Condé Nast Traveller

Gold Standard Country

LAKE HOUSE DAYLESFORD, AUSTRALIA One of the delights of staying at this French-country-house-inspired hotel a couple of hours\' drive north-west of Melbourne is that you can savour the change of seasons - thanks to the area\'s micro-climate -with wood smoke, truffle hunting and mulled wine in the cooler months, and cicada song and the scent of lilac heralding summer. There are six acres of manicured lawns, orchards and, indeed, a glorious lake. Of the 34 elegant rooms, the two-bedroom Retreat is the place to stay: it\'s self-contained, intensely private and accessed through its own wrought-iron gate. Inside, all is milky white and olive-green, with deep sofas and contemporary four-posters dwarfed beneath soaring, white-timber cathedral ceilings. The cucumber, mint and aloe-vera body polish in the Salus Spa is a revelation, as is the restaurant, where a Martini glass of watermelon-and-vodka granita might be followed by smoked eel, pork-belly croustillant and squid noodles. Better still, host a private supper in the wine cellar with its selection of 10,000 bottles and some serious candlestick action. Co-owner Alla Wolf-Tasker and her husband Allan have really captured countryside smart. +61 3 5348 3329; Doubles from about £290.

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