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HUNTER VALLEY BLOG

With more than 150 wineries and cellar doors, 65 restaurants and 180 comfy accommodation places to stay, where do you start?

Follow our insider tips by the people who know best… the locals. We ask talented winemakers, chefs, farmers, brewers and journalists to blog about their favourite places and experiences in this fertile wine region.

Red-hot rooms designed for fireside romance

When did you last make love in the afternoon… in front of a cosy fire? C'mon be honest, we've all done it or dreamt of doing it.

When it's bitingly cold outdoors, nothing beats huddling indoors beside a flickering log fire nursing a good red wine. These places to stay take it to the next level with fireplaces in rooms, so you can unbutton in the warmth of the dancing flames and slip between the sheets for snuggle-time by firelight. What could be more romantic than that?

Winter = belly-warming gourmet food, loads of quality red wine and roaring fires. Spicers Vineyards Estate has it all. There are two indoor fireplaces in the onsite restaurant that are lit every night in winter: one is in the lounge area where you can relax with a pre-dinner drink and the other in the main dining room. There's also an outdoor firepit beside the vineyard, but the unique feature of this elegant winter bunker is that all 12 guestrooms have a fireplace, so it doesn't matter which room you book you'll be lulled to sleep by the crackling sounds of wood burning in your sleek bluestone fireplace. Every suite also has an indoor spa bath if you like a warm soak after a day's sightseeing.

The Woods is another place to stay that celebrates the winter Wine Country experience. It has three guesthouses set on 25 acres of manicured gardens and established Ironbark trees – all with fireplaces. Two are four-bedroom houses where groups gather around the living room fire while sharing a bottle of local wine they've discovered while sightseeing but the pièce de résistance for couples is the architect-designed Blackwood, which opened in 2018. It's a chic and cosy retreat designed for romance with a king-sized bed, wood-burning fireplace and a private, outdoor plunge pool that's heated for those who like an alfresco hot tub.

This twin-gabled timber guesthouse is a snug space to hole up in winter thanks to the wood-burning fireplaces in six of the eight pretty bedrooms. The homestead is set on a working vineyard and oozes charm with its classic country vibe that includes crisp white bedlinen, timber accents and comfy sofas indoors with extra-wide verandahs perfect for lounging overlooking the gardens and vines. There's also a two-bedroom cottage, which also features a beautiful fireplace.

Stonehurst really comes into its own in winter when the lovely scent of woodsmoke drifts through the air. All seven of the self-contained cottages dotted around the working vineyard feature a wood fire – some have a rustic brick hearth, others a blazing combustion fire – where you can curl up with a good book and glass of complimentary Stonehurst port and chocolates. The cottages have an old-world feel, built from convict brick or timber slabs in the early settler style, with gleaming timber floors and spa baths. And it's just a short stroll to the sandstone cellar door, so if you finish off the complimentary port you can pick up another bottle at 20 per cent discount.

This elevated treehouse is another inviting fireside stay with a smokin' hot combustion fire right beside the indoor corner spa bath. It's the perfect spot to unwind with a good long soak overlooking the Casuarina trees with the soothing sound of birdsong in the background. Add a bottle of Hunter red and that romance novel that's too steamy to read in public and your cosy winter's eve is sorted. It's one of six cottages on the Billabong Moon estate managed by Hunter Valley Stays, with a quintessential Aussie bush feel – think loads of timber and corrugated iron – and a claw-foot bath nestled among the trees so you can enjoy bathing in the great outdoors.

Another fire-warmed establishment just for couples with gas log fireplaces making the indoors cosy and wood fireplaces in the outdoor courtyard near the Jacuzzi to really make your spa experience sizzle. There are three luxe adobe-style villas to choose from, all inspired by the Santa Fe architectural style with exposed log timber ceilings, sturdy timber furniture and stone hearths. And for the quixotic romantic, you can book a package that includes sparkling wine, chocolates, rose petals on the bed and an outdoor fire crackling in the candlelit courtyard when you arrive.

As you can see, the Valley has an eclectic mix of places to stay with a fireplace. For more options, click here.

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