Want to be among the first to have a sleepover at Brae? Bookings for the new suites at the award-winning restaurant in country Victoria open this week, with the rooms ready for their first occupants from the middle of February.
Owner-chef Dan Hunter is noticeably energised by the project. For starters, he's filled the gap that's been left wanting in the Brae business model - quality accommodation for diners who want to fully explore the killer wine list without having to negotiate the 90-minute drive back to Melbourne after dinner. But Hunter is also fired up by the prospect of the suites hewing so closely to his original vision for the Birregurra property.
"We never wanted the suites to be about statement architecture," he says. "But we did want the buildings to be beautiful and to be part of the landscape so that they reflect what we're doing in the restaurant."
James Legge from Six Degrees architects says that they wanted the buildings to "fold into the landscape", to frame the rural views and also be protected from the extreme weather the region experiences in both summer and winter.
Extensive landscaping and the use of materials such as bricks, timber and steel (which reflect the materials used in the original buildings on the property), plus environmentally friendly features like solar power and harvested rainwater mean the buildings sit lightly on the land.
The interiors are "warm and robust with a sense of luxury" and feature a skylight over the bed for star-watching, private outdoor areas, large bathrooms, cocktail bars replete with decanted spirits and cocktail recipes, fully stocked, temperature-controlled wine fridges, and turntables with a selection of vinyl (James Brown, Patti Smith, Dylan, Bowie and The XX in the mix).
Breakfast will be included with the accommodation and is geared around produce from the property and the idea that after the "massive food experience" of the night before, light, clean and healthy is the way to go.
Everything from bread and pastries to muesli will come from the restaurant's wood-fired ovens and there'll be house-cured meats, preserves made from produce growing in the fields and orchards, and house-made ricotta drizzled with Brae honey. Fresh juice and plunger coffee are also part of the deal, as is locally produced milk.
"I want it to feel a bit like a farm stay," says Hunter, "but with added luxury and a bit of adult fun."
Suites $515 for two per night including breakfast; off-peak rates are available midweek. Brae, 4285 Cape Otway Rd, Birregurra, Vic, (03) 5236 2226