Updated September 2017 and September 2018
There are Mondays and there are Mondays.
Sitting on the blue and white striped reclining bench seat that runs the length of the pool, sipping on an Aperol Spritz and chowing down on a prawn sandwich, I realised that as far as Mondays go I was in the middle of one of the best.
We’d arrived at Halcyon House the afternoon before for a wedding anniversary mini-break and happily stayed in the Halcyon bubble for 48 hours.
Magic happens when hospitality gets it very, very right. Very, very, VERY right was what we found.
The 21-room boutique, five-star hotel (a former 1960s motel on the beach in the northern New South Wales coast town of Cabarita) is less than two years old, already has a swag of awards and is on the bucket list of many a foodie/interiors addict traveller.
The hotel is the brainchild of Brisbane sisters Siobhan and Elisha Bickle and their husbands Adam Flaskas and Dave Wadley. They originally bought the “Hideway” motel as a holiday escape for their families but thankfully (for us), those plans changed.
Architect Virginia Kerridge and Brisbane interior designer Anna Spiro were appointed to the project and the result is total respect for the hotel’s relaxed location but in a renovated property that induces oohs and ahhs at every (Instagram-able) turn.
Think Australian beach style meets Californian cool with a splash of Hamptons and south of France thrown in for good measure. Add to that international coastal recipe, interiors filled with an eclectic mix of new and old and it’s not difficult to understand why people fall for Halcyon’s charm at first sight.
18 reasons to plan an escape to Halcyon House
1. The welcome. We arrived for a lunch booking, knowing our rooms wouldn’t be ready. We were whisked into the sitting area of the restaurant and handed a drink for the requisite form filling, a much better approach than standing at a hotel reception desk or counter.
2. The blue and white. My love for this colour combination is no secret. At every turn it was there, even in a bookcase filled with blue, hardcover books.
3. The restaurant. Where do I begin? Paper Daisy (it takes its name from the wildflowers which grow on the headland) blew us away with its innovative, unpretentious delivery of food that highlighted fresh produce in ways that surprised with every dish. Head chef is Ben Devlin (ex Noma and Esquire). Ben wasn’t in the kitchen for the lunch and evening we dined but we were in capable hands. We loved the concept of choosing either a two-or-three-course lunch or three-or-four-course dinner. Friends (and wait staff) told us the servings were generous so we opted to share first and last courses. Bread (with a macadamia butter) and sides are complimentary too. Highlight dishes for us were: the green rice fried prawns with chilli and ginger pickle salad; pippies with lemon myrtle, semolina pasta and native pepper; and mandarin and orange tart with fresh cheese ice cream. Paper Daisy is open to the public, not just guests. Book in advance to secure a spot, especially on weekends.
4. The staff. Every staff member we met was warm and helpful. Because of the small size of the hotel, I loved how we got to know staff during our stay and they remembered us – particularly in Paper Daisy. Big shout out to front-of-house pair, Brad and Lauren. There had been a massive wedding at the hotel the night before and everyone had worked a very long day, yet here they were doing what good hospitality people do … with a smile on their faces.
5. The “chopped” cushions. My love of all things in the cushion department was taken next level at Halcyon. Everywhere I looked, there were high-end, superior cushions, which had been expertly “chopped” to create a “V” at the top. Brad revealed to us that he took this job extremely seriously. The Halcyon chop had to be done just so, with just the right amount of pressure.
6. The welcome Prosecco. Got to love a welcome amenity served up with a plate of fresh fruit.
7. The rooms. Each room is decorated differently. Ours was a mix of blues and yellows. The bed was superb, as was the free-standing bath. The walls are upholstered! I’m still obsessing about the tiles on the balcony. The only thing that distracted me from gazing at them was the ocean view and spotting whales offshore.
8. Room service. We said yes to a room service supper. Prawn sandwiches for the win.
9. The home-made cookie turn-down. No stock-standard chocolate on the pillow, no siree. Chocolate biscuits in a jar were next level.
10. The pool. This is the heart of the hotel, adjacent to the restaurant, and a renovated version of the original motel pool. I could have reclined on that striped bench seat all day.
11. Lunch by the pool. If the weather permits, do do a pool lunch, if only for the lemon meringue ice-cream, a decadent layer of meringue, lemon ice-cream and lemon curd.
12. The beach. Mr SY loves to surf. I don’t go in the sea until November (because WUSS) so I happily waved him off into the water while I went for a run, borrowed a bike or walked up to the headland. This part of the coastline is all kinds of amazing and beautifully uncrowded.
13.The bikes. Vintage-style bikes are yours for the borrowing while a guest at the hotel.
14. The coffee. No need to leave the hotel for one of the best coffees going.
15. The breakfast. Breakfast is included and, like lunch and dinner, comes with little extras, including (during our stay) these passionfruit halves which had been scooped out, yoghurt placed at the bottom before the pulp was put back in on top of the yoghurt. Do try the hot smoked fish with scrambled eggs.
16. The sunsets. When a cloudy day gives way to this, you know you’re somewhere special.
17. The cocktail list. Like the food, the cocktail list offers favourites but always with a twist.
18. The Spa. My love of a spa and the luxe treatments contained within runs very deep. So, returning to Halcyon in 2018 with the knowledge that a spa had been added to the hotel had me even more excited. And I wasn’t disappointed. You can read more HERE.
Driving the hour and a half home, we decided the only way to pre-empt any post-Halcyon blues was to book again to return.
Well maybe not STAT because this isn’t a budget getaway … but we have it in our sights for our anniversary again next year.
For more information about stays at Halcyon, visit www.halcyonhouse.com.au
Have you stayed at Halcyon House? What did you love most? Is it on your bucket list?