A true blue Australian beachside escape
Looking for the perfect break? Halcyon House on the New South Wales North Coast
There is nothing new about the perennial pleasures of the New South Wales North Coast. Backpackers and locals have long been drawn to the region by warm sunny days, long stretches of golden sands and a relaxed coastal vibe .. but this corner of the country is now also attracting more than its fair share of award-winning restaurants and boasts an inviting collection of luxury accommodation options offering a quintessential Australian beachside escape.
So I recently escaped to the region to explore the buzz, staying at one of Australia’s hottest new hideaways ..
Just metres from the sands of palm-fringed Cabarita Beach (only 30 minutes from Coolangatta Airport), between the glamour of the Gold Coast and bohemian Byron Bay, Halcyon House sets a new standard in boutique coastal accommodation – a little Cote dÁzur chic, a little Californian cool and every bit Australian laid back coastal class.
21 spacious and individually decorated guest rooms and suites come with all the features of a luxury hotel and the personal touches of a private home. Each guest room of this lovingly reinterpreted 1960s beachside surf motel also boasts a private balcony or courtyard, some with breathtaking ocean views – but the real delight is in the detail: the custom-made bedheads, beautifully upholstered walls, cleverly curated artworks, complimentary mini-bar (including some delicious snacks and treats) and even a bag for you to take to the beach.
From poolside proseccos and an ice cream cart serving up truly Australian flavours such as passionfruit, macadamia nut crumble and finger lime, to the signature cocktails enjoyed at the bar and long lunches at the award-winning Paper Daisy restaurant (Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide’s Regional Restaurant of the Year 2017), dining at Halcyon House is definitely all part of the fun.
Beyond the heated pool, the croquet lawn, the pandanus palms and casuarinas is beautiful Cabarita Beach which boasts one of the longest and most consistent surf breaks on the Australian east coast (ask the unpretentious and professional Halcyon House team and they can even arrange a lesson for you .. or for the more experienced surfers, just grab one of the hotel boards and enjoy perfect break for yourself). You can also borrow one of the hotel’s bikes or hire one of their audis to explore a little further afield.
Beachside boardwalks lead to stunning headlands which offer views up and down the coast (keep an eye out for migrating whales between May and November) and the road, whichever direction you choose, leads to laid back coastal towns or beautiful hinterland villages; both of which leave even the most seasoned foodies spoilt for choice.
We particularly enjoyed the short trip to Kingscliff (just 15 minutes drive). A walk along the seaside town’s restaurant-lined Marine Parade could take your tastebuds on a journey to Japan, India, Italy, Thailand, Nepal .. or Greece, which is where we landed. On the quieter southern end, Taverna is light and bright. The menu, though deliciously Greek-inspired, maintains a true sense of place featuring Byron Bay Haloumi, New England Lamb, Bangalow Pork Belly and locally caught seafood. The experience, casual yet sophisticated.
Venturing the 25 minutes south to Brunswick was equally enjoyable with lunch at Fleet restaurant. This tiny restaurant is big on flavour. With room for just 14 lucky diners who sit at a communal concrete counter that leads directly from the kitchen, we opted for their delicious degustation menu – thoroughly enjoyed with wines from their award-winning, mostly organic and preservative-free list of local labels.
Happily, the region also offers plenty of options to work off a long lunch – with kayaking, fishing, horse-riding, beachcombing and snorkelling with turtles just some of the activities on the doorstep.
All-in-all, an escape to Halcyon House evokes memories of carefree childhood holidays by the beach and rewards grown-ups equally with contemporary laid-back luxe at every turn.
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