Step into a life of grandeur at Beechworth’s award-winning Grand Dame.
It’s the jewel of Beechworth – a former Oriental Bank, designed and built in the 1860s by architect Leonard Terry, whose other notable buildings include The Melbourne Club on Collins Street and Trinity Chapel at Melbourne University. After time as a convent, a bank and a private home, this grand red-brick lady was reborn as a luxury bed and breakfast – Freeman on Ford.
It’s a place to daydream and experience a moment of true decadence and freedom. Here, as the sun filters through the clouds, a gentle sound of trickling water cascading over the granite spa into the private pool encourages another dip. A soft, warm breeze flows through the garden. Poolside, your robe and slippers await. So too a plate of freshly shucked oysters and a just-popped bottle of French champagne – the wine sparkles in the sunlight.
An assembly of celebrity A-listers including Australian film stars, TV personalities and models have visited the five-star B&B in recent years – a rewarding response to owners Heidi Freeman and Jim Didolis’ award-winning property restoration and extension. Tremendous attention to detail in adding luxury appointments such as crystal chandeliers, individually designed windows and floor to ceiling travertine marble bathrooms are wonderfully extravagant. ‘We’ll never see a return on such an expense’, says Heidi. ‘However Jim and I see ourselves as custodians of the building – we care deeply for heritage restoration and feel we’re doing our very best for the future of Beechworth in preserving such a grand historic building.’
There is a relaxed, elegant ease to the rooms downstairs, its 1930s style parlours, powder rooms and dining hall. You could be in an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel: everything is sleek and creamy, and cool jazz or French chanson add atmosphere to your exploration as you glide through. A spacious lounge overlooks the sun-drenched veranda, the large Versace palazzo-style pool, and matching symmetrical gardens.
Upstairs there are four Victorian-era bedrooms, each with a well-appointed ensuite and views over Beechworth’s tin rooftops and streetscapes. What you’ll find throughout, is a balance of masculine and feminine touches –fireplaces left intentionally rustic, while a vintage chiffon dress on a dressmaker’s dummy perfectly complements the rich rose-coloured upholstery on a divan. Breakfasts are some of the most delightfully rich and respected in hospitality; and silver platters delivering afternoon aperitifs and regional cheeses platters reflect the region’s food and wine excellence.
It may sound a bit clichéd, but Freeman on Ford’s biggest drawcard is its invitation to escape the everyday. Bring Tender is the Night or Wuthering Heights if you are so inclined. Or just write your own story when you get there.
FREEMAN ON FORD
97 Ford Street,
Tel 03 5728 2371