“Cosset yourself at an idyllic gourmet retreat, located in a tranquil corner of South Australia’s main wine region”
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.
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.
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)
All rooms can take a baby cot; families with teenagers are advised to book a separate suite or take the 2-bedroom Seppeltsfield Suite.