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“Peace, chic and serenity - the funky Tonic Hotel was perfect for us”
Review of Tonic Hotel

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Tonic Hotel
Ranked #10 of 15 Hotels in Pokolbin
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 6 January 2009

I had already checked out Tonics website before leaving the UK, but we decided to freewheel the latter part of our Australian trip and see how much cash we had left before choosing our "homeward bound" hotels. Tonic looked impressive, but it wasn't exactly cheap, so I passed.

Lady luck was smiling on me when I chanced upon one of the few spare rooms left in NSW during the Christmas period - I had spent hours looking for a spa or boutique resort before we headed back to Sydney then home to the UK.

Perhaps it was serendipity, but unable to find a suitable hotel along the coast I decided to revisit the Hunter which we had briefly spent a day/night in when we first embarked on our Aussie adventure. Lo and behold - Tonic had rooms, but for a 3 night minimum stay. I called the charming and accommodating owner, Nici, who kindly waived their Christmas 3 night policy and booked me in for 2 nights.

We had enjoyed (endured ?) a hectic month with friends and family, driven 4000 miles in search all the sights, drunk obcene amounts of wine and all I wanted was a chill out haven. And then came the Tonic I was in need of.

From the road, Tonic doesn't really sell itself. We overshot the hotel as it's entrance is on trend, hip but oh so discreet. The rooms are in 3 small blocks set back from a serene and pretty group of small lakes, but the starkly modern corrugated iron units were not screaming luxury, they were whispering funky, stylish, offbeat and secretive.

Some people, as previous reviews indicate, just won't get what Tonic is about. It's not some peoples idea of luxury. But MY kind of luxury is the discreet service, the stunning views, the high thread count bed linen, the perfect jazzy CD playing when we entered the room, the fridge stocked to overflowing with Australian local gastronomic delights, the Aesop toiletries....oh I could wax lyrical about this place all day.

It sells a lifestyle, and that lifestyle is not everybodys cup of tea but I am a believer - I've been sold the concept and it was perfect for my husband and I. We love funky little boutique hotels with personal but laid back service. If I wanted carpets and a concierge I'd book into the Crowne Plaza but I don't like corporate or quaint, I like off beat, up front style and shaggy slippers.

Best of all - it's the Views and the Roos. Sitting on the balcony, sipping a bottle from Nici's well chosen wine selection, I was chilled and laid back and relaxed and in Seventh Heaven - all of those wonderful sensations that a happy place gives a person.

If you like funky (I love the polished concrete floor - it's sensuous not industrial !) fun and fabulous - book a couple of days at Tonic. Not the cheapest retreat in the Hunter, but it will ease your tired and jaded city souls, and offer you a hip hideaway that you will want to return to. If you like corporate hotels, or are horrified by wet rooms, or are too precious to warm your own breakfast (Ragout of mushrooms with bacon - yum) then be prepared to be disappointed - but check out the website, what you see is what you get (and more, more, more...)

If Australia was less than a 24 hour trip away, I'd be booking 4 times a year. Whenever we do make it back, I'll make sure it's on my itinerary. I found my "happy place" at Tonic.

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank soul_babycakes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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137 - 143 of 150 reviews

Reviewed 2 January 2009

The hotel is very out of the way, no possibility of getting to a resaurant and enjoying the local wine without a car.

Rooms were of a good size with a nice terrace. There was a nice pool area with an unheated cold pool.

DvDs to choose from in the lounge.

I didn't like the breakfast concept, as one other reviewer said the table wasn't quite big enough. Some days I liked the choice, others I didn't.

Expensive for what it is.

Kangaroos everywhere !

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank AmY209
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 December 2008

We were disappointed. For the price I expected a larger room and more space. While polished cement floors might be chique, I find that it adds to the prevailing atmosphere of a mining camp. The torn sheet on our bed the first night and synthtic fibre bath robes did not match the luxury stadard of accommodation claimed in the promotional material. For those like us, in the later stage of life, the small retro-style picture tube television is hard to see from the bed. No doubt this would not be a problem for honeymooners - who seemed to write most of the rave reviews.

On the bright side - Nici does a wondrerful job on the breakfasts - the volume, choice and quality of the food is exceptional. Its just a bit hard arranging things in the kitchen which is the size of a galley in a small sailing boat .

The concept of a guests' lounge was great for those who enjoy this type of facility. There was plenty of food and entertainment available.

All in all its horses for courses - for the price it did not meet our expectations but I can see that others would love it.

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled with family
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2  Thank FREQUENTTRIPPERPerth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 November 2008

We spent 3 nights here at the beginning of November with friends from New Zealand and Australia. 2 couples (including us) stayed in the 2 bedroom (& 2 bathroom) apartment which was just lovely. The third couple stayed in one of the rooms close by (which were in groups of 3 - there are only 8 rooms in total). We had a full size kitchen, large living area (with fireplace) and a huge balcony with a barbeque.

We overlooked the water which was great for wildlife, we saw kangaroos outside our apartment and woke to see a pelican on the water. There were also numerous other birds including a lovely family nesting under the eaves on our balcony.

When you look at the rooms from the outside they do look a little like tin boxes but they are lovely inside. We had high ceilings, the bathroom was large and exceptionally clean (something you can't always take for granted) and the facilities were good with a lovely swimming pool on site.

I organised the trip for all 6 of us from the UK and found Nici to be really helpful and accommodating. She emailed me a couple of days beforehand with the details to enable us to enter the room (room code required rather than a key). Nici also gave us loads of information on the local area.

The food was lovely and the wine selection excellent. All in all, this was an amazing place to stay centrally located in the Hunter Valley. Our friends from New Zealand are already planning a return trip and we will definitely go back again the next time we're in the Hunter Valley.

