This is a Hunter Valley retreat where Camelot meets Marrakech!
Since the 1800s, the Hunter Valley has been a popular destination for lovers of good wine and food and for those just wanting to leave the city behind for a few days.
Improved roads have made the Hunter easier to reach, resulting in increased popularity, which in turn has meant more vineyards, restaurants and lodging.
One of the newest places in the valley is Tower Lodge, located on the Tower Estate. The estate has two highly regarded restaurants Robert's and Blaxland plus the boutique Tower Winery. The well-known winemaker and bon vivant Len Evans gathered 13 business associates from home and abroad to establish Tower Lodge.
A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Tower Lodge is the result of much attention to detail and is a retreat for those seeking private indulgence.
The exterior is Spanish Mission-style in earthy pink tones and to enter, guests pass through 100-year-old French coach house doors to a central courtyard with a beautiful fountain setting the scene for an opulent stay.
The main building houses the reception area and monastery doors open to a bar/lounge, complete with huge open fireplace, leading to a grand dining room which seats 24 diners who can enjoy the view across the Brokenback Range.
The vaulted Gothic library is a perfect place to relax in colder months. It is in the tower and guests can enjoy its first editions, novels, magazines, maybe a hand or two of cards at an antique table or enjoy looking at some of Mr Evans's own antiques.
In keeping with its style, the lodge is filled with antique furniture and special memorabilia.
Its 12 large guest rooms are carefully prepared prior to guests' arrival with soft lighting and candles, music, heating or air-conditioning and flowers. While not themed, each room is unique.
The Chairman's Suite has a 300-year-old hand-carved four-poster bed from Rajasthan plus antique leather chairs and marble bathroom.
The Oriental Room has beautiful Chinese cabinets and wedding chests. Its balcony has an old brandy barrel which has been converted into a plunge tub. When sprinkled with petals and surrounded by soft, burning candles, it sets the scene for the most romantic of evenings.
Another of the rooms is quite chic and opulent. It has an elevated bed, bright purple lounge and an Indonesian food cart which is around 150 years old. Its private courtyard has a Tibetan Buddhist bell.
The Romantic Fantasy room has a medieval feel. Its ceiling is thatched, windows are high and décor is dominated by Spanish wrought iron. The elevated bed is complemented by hand-woven tapestry wall hangings.
When you've had your fill of visiting cellar doors, you can enjoy a round of golf on the lodge's 18-hole short putting course, do some leisurely laps in the heated pool or enjoy the sauna, gymnasium and massage room. An all-weather tennis court has recently been added.
For the energetic, the estate has 1.6km of walking track which connects it to the restaurants and winery. But rather than walk, you may prefer to travel in a vintage car, by horse and carriage or see the area from on high in a hot air balloon.
The nearby villages of Morpeth, Maitland and Wollombi have marvellous outlets of arts, crafts and antiques and are lovely towns to wander around for a few hours.