I recently put a call out on my social feeds, looking for suggestions for the best places to stay in Australia for those with a penchant for books. As well as being a keen literary traveller myself, a close friend and I have been toying with the idea of hosting reading retreats of late, and I wanted to scope out the options on offer.
A couple of people recommended The White House in Daylesford as being a dreamy destination for bookworms – due in part to its scenic setting in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, and the well-stocked library room – and so, when the opportunity arose to visit, I swiftly booked flights to Melbourne.
An hour’s drive from Melbourne’s bustling CBD, Daylesford is a leafy spa town, famed for its natural mineral springs, beautiful botanical gardens and dedication to health and wellness. Rich with quirky and cosy cafes, stylish boutiques and luxury spas, Daylesford is the go-to getaway for many a Melbournian looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Nestled in the heart of Victoria’s sprawling spa town, on an unassuming street just a short walk from Daylesford’s picturesque lake and charming high street, you’ll find The White House. Tucked away behind wild bushes and a creaky latched gate, while the facade is modest and of mild proportions, the interior is anything but. Formerly a miner’s cottage that dates back to the 1850s, it has since been lovingly restored to a dreamily decorated and tranquil oasis by owner and interior designer extraordinaire, Lynda Gardner.
The house itself features tall ceilings, two bedrooms, a library, bathroom and open plan kitchen and living area, all of which are furnished with a combination of one-off vintage finds, quirky collectables, an endless array of books and antiques of bygone eras, that meticulously fuse together to make an almost museum-like homage to Lynda’s thrift-store chic taste.
Guests of The White House will also have access to The Garden Room; a stunning stand alone studio in the house’s sun dappled garden, that too embodies Lynda’s unique style, and is sprinkled with a plethora of pre-loved accoutrements.
They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, and it’s certainly true at The White House Daylesford. Guests are treated to a spread of fresh oranges for juicing, a rustic loaf of organic bread, eggs, butter, jams and granola, meaning visitors can breakfast without leaving the comfort of home, while the quirky blackboard, spacious work top, stainless steel commercial oven and unrivalled collection of kitchen accessories – including coffee plungers and tasteful teapots – make it the perfect spot for rustling up a decadent breakfast. The rest of the living space combines lush textiles, vintage art, industrial lighting and piles of coffee table books, ideal for perusing through during a lazy afternoon, with a piping hot pot of tea to hand. French doors lead to the green and luscious garden, and the living area also includes a beautiful open fire place – already laid with wood for the night, and ideal for cooler evenings – a vintage typewriter, apothecary jars, cosy sofas and ample reading nooks perfect for idle afternoons spent curled up with a book.
While there is a TV, it’s discreetly hidden behind vintage cabinet doors, and with books heavily featured throughout the house – from the towering hardbacks cleverly used as door stops, to the coffee table tomes, and vintage poetry collections thoughtfully left in the bedrooms – as well as a collection of traditional board games, it’s unlikely that guests will find the need for any sort of screen time.
The bedrooms, meanwhile, are indulgent, inviting and flooded with light, and boast shuttered windows, feature fireplaces, cosy armchairs, hand-crafted bed linen, throws, cushions, yet more stacks of books, and the sort of dream-like duvets that make leisurely mornings in bed the most delightful way to start one’s day.
And if a deep and decadent bubble bath is your idea of heaven, you’ll be bewitched by The White House’s beautiful bathroom. With a claw foot tub, stylish vintage pieces, and a wonderful collection of lotions and potions, it offers the perfect place for some serious rest and relaxtion.
The pièce de résistence for book lovers, is, of course the luxurious library, that offers all lover of literature a peaceful haven in which to curl up and read. Bookworms will delight in this dreamy space, that offers guests sunken 1930s leather club chairs – reminiscent of days gone by – hand painted floor-to-ceiling wallpaper of bookshelves, and a limitless supply of well thumbed tomes that include everything from memoirs to murder mysteries, along with an impressive collection of colourful Penguin Classics, The sort of room one might imagine retreating to post supper, with either a glass of bubbles or piping hot cup of tea in hand, it is both cosy and elegant, with a hint of old school glamour, and has everything a bookworm would hanker after and far more besides. Few rooms have satiated my bookworm tendencies more than The White House’s library, and while each and every room in the house was undeniable beautiful, the library had a certain je ne sais quoi that is unlike anything I’ve seen on my travels before.
A home away from home that offers comfort, elegance, charm and – most importantly – books, in spades, The White House Daylesford is a beautifully unique destination for anyone who wants a relaxing retreat and to luxuriate in stylish surroundings, in one of the Australia’s most scenic spots. Book your stay at The White House Daylesford here on Air BnB.
Useful information about The White House Daylesford
50 Albert Street, Daylesford, Victoria
Walking distance to the Covent Gallery, Sunday Market, Vincent Street, Daylesford Botanical Gardens, Daylesford Lake and only a few minutes drive to Hepburn Springs and Spa.
Room prices start at $390 a night.
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Image of kitchen and library: In Bed with Me