Halcyon House Opens its Doors in Cabarita NSW

May 20, 2015

Halcyon House Opens its Doors this week - Quintessential Australian Hotel with world Class Design and Style. 

Halcyon House, one of Australia’s most unique beachside hotels, opens today. A former surfer motel turned luxury hotel, situated at one of the country’s best surf breaks and in one of its most idyllic beachfront towns – Cabarita Beach, Northern New South Wales.
The 21 room boutique hotel is located just 15 minutes south of the Gold Coast Airport and 30 minutes north from Byron Bay in an extraordinary region that remains one of the country’s best kept secrets. Having spent a few months living and working in Murwillumbah in my university days, and many lazy afternoon swims at Cabarita beach after work, this area of NSW holds a special place in my heart too. This also happens to be the location for my very next eat read love blogger retreat happening in July. 

Halcyon House’s owners, Brisbane-based sisters Siobhan and Elisha Bickle and their husbands Adam Flaskas and Dave Wadley, fell in love with the site and bought it in 2011. This is the first hotel development for the two couples who spearheaded the highly successful up market and award winning ‘Bunk’ backpackers hostel and the Victoria Park function centre in inner city Brisbane. The positioning of a boutique hotel in a quiet costal surfing village has not been tried in Australia before. “We believe Halcyon House will hit the right note – luxurious with a low key Australian feel, whimsical rather than formal and a relaxing retreat in a location, otherwise known to those in the know, as a ‘little pocket of paradise’.’’ said Siobhan Bickle.

At the heart of its embrace is a hotel with rich fabric-upholstered walls, handpicked antique treasures and original art collected from around the world, combined with an Australian soul. While Cabarita Beach is a well know surfing hot spot and lovely local village, you may not want to leave your room. Each of Halcyon House’s suites has its own individual aesthetic lovingly crafted by the amazing Anna Spiro, the hotel’s interior designer.
“I love to stay in a place that wraps me up and is beautifully decorated. You want to go home and dream about visiting that wonderful place again,” Anna said. “I wanted each room to be different so that guests can find their favourite room and then keep coming back and choosing to stay in that room each time they come.”

Anna, along with the owners of the hotel, have ‘curated’ a collection of antiques, furniture and art they hope will grow and stay within the walls of Halcyon House for years to come. Many of the vintage pieces as well as furnishings, designers and artists, such as John Derian sofas, Madeline Weinrib rugs and drawings by Wayne Pate, were sourced on a trip to America. A team of bespoke craftsmen from Northern New South Wales and Brisbane, including lampshade makers and furniture restorers, were also engaged to bring to life many of the vintage pieces. These pieces sit alongside Australian treasures such as antique seascapes collected from around the country creating a d├ęcor that looks and feels as if it has been collected over a long period of time, as though it has always existed.
The exquisite fabrics chosen for the walls of the rooms came from England. As did the upholsterers, who travelled to Australia to complete the job, thus is the level of attention to detail that has gone into every inch of Halcyon House.

Award-winning architect, Virginia Kerridge, designed the hotel. Virginia recently won the 2013 RAIA – Interior Architecture Award. Virginia’s elegant design includes echoes of the past with the pool and Spanish-style arches retained from The Hideaway, the popular motel that stood on the site from the 1960s.  The hotel’s General Manager, Mauro De Riso, comes with enviable hospitality experience, having worked at JK Place, Capri for several years and together with his team will deliver impeccable, intuitive service, creating extraordinary guest experiences for the discerning traveller.

Paper Daisy, Halcyon House’s poolside restaurant, was named after the distinctive wildflower on Norrie’s Headland. Ben Devlin, who was awarded the Brisbane Good Food Guide young chef of the year in 2014, is the Head Chef. I cannot wait to experience this amazing restaurant for the very next instalment of the eat read love pop up dinner series. 

Hotel services will be of a world class standard with some unique experiences on offer such as surfing lessons with one of the best surfers in the world, Joel Parkinson, champagne dinners and demonstration-style cooking classes, and day spa treatments.

Room rates will start from: $550 for a King suite to $1500 for a two bedroom suite.
For more information visit:
Follow: @_halcyonhouse _@paperdaisy #HalcyonHouse #PaperDaisy

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The Writers Retreat, Hardy's Bay Killcare

May 15, 2015

Photos by Natalie Hayllar

Where does a Travel Writer Go to Escape? The Writers Retreat in Hardy's Bay of Course. Fiona Caulfield, acclaimed travel writer and founder of Love Travel Guides believes that "falling in love with a city is just as exciting as falling in love with a person. Your senses become more engaged and you simply feel alive". Well I fell in love with Fiona's beautiful holiday home in the stunning little nook of Hardy's Bay, Killcare just a short drive north of Sydney. I was lucky enough to meet Fiona a few years ago when she was launching her amazing travel guides to Jaipur India, and listening to her stories of India had me almost packing my bags to leave the next day. Since then Fiona and I have reconnected at a few events and Sydney Kinfolk Dinners, and I was so honoured to be invited to Fiona's stunning Writers Retreat to take some photos and share in a little of the magic of the Hardy's Bay/Killcare area. 

