The gorgeous Daylesford in Victoria, along with its neighboring twin Hepburn Springs, is one of Australia’s most famous spa retreats. The Italian-Swiss-founded town lies an hour northwest of Melbourne in the Great Dividing Range. Its origins might go back to the Gold Rush, but now as we stepped into it, we saw some 70-odd hot springs. With healing sanctuaries, massage centers, gorgeous lakes, and crystal-clear springs, Daylesford was nothing short of a laidback utopia for us. What’s more, this lovely little town is also a haven for the LGBT community and is popularly known as ‘Gaylesford’! So, it’s no surprise that we found a slew of options for gay accommodation in Daylesford.
If that wasn’t enough, the town is also an epicenter for some of the most epic LGBT parties we’ve ever seen. These include the Daylesford Beartopia and its Pride festival ChillOut, which is the largest rural LGBTQ+ festival in all of Australia! Melbourne might be Victoria’s gay capital, but Daylesford was something else. Almost every second person was gay, and it’s one of the top 10 Australian places with the highest proportion of gay couples. Despite there being no exclusively gay bars, there were a plethora of gay-owned businesses, so it felt like coming home. Moreover, the entire town has tolerance and open-mindedness sewn into its very fabric, which is why we absolutely adored the quaint Daylesford.
Add to that the amazing relaxed, country-style experiences and dining options, and the many mineral springs and rejuvenating treatments, and this town was perfect for us to kick back and relax. Check out our useful LGBT guide to Daylesford before you plan a trip to the ‘Spa Center of Australia.’
Table of contents
- The Dudley Boutique Hotel
- Château Rosemund
- Kudos Villas
- Lake House
- Balconies Lakeside
- Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel
- Hotel Bellinzona
- Farmers Arms Hotel Daylesford
- Old Chilli Daylesford
- The Royal Daylesford Hotel
- Hotel Frangos
- Our Verdict!
- Just So You Know:
The Dudley Boutique Hotel
Best boutique. The Dudley Boutique Hotel was one of the finest LGBTQ hotels we’ve seen in the town. It lies right on the main street of Hepburn Springs, around 10 minutes north of Daylesford. Our eyes popped at the exterior structure, which is one of the finest examples of timber Federation-style architecture. That, coupled with trimmed hedges and a picket gate, made it one of the most picturesque facades we’ve ever seen. We’d take long walks in the gorgeous manicured gardens at this country-style property and enjoy a lavish afternoon tea at weekends. When it turned colder, we’d retreat to the warmth of the fireside in the lounge area and enjoy a drink. Besides complimentary coffee/tea served throughout the day, there was even a delicious breakfast. Think homemade bread, muffins, sausages, tomatoes, bacon, and eggs. Yum!
With just seven rooms, staying here was as intimate as it can get. They all reflected the early 1900s style when the guesthouse first opened and when peeps came here specifically for the hot springs. What’s more, we were even treated to champagne on arrival, while rooms featured plush beds and upmarket toiletries in the bathrooms. Finally, the rooms even have soft bathrobes.
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Since we wanted to stay slightly away from the bustle, Château Rosemund on the fringes of the township was perfect for us.
Staying in this stylish three-bedroom cottage made for a very intimate stay. We chose the King Suite with an ensuite bathroom, and we loved the pastel hues, the plush bed, and the luxe bathroom with bespoke bath products. Even the other two rooms, Queen and Double, are equally great. That said, the B&B was equally amazing outside the room too, especially since it even had a renovated kitchen and outdoor spaces, complete with a BBQ. Our days would begin with a delightful continental breakfast. After a long day of exploring the town, we’d relax and unwind in the outdoor spaces. Evenings were reserved for grilling delicious alfresco dinners at the BBQ. The best bit? The town center is a five-minute drive.
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Most romantic. Imagine being close to the town center and yet having easy access to the bushland where kangaroos and echidnas roam – that’s Kudos Villas for you. We were immediately impressed as they welcomed us with the Kudos Spa gift pack the moment we arrived. It came with welcome drinks, chocolates, and bespoke bath products.
But that’s not all. We found them to be one of the most romantic digs in the region, especially since they boasted just nine self-contained spa villas. Heaven, right? These spa villas all have their individual persona but boasted modern touches that we loved. Think king beds, open wood fireplaces, and a luxe bathroom with L’Occitane toiletries and a massive, sunken spa bath – amorous is an understatement. Plus, all villas came with well-equipped kitchens where we’d whip up romantic meals on the trot.
If that wasn’t enough, the service is as personable and non-intrusive as it could get. For instance, they provided breakfast provisions for the first morning of our stay, including coffee/tea, OJ, bread, and local farmhouse muesli. plus chocolates and a welcome drink on arrival. Wrapping up the facilities is the barbecue onsite, which was a great place to enjoy alfresco dinners and mingle with the other guests.
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Most luxurious. Looking for luxury accommodation in Daylesford is no challenge since every list includes the gay-friendly Lake House. As the name suggests, the soothing award-winning retreat sat on the eastern banks of Lake Daylesford and was home to one of the country’s most celebrated restaurants. We found it sophisticated to the last brick and perfect for enjoying the bounty of the bushland, right from nature to seasonal produce to art.
