Victoria

Strike gold with these Ballarat hotels for your next family-friendly weekend away

When gold was first discovered in Ballarat in 1851, the small sheep station quickly swelled to become a lively and vibrant hotspot.

Today, this prosperous city makes for a family-friendly weekend destination rich with architectural delights and colourful activities. With these come equally inviting accommodation options—from a boutique hotel with an atrium-style dining room to a stately heritage building with an antique wine bar. You can bed down in a hotel themed after a medieval castle, or take breakfast in bed before indulging at an on-site spa.

Ballarat’s location just 90 minutes away from Melbourne means you can be exploring the town’s gold mining history at Sovereign Hill, strolling around botanical gardens or attending a cultural festival in no time.

Boutique Ballarat hotel right next to Sovereign Hill

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A popular venue during the Gold Rush heyday, Hotel Oscars is still a lively place for guests visiting Ballarat. Check into one of just thirteen guest rooms, where luxury comes down to the details—think supple leather armchairs, ornate silver mirrors and framed pieces of contemporary art. Throw open the doors to your own sunny balcony in the Deluxe Room, or spring for a Spa Room for ambient soaks amid a dramatic dark colour palette.

The all-day kitchen rustles up fresh dishes from morning to night. Bite into a pulled pork roll with house-made BBQ sauce at lunch, then return for a mouthwatering dinner of roasted pumpkin risotto or Thai curry.

If you’re on a celebratory trip for a birthday or party, you can reserve one of the hotel’s three private event spaces. In the Atrium, sit on picnic benches around upturned beer barrel tables beneath a soaring glass ceiling and airy white gables.

Oscars

Top rated
8.7 Excellent (718 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.2 / 10
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Family accommodation in Ballarat in a medieval-style castle

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Spending a night in a castle may seem like a fairytale dream, but at Kryal Castle it is very much a reality. Noticeable for its turreted fortress walls, this medieval-themed accommodation draws not only families to its immersive experience—it’s also ideal for history buffs and those who want to play at being royals for the weekend. Interactive entertainment events let you cheer on your favourite knight at a live jousting tournament on horseback or peer into the spooky past at the Torture Dungeon and Museum.

Explore the castle’s common spaces, where banners with insignia hang from vaulted rafters and full suits of armour decorate dark stone halls. In your comfortable Castle Suite, you’ll find cheery white walls and tall windows that flood the space with light. Your personal medieval experience starts from the moment you wake in bed, which comes draped in faux fur throws and cushions. You’ll still find modern amenities, of course—this medieval fortress has Wifi!

Kryal Castle

Top rated
8.6 Excellent (417 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.7 / 10
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Regal rooms in an iconic Ballarat hotel on Lydiard Street

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Dating back to 1865, Craig’s Royal is a cornerstone of cultural importance in Ballarat. Take a moment to admire the grand, sweeping exterior marked by pillars and arched windows. An opulent choice for a romantic weekend, rooms here maintain original period features like heavy-draped curtains and sparkling chandeliers.

If you’re celebrating a special date, opt for a sumptuous Royal Suite. You’ll snuggle with your loved one in an antique four-poster bed made from plush upholstery and polished wood, or sprawl on a chaise longue next to tall windows. Order some bubbly from room service and slide into the marble bath for a long, shared soak.

Under the airy glass atrium of The Gallery restaurant, choose from a menu that follows the “paddock to plate” philosophy. You’ll tuck into local fare like Great Ocean Road duck with nettle purée, or a cooling plate of cucumber, fennel and fresh cream spooned over crumbled market fish.

If you’re feeling inspired, you can brush up on your own culinary skills at a cookery class, or channel your inner sommelier at a wine tasting. The restored Grand Dining Room opens up on Sundays to a traditional high tea experience, where you can enjoy delicate finger sandwiches, melt-in-the-mouth scones and carefully crafted confectionaries.

Craig's Royal

Top rated
8.8 Excellent (426 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.2 / 10
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Ideal for families on a weekend road trip

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Bell Tower Inn Ballarat is all about classic and comfortable motel living. The single-floor building spans two acres of preened gardens, and you’ll find plenty of parking space if you’ve arrived by car. Thoughtful little details like a selection of tea, coffee and biscuits in your room help make you feel cosily at home after a long drive. Head down to the Glasshouse Restaurant in the morning to fill up on fresh fruit, yogurt and cereals, as well as traditional cooked favourites like eggs and bacon.

You’ll keep cool with air-conditioning during the summer, and plug-in electric blankets make sure you’re toasty warm in the colder months. Ask the friendly staff at the tour desk for insider tips about the local area, such as the best time to check out the historic flag on display at the Eureka Centre (a 10-minute drive away).

If you’re more in the mood for a chilled-out family day at “home”, there’s a convenient outdoor barbecue area open for use in the garden. Spend a sunny afternoon grilling up lunch on the patio under an often bright blue sky.

Bell Tower Inn - Ballarat

8.1 Very good (695 reviews)
Very good Service 8.4 / 10
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Antique charm with modern amenities at this spot

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Housed in a National Trust-recognised heritage building, The Provincial is a boutique hotel filled with bright, airy spaces. The brick red and white exterior, punctuated by turrets and arched windows, makes this weekend spot a landmark on historic Lydiard Street.

Not to be missed is the restaurant named after Lola Montez, a famous dancer during the Gold Rush period. In the spacious dining room dressed in fresh blues and whites, you can browse a list of regional wines selected by experienced local sommeliers and winemakers.

Flick open the blinds of your elegant room or living suite to let the sunlight fall on white walls and intricate textile headboards. Rooms here have a sense of lived-in charm: antique wooden furniture stands next to colourful geometric décor pieces, and quirky art prints in mismatched frames hang above jewel-toned cushions. Settle in with your own arrival ritual—it could be a long, hot shower in the stone-tiled ensuite, or you can sample the vintage minibar for a welcome cocktail in a retro stemmed glass.

The Provincial Ballarat

Top rated
9.1 Excellent (828 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.5 / 10
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Enjoy spa serenity by a lake

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Though technically a convention centre, the Mercure Ballarat has gained a reputation as a spa destination within reach of city attractions like Sovereign Hill, the botanical gardens and Ballarat Wildlife Park. Find a seat on the sunny outdoor deck and welcome the weekend with a glass of something icy as you look over the ornamental lake and trimmed gardens. Swing by Billy’s Bistro & Bar for light bites like falafel or heartier meals such as Wagyu rump steak.

Exchange your travel shoes for slippers at Sanctuary Day Spa, where signature “spa journeys” let you bliss out in tandem with your partner. After your dry body brush or mud mask wrap, sit back with a plate of nibbles next to the crackling fireplace in the relaxation lounge.

When you head up to your room, you’ll be greeted by vibrant artworks depicting scenes from Ballarat’s past. You’ll want to book into the Superior King Room if you’re celebrating a romantic occasion. You can put on a mood-setting playlist using the in-room audio station and run the water in your personal Jacuzzi bath or luxurious rainfall shower.

Mercure Ballarat - Hotel & Convention Centre

Top rated
8.6 Excellent (2354 reviews)
Excellent Service 8.7 / 10
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Feature image courtesy of Iakov Filimonov / Fotolia