramatic coastline has wonderful beaches renowned for surfing. The Margaret River Masters (every March) attract the world's best surfers, and the Surf Academy the world's worst
  • Snorkelling and diving are also popular, especially wreck dives; try the purposely sunk Swan Wreck Dive
  • Hotel staff can arrange canoeing 20km away, or you can hire a sailing boat to scud across Geographe Bay
  • Further south, where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet at Cape Leeuwin, is the place to see southern right and humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins and fur seals from June-September. The nearby town of Augusta is a mecca for beach and deep-sea fishing
  • There are over 300 limestone caves from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin, with dramatic stalagmites and stalactites. Many are open daily; nearby Ngilgi Cave has tours every half hour. You can also cave abseil with experienced guides
  • Birdwatchers will love the magnificent Karri forests; horse-riders should ask the hotel about Margaret River Forest rides; walkers are spoiled for choice with Cape to Cape trails; and mountain-bikers are catered for with guided off-road trails. There are even camel safaris in nearby Yallingup
  • Staff can book you into one of 2 18-hole golf courses within 15 minutes, or arrange for a private masseur
  • The acclaimed Cape Lodge Gourmet Retreat and Cookery School offers master classes, gourmet events and cooking schools all year round - enquire when booking. You can work off any additional calories on the hotel's tennis court

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Whalewatching
  • Wildlife
  • Wine tasting
  • Yoga

Kids

To maintain the tranquil atmosphere, the hotel does not accept children under 8 years of age.

We'd recommend Vineyard Residence as it can fit a family with ease, provides additional living space and offers more privacy. None of the rooms or suites can fit extra beds.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Kid Friendly:

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