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Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa review

Daylesford and Hepburn Springs have always put wellbeing front and centre. Just a 90-minute drive from Melbourne, the region is home to around 80 per cent of Australia’s mineral springs. Since opening in 1895, Hepburn Bathhouse, attracts people from across the globe to nourish and revitalise their bodies with waters rich in minerals. Within the tranquil precinct, as part of the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa Retreat, four luxurious Wellness Villas are designed to elevate the therapeutic experience of the bathhouse.

Traveller: Jocelyn Pride
Room: Wellness Villa at Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa Retreat
Address: Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa Retreat, Mineral Springs Reserve Road, Hepburn Springs, Victoria
Date: February 2024
Best for: Anyone wanting to take a pause and indulge in 24/7 pampering in the premier ‘wellness capital of Australia’.

The bathhouse at Hepburn Bathouse & Spa
The bathhouse © Hepburn Bathouse & Spa

The Signature factor

Nature meets nurture where the focus is on ‘me/we time’ to invigorate, replenish and soothe the mind, body and soul.

First impressions

It’s pretty standard for ‘any dietaries’ to be established prior to arrival. But how about – would you prefer soy, oat, almond or cow’s milk to have as part of your breakfast hamper? Not to mention my choice of ambience scent for my arrival – rest easy for calming and relaxing or revive to uplift and de-stress.

So, with expectations running high, opening the door to the generously-sized 75 square metres of villa for the first time doesn’t disappoint. With dappled light dancing through windows dressed with gauze drapes, soft music playing in the background and just a hint of my chosen ‘revive’ scent filling my nostrils, the sense of calm is immediate.

Wellness Villa interior at Hepburn Bathouse & Spa
Wellness Villas offer calming spaces © Hepburn Bathouse & Spa

The villa

Although the term ‘wellness’ has many meanings, every aspect of the space invites people to explore their own pathway. Beneath a vaulted ceiling, the king bed with a floating-on-a-cloud mattress topper sits in its own nook overlooking the spacious lounge and a gourmand’s dream kitchenette. Beyond, sliding doors lead to a balcony suspended in the treetops with glimpses through the leaves to the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa.

And then there’s the showstopper bathroom where a massive marble spa bath takes centre stage (complete with jars filled with exotic bath salts and scrubs), with a double shower and separate toilet discreetly tucked away.

Decked out in natural tones, plump cushions are scattered across the lounge suite. The central artisan pendant light is mesmerising, and the push button enclosed wall fire is at the ready to cosy up in front of if the night air chills.

Wellness Villas © Hepburn Bathouse & Spa
Wellness Villa interior © Hepburn Bathouse & Spa

Staying in at Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa

It’s the small things that gently guide me to embrace a change of pace. I’m hopeless at yoga, but before I know it, I’m downward dogging on the yoga mat listening to one of the guided yoga classes preloaded on the iPad sound system.
I turn my phone off (well except for my daily fix of ‘wordle’- as breaking my streak would cause more stress than any retreat could ever soothe). I sing. I dance. I wrap myself into the deliciously thick bathrobe and sit on the balcony and star gaze. I try to imitate individual bird calls amid the morning cacophony resonating from the trees surrounding the villa. I eat from the generous welcome hamper of local goodies, savouring every mouthful. And not only do I fill out the neat boxes prompting me to reflect on the day in the ‘wellness journal’ strategically placed beside the bed, I run out of space and continue scrawling all over the flip side. There definitely must be ‘something in the water’.

Bath tonics in Wellness Villa
Heal the body and soul © Hepburn Bathouse & Spa

Stepping out

Surrounded by Australia’s first mineral reserve, Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve established in 1865, exploring the beauty of the park adds to the therapeutical theme of the retreat. With a glass water bottle (included in the welcome pack) in hand, I meander along the mineral water tasting trail, over stone bridges, under towering gums, stopping every now and then to pump water from a collection of springs labelled: Soda, Locarno, Sulphur, Wyuna and Argyle. A description of the health benefits of each precious gift from nature is written beside the pump, but to be perfectly honest, I’m more interested in the taste. And believe me it’s an acquired one. Like a fine champagne, I’m attracted to the more subtle flavoured Soda spring with just the right amount of fizz.

The Pavilion © Hepburn Bathouse & Spa
The Pavilion © Hepburn Bathouse & Spa

Spa life

Complementing the in-villa experience, the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa is a two-minute walk away. Guests can either book an accommodation package that includes access to the spa and a treatment or massage, or head to the bathhouse and self-select from the extensive spa menu.

As part of the midweek retreat package, I spend a couple of hours ‘bath hopping’, by dipping into the series of pools varying in temperature and scenery in the adults-only Sanctuary. Relaxing on a nostalgic spa couch (a nod to the early era) surrounded by a whirlpool of bubbles, I soak in the salt and magnesium pool designed to help any aching muscles. Then there’s the cool down pool and my favourite, the partially open-air pool overlooking Spring Creek that gently winds its way through the bushland.

Later I’m treated to the 60-minute signature Hepburn wellness massage, that, through aromatherapy and calming techniques, takes me to a deep level of relaxation that has me practically floating back to the villa.

Spa treatments at Hepburn Bathouse & Spa
Choose from an array of rejuvenating treatments © Hepburn Bathouse & Spa

On my plate

The welcome hamper takes care of breakfast, a wholesome, healthy lunch in the historic pavilion next to the bathhouse is all the go for lunch, which leaves dinner. With Miele appliances in the kitchenette, and Blake Family Grocers, the everything-you-need-for-a-gourmet-weekend-away supermarket a couple of kilometres away in Daylesford, I could easily cook up a storm in the villa. However, as I live in the region, missing out on the opportunity to have dinner at my favourite restaurant could be detrimental to my wellbeing.

Bistro Terroir is the closest I’ll get to an authentically French bistro any time soon. In the thick of the thriving and celebrated Hepburn/Daylesford foodie scene, it stands alone. With a pedigree extending to Le Sur Mesure Thierry Marx’s two Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris, chef Matthew Carnell creates culinary magic within a historic building oozing charm.

A refreshing innovation where the degustation menu doubles as a la carte, I dine on sublime delicacies like cured trout blinis, duck liver profiteroles, stuffed zucchini flower, duck breast with cherry glaze, and green beans, tomato and melon salad, without over-eating.

Insider’s tips

Check in is at the reception of the bathhouse, and if you have a car, it’s best to park in the general carpark and move into your designated car space once you’ve checked in. Natural beauty is guaranteed year-round, especially in autumn when elms, maples and oaks awash with tones of red, yellow and orange are dotted throughout the bushland.

Final verdict

Even a couple of days focusing on wellness makes me realise how powerful and important these types of short breaks are for our mental and physical health.

Getting to Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa

Hepburn Springs is best accessed by car, which takes approximately 90 minutes from Melbourne. A regular and fast train service between Melbourne and Bendigo runs from Southern Cross Station, Melbourne. Hop off at Castlemaine and take an approximate 30-minute taxi ride to Hepburn Springs.

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