The elegant and understated hotel was made for some seriously luxurious unwinding. The highlight was the stunning heated infinity pool that directly overlooked the lake. We’d lounge on the daybeds and sip cocktails from the poolside bar. Later on, we loved retreating to the hush of the Argyle Library and sipping on aged whiskey. The spa is highly regarded, as we found out when we relaxed in a deep-soaking tub in a private treetop hut. However, the standout was the esteemed restaurant helmed by one of Australia’s most prolific chefs. Our mornings would begin with hearty breakfasts in the dining room as we feasted on everything from buffet-style pastries and frittata to à la carte options like poached eggs and kimchi pancakes. In fact, we were not surprised to learn that the hotel also ran a cooking school with hands-on masterclasses from some of Australia’s best chefs.
Choose from 33 suites spread across several accommodation types. If money isn’t an issue, we’d highly recommend the Waterfront Pool Studios or the Suites, which come with dual-person spas. Even the Spa Villa has its own outdoor whirlpool tub.
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We were looking for a Daylesford B&B when we chanced upon Balconies Lakeside, a stunning Edwardian-era boutique B&B right on Lake Daylesford! Besides the excellent location, all of this B&B’s studios boasted stunning views of the emerald-green lake. The hosts had lived in Daylesford for years, and we were treated to some very best travel tips on what to explore in town. Plus, the area is extremely popular for cycling, so we’d head out to explore the town on our own.
Just like other relaxed accommodations in the town, this 1912-built property also featured many spaces for lounging and relaxing. The living room/lounge area was minimally but luxuriously furnished with comfy seating and a flat-screen TV. There’s even a sun-kissed terrace that felt great when the weather was warm. And, of course, the gardens right outside were perfect for enjoying a morning walk, something that was a dream back home. Our days began with a full Irish/English breakfast, which we could even enjoy in the comfort of our room. Other amenities that we appreciated here are the free Wi-Fi and luggage storage.
That said, it’s the units here that were the standout. All of them were spacious, with small kitchenettes with fridges, coffeemakers, and microwaves. Our Studio Apartment #1 had spacious bedrooms with separate sitting areas and patios with alfresco seating and fantastic views of the lake.
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Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel
There was no better place to indulge in traditional-style romance than at the 1935-built Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel. What we especially liked about it is that it was also home to one of the few full-service spas in the region, making it the perfect luxurious and romantic hideaway.
Stepping into the hotel was like stepping back in time. The entire place is surrounded by scenic gardens, of which the formal Italian gardens were the most spectacular, complete with a mini hedge maze. The public spaces were all sophisticated and elegant, with original 1930s detailing, marble, and bespoke furniture. We loved digging into modern, regional fare at the dining room and speakeasy-like glamorous bar. Our days usually ended with nightcaps at the bar and a relaxing interlude in the guest lounge with a fireplace. The highlight was the spa, complete with a relaxation lounge and dual hydrotherapy baths. We were impressed by the unique Mineral Spa, which came with ‘floating beds’ where we lay on hammocks of warm water without getting wet.
When it came to accommodations, we could choose between traditional rooms and self-contained villas for the ultimate experience. Nevertheless, all rooms came with a slew of modern creature comforts that made our stay as comfortable as it could get. We recommend getting the rooms with private balconies and spa baths in the room itself, which is where we also stayed!
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Best heritage. While looking for a characterful and historic stay at Daylesford, we were utterly charmed by the Hotel Bellinzona. The 1903-built Hepburn Springs hotel has undergone two facelifts and sits on sprawling lush grounds in the heart of Australia’s spa capital.
There was nothing about the property that we could find fault with, beginning from its incredible, heated indoor pool and sauna. After a long day of exploring Daylesford, it was the ideal way to relax our sore muscles. After a swim and a soak, we headed to the sensational spa and enjoyed a relaxing and invigorating massage and body treatments. When we were restless for some action, the communal lounge area with a table tennis and billiards setup was where we’d be. Apart from the restaurant that serves superb fare, the highlight was drinking cocktails with excellent nightly entertainment at the cellar-door wine bar.
With just 43 rooms to choose from, staying at this resort was one highly intimate affair. Since it’s a historic property, all rooms, even the entry-level ones, were huge. Besides mod-cons like flatscreen TVs and coffee/tea-making facilities, they also had contemporary bathrooms with massive shower areas large enough for two.
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Farmers Arms Hotel Daylesford
We loved the quintessential old-style pub vibe of the attractive, 150-year-old redbrick gay-friendly Farmers Arms Hotel Daylesford. The hotel sits at the eastern end of town and is a short stroll from the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens right in the town center. The gastro-pub is particularly gay-friendly, and we loved the merry and cheery vibe. The place is also a hotel and offers luxe suites accommodation right across the road.
