Palm Springs meets vineyard paradise at this regional escape.
Forget Hamptons chic and whisk yourself to Orange this summer, where time bends under the sun-drenched palms of The Oriana Retro Hotel & Resort. This isn’t your standard country escape; it’s a portal to a mid-century wonderland, where retro vibes dance with culinary feasts and vineyard bliss amidst the rolling Central Tablelands.
From the moment you cross The Oriana’s threshold, you’re transported. Palm trees sway by the turquoise pool, the scent of rosemary carries on the breeze, and vintage furnishings whisper tales of forgotten eras. Our Oriana King Terrace Suite is a symphony of burnt orange tiles, plush velvet armchairs, and a balcony overlooking the poolside scene. It’s spacious, undeniably comfortable, and oozes that “I’m on vacation!” feeling like sunshine on the skin. And as the sun sets over the hills on the horizon, downstairs The Oriana Summer Kitchen is starting to come alive.
Built upon the former beer garden, The Oriana Summer Kitchen has been transformed from its previous state into a 50s-inspired eatery that combines vintage glamour with resort-style dining. While we didn’t select a freshly wood-fired pizza on this first night, the tapas selection of chilli prawns, plates of koftas and my personal favourite that transported me back to southern Spain, pan con tomato, set my tastebuds up for what I knew was going to be a delicious weekend. And while we only dined in the Summer Kitchen once over the weekend, the menu and staff knowledge meant that it would have been quite easy to have every meal there.
While the resort is optimally designed for lazing around the poolside for the entire weekend, venturing down to the main town is a classic journey through the sights, sounds and comfort of a regional Australian town. From antique shopping and boutique browsing to reacquainting yourself with the hum of cicadas, there are plenty of things to see and do in the area.
However, if you’re feeling like heading further away from the town square, Lakeside Kiosk & Cafe, positioned on the banks of Lake Canobolas is the perfect hot weather escape. You can either choose to grab a picnic for the shoreline or sit inside where the sunlight dances and reflects atop the wine racks of local sips. We would highly recommend sitting inside though so you can taste the mushroom foam soup, an unexpected favourite that has continued to linger on my tastebuds.
Venturing out to and from the lakeside you’ll pass what Orange has become infamous for, their high wine country, and no trip to this region is complete without a cellar door visit. We stopped by Word of Mouth Wines, a haven for alternative grape varieties and sustainable practices. The vineyard offered breathtaking views and a refreshing escape from the afternoon heat. We met Peter, the winemaker, whose passion for the land was evident in every word and every sip. Our tasting took us on a tour of his unique offerings, from the delicate Gruner Veltliner to the bold Mencia, each showcasing the terroir’s distinct personality. With every swirl and every swallow, we tasted not just wine, but the soul of Orange itself.
For your second night make your way back to The Oriana Retro Hotel & Resort and slide into The Peacock Room where a vibrant restaurant, bathed in the warm glow of antique chandeliers and the peaceful symphony of clinking glasses makes you feel like you’re stepping into a bygone era. As the guest beside me aptly put it, “It’s like going to a wedding – you won’t know everyone at the start, but you will by the end.” Indeed, within minutes, the air thrummed with conversation, strangers drawn together by the shared language of culinary delight and the infectious buzz of the room.
Like a beautifully composed score, the menu offered a symphony of flavours. It’s easy to judge a menu on its star dishes and this one certainly delivered with a rich duck pithivier, its crispy pastry encasing a confit masterpiece. But it’s also important to consider the sides and entrees and The Peacock Room’s freshly baked sourdough bread barely needed a sliver of butter for us to enjoy its flavour. The restaurant also flies in a selection of fresh oysters from Bateman’s Bay that are on special for $1 every Friday to Sunday and are the perfect light accompaniment to the bold main dishes.
To close off the night, venture just outside of The Peacock Room’s embrace into the intimacy of Bela Vista Bar. Velvet shadows, flickering candles, plush sofas and fresh blooms create a sophisticated stage for an expertly crafted evening rendezvous. An expertly crafted drinks menu featuring smoky Old Fashioned in crystal-cut glasses and a robust collection of local and international wines sits hidden away on our table. The Supper Club delights nowhere flaunted but whispered secretly by waitstaff, promising you creamy Batemans Bay oysters, fine French cheeses and a creme brûlée paired with the tartiness of raspberry sorbet to close off the weekend.
As our weekend away comes to an end, one thing remains evident, The Oriana has built itself to be beyond a hotel. Seamlessly blending the natural features of the Central Tablelands with refined indulgence it truly has become the “yacht club of Orange”. It is a place where retro vibes meet country charm, and everyone feels like they belong.