The smoke rises from the charring wood. I put my feet on the polished concrete hearth to take the clichéd selfie not of bare feet with finely painted toe nails on a sandy beach but of booted feet toasting in front of the burning log fire.
The clock, a huge French one, is set at 12.55pm but it’s actually 4.20pm, a foreshadowing experience for my stay. Even the gourds seem timeless with their warted skin sitting forever plump next to the fire. A jar filled with pink and white marshmallows avert my fingers eager to plunge one of those squishy sweet tempters into the blue and orange flames. I look upon a stone wall rough and hewed by convicts, a vast contrast to the modern wooden sculpture with nails for hair and a box for his body. This is the heart of Hobart’s Islington Hotel and just one of several nooks where you can curl up and read with continuous flowing tea and biscuits.
Behind me is Tasmania’s majestic Mount Wellington or Kunanyi frowning down on the gardens aflame with autumn colours, a pond and many sculptures sticking out of the water in homage to the clouds. Three steps away the sugar Gods tempt with a jar of meringues, lemon cake and freshly baked cookies set out on a painted wooden table. Next to which an embroidered art work tells me to hold my beliefs lightly. I guess I should throw all that calorie counting to the wind and tuck in then.
Our room, the aptly named garden room, opens out on to gold and red leaves and the ever present Kunanyi. White roses dot the fence, a divide from our heavenly host to the mundanity of everyday life in a mansion next door. Inside we are welcomed by a blue mask in an alcove as the warm room beckons us into a comfy bed and a bathroom stacked with Aesop products, a rainwater shower head a Kaldewai bath. Specially concocted breakfast dream tea sits on the bed with a sliver of chocolate fudge. I drink the perfumed brew and awake the next morning after a dream where I was Megan Markle’s best friend with a special seat at the royal wedding. I make sure I purchase this tea when I leave in the hope I get up close to royalty again. Outside our room is a corridor which leads to a cellar. The glass door tempts with rows of reds and whites. We try the door but it is locked unlike the honesty bar upstairs where you can help yourself to local wine at $15 per glass and unlimited free tea, coffee and cake stuffed down in front of the warmth of the flames of the fire.
The Islington, built in 1847 in Regency style, offers eleven rooms some in the new wing and some in the gorgeous old house where you can make like a Duchess and swan around in your Library, Conservatory, and Morning and Rose rooms. The hotel describes itself as “a curated hotel” with lashings of art and antiques in corridors and rooms. Everything about the hotel is refined from the imported fabrics, antiques and the king size beds handmade by A H Beard. Fit for a Princess, Prince, or Duke and Duchess, after all Hobart is now a royal city.
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