The Sebel Kirkton Park, Hunter Valley

Looking for a country escape with a dash of timeless glamour? Hunter Valley’s newly renovated Sebel Kirkton Park offers just that, thanks to renowned Australian interior designer Greg Natale.

Photography Anson Smart  /  Words Loni Parker

It’s not often that a hotel in the countryside catches my eye. However once I got wind of Greg Natale’s latest commercial project, my partner and I, couldn’t resist booking in a few nights last week, at The Sebel Kirkton Park’s newly refurbished hotel in New South Wale’s Hunter Valley.

Upon arrival you walk through to the beautiful foyer complete with Greg Natale’s wallpaper design for Porters Paints and his range of luxe furniture in collaboration with Hudson Furniture. The cobalt-meets-monochrome colour palette is reflected throughout all of the interiors, including the rooms and restaurant/bar. I would have loved if the colour palette was extended to the exteriors as well. I think the hotel has just kept it as is (creamy yellow with burgundy trim). Painting the whole thing white, with a grey trim perhaps, would have kept it looking more fresh, while still keeping to the classic look. In saying that, it’s a relatively small thing as you’re not staring at the exteriors all day (it just would’ve made a better first impression, in my opinion).

The restaurant, whilst gorgeous, only offers a two or three course menu for dinner. I think for that reason there were hardly any customers and if it were an a la carte menu, I think more people would have dined there. We didn’t dine at the restaurant because it was quite pricey and I usually only eat one meal anyways, and possibly share a dessert if I’m still hungry. We did however try the food off the bar menu in Epoche – the onsite bar. They offer woodfire pizzas, burgers, chips etc – much more of a casual dining experience which I didn’t mind. I had hoped they would have had the fireplace in there, going every night, but unfortunately only one out of the three nights we stayed there, they lit the fireplace. As it was winter, and really cold at night, I think this would have definitely attracted more guests (it was usually pretty quiet in there).

So on to the rooms. When we checked in, we were pleasantly surprised to have been upgraded to a suite at the Manor House. It was very spacious with separate bedroom and living room area, overlooking the Pokolbin Valley. The bathrooms were kept as is (i.e. no budget for renovation I’d say) and felt a bit dated. This wouldn’t have mattered so much if it were clean, however there was a lot of black mould on the tiles and bottom of the shower door screen. To me, this let the room down. Also at night time, a group of middle-aged party-goers staying in the room below us decided to have a bit of a get-together outside which was loud for us (no double-glazed windows here folks). We asked reception if we could be moved to another room and thankfully they were really friendly and helpful in moving us. It was a smaller room, however we only paid for that, so weren’t expecting to stay in a large suite anyways. I actually found the smaller room to be nicer and the bathroom was a bit more cleaner than the last one (however there was still mould at the bottom of the shower screen!). It was also much more quiet. I dare say they don’t get too many noisy guests so it’s safe to assume this was an isolated incident. It’s mostly couples wanting a romantic escape to the countryside.

So overall, what do I think? Well, I would definitely recommend this hotel, despite a couple of small things which I’ve outlined in my review. If I were to give it a rating, I’d give the interiors which were renovated, a 10/10 and would rate the hotel’s attention to detail a 7/10. I probably should point out that I am quite fussy about hotels that I stay at, and it’s very rare that I can’t find any faults (I guess it’s the perfectionist in me). I think anyone who is a fan of opulent interiors, will just adore The Sebel Kirkton Park. And hopefully with a few slight tweaks from the staff, this hotel will come pretty damn close to perfection.

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