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Slow Stays

Clifftop at Hepburn – designed for those looking for a life less ordinary

Sitting in a shipping container on the edge of a cliff with a bulletproof glass floor might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but when Dave and Mani Penman conjured up Clifftop at Hepburn, they didn’t intend it to be a stock-standard hotel.

Shipping container accommodation. Clifftop at Hepburn.

Located in Hepburn Springs, Victoria, it’s hard to picture these couples-only “solitude” villas until you set foot inside. From the suburban road that holds the gigantic red rusted shipping containers, the street-scape of the luxury accommodation is quite modest, almost camouflaged in aesthetic.

Once you approach the buildings however, you’re able to see four clifftop perched steel structures – Paris, Venice, Rome and Vienna – cantilevered delicately on the edge of a ravine, looking straight down into a gorge of sharp rocks and a running stream. Their edges jut out over the steep block, giving you a sense that these villas aren’t your regular Pinterest-worthy container homes.

To enter, you cross a suspended walkway, over a man-made stream trickling underfoot. Push through the heavy front door and you immediately start seeing detail. Each villa is different in layout, but adorned with the best interiors the owners could find.

Think: Huge wall mounted TVs. Hand-woven woolen floor rugs from New Zealand. Compact French fireplaces. Recycled hardwood king sized beds. A playstation in every villa. Ipad loaded with a Spotify playlist to match your mood. The world’s best massage chairs, antique pinball machines and quirky Rone street art.

Dave jokes there has to be something for everyone that they don’t have at home. That’s why he’s chosen out of the ordinary features throughout. 

“What we did is we googled ‘crazy things to do in villas’, ‘world’s best villas’, ‘awesome luxury items for accomodation’ and we came up with this check list of crazy things that everyone said ‘oh you’re not going to do that are you?’, and we were like ‘hell yeah, we’re going to do most of it!’”

The big selling point however, apart from the luxurious decor, is the glass cube with glass floor overlooking the valley, with nothing inside but a velvet daybed.

Rone Street Art. Shipping container accommodation. Clifftop at Hepburn.

Looking down through the glass to the cliff edge below can be daunting, but once you relax and take a breath, you’ll notice the view is something really special. Small animals like wallabies bounce beneath you and birds fly close to your transparent perch so you feel right up there in the sky with them.

Dave guarantees that they’ve only used the world’s best bullet proof glass for the floors, so there is absolutely no chance of falling through. He jokingly adds that they do like to have repeat customers after all.

Glass bottom floor. Clifftop at Hepburn.
Australian Interiors. Rone Street Art. Shipping container accommodation. Clifftop at Hepburn.

But Clifftop isn’t just for lovebirds. Three more buildings, architecturally designed and award winning, are spread side by side around the studios. They’re massive in size and perfect for families.

Winning a string of accolades like: Australia’s No.1 Unique Accommodation 2019 and Australia’s Best Holiday Home 2019, the villas are bursting with features such as indoor and outdoor daybeds, stones baths, decks and even a newly built European sauna that looks like a wooden insect cocoon clinging to the side of the hill.

Dave and Mani have spared no expense in the design and build of each structure. Dave says he just let his architect Robin Larsen go crazy giving him complete control of the vision during the design and build process.

Australian Interiors. Clifftop at Hepburn.
Australian Interiors. Clifftop at Hepburn.
Australian Interiors. Clifftop at Hepburn.
Whichever villa you book, there is so much detail that you really feel like you’re on the set of a Grand Designs episode. Raw hardwood furniture is complemented by elegant glass lights and recycled steel beams hold little engravings from times past. Large windows frame the landscape of the surrounding Australian bushland.

Night time brings on a whole new dimension of entertainment when you may just want to sit in your glass box, fire burning, with local wine in hand. Dave and Mani will even order you a home-cooked meal from a local caterer to be delivered hot to your door. If you can manage to escape the luxury of the interior, nearby Daylesford is home to a handful of amazing restaurants.

But then again, you couldn’t be blamed for just spending the whole time in your room. And with so much to do on the property, you might just feel like your time at Clifftop needs to be repeated again and again to make the most of the spoils you are so kindly served.

Only an hour from Melbourne means it’s only a short hike from the city to feel like you are in pure country heaven. But Clifftop at Hepburn is one of those places you’d drive 10 hours to get to… and once you are there, you’ll feel like your life just got a lot less ordinary.

Book your stay at Clifftop here.

Australian Interiors. Clifftop at Hepburn.
Katie Gannon

Life Unhurried co-founder, Katie Gannon, has long sung from a sustainable song sheet having created and run her own successful indie fashion label, Mother Maria, before transitioning to graphic and web design. She now puts her stamp on tourism content and sustainability campaigns for clients such as City of Sydney (when she's not walking her two dachshunds, Ruby and Rafa).

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