“Cosset yourself at an idyllic gourmet retreat, located in a tranquil corner of South Australia’s main wine region”
The Louise, with its stunning panoramic views, makes an ideal base from which to explore the Barossa’s diversity. The low, rambling limestone buildings nod to turn-of-the-century Federation architecture but, inside, all 15 immaculate suites have been brought right up to date with state-of-the-art home entertainment systems, deeply comfortable kingsize beds and opulent bathrooms. Some have outdoor showers (a real luxury in the hot summer) and real-flame fires (more for ambiance than warmth, really). But the pièce de résistance is a superb restaurant, Appellation, which has spectacular tasting menus and each dish is specially wine-matched: pure Epicurean delight.
- The sense of remoteness from the outside world - even though you’re only a short drive from the Barossa’s wineries and towns
- The award-winning restaurant is worth the trip alone - but do book it at the same time as your room as it's highly popular
- A superb wine list references not only the best of Barossa but also exemplary vintages from around the world
- Service combines Aussie friendliness with 5-star efficiency and lashings of local knowledge
- All rooms have private terraces and dining tables; breakfast can be served in-suite at a time of your choosing
- The bedroom décor is rather neutral
- The hushed, reverent atmosphere in both the hotel and restaurant may not suit everyone
- You’ll need to hire a car to explore the area (the nearest towns are an 8-minute drive away); not ideal when wine tasting is on the menu
- Not suitable for children aged 2-14 (a plus for some!)
- The price - it's not cheap, though we still think it's fair value for money
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- Under 2s or over 15s only
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
- Bicycles Available
- Board games
The 15 suites fall into 3 categories, but even the entry-level Vineyard Suites have a deep-pile, insulated-against-reality feeling. They don’t have the space of a real suite - the writing desk and luggage storage areas play second fiddle to the main bedroom - but even here you can feel the opulence in the super-soft bedlinen, the mattress with just the right amount of resistance, the espresso machine, the iPod docking station and Bose CD player, the dining table and the private terrace with loungers. Nice touches include complimentary port, house-made chocolate chip biscuits and a small bowl of fruit waiting for you.
The same sense of luxury continues in the ample bathrooms, complete with underfloor heating, his and hers basins, robes and slippers, double-head rain showers, deep spa baths for 2 and atmospheric candles.
All rooms share a similar, rather neutral décor in browns and beiges, with a signature piece of tasteful artwork by a contemporary (South) Australian: oil paintings by Barossa artist Jane Wells, glass vessels, or wooden bases resembling champagne corks.
Room sizes increase as you go up the price scale from the Vineyard Suites to the Stonewell Suites and the top-of-the range Seppeltsfield Suites. You'll also find extras such as separate lounges with oversized armchairs and footstools, real-flame gas fires, larger terraces, and outdoor showers. One of the Seppeltsfield Suites has 2 ensuite bedrooms, an ideal solution for 2 couples travelling together or for an indulgent girls’ night out to visit the surrounding cellar doors - but not for families, since the hotel isn't suitable for children between 2 and 14.
- Air conditioning
- CD player
- Central heating
- Coffee maker
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Ipod dock
- Safe box
- Satellite TV
- Writing desk
Dinner at Appellation is one of the big treats of staying at The Louise. When you taste chef Mark McNamara’s exquisitely presented food, you’ll understand why he’s picked up so many awards: each bite packs a punch of concentrated flavour. Dishes change with the seasons, but you might enjoy the Asian fusion tastes of Coffin Bay oysters with pickled carrot, lime juice and coriander, or the rich, earthy flavours of Hutton Vale lamb, highlighted by a sweet beetroot jus.
Whether you opt for the à la carte menu, degustation dining (where you choose 4 savoury courses and a dessert) or the 10-course seasonal tasting menu, each dish can be accompanied by a glass of specially matched wine. Make sure you try Peter Lehmann’s fabulous Margaret Barossa Semillon, Charlie Melton’s fluorescent pink Rose of Virginia or Elderton’s Command Shiraz if you want to get a taste of the Barossa’s best. In addition to the terrific range of South Australian wines, I was surprised and impressed to see a more-than-adequate selection of classic wines from around the world.
