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Craig's Royal Hotel Ballarat, VIC

Guest Writer: Sandy Kaye

Where Is It: Ballarat – just one and a half hours drive from Melbourne.

Why Go: A romantic weekend escape.

Best For: Stylish couples who love old world style.

Three Things We Loved: The ambiance and the decor.

The Ultimate Factor: The experience of stepping back into the mid 1800’s.


Opulent and steeped in a rich history that dates back to 1853 when Ballarat’s fame spread far and wide during the Gold Rush, Craig’s Royal Hotel still stands as one of the jewels in the city’s prestigious streetscape. This grand 41-room boutique hotel, which has played host to princes, poets and prime ministers, offers a unique experience and a true sense of what it must have been like to visit at a time when the city was known as the world’s richest and the centre of all commerce. The hotel has been refurbished over the past decade yet faithfully adheres to its original look so that Victorian era, William Morris wallpapers adorn all rooms and public spaces. The hotel still maintains a quaint cage lift to traverse its three levels, transporting guests between majestic function rooms and creaky, high-ceiling art-laden corridors. The building, decor, rooms, furniture, and fittings all serve to immerse guests into the world of true Victorian era splendour. A visit to Craig’s is like travelling back to a time where sophistication, luxury and impeccable service were expected and demanded. Today all the little touches are here; the service is attentive, courteous, warm, and personal, the food delicious and the charming accommodation definitely still fit for a king, or ideal for a romantic getaway.

The Accommodation:

Originally catering to all manner of travellers, the hotel features a variety of rooms that range from five single bedders up to opulent Royal Suites. The most basic Classic Room is intimate and affordable, available in single, double or twin formation, and beautifully furnished in a variety of period styles. Diversity in configuration and style are further reflected in the Superior Rooms. Some feature balconies and corner spa en-suites. These charming heritage rooms are full of character and offer a great alternative to larger suites. The Deluxe Room is furnished with genuine antique mahogany or original Australian brass beds. If you’re game request one of the two “Chinoiserie“ styled rooms – one of which boasts a 600 year old antique Chinese wedding bed! All rooms come equipped with a small fridge, a plunger coffee maker, and a choice of firm or soft pillows. Beautifully renovated bathrooms offer the finest French toiletries. The largest and grandest rooms at Craig’s provide the best heritage accommodation in Australia. The Royal Balcony Suites are grand and comfortable. Many of the marble trimmed bathrooms include Roman or “Hydrotherapy” corner spas. Each individual in layout, The Royal Garden and the Anglo-Japanese styled suite with its oriental flavour are just a couple of examples of what Craig’s has to offer.

Where We Stayed:

Our home for the night was The Royal Tower Suite which features the same elegant period decoration as the rest of the hotel – Victorian carpets and wallpaper, heavy gold brocade curtains, an antique bureau and lavish chaise lounge, as well as a king size mahogany bed with the best quality mattress and feather doona money can buy. Our bathroom was light, bright and modern with original Roman columns and an archway adorning a generously sized spa bath. Hidden from view but accessible by climbing a narrow wooden staircase is the tower after which this room was named. A great lookout over Ballarat, this room houses a dining table and chairs for those who may care to dine here. Legend has it that members of British royalty and the author Mark Twain have done just that. 

What Else Is There:

High tea is served in the Grand Dining Room every Sunday attracting patrons from all over. The occasional ball and many functions including weddings are still held in one of several timber-lined banquet rooms that feature grand chandeliers and 4.3 metre ceilings. The hotel’s main restaurant, “The Gallery”, is renowned as a destination for food lovers. Overseen by one of Melbourne’s top chefs, it’s warm ambience combined with its French inspired, European style cuisine sets it apart from other local offerings. The Gallery uses only local produce, changes it’s menu seasonally and boasts old-fashioned delicious specials like chateaubriand.

The Verdict:

We adored staying at Craig’s Royal Hotel. Service was friendly and helpful, the stay extremely comfortable and we found the experience of being steeped so authentically in the trappings of another era to be both stimulating and refreshing.

Craig’s Royal Hote is located at 10 Lydiard St S, Ballarat VIC 3350, +61 (03) 5331 1377,

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