Fiona's waterfront cottage was built in 1927 and has been beautifully restored and upgraded, with sweeping views across the bay. This is a home with heart and soul and the place where many of Fiona's travel guides have been written. We had three wonderful days with the family here, and the boys loved it as much as I did. The house would be perfect for a family retreat, or a group of four friends with separate upstairs and downstairs areas.  We spent most of our time day and night on the upstairs balcony gazing over the bay, watching the changing colours of the water and the cockatoos flying home. This is the quintessential Australian holiday home, and a place to enjoy the simple pleasures. Just a short stroll into town, you can enjoy local coffee and boutique shopping, read the papers by the bay, indulge in some bakery treats, or take a short drive to some of the most spectacular beaches on the central coast. We absolutely loved swimming at Putty Beach (the Northern end of Killcare beach) - I even jumped in with my clothes on as the water was so crystal clear and inviting. The locals here were truly some of the friendliest I have found on my travels. 

Eat: The local cafes were wonderful, great coffee from the Hardy's Bay general store, and the well known luxury retreat Bells at Killcare is just up the road if you are up for excellent Italian by Stefan Manfredi. 

Read: Fiona has rows and rows of amazing books, all categorised into travel sections. I loved the stacks of Penguin classics in every room.  

Love : The Hardy's Bay locals were really so nice. From the barista to the local store owner and the pizza shop, everyone was really friendly and that is important to me when I travel. I don't mind a little chat. Moochinside had some really lovely interiors!

A huge thank you to Fiona for inviting us to enjoy the beautiful Writers retreat. We will most definitely return again and again. To inquire, please go to Stayz and be sure to mention you spotted the Writers Retreat on Eat Read Love. 

Love Travel Guides began in India in 2007 with a goal to enable readers to fall in love with each destination. These gorgeous little guides are beautifully crafted and curated with the luxury vagabond in mind. Fiona is committed to conscious travel, travel that is environmentally and socially responsible and 10% of the profits of all Fiona's books of to the Love Travel Foundation to contribute to conscious travel in India.

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The Estate Trentham by Lynda Gardener

May 11, 2015

Photos by Natalie Hayllar at The Estate Trentham

The Estate Trentham is a stunning three bedroom boutique house, accommodation and event space in Trentham, Victoria designed and styled by the gorgeous Lynda Gardner of Empire Vintage fame. What a treat it was for me to pop in and tour this beautiful property on our recent Victorian road trip. Trentham is a picture perfect little country town about twenty minutes from Daylesford. Every corner of every room at The Estate Trentham is styled to PERFECTION and there was plenty of 'ooooing' and 'aaaahhing' going on as I wandered around the property. Lynda was so kind to let me visit the BARN also, a fabulous workshop and event space out back of the property.  I cannot wait to return and spend more time here, with so many ideas in the pipeline. I can feel a blogger retreat coming on. Stay tuned. A huge thank you to Lynda for being so generous with her time and space. I just loved it. 

For more info visit The Estate Trentham 

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Flinders Beach Shack, Mornington Peninsula

May 2, 2015

Photos by Natalie Hayllar
Flinders Beach Shack, Mornington Peninsula
One of the highlights of our recent Victorian Road trip was a long weekend stay at the charming Flinders Beach Shack, a gorgeous little beach shack by the sea where the "coast and country combine, quite literally, in a delightful and quiet little nook of Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula" says owner Amber Phillips

Flinders Beach Shack is a bright and breezy little haven just over an hour’s drive from Melbourne (or 12 hrs drive from Sydney if you are crazy like us and drive all the way down ha ha!). Ideal for lazy weekends or longer stays with everything you need to make yourself right at home. Amber clearly has amazing style and taste in furnishings, with every corner of the shack beautifully decorated, with the laid back, yet stylish savvy in mind. So much so that Flinders Beach Shack was recently featured in Country Style Mag too. It really is the PERFECT place to escape and unwind. 

Tucked away only a few minutes drive from Flinders main street village, it feels like you are 'home' from the minute you walk in, with plenty of lovely touches for both couples and families alike to enjoy. The house is on two separate levels, making it perfect for two families to enjoy, or for an extended family or small group of friends. With spectacular views to the sea and across the rolling hills, you really don’t want to leave, which makes it hard when you know there is some seriously worthy cafes and vineyards to visit nearby! Did I mention that Mornington Peninsula is serious foodies heaven, with cafes like Johnny Ripe and the famous Polperro Winery scattered all the way across the Peninsula. I would need at least another week or two to do this place justice. We also loved the Flinders Hotel - a wonderful place for dinner with the kids on The Deck, and next time we will try the fancy one hatted Terminus restaurant next door. 

Flinders Beach Shack is the perfect place to base yourself to explore - go for long walks to the sea, surfing, swimming, collecting shells, wander into town for some coffee and gourmet retail therapy (at my favourite stores Tree and The Flinders General Store) or just sit by the window or on the deck with a book and cuppa and enjoy the afternoon sunset. My boys loved the downstairs play room and fire pit, and of course those views all the way to the Bass Strait, making the morning surf check at Cyrill's all that much easier. This is the best place to relax, unwind, fossick, frolic, walk, run, ride, shop, eat, read and love!

A huge thank you to Amber and her family for extending their beautiful home to me and my boys for the weekend. We absolutely loved exploring the area and all of your wonderful local tips, especially the secret rock pools…don't worry your secret is safe with us. A huge thank you also to The Little Wine room for our special arrival surprise. This went down a treat by the fire pit. Thank you. 

{If you are interested in booking the house for a weekend or an extended stay, visit the website for availability and rates. Be sure to mention you found it on eat read love too} 

*I was a guest of Flinders Beach Shack. I only ever write about places that I truly love. 

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