Olio Bello glamping takes a slice of the Australian bush and blends it with the Italian countryside. The result is bellissimo, writes Lisa Perkovic.
Signature checks into Olio Bello’s glamping tents
Room: Lake Front Bungalow
Address: 36 Armstrong Rd Cowaramup (Margaret River), Western Australia
Date: November 2020
Best for: Travellers too posh to pitch a tent will lap up these lakeside luxury bungalows that are part tent, part chalet and perfect for a night away from the trappings of the world.
Home to an olive farm and Noah’s Ark orchard, Olio Bello is a well-known fixture on the Margaret River region tourist trail.
The olive oil is top-notch, the restaurant’s gnocchi has a cult following, and the glamping, well, that’s the icing on the cake.
You’ll find the six glamping tents perched around the lake, well away from the restaurant and tasting rooms, in fact when you’re swaying in a hammock under the gumtrees, you’re another world away. And that’s the entire idea.
The Signature factor
The stand-out feature of Olio Bello has to be the glamping tent fit-out. The modern, elegant design is paired with the simple, creature comforts you need to feel at home and a back to nature feel that has people yearning to go camping in the first place.
The lakeside glamping doesn’t have a reception per se, instead, guests receive cheery pre-arrival emails with details of the mailbox key collection system.
We’re left to our own devices as we stroll up to our tent to get settled in. That sets the scene for the stay – Olio Bello is all about giving guests space to soak up space.
Go for a walk among the groves if you like, to settle down for a picnic between the trees. Pull up a chair under the eucalyptus trees for sundowners as the sky turns pink and the Kookaburras come out.
Olio Bello provides maps, picnic blankets, chunky throws, binoculars, art materials, board games – just about everything you need. But you can do as little or as much as you want.
Once I’ve spotted the hammock under the trees, I know where I’m spending my afternoon.
There’s certainly no zipper on these tents, with the full-size front door opening up into a seriously stylish abode that’s more like luxury lodging than anything you’d see in a campsite.
The canvas walls are in fact the last thing you’ll notice, with a compact kitchenette alongside one wall, an electric fireplace along the other, and in between, a full-size king bed.
With pale timbers, rattan rug and sleek low line lounge (actually a stealthy sofa bed), it’s that perfect balance of chic and cosy that’s impossible to recreate at home, no matter how hard I try.
Outside, the timber deck hosts a table and chairs for dinners under the stars.
The full-size bathroom sits at the back of the tent and has a shower and four walls.
Olio Bello food
The Olio Bello restaurant caters to brunches and long lunches. For dinner, guests are encouraged to place orders with the kitchen by 3pm and staff will deliver dishes to your door for you to reheat when you’re ready.
The glamping tents have a microwave and minibar so it’s easy to reheat anything you buy rather than drive into the nearest town.
Guests can also choose to have the fridge stocked with a breakfast hamper – we drink cold-pressed juices and slather bread with housemade jam in the morning while listening to the resident roosters starting their day.
Highlights from the mini-bar
Each Olio Bello glamping tent is named after a variety of olive tree planted in the grove, with guests receiving a small bottle of their tent’s namesake olive oil, straight from the source, along with a fresh baguette.
It’s a nice touch that hits the spot with some house dukkha and a glass of the property’s own Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (both available for purchase in the minibar).
I wish I could take home…
A lakeside hammock.
Even if I could take it home, I wouldn’t be able to recreate the towering gum trees, the dappled light filtering through the leaves and the wind lightly rustling my hair as I nap in the afternoon sun.
It’s safe to say I will be back.
Along with award-winning olive oil, dressings, chutneys, sauces, cakes and breads, Olio Bello produces its own range of skincare products made from the same bountiful harvest.
Although there’s no spa on-site, guests can book an in-tent massage that puts the products on show.
Judi Barter’s Massage South West company caters to hundreds of properties in the region and unlike other in-room experiences, you’re pampered with the extra touches of a spa.
Take a sensory journey through Olio Bello’s essential oils until you find the one that’s right for your mood and bliss out to the sound of the wind in the trees and a mellow playlist before a freshly brewed pot of the property’s loose leaf tea.
Just remember to find time to pop up to the shop to stock up on soaps, moisturisers, essential oils and tea for back home.
The Margaret River region on your doorstep, but the property is so charming, you will most certainly want to stay in.
Afternoons are spent in the hammock or strolling the grounds. A handy map marks out the most picturesque ways to stroll through the property, but it’s also made clear you can pick any path and follow it.
Evenings should be spent on your terrace, watching the sunset. As dusk makes way to night, the view is worth lingering over. Leave the floor to ceiling sliding doors open to wake with the birds as dawn breaks over the lake.
Olio Bello is located just outside Cowaramup, home to a chocolate shop, cafes and cellar doors.
Head out in almost any direction and you’ll hit world-class wineries and cellar doors. Keep heading west and you’ll be at Gracetown’s quiet cluster of beachfront homes and world-class beaches.
Visitors to the Margaret River region are usually there to engage in touring – driving between wineries and restaurants.
But the locals know that it’s all about slowing down and soaking up the scenery. Book in for a few nights so you can do both. You don’t want to miss out on hammock time.
In summer, the electric fireplaces are removed from the tents due to fire bans – completely reasonable but still disappointing in the early days of the season when the evenings are still cool enough to curl up by a fire.
A few more do it yourself options like a gourmet BBQ pack to pick up at the café would help disorganised guests who miss the 3pm kitchen deadline stay on site for dinner.
Olio Bello’s lakeside glamping tents have raised the bar on glamping in Australia. Forget running water and a full-size bed, they’ve got the look and feel of a high-end boutique hotel in the bush.
Where to find Olio Bello
Olio Bello is three hours drive south of Perth, in the heart of the Margaret River region. After turning off the highway, you’ll drive through karri and marri eucalyptus forests before finding the groves tucked into the bush.