A roaring fire, a bottle of good wine, a platter of cheese and crackers, and then a comfy warm bed to tip yourself into. It may sound like a cliché but this is exactly what you want when you think of accommodation in the Hunter Valley. And this is exactly what you get when you stay at Summa-Rose Cottage in the little town of Broke, at the 'quiet end' of the Hunter.
One of the beautiful bedrooms at SummaRose Cottage
To be honest, we drove past it the first time. The sign welcoming us to the cottage was modest, and by the time we realised that our cottage wasn't going to be in the middle of a cow paddock, we had already driven twenty kilometres the wrong way. Not to worry, this was the Hunter and long rambling drives are part of the fun.
We located our cottage in the tiny town of Broke, not isolated as we expected, but located along the main road together with a dozen or so other little weatherboard homes. A wide wooden verandah welcomes you, cushioned wicker couches encourage you to sit down, while a stand by the front door holds large umbrellas, thoughtfully provided by the owner.
This is a thoughtful place. Beautifully furnished with plenty of blankets on the beds and cushions on the couches, Summa-Rose Cottage has three bedrooms each with a queen-sized bed. There is a large bathroom with a corner spa, and a semi-open plan kitchen, dining and lounge room. While it might feel a tad intimate with six adults, there were only two of us, and it felt roomy and welcoming.
The well equipped kitchen with a welcoming bottle of wine
Included in the price ($200 a night when we stayed) is a hamper on the first night, consisting of a bottle of wine (a local 2009 Merlot, very nice), a platter of cheese and crackers, English muffins and half a dozen eggs for breakfast as well as other things such as olive oil spread, full cream milk, mini cereal boxes (Kelloggs Variety) and jam.
There is a pod coffee machine (no instant) and bottled water. There is also enough in the pantry to cover most eventualities - tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, vegemite, tomato sauce, tea bags, olive oil etc.
It's the little extras that make you feel welcome: the fire was already laid (although we couldn't find any fire tools), there is a cupboard full of board games, as well as a decent selection of DVDs to watch. The magazines are a few years out of date and there is a cassette player in the stereo system (kids, ask your parents what a cassette player is) but no one really cares: when you come to the Hunter, you're here to relax and explore, not to keep up with current affairs.
My other hint is to look in all the drawers and cupboards... you might be surprised at what has been provided.
If you're not too handy with a fireplace, then console yourself with the reverse cycle air conditioner, portable electric heater and electric blankets on all the beds. Or simply keep warm with that bottle of red.
Probably the biggest drawback with this lovely cottage is the unassuming looking road outside the front door seems to be a rather major thoroughfare to the mines with traffic starting before dawn (cars and utes only, no large trucks though).
For people looking for a secluded and completely silent retreat, it is something worth mentioning but for others it's nothing a pair of ear plugs couldn't solve and certainly not a deal-breaker, as it had quietened down again before 7.30am and the owner has indicated she will be installing double-glazing soon which will help enormously.
This little cottage is a perfect base to explore the beautiful region, and with an enclosed sunroom out the back, gas BBQ ready to go and plenty of grass in the backyard for kids to run around in, this would be a great place to stay any time of year.
Places to visit nearby include Pickled and Pitted a few hundred metres up the road, which is a dinky little tin shed selling a great range of locally produced olives, oils, chutneys, jams, vinegars and soaps.
Margan Winery is literally around the corner, with an award winning restaurant and cellar door. A fifteen minute drive takes you to Broke Road in Pokolbin, to the Tempus Two Complex and a bit further on Pokolbin Village with its gift shops, chocolate, cheese, wine and restaurant.
I stayed at Summa Rose recently having booked through Stayz.
My review of the place made mention, as you did, of the proximity to the main road and subsequent early morning noise, as well as the camping ground directly across the road. Stayz emailed me a week later to state they had removed my review as the map on their site clearly showed its location relative to the road.
The owner also chose to keep my security deposit, despite no damage caused during our stay, I suspect out of revenge for my review.
Be warned! You do not want to stay here if you are sensitive to noise, and because of the unethical behavior of the owner. Stayz should also be avoided if you want uncensored feedback from previous guests