The 10-suite Bendigo Ernest Hotel, housed in Bendigo’s oldest bank, has set a new level of luxury in this regional city.
Traveller: Kirstie Bedford
Suite: Suite 9: Richard Birmingham
Address: 10/12 View St, Bendigo VIC 3550
Date: June, 2022
Price range approx. $350
Best for: Couples
The Signature factor
The considered interior design. Oversized suites have designer furnishings and bold Australian artworks that are the centrepiece to the carefully curated bedding.
The property is housed in Bendigo’s oldest bank, the former Commercial Banking Company of Sydney. The 1800s grand building is in the heart of the city and a stone’s throw from the Bendigo Art Gallery.
Enter through original double doors to a large, light parlour. Here, one of the windows has a lasting remnant of the gold rush era – a bullet hole in the window. The story goes, the police were positioned across the road and shot through the window, hitting the villain in the shoulder.
As imposing as the space is, the feeling is one of warmth with plush furnishings of deep greens, grey and pinks. It’s a credit to co-owner David Cook-Doulton who was also responsible for the interior design of the suites.
Co-owners David Cook-Doulton and Martin Shew have transformed what could be a cold building to a warm, inviting space.
This is a boutique hotel on a grand scale, but it has a homely feel – maybe helped by the resident Airedale, Fletcher.
There are ten suites. Mine has a large, bold abstract artwork by Richard Birmingham and a lounge area with a fireplace.
Each has high ceilings, light-filled windows, luxurious bedding and designer furnishings. They are all named after the artist whose works feature: Heather B. Swann, Michael Georgetti and Patrick Henigan are a few.
There’s everything you’d expect in a five-star hotel room. A Smart TV with Netflix, free Wi-Fi, a Nespresso machine with Padre coffee pods, and bathroom amenities by Salus.
Suite Ten: Patrick Henigan occupies the grandest of the second-floor rooms.
The former residence of the bank manager, large windows provide a pretty cityscape view. Gaze out over Pall Mall, View Street and the iconic Alexandra Fountain.
Renovated to add a new level of luxe, there’s a spa bath, fireplace and dining table.
On my plate
Breakfasts are provided by Harvest Food & Wine, owned by Michelin-trained pastry chef, Marsha Busse, and her partner, award-winning sommelier Lincoln Riley.
You can also visit the restaurant a few metres up the road.
The couple has an acreage on the outskirts of Bendigo, which is home to their own wine label North Run. Bottles of the local tipple are available via the Harvest Cellar Door (located next door).
Here you can also buy local and international fine wine, ready-to-eat homemade meals, cut-to-order cheese, or handmade European-style pastries.
I wish I could take home…
David Cook-Doulton to work his design magic on my home.
Grab a book and slip into the former bank vault where there are two secluded spaces.
In months to come, the new restaurant (by acclaimed chef Derek Boath, who runs hatted Ballarat restaurant Underbar) will open its doors, taking over the parlour. A fitting addition to this UNESCO City of Gastronomy. There will also be an underground cocktail bar in one of the bank’s former vaults.
Across the road is the 24-hectare Rosalind Park with its heritage trees and lookout tower. Climb it for the best views of the city.
For a sophisticated, yet unpretentious lounge bar, head to Ms Batterhams. Located in the basement of the old school hall at Mackenzie Quarters, there’s a refined wine list. You’ll also find locally inspired cocktails, craft beers and a southern European inspired menu.
Check what’s on at the Bendigo Art Gallery so you can coordinate your trip with a memorable exhibition at what is one of Australia’s oldest and largest regional art galleries.
I had more time. A vintage tram rolls up and down the main street and is a great way to see the city.
You can also take a deep dive into the gold rush history – literally – by going underground at the Central Deborah Gold Mine.
And Bendigo was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy for a reason. The wineries, restaurants and bars are reason alone to come here.
This property is one to watch. When the restaurant and cocktail bar open, you could spend days in this heritage bank building wining and dining, perusing the hotel’s vast art collection, and then soaking in your spa bath in your spacious suite.
Owners David and Martin are also working on another luxe boutique property on the site of a mid-1880s gold rush era medical building in Ballarat, Hotel Vera (named after David’s beloved grandmother).
Home to Underbar – the city’s most progressive hatted degustation restaurant by chef and owner Derek Boath – Vera will be of the same standard as Ernest (lovingly named after David’s grandfather).
Where to find Bendigo Ernest Hotel
For bookings and more information visit hotelbendigo.com.au
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