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Hotel Highlights

  • Stylish suites and villas in and around a restored farmhouse
  • Smack-bang in the centre of Margaret River wine country
  • Blissful spa for pampering sessions
  • Sample Empire Estate's own cabernet, chardonnay and merlot

Overview

The owner’s ancestral abode anchors the Empire Retreat and Spa hotel’s stone and timber presence on the Western Australia's Margaret River. At this rural retreat with Asian accents, quaff a glass of chardonnay from the on-site vineyard after indulging in mud wraps from the signature spa.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Empire Retreat and Spa with us:

A bottle of Empire Estate wine and a cheese plate

Special offers

Exclusive rates, packages and special offers at Empire Retreat and Spa

Exclusive: save 30% when you stay three nights or more

Facilities

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Empire Retreat and Spa hotel - Margaret River - Australia

Need To Know

Rooms

10 suites (including two villas).

Check–out

11am, but may be flexible, subject to availability. Check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $252.11 (AU$268), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast.

Also

Slink into Empire Spa for a seductive range of treatments, including a three-hour Opulence session that will have you scrubbed, rubbed and soaked into submission.

At the hotel

A stellar day spa, games room and a communal kitchen for guests to cook up a storm. In rooms: TV, DVD player, WiFi, iPod dock, Elissa Coleman robes and Sodashi bath products.

Our favourite rooms

The open-plan Luxury Villas are our pick, thanks to their sunken lounge area, open fireplace and private courtyard with outdoor shower. These, and the Deluxe Balcony Suites, are connected to the main lodge by a timber boardwalk; Loft Suites occupy the first floor of the farmhouse; and the Courtyard Suite is on ground level. The suites' polished wood floors and stone feature walls are complemented by a delicious colour palette of chocolate, cream and honey.

Poolside

There's no pool, but there is secluded Jacuzzi, sauna and outdoor shower set among landscaped gardens are there for all to enjoy.

Packing tips

Luxe loungewear for reclining post-spa, a sarong or surf wear for beach hopping, and a copy of James Halliday's Australian Wine Companion for seeking out the region's best drops.

Also

Two-night minimum stay on weekends; three-night minimum stay during peak seasons; four-night minimum stay over Easter. All rooms are non-smoking. The hotel doesn't cater to children under the age of 15.

Children

This hotel is better suited to couples - leave the children at home!

Food & Drink

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Empire Retreat and Spa hotel - Margaret River - Australia

Hotel Restaurant

There's no restaurant as such, however there is a communal kitchen at the heart of the property that's open to guests, so stock up on supplies while you're in town. A gourmet cooked breakfast is served each morning in the dining room, where you can gaze out over an olive grove. Lunch hampers and dinner platters can be arranged on request.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Things may be relaxed, but you'll have to slip out of that gorgeous Elissa Coleman robe eventually… Mrs Smith, mirror the hotel's Asian aesthetic with something fabulous and floaty from Akira Isogawa; Mr Smith, keep it smart and simple.

Local Guide

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Empire Retreat and Spa hotel - Margaret River - Australia
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Start the morning with a big breakfast – you'll need it to steel yourself for a day of tasting your way around one of Australia's most popular wine regions. Premium cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay should be at the top of your sipping list, as well as the easy-drinking blends of semillon and sauvignon blanc, and cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Excellent examples can be found at Moss Wood (926 Metricup Road, Wilyabrup; +61 (0)8 9755 6266), Cullen Wines (Caves Road, Cowaramup; +61 (0)8 9755 5277) and Leeuwin Estate (Stevens Road, Margaret River; +61 (0)8 9759 0000). Whether it's wine or wildlife that piques your interest, the Margaret River Discovery Co. offers a range of tours to suit, including a luxury 4WD expedition, sunset canoe trips and an insider's guide to the best vineyards. On the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, the Margaret River Farmers' Market sets up shop in the Old Hospital (corner of Tunbridge and Farrelly Streets, Margaret River), selling organic fruit and veg, fresh-caught seafood, handmade sausages and artisan cheeses. Depending on how many tipples you tasted the night before, a breakfast burger might be in order.