Reading the previous writer's remarks I can only say that we didn't notice excessive amounts of water on the bathroom floors nor did we notice light coming through from the bathroom (although our rooms may have been different as we were in the apartment).

If you want somewhere different to stay that is definitely not chintzy but with a very relaxed vibe then I would thoroughly recommend you give Tonic a go.

  • Stayed: November 2008, travelled with friends
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1  Thank JulesMc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 November 2008

I am really dumbfounded by all the reviews on this site. Not one negative comment from what I can see. Thought people might be interested in our feedback. We book, based on Trip Advisor feedback all the time, both here and overseas and the feedback online is normally an accurate summation. We have to disagree with the comments here. This is NOT a luxury hotel. This accommodation consists of a number of units/cabins (in I think groups of four). These units, I imagine, were built very quickly with little regard for quality (for example, the walls are quite thin and you can easily hear your neighbours). The quality of the bathroom fixtures & fittings, very poor in our opinion, especially with the price charged for accommodation (we paid $720 for two nights). Also, when the shower is used the water ends up all over the bathroom floor & this takes some time to dry up.

We stayed in August, which for anyone familiar with the Hunter Valley is extremely cold. On arrival we found our unit had a disabled parking sign outside. Not being advised in advance we didn’t realise our unit was a disabled unit so we weren’t sure if we should park in the disabled spot outside our unit, although there was no other parking spot with the unit. The unit was absolutely freezing when we went in and having a concrete floor didn’t help. We had to fiddle around with the air con unit to get it started and wait a good hour for the room to heat up (I note another reviewer mentions being greeted by a warmly lit room……… we definitely didn’t score this treat).

As there is no door between the bathroom and bedroom, sunlight streams into the bedroom at daybreak via the bathroom. For people for whom daylight wakes, this is a major pain. Being woken at 06:30 on a “luxury” relaxing weekend away is not ideal.

Breakfast - while the food left (you have to cook it yourself in the Microwave) for breakfast was good, the table in the room is too small to eat comfortably, not to mention the height of the Microwave – not ideal for tall people, let alone disabled people.

Overall, this place did not meet our expectations or the standards portrayed by the “hotel” website or the reviews online (this is the first time I’ve been driven to upload a review!).

PS Bring your own shower cap, unless you want to pay about $10 for one!

  • Stayed: August 2008, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank Curiousrightnow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 August 2008

My boyfriend and I both live in Sydney & just LOVE the Hunter Valley.. It is such a fantastic escape from the city for any foodie person who also loves really good wine.

I booked this hotel after surfing through the reviews on Tripadvisor (which i always trust) as a birthday pressie for my man. Like all the reviews posted before mine I can honestly say that Tonic is a dream place to stay. We both LOVED it..

We have stayed in other Hotels in the Hunter & this one is our favourite by far.. It is just laid back, funky, quite, cool, you feel isolated even though you're not. The bed is fab, the bathroom is GORGEOUS. Plus (much to my b.friends delight they had the sports channels so he could watch the 2nd Bledisloe cup game in the SUPER comfort of our room while sipping yummy wine and nibbling on a selection of yummy cheese, olives & crackers etc (Hey it was his birthday treat after all.!!) His comment on this was that even some 5 star hotels don't go to the expense of having the channels you need to pay for.

I would recommend this place without question. I know it is a bit more pricey than the other places and so it's probably going to be a treat location for us but still you can pay high prices in other places & be let down, at least we know that won't happen here!

For any wine lover's reading this i please, please, please visit the Lovedale wineries. Just like Tonic, you won't be let down. Try Emma's, Monahan's, Gartlemanns, Wanden Valley, Taylors, Madigans.. I find the bigger cellar door's like Tempus 2 (which has the rudest, coldest staff) to be too big. They don't have the boutique feel. These Lovedale cellar doors have such friendly people with gorgeous wines. WIthout doubt though the BEST wines are to be found in Piggs Peake on Hermitage Road in Pokolbin. OH MY GOD they make the most delicious wines! You will not be sorry if you visit them!

  • Stayed: August 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank sin2me
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 July 2008

Stayed 2 nights at end of Dec so a bit late in posting. This is a fantastic and unique place to stay - miles away from rather chintzy B & Bs or large soulless corporate hotels in area. The rooms are funkily done out and have large bathrooms. with a big balcony to enjoy the views ( and kangaroos hopping around at dusk ! ) . The concept of the food is well thought out with a fully stocked fridge for breakfast and a wide range of prepared meals if you decide to stay in rather than sampling the areas many good restaurants. Nici the owner is so helpful and really went out of her way when I had to make an unscheduled trip to the local hospital one night. The overall area is great for discovering the local vineyards and cannot really be beaten - yes it might seem expensive on the surface for a B & B, but thats not a fair comparison and it is value for money and a real one-off.

  • Stayed: December 2007, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank marty99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Tonic Hotel

Address: 251 Talga Rd | Lovedale, Hunter Valley, Pokolbin, New South Wales 2320, Australia
Region: Australia > New South Wales > Greater Newcastle > Pokolbin
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Romantic Hotel in Pokolbin
#6 Spa Hotel in Pokolbin
#9 Luxury Hotel in Pokolbin
Price Range: £112 - £241 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Tonic Hotel 5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
tonic is - a place of uninterrupted relaxation and style, a place where you want to be a guest. A stunning spot - the Lovedale area of the Hunter Valley just 2 hours from Sydney. Simple modern surroundings - Australian design, steel and glass against native grasses. Non invasive service - discrete and informal, no formal check in and check out. Every luxury - crisp white linen, the best towels, groovy furniture and the latest in gadgets. tonic is opulent minimalism. we invite you to come and share ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Tonic Hotel Pokolbin
Tonic Hotel Greater Newcastle/Pokolbin, Australia

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