We stayed at… Mercure Bendigo Schaller

First published in Escape

March 1, 2022

Immerse yourself in art at this inspiring stay in Bendigo.

 

A large wooden sculpture of a chiselled, angular woman sits on the path at the entrance to the property, her casual pose setting the tone for your visit. The hotel’s collection of bright yellow rental bicycles lines the walkway to where another sculpted gentleman guards the door. Vases of strikingly painted flowers, six feet tall and also crafted from timber, and a photographic portrait of Melbourne artist, Mark Schaller, greet guests as they approach. 

 

The welcome mat at the Mercure Bendigo Schaller invites you to ‘Stay Inspired’ and the rest of this colourful hotel certainly does its best to encourage your creativity. Schaller’s bold works are literally everywhere in this hotel, even in the gym. His landscapes, suburban scenes, drawings and panoramas of Bendigo take the form of paintings on canvas and works on wood. It’s clear that Schaller wholeheartedly subscribes to his motto: “any surface”.  

 

Built in 2014 on the site of the original Bendigo Hospital, the Mercure Bendigo Schaller is located within the medical precinct. Its rooms are light and bright and each has a little balcony. Rooms are the same size across the hotel; the superior double room is a standard double plus an extra adjoining room. 

 

A word of warning: the compact size of the rooms is reminiscent of an affordable New York hotel room. You don’t have to sidle sideways, but there’s not a lot of space to roll out your yoga mat. The bathroom is similarly small. The shower allows enough room to perform the daily ritual, but it’s certainly not a luxurious space. 

 

Although the TV has channels galore, the real action in Bendigo is beyond the doors of the room. See the fabulous exhibitions at the Bendigo Art Gallery, explore the historic Central Deborah Gold Mine, learn about the history of the gold rush at the Golden Dragon Museum and eat, drink, and eat again in this UNESCO City of Gastronomy.

 

Breakfast at onsite restaurant The Pantry is an extravaganza of eggs, Belgian waffles, pancakes, smoothie bowls, Bircher muesli, brekkie burgers, healthy wraps and croissants,  including gluten free options. Treat yourself with fun smoothie flavours like ‘blueberry pancake’ and ‘peanut butter jelly’.

 

The best thing about this property is the communal space. Welcoming leather sofas and sumptuous velvet armchairs in modern browns and deep forest-greens are strategically placed to absorb the sunshine from the floor to ceiling windows, allowing views of Schaller’s work at every turn. The bright colours, interesting textures and materials are simple, yet stunning, and the native floral arrangements on each table add an element of earthiness to the room. 

 

A massive fruit bowl teeming with fresh produce, and a water dispenser with a stack of cups, encourages guests to make use of the area. Board games, books about art, coloured pencils, paints, novels and interesting bits and bobs provide insight into what it is to be an artist. 

 

The accessibility for wheelchairs, walkers and prams is really impressive. Ramps to the entrance, lifts, rooms and communal spaces mean no drama for those with limited mobility.  

 

It has been tricky to get to Memphis, Tennessee, over the past few years, but Memphis is coming to Australia in the form of the art exhibition Elvis: Direct from Graceland, showing from March 19 to July 17 at The Bendigo Art Gallery. See the incredible costumes and outfits that Elvis wore and check out a selection of his personal treasures. 

 

Catching the train from Southern Cross Station, in the centre of Melbourne, then walking the 2.8 kms to the hotel is very easy with luggage on wheels. There are buses and taxis servicing the town, of course, but it’s possible to do an environmentally conscious trip using public transport from door to door. Choose a seat in the quiet carriage, read a magazine, and relax as you head for beautiful Bendigo. 

 

For a vibrant, affordable hotel with a huge dash of personality the Mercure Bendigo Schaller is a real winner.




Price: $145 – $225

 

The writer was a guest of the Mercure Bendigo Schaller



Ratings:

 

Location

6/10

It’s a 20 min walk to the centre of town. It’s perfect if you are visiting the medical precinct or the university.

 

Room

8/10

I do love that each room has a balcony and has lots of natural light. It’s a city style apartment in the country. 

 

Food

8/10

In a City of Gastronomy, the stakes are high. Enjoy a top notch breakfast here and an excellent cup of coffee!

 

Verdict

8/10 

 

This hotel doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. It’s functional and affordable,  making Bendigo-bound travel for singles, couples and families really accessible.