Local restaurants

With its sculpture-filled gardens and airy upstairs dining room, Vasse Felix (corner of Caves Road and Harmans Road South; +61 (0)8 9756 5000) makes the perfect lunch spot. After tasting the estate's world-class cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay in the cellar door, head up to the restaurant for chef Adam Carr's fresh, modern dishes with an Asian accent, such as tuna tartare or drunken chicken, which work a treat with a glass of crisp Vasse Felix classic dry white. For dinner, make for Food Farmacy (Shop 9, Dunsborough Park Shopping Centre, Dunn Bay Rd, Dunsborough; +61 (0)8 9759 1877), where chef Simon Beaton and front-of-house Felicity Boreham have created an offbeat dining experience inspired by Simon's dad's pharmacy of yore. Expect quirky touches such as water served in conical flasks and salt, pepper and olive oil delivered in test tubes. The menu is a showcase for local produce, including marron (a tasty freshwater crayfish), venison and lamb.

Local bars

For after-dark assignations, head to Must Winebar (107 Bussell Highway, Margaret River; +61 (0)8 9758 8877), a dimly lit bar and bistro on Margaret River's main drag that offers a stellar line-up of local drops, as well as noteworthy wines from around the world. If you find yourself craving a cleansing ale after all of that vino, try Bavarian beerhouse Duckstein Brewery (Saracen Estate, 3517 Caves Road, Margaret River; +61 (0)8 9755 6500, or The Colonial Brewing Co. (Osmington Road, Margaret River; +61 (0)8 9758 8177).

Local cafés

For scrambled eggs by the sea, skip over to Bunkers Beach Café (Farm Break Lane, Bunker Bay, Naturaliste; +61 (0)8 9756 8284), a charming beachfront spot that offers alfresco dining in summer and fireside feasts during winter. The menu features breakfast favourites such as bubble and squeak or crepes with poached apple, and lunches of shepherd's pie, pizza or fish and chips. 

+ Enlarge
Tranquil vineyard valley

Empire Retreat and Spa

1958 Caves Road, Yallingup, Margaret River, Western Australia Western Australia, 6282, Australia

Located between Dunsborough and Yallingup in Western Australia's pristine Margaret River region, Empire Retreat and Spa is within easy reach of the area's famed vineyards, beaches and casual eateries.

Planes

Planes fly into Perth Airport (www.perthairport.net.au) from all of Australia's capital cities and it is increasingly becoming a hub for international flights from Asia, South Africa and the UAE. If you don't fancy the three-hour drive south to Margaret River, charter a flight through Axiom Aviation (www.axiomaviation.com.au).

Trains

TransWA (www.transwa.wa.gov.au) runs daily trains to Bunbury from Perth, which connects with the Westrail bus service that takes passengers south through Margaret River.

Automobiles

For the three-hour drive south from Perth to Margaret River, take the Old Coast Road (1) or the South Western Highway (20) through Bunbury, Busselton and Dunsborough. The turnoff for Empire Retreat and Spa is about 4.5 kilometres past the second Dunsborough roundabout as you head towards Yallingup. For cooling off en route, Eagle Bay offers kaleidoscopic snorkelling, Yallingup Beach has a sheltered lagoon and Meelup, near Dunsborough, is a top swimming spot.

Reviews

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Empire Retreat and Spa hotel - Margaret River - Australia

Anonymous review

by David Grant , Events guru

If we had a rich friend who cracked it big in some brilliant, reckless enterprise in the Nineties, cashed up, dropped out and retired as a limousine-leftie in the “bush”, then Empire Retreat is exactly the sort of house we imagine he’d have. Two milkshakes, one pie and three scenic hours from Perth, Mrs Smith and I drive excitedly into Margaret River, the gourmet capital of West…
Read more

Empire Retreat and Spa

Anonymous review by David Grant , Events guru

If we had a rich friend who cracked it big in some brilliant, reckless enterprise in the Nineties, cashed up, dropped out and retired as a limousine-leftie in the “bush”, then Empire Retreat is exactly the sort of house we imagine he’d have.

Two milkshakes, one pie and three scenic hours from Perth, Mrs Smith and I drive excitedly into Margaret River, the gourmet capital of Western Australia.

Even Jane, our bossy GPS navigation voice, becomes suddenly sultry and breathless with anticipation as she teasingly whispers, ‘You have arrived at your destination.’ We look around, but see nothing… It’s dusk and we feel adrift amid a serene wilderness until a kamikaze kookaburra, surreally lit from below by the Retreat’s welcome sign, dive-bombs our car, then leads us helpfully in the direction of the house.

The beauty of Empire Retreat and Spa is that it blends into its surroundings seamlessly, like Tom Cruise at Willy Wonka’s factory. You could be anywhere among its 260 acres of bush and farmland, but you immediately feel secluded, relaxed and at home.

