In Travel

Inside Yallingup’s Hidden Chic Bush Retreat

As the saying maintains, a book shouldn’t be judged by just its cover; but in the case of Empire Retreat, it is hard not to be swept away by first impressions. Upon arrival at the hidden property in Western Australia’s south, you are greeted by a friendly gaggle of geese, your phone reception takes a dip, and the sound of birds, cicadas and rustling leaves quickly overtake the sound of the traffic zooming by.

It takes just a few minutes and a few meters of gravel driveway to see exactly what Empire Retreat is all about, and why it is so loved by anyone who has stayed. But make no mistake, this is no run-of-the-mill countryside farm stay.

Half way between Dunsborough and Yallingup, Empire Estate is nestled in to bushland just off the busy Caves Road. Also home to a 20-year-old vineyard and flourishing olive grove, the estate has much more to offer than a simple stay in a beautiful room on a bushland property. In prime position to access the very best of the Margaret River region, it is just a short 15-minute drive from the region’s famously pristine coast line, boutique wineries and world-class restaurants. While Empire Retreat falls under the banner of a secluded countryside stay, it is by no means an isolated one.

Under the same ownership as the furniture and homewares institution Empire Homewares, the bright, spacious residence is furnished in the signature style of their six West Australian stores. Breaking away from the home-style florals, tapestries and shiplap standard of a classic country getaway, Empire Retreat focuses on luxurious finishes with an undeniable Balinese twist. What once was an ancestral abode has now been transformed in to a boutique modern-rustic empire.

Peppered with natural timbers, local stone features, luxury linens and textural soft furnishings, Empire oozes an understated elegance without compromising on the all-important comfort and hygge. Their space feels more like a home than it does an exclusive hotel, with every room doing a good job at enticing you to cosy up and settle in.

Comprising of a eight one-bedroom suites, one split-level two bedroom suite, a luxury villa, a common area and a day spa, the adults-only retreat is home to a maximum of just 22 at any one time. Even at capacity, the local kangaroos and resident geese well outnumber guests on the property.

At the top of the retreat’s exclusive accommodation offerings is the lavish one bedroom, one bathroom ‘luxury villa’; designed to offer complete sanctuary and privacy for guests. Coming in at $595 a night, it is considered one of Yallingup’s most premier stays. Boasting a large spa tub with panoramic bushland views, an outdoor shower in a private courtyard, a cosy sunken lounge, an open wood fire, a kitchenette and a balcony that opens out on to the scenic property, it has everything you need and more for a comfortable and romantic couple’s getaway.

Located along the boardwalk or within the original farmhouse, the remainder of the 8 varying couples suites may be smaller in size than the villa, but they aren’t without that same sense of space and openness as the top end offering; and of course, that gorgeous feeling of hygge that the Empire team have so masterfully instilled with their signature style of interior design.

Just off to the side of the perfectly finished reception area is the ever-inviting common space. Positioned around the stone fire place, the welcoming lounge setting is accentuated with big plush cushions, textural rugs, plenty of art and an array of books; feeling more like your own perfectly styled lounge room than the lobby and communal area of a hotel.

But it is the glass clad, atrium style dining room that is the shining star of the communal spaces. The most beautiful architectural feature of the whole retreat, the dining area makes the most of the stunning natural surrounds, with uninterrupted views out across gum trees, grass trees and the olive grove in the distance. Natural light floods in from all angles, making it the perfect spot to catch a little afternoon sun in the winter months.

While Empire leaves the luxury of a pool or room service to other stays within the area, there are plenty of other indulgent amenities and added extras to try. Book in for a sumptuous 4.5 hour ‘renew’ package ($560) at the day spa on site, take a wander down to the lake, or pick up a bottle of Empire wine straight from the private vineyard on site, arrange one of the gourmet picnic hampers for two, and venture down to the nearby Yallingup Beach for a fuss-free sunset picnic.

Empire Retreat and Spa is a two hour and 45-minute drive from Perth. Rooms start from $350 per night (peak season) and come with a complimentary continental breakfast. For more information, see their website here.

Published 11 April, 2018