This Barossa Valley beauty offers a welcome like no other.
Some say you can learn everything you need to know about a luxury lodge in the first five minutes after your arrival. If the staff don’t make you feel welcome in those first 300 seconds, the thinking goes, the entire experience is bound to be a disappointment.
At The Louise, it takes a lot less than five minutes. Park your car, start strolling down the lavender-lined walkway to the front door and within a minute or two, a beaming staffer will come out to greet you. Now that’s how to make a guest feel welcome.
This sense of homecoming is at the heart of The Louise experience. Here at the Barossa Valley’s most elegant place to stay, the 15 suites set amid vineyards are designed to offer all the delights of home, elevated to a luxury level. Each of the generously-sized suites (the smallest one is an impressive 100 square metres) includes a separate sitting area and an outdoor terrace. Many of them have walk-in wardrobes as well as both outdoor and indoor showers. Plus, of course, an oversized tub, with candles and matches at the ready.
The Louise excels in the detail. With freshly-baked cookies on arrival, calming tea set out at turndown, even a Tesla charging station in the car park. It’s all designed to help guests make the most of the experience.
Tempting as it is to hole up inside your luxurious lodgings, the reason you came to the Barossa is to explore and here is another area where the team at The Louise excels. Like your best-connected friends, they seem to know everyone and everything in the area and can line up all sorts of exclusive experiences.
If you are a wine lover, they can coordinate visits to some of the area’s most intriguing cellar doors – with more than 80 to choose from, there are plenty of hidden gems to discover. If you are after a more exclusive experience – being walked through a vineyard by a winemaker perhaps, or even getting to experience a harvest at first hand – they can make it happen.
But there is more to the Barossa than wine. Feel like heading out on a hike on one of the Barossa’s beautiful bush trails? Or taking a pasta-making lesson from an authentic Italian chef? No problem, the team will get it happening. Or, for something completely different, ask them to tee up a visit to the fascinating Hutton Vale Farm, first established in 1843 by 19-year-old English settler John Howard Angas. The Angas family have sustained settlers of South Australia with food and mixed farm produce ever since, and have some fascinating tales to share of life on the land.
Just remember to leave enough time to enjoy the lodge’s many delights. If the weather is warm, a session lounging by the infinity pool is recommended. You will also want to book in at Appellation, The Louise’s acclaimed fine dining restaurant. Chef Daniel Murphy delivers an extraordinary degustation menu filled with dishes such as Coffin Bay oysters splashed with gin from the Seppeltsfield Rd Distillery just down the road, and charred cauliflower served with sweetcorn cream and toasted walnuts.
And then there is three75 Bar and Kitchen. The Louise’s newest spot for wining and dining in a more casual setting has been an instant hit with locals. On our last day, low on energy after a busy weekend exploring, we decide to stop in for a quick bite.
Turns out that while the atmosphere may be relaxed, this kitchen takes its food very seriously. We spend some time trying to choose between the prawn toast okonomiyaki, the sticky soy beef short ribs and the pine mushrooms with polenta, ultimately deciding to order them all and share. We are delighted with our choice – until we see the jaw-dropping burgers arrive at our neighbouring table. Turns out burgers are a specialty of the house, and with choices including beef, fish, fried chicken, and even chickpea and red lentil burger, there is something to appeal to everyone.
Our visit is almost done, but The Louise has one last treat in store for us. The next morning before breakfast, I make myself a coffee and pull back the curtains to look out across the vineyards. There, gambolling on the grass in front of our suite, are two young kangaroos. As I watch, they start playing with each other, practicing their battle moves. The feet of one ‘roo thud into the chest of the other with an audible thump; the second ‘roo immediately launches a counter attack. There is nothing vicious in it, just two young bucks burning off energy. Beats breakfast television any day of the week.
Get there: Unfortunately, travel to South Australia is currently impossible for NSW readers due to COVID-19 border closures. Those of us keeping the travel dream alive should plan their visit to The Louise with a flight to Adelaide, followed by an easy one-hour drive to the Barossa in a rental car or taxi transfer.
Stay there: Rates from start from $595 per night, including breakfast and complimentary mini bar. Short break packages for two nights including breakfast and dinner start at $1395.