Visit the award-winning spa, stroll around visually spectacular gardens and pretend you're a 19th-century lady or gent
Just 30 minutes from Melbourne, the Mansion Hotel and Spa in Werribee feels like another world – and another time.
The wealthy Chirnside family built the 60-room Italianate mansion in 1877, and at one point there were 55 staff to look after five family members. You can pretend you are one of the pampered Chirnsides yourself if you stay at the attached hotel, which was opened in 2000 after the mansion was lovingly restored.
After the Chirnsides sold the mansion to the Catholic Church, St Joseph's Seminary was added to the property in 1923. It was built to emulate and complement the 19th-century architecture, and the heritage rooms in the property are former student and priest accommodation. The avant-garde modern wing was opened in 2000, and it offers larger rooms, with the same attention to detail and historical appreciation.
There are plenty of luxurious touches, such as Malin + Goetz bath products, flat-screen smart TVs, fluffy bathrobes and even a pillow menu.
You'd be tempted to spend all your time in your room, given the comfortable surrounds, but then you'd miss out on the pampering that is to be had at the mansion's spa. A variety of facials, body treatments and massages are offered, along with manicures and pedicures. There are even treatments just for men and those designed for teenagers' problem skin. Spa and hotel guests also have access to the serene, blue-tiled swimming pool, complete with jets and comfortable loungers along the edges. The space is warm and calming, with a beautiful scent in the air and calming music piped throughout.
When you've had enough of relaxation and pampering (jokes; no one ever has enough of those things), head outside to the meticulously manicured gardens of Werribee Park. There is a sculpture garden (you can listen to an audio tour on your smartphone as you stroll), plenty of beautiful trees and flower beds bursting with colour, depending on the season. The 10-hectare Werribee Park also includes Werribee Open Range Zoo, for a walk on the wild side, and Shadowfax Winery.
Make sure you spend some time in the historic mansion itself. Much of the Chirnsides' original furniture and contemporary clothing are displayed in situ, with helpful plaques to give you some historical context. There is also an audio tour to talk you through what you are seeing.
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