CHECK IT OUT HALCYON HOUSE, CABARITA BEACH, NSW
Brisbane-based sisters Siobhan and Elisha Bickle have taken an old surf motel in the pretty NSW north coast village of Cabarita Beach and transformed it into an enchanting 21-room boutique hotel.
With the help of architect Virginia Kerridge and interior designer Anna Spiro, they’ve created a chic bolthole that manages to conjure the “boho” flair of Kit Kemp’s Firmdale Hotels (in London and New York) but in an Aussie setting. Add a young-gun chef, a European-trained hotel manager and on-call surf pro and you have a new style of beach hotel for the east coast.
Located 15 minutes by car south of the Gold Coast airport, the whitewashed Halcyon House fronts a famous surf break but its 1960s Spanish-style arches and blue-and-white-striped poolside lounges more readily conjure up the calm waters of the Mediterranean.
And it helps that general manager Mauro De Riso cut his teeth at JK Place in Capri.
Great care has gone into creating a relaxed but always stylish atmosphere. John Derian sofas, Madeline Weinrib rugs and drawings by Wayne Pate were imported from the US; Brisbane furniture restorers have adapted vintage pieces, while a team of experts was flown in from Britain to upholster walls and furniture.
All rooms have a private furnished courtyard or balcony and feature beautiful fabric-covered walls and contrasting bedheads, and crisp, white bathrooms kitted out with English tapware, marble vanities, handmade floor tiles and Evo amenities. The two-bedroom Halcyon Suite features a large balcony commanding beach and headland views. Downstairs, the cosy living room continues the hotel’s predominantly blue-and-white palette, with squishy sofas and bookcases filled with blue-covered tomes.
Hotel facilities include a hairdressing salon and day spa. DON’T MISS: A surfing lesson with ace pro, and hotel ambassador, Joel Parkinson. DINING IN: Brisbane Good Food Guide 2014 Young Chef of the Year Ben Devlin, who lists Copenhagen’s Noma on his CV, is in charge of the kitchen at the poolside Paper Daisy. Local seafood is the star here; try pippies with lemon myrtle and Warrigal greens or blue swimmer crab with tofu, citrus and buckwheat. DINING OUT: Pop south to the Fleet Restaurant in Brunswick Heads or Three Blue Ducks at The Farm, Byron Bay. ASK THE CONCIERGE: Room 207, an “ocean deluxe” category, has wonderful views. Master suites come with a large balcony, perfect for sundowners. CHECKING IN: Rooms from $550. Book 30 days in advance and save 20 per cent. More: halcyonhouse.com.au. ALSO TRY: Hotel Tresanton, Cornwall; The Landing, Harbour Island, Bahamas.