If you're here on a Saturday, the ideal way to kick off your day is by joining Mark on a morning visit to the Barossa farmer’s market. As he tours the stalls, you’ll get a real feel for the region’s agricultural richness and its culinary heritage. Look out for the charcuterie derived from the Barossa’s Germanic heritage, as well as freshly caught yabbies, the sweet local crayfish.
Occasionally, The Louise run a winemaker's dinner, which is an intimate shared-table dinner that includes wine chatter and 4 courses, each paired with stand-out wines.
You can enjoy a continental breakfast in your room at a time of your choosing. Make your selections by 6pm the night before: fruit and yoghurt, a range of cereals, pastries and toasts, conserves and spreads (many locally produced), fruit juices, teas and coffees, and a choice of locally cured ham and cheese or smoked salmon, egg and spinach tartlet.
The Wine Bar offers light snacks from 5pm daily, but for lunch head to one of the local winery restaurants. I like the hearty platters of local charcuterie at Peter Lehmann’s Winery; another option is the wood-fired pizzas at Salter’s Kitchen at the Saltram Winery. For evening alternatives, try 1918 Bistro and Vintners.
- Coffee maker
- Organic produce
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Taste the wine! Given that you’re surrounded by some of Australia’s best-known wineries it would be rude not to. Steer clear of the biggest names (you can always taste Jacob’s Creek back home) and head for the medium and small wineries, such as Yalumba, Rockford Wines, Elderton, Turkey Flat, Langmeil or Charles Melton. You might even get to swap tasting notes with the winemaker
- If you're here on a Saturday check out the Wine and Cheese Matching Tutorial, hosted by one of Appellation's sommeliers in the Wine Bar at 4pm
- For a special treat, try the Most Brilliant Blend arranged in conjunction with Penfolds Winery, 10 minutes away. Receive a 2-hour lesson on blending grape varietals to produce different wine styles. You get your own blended bottle with your name and the date on it, and Appellation can develop a dish at dinner to match it
- Buy a picnic at Maggie Beer’s iconic Pheasant Farm or Barossa Picnic Baskets, then make your way up to the hill above the Steingarten Vineyard for lunch with a view
- Go on a walk into the bush to discover the impressive Flinders ranges and the wildlife that lives alongside. These trips can easily be arranged by the hotel
- Play a round of golf at one of the 4 18-hole courses nearby
- Visit some of Barossa’s heritage sites. With a history of free settlement that dates back to the 1840s, the region offers some of Australia’s oldest architecture, from stone-built cottages to whitewashed churches. A walk through the goldfield trails of Cockatoo Valley gives you an insight into the area’s mining history. Aim to be there for October’s re-enactment day to try your hand at panning for gold
- Birders will want to seek out the yellow thornbill, rufous whistler and spectacular diamond firetail, or head to Tanunda Ponds for freckled and blue-billed ducks; Kaiserstuhl Country Park is home to the scarlet robin and white-naped honeyeater
- There’s a plethora of nature reserves in the area, so pack a bottle of water in your rucksack and head off for a long day’s ramble (or borrow one of the hotel's bicycles). There’s a good chance you’ll catch sight of kangaroos and wombats
- Alternatively, the hotel can arrange a gourmet 'breakfast with kangaroos' in the nearby conservation park, where - with a bit of luck, and help from the guide - you might spot a mob of Joeys taking their elevenses while you look on from behind a glass of low-alcohol Moscato
- If that's too tame, you can enjoy a champagne breakfast standing in a hot air balloon's wicker basket 300 feet up in the air, courtesy of Balloon Adventures
- Back at the hotel, indulge yourself with an in-suite massage, or visit the sauna and hot tub
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Hot air ballooning
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Well being
- Wine tasting
The Louise doesn't accept children aged 2-14, and certainly the hushed atmosphere is aimed at adults seeking peace and quiet. But you can come with your baby or toddler (cots and babysitters are available), or with older teenagers who (preferably) enjoy the finer things in life and won't run riot in communal areas.
Babies (0-1 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
All rooms can take a baby cot; families with teenagers are advised to book a separate suite or take the 2-bedroom Seppeltsfield Suite.