What is it? A number of scattered Hydro-Electric Commission buildings by and on Lake St Clair - a 200-metre-deep glacial lake in the Central Highlands region of Tasmania, Australia - that have recently been converted into a hotel. Built between 1934 and 1940, the two brick and stucco buildings that make up the guest quarters, known as the Shorehouse and Pumphouse - the latter standing over water, at the end of a long walkway known as the flume (above) - were designed to pump water from the lake to the Derwent River, and thus generate electricity. The project never came to fruition and, with Lake St Clair having become part of the 1.5 million-hectare Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area in 1982, the buildings were decommissioned in 1995.
Sounds industrial … It is; the developer deliberately left the facade as it was - complete with flaking paint and rusting iron - to contrast with the vastly altered interiors. With floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, the two hotel wings are now "Scandinavia meets ski lodge", with a charcoal and beige palette, clean wooden edges and the odd exposed water pipe and old-fashioned tap. There are 18 guest rooms altogether - the best ones being in the Pumphouse, with their stunning views of the lake - and a public space in each wing with a cast-iron fire, a stack of board games and a well-stocked honour bar.
Would you call this place luxurious? "Relaxed" and "snug" are better words. It is comfortable, with everything you need, but with limited airs and graces. The transparent glass door that (ineffectively) separates the toilet and shower from the bed in the Pumphouse signature rooms may well be a design fault.
Would we have to go hunting for our food? No; there is a communal, share plate, three-course dinner each night, with roasted local beef or lamb and vegetables, for A$50 (HK$310) a head, and self-service breakfasts of toast and muesli. If communal dining isn't your thing, each room has a mini kitchen stocked with Tasmanian delicacies such as smoked quail, Westhaven goat's cheese, wood-roasted salmon and King Island blue cheese, plus a small cellar of wines (above). Hampers are available for an indulgent picnic in the great outdoors - just don't forget the insect repellent; Lake St Clair's mosquitoes are known for their ferociousness.
What's the service like? Efficient but limited and, some might say, overfamiliar, in typical Australian style. One niggle is the intercom you must use to get a password for the front gate. It's scratchy and muffled, and takes five requests and four failures just to get in.
What's the best bit? The wilderness; surrounded by a primordial landscape of lake and mountain peaks that has been carved by glaciers then carpeted by a 1,000-year-old temperate rainforest, the views are simply wonderful. Many walking trails fan out from the visitors' centre, across the lake - the end point for the six-day Overland Track. A five-minute walk from Pumphouse Point's reception takes you to a small headland where giant swamp gums grow. Alternatively, head out onto the water in a provided kayak or dinghy, picnic stowed, and surrender yourself to the serenity.
How much would this set us back? Pumphouse Point has rooms from A$240 per night, including breakfast. For details, go to pumphousepoint.com.au.