The immense beauty of Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair National Park – a deserving UNESCO World Heritage Site – is a good trade-off for no Wi-Fi, phone reception or television. Throw in a charming lodge to rest your feet after iconic hikes, a deceptively understated restaurant serving up beautiful local produce, and an exceptional spa experience, and unplugging and exploring has never been more tempting, even for the most frantic millennial.
Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge surely sits among Mantra’s most valuable players. Not only is it located in one of the world’s most beautiful and immersive expanses of nature, but it even stakes prime position among the few hotels dotted up and down the area. At the lodge’s doorstep is some of the mountain’s best – and easiest – hikes, and it’s only a short free shuttle ride to the tourist center – from there leaves another shuttle that regularly makes the rounds to the gorgeous Dove Lake and surrounds. You won’t have to worry about location here, or access to Cradle Mountain’s must-see areas, which include the aforementioned Dove Lake Circuit, Cradle Valley Waterfall Walk, and Shadow Lake Circuit.
Hotel operators in the area are acutely aware that very few guests will actually be spending much time in their rooms. Hence, the focus is on providing somewhere comfortable to rest after a day of exploring, and Peppers does a very a good job at that. My Spa Cabin is the second up of a four-room category split, which reaches up to the fabulous King Billy Suite. Unfortunately none of those were available during my stay, but the Spa Cabin does just fine.
With cabins spread across the bushland property, spaced very far apart, it’s either a short walk up from reception of a friendly shuttle drive. Opt for the walk wherever possible; there are well defined paths around the area, all making it easy to shuffle between your room, reception, the restaurants, and the beautiful Waldheim Alpine Spa.
Contemporary Spa Cabins (“Traditional” is also available, with more rustic wooden interiors) are spacious and old fashioned, but not a peep can be heard from the walls at night. The only sounds you’re likely to hear throughout the whole stay are any you make yourself, plus wildlife (don’t worry, Australia’s most dangerous critters prefer elsewhere) singing out in the morning. There are some spaces that could use updating – the knob on my cupboard was slightly broken and the tiny kitchen, though clean, has seen better days and barely gets much light. The bedroom is wide and open, with a log fire and cut wood in the corner, facing a homely three-seater couch – lovely, welcoming and a necessary part of the property’s home-far-from-home feel.
The subtle touches of luxury Peppers are known for help spruce the rustic room, from fluffy wool throws draped over the exceptionally comfortably Queen bed, to the large modern white-tiled bathroom with it’s own electric heater and a generous corner jacuzzi. It may not be the balcony whirlpool that defines the King Billy Suite, but it does just fine, with powerful jets to help whip up the most relaxing post-hike bath you will ever have.
A semi-open walk in rain shower stands at the other end of the bathroom, and it can take some time to warm up which is particularly frustrating because the cabin walls won’t save you from the sometimes freezing air. It can get quite chilly throughout the entire room if you aren’t using the log fire to warm yourself up. Just be sure to take a look at the wine collection in the mini bar before you sit down to relax; the snacks are nothing special, but all the wine is local – and Tasmania has some incredible wines. Top that off by ordering up a platter of local cheeses to your room, sit by the blazing fire, and you might as well be filming a tourism ad for why Cradle Mountain is such an ideal getaway.
The room’s beautiful wide, square balcony is attached to the room for the wise ones who wake up early enough to watch the sunrise peek through the treetops of Myrtle Forest, sipping on a hot chocolate or plunger coffee. Yep, plunger coffee. Though little modern touches are found throughout the room, the space is still very much a blast from maybe a decade ago – they even have an in-room CD player so be sure to dig up some of those if you some background beats.
The rustic lodge aesthetic is really hammered home by the spacious guest lounge located just behind reception. Several open fireplaces are spread throughout what looks like a shot-on-location setting for Twin Peaks, coloured with comfy chesterfields, shelves of vintage books and enormous artworks depicting rugged mountains and natural beauty. The King Billy pine walls that frame the lounge lead down to the amber glow of The Tavern, the hotel’s resident pub-style restaurant that serves up hearty classics elevated by local produce. A simple pasta is taken to the next level by local protein and is exactly what one should reach for after a long hike.
Peppers’ other restaurant, The Highland, is located just opposite the reception desk and it’s where you’ll want to go for the standard breakfast buffet, again owing much of its quality to local Tasmania produce. By night, it serves elegant dinner options like a wallaby porterhouse and locally caught seafood, though I didn’t have a chance to try it out.
What is an absolute must when staying here is that aforementioned Waldheim Alpine Spa. Even if you’re not winding down from a long day with one of the many treatments, book some time in their spacious corner spa. You can grab the space for exclusive use, whether it’s just you or a bigger group, and it’s an endlessly relaxing spot with its own sauna and shower, and a large indoor-outdoor hot whirlpool and plunge pool which look out over the magnificent three-lined Pencil Pine River, snaking away from you as you lean over the outdoor part of the whirlpool and take in the clean Cradle Mountain air. After a strenuous hike, that genuinely inspiring moment should rank among any ‘best of’ Cradle Mountain lists.
FOUR STARS OUT OF FIVE
Address: 4038 Cradle Mountain Rd, Cradle Mountain TAS 7306
Contact: 1300 806 192
The writer stayed as a guest of the hotel
Feature image supplied.