Our host shows us around the original farmhouse, now transformed into a hippy-chic hideaway. Local timbers and stone frame eclectic furnishings, creating a space that is designer but cosy, hip but homey. With a communal kitchen, library, lounge room and barbecue terrace, there are plenty of places to chill or schmooze as the mood takes you. The hotel is small enough to feel luxurious, but large enough so that you’re not bumping into other guests unless you want to. It all feels very residential.

Our Luxury Villa is a cleverly designed, split-level pad, with high cathedral ceilings that make it feel more like a studio loft than a bedroom. Panoramic glass doors open onto a spacious deck, which allows you to perve on the scenery without any of the neighbours returning the favour.

Smoldering incense and loungey music fill the air as we graze on a gourmet dinner platter (because it’s a B&B, Empire Retreat only fires up the stoves for breakfast). It’s delightfully locavore, featuring an imaginative spread of boutique provisions that go down a treat with Empire Vineyard’s very own chardonnay.

In front of the fire, atop the luxuriously woven L-shaped day-bed, Mrs Smith thrashes me at Scrabble and then fills the huge bath for a steamy victory soak. I read a dictionary, until, bored by the time I reach ‘aardvark’, I join her.

From the four-poster, we watch the full moon climb across the Van Gogh sky, casting shadows into Where the Wild Things Are characters. It’s our very own Opera in the Vineyards, without the crowds or the worry of what to wear, but with the commonality that I slept blissfully through both.

It’s dawn when our friend the kookaburra transforms into an alarm clock. We decide to take a bracing splash in the outdoor shower (significant shrinkage ensues, but only the kookaburra notices – I imagine he’s thinking he’s the early bird and I’m the early… well, you get the picture).

After enjoying a classic country breakfast in the atrium dining room, with views of the valley, we set out for the day. The hotel is the perfect base for exploring this unique slice of Australia, as beaches, underground caves, blue water bays, vineyards, artists, craftsmen and quaint forest towns are never more than 30 minutes away.

We drive to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and tackle a section of the spectacular Cape to Cape Track, taking a 10-kilometre jaunt south along the clifftops to the surfing town of Yallingup. Along the way we spot whales, incredible limestone gorges, elephantine beach boulders, delicate wildflowers and some of the whitest beaches ever – all washed down with enough fresh air to revive Janis Joplin.

As the local taxi driver has gone home for lunch, a surfer senses our plight and kindly gives us a lift back to our car because he’s heading that way, ‘To crack a monster left hander.’ While we’re not exactly sure what this means (is it surfing or does it get lonely in his VW Kombi?), we accept this perfect example of the region’s friendly, laid-back vibe.

Starving, it’s down to the legendary Vasse Felix Estate for a fabulous lunch overlooking the sculpture garden. The popular restaurant draws both tourists and locals – sensibly dressed grey nomads, hot honeymooners, and a group of very earthy guys and girls that look like they’ve just climbed off the tractor or out of a dam, but who are tucking into the marron (crayfish) and very best of reds with charm and gusto.

After lunch, we rush back to Empire in time for our Serenity Massage in the day spa, where a gentle breeze and native birds outside form the soundtrack to one of the great spa treatments of all time. This massage has a happy beginning – and a sleepy ending in the outdoor Jacuzzi, where we indulge in local cheese and port in the steamy mist as the sun sets.

For dinner, we cruise down the road to Cape Lodge restaurant for what turns out to be one of the most memorable meals of the year. Some really clever chefs and winemakers call Margaret River home, and this level of sophistication is a delightful contrast to the rough, prosaic beauty of the natural surroundings.

We leave the next morning, regretting we didn’t spend another night. Even GPS Jane seems to sigh audibly as we drive out the gate. We consider letting her stay one more night with the handsome iPod dock she seems to have taken a liking to, but we need her to steer us home, and the consolation is she’ll now be gagging to guide some other lucky couple back to this lovely home in the bush.

 

The Guestbook

Reviews of Empire Retreat and Spa from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Excellent accomodation and wonderful staff.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Everything was beyond our expectations: it's a beautifully designed retreat which reminds me of Ubud, Bali – tranquil, wild, rustic and hugely comfortable. We wanted for nothing. We were impressed and pampered; the staff were perfect. Thank you for taking such good care of us.

Don’t expect

I can't imagine anything being improved; keep it just the way it is. We brought our own, but maybe some people would like to borrow binoculars for studying the gorgeous endangered Black Carnaby Cockatoos that pranced around in the morning, and the 'roos at dusk…

Rating: 10/10 stars