“We were looking for the quintessential Australian pub experience, which we found in more than amazing measure at this hotel.”WOW Travel
Staying at the Farmers Arms was, in fact, all about the suites. For instance, the Superior Suites were spacious with a more contemporary design, while the Art Suites featured a bevy of artwork. Nevertheless, all of them featured bespoke crockery and pottery pieces by local artists, which we could also purchase. Even though each suite is individually decorated, they all featured the most modern flourishes. These included complimentary minibars, coffee/tea stations, free Wi-Fi, and state-of-the-art climate control systems. Besides flatscreen TVs with Netflix, we also found modern bathrooms with equally bespoke toiletries.
Besides the bar and restaurant where we could enjoy all meals, the property even boasted lush gardens. Furthermore, we were within walking distance of many of the town’s sights and attractions.
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Old Chilli Daylesford
Old Chilli Daylesford is anything but old – in fact, it’s one of the most charming gay accommodations right in the heart of the town. The B&B is the ideal budget-friendly and yet local-like stay. To begin with, we could dig into a hearty gourmet continental breakfast every morning in the sunlit room. The frontal sun-kissed verandah with comfy deck chairs was a great place to sip on wine while watching an Australian sunset. We loved the overflowing Australian foliage that made it one hell of an Insta-worthy spot. Whether morning or evening, the gardens were a great place to enjoy a walk. Rounding up the services is the free Wi-Fi.
When it came to the rooms, all of them featured private entrances and had French doors that opened onto a large patio or balcony. What’s more, they all enjoyed sweeping views of alpacas and the gorgeous Aussie bushland. Besides plush beds, flatscreen TVs, and modern, updated bathrooms, the rooms also featured spa baths. Are you leaving on a Sunday? You can check out as late as 5 p.m.!
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The Royal Daylesford Hotel
The gay-friendly Royal Daylesford Hotel offers luxurious digs with a bit of history and charm. Located right down the lane from Lake Daylesford, the 1856-built historic hotel combined Victorian-era character and charm with modern-day creature comforts. With just 10 suites, it was the perfect escape for us as we were looking for a romantic, luxurious, and relaxing getaway in the gorgeous rural Aussie bushland. Even though it’s a small hotel, the facilities befitted that of a regular-sized one. For one, it had a restaurant, café, and sports bar. From continental breakfast to dinners and everything in between, we didn’t have to actually step out for anything. There was even a cozy lounge that was perfect for relaxing with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
Since it’s a heritage structure, the rooms differed in size and style. Nevertheless, they all featured exposed-brick walls, comfy beds, separate seating areas, and kitchenettes. Also, most of them had ensuite bathrooms with spa baths and even balconies.
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Lying one block down from the lake, Hotel Frangos is perhaps one of the most famous gay hotels in Daylesford. Charming and luxurious in equal measure, the property featured a gamut of amenities and facilities that couldn’t help but make us fall in love with this place. The on-site café and bar, for one, served everything from full buffet breakfasts to casual fare to melt-in-our-mouth dinners. The bar was particularly amazing and is also gay-popular. We could choose from regional wines, cocktails, and even beer on tap. During warmer months, we’d grab a table in the vine-covered Agora Courtyard of the bar and enjoy a nice meal. And when we wanted to unwind, the on-site Endota spa offered a range of pampering massages and body treatments.
We were equally impressed when it came to the rooms too. The uniquely-styled guest rooms were all singular and yet modern to boot. So, while we had our usual pick of mod-cons like flatscreen TVs and ensuite bathrooms, there were also minibars, coffee machines, and complimentary bathrobes.
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While we love all the LGBTQ-friendly hotels in Daylesford, the ones below are rather special. Check them out.
- Best boutique: The Dudley Boutique Hotel
- Most romantic: Kudos Villas
- Most luxurious: Lake House
- Best heritage: Hotel Bellinzona
Just So You Know:
- The leafy, bucolic Daylesford is highly considered the gay capital of regional Victoria. In fact, the 2016 Census data listed it as one of the top 10 destinations in Australia for same-sex female couples to live in.
- The gay-owned Daylesford Day Spa might not be a gay spa specifically, but it’s exceptional nonetheless.
Get Some Culture in Daylesford:
- ChillOut Festival – Also known as Daylesford Pride, this is the biggest LGBTQ+ celebration in rural Australia. It has a relaxed, down-to-earth atmosphere, with events ranging from drag shows and a hilarious street parade to dance parties.
- Beartopia: Spring brings rugged rural queer fun to Daylesford is the Country Bear Pride, a.k.a. Beartopia! It has a fabulous opening party where you can meet and size up all the bearded, burly, and big boys who’ve all made their way here.
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Daylesford:
- Daylesford Hotel – This traditional pub serves lip-smacking Australian pub food. We washed it down with the best imported and Australian beers, of which many are on tap.
- The Farmers Arms Hotel – This iconic pub restaurant, which is also a gay-friendly hotel, served delicious food and brews and is a favorite with locals.
Best Gay Saunas in Daylesford:
Daylesford doesn’t have a gay sauna, but who cares? You’re in a town full of lovely hot springs!