By Rhiannon Taylor, June 2016
There's a buzz about Halcyon House. Not just the buzz from the press - of which there is plenty. There's a humming vibe as soon as you pull in to the carpark of the former 60's surf motel.
Perhaps it's the impeccably presented staff who whisk about the outdoor passageways. Or maybe it's seeing loved-up couples cycle off for the day in matching straw hats and boat shoes. Either way, you feel as though you're being transported to the Mediterranean in a matter of moments.
Located between Byron Bay and the Gold Coast, albeit a world away from both, Halcyon House lies in the sleepy town of Cabarita. There's a supermarket, bottle shop, two Thai restaurants and not much else. But no matter, there really is no reason to leave the hotel.
Greeted with an infectious, thick Italian accent at reception, you'll long forget the cold, dreary days at the office. Chatting away, animatedly to your Italian host, you'll begin to wish you had packed your Positano wardrobe.
As your bags mysteriously disappear, you're seated at the bar and served freshly squeezed lemonade. The sweet and sour tang of lemon juice and sugar hit the spot and you're refreshed enough to start a whole afternoon of sitting by the pool.
Strolling around Halcyon House, in golden afternoon light, it's clear to see owner's Elisha and Siobhan Bickle have vision. The Bickle sisters employed architect Virginia Kerridge and interior designer Anna Spiro to breathe life in to the overlooked property. The result is a boutique hotel that is eclectic and down right fabulous.
Blue and white stripes, signature of Anna Spiro's influence, inundate the details of the hotel. From the the rattan chairs to the sweeping drapes and pinstriped staff uniforms; its a perfect blend of Australian beach-chic meets Mediterranean cool.
The walls, both in the rooms and restaurant, are adorned with mismatched vintage prints and artworks, collected from markets by the owners and designer. There's no space left un-styled, with mantelpieces cluttered with candlestick holders and bookshelves stuffed with boxes and ornaments.
The restaurant Paper Daisy, serves up clever dishes that are produce driven. With all ingredients sourced within 100km of the hotel, there's plenty of fresh fish and tropical fruits and vegetables. The chef, Ben Devlin (Esquire, Noma), presents a set menu that is mostly designed for sharing. Unique techniques such as coal-roasting and paperbark grilling see lamb and cod come out with subtle, earthy flavours. Sides of greens and house-bread are satisfying, leaving you feeling nourished and balanced.
Breakfast is another creative affair, with room service being an indulgent favourite. A artisan menu has the usual's of bacon, eggs and sides. More interestingly however are the kale and fetta on toast with beans and peas or the kaffir pancakes with passionfruit. They're bursting with flavour from the local produce and cooked spot-on. The juice of the morning doesn't go astray either with options such as mixed berry and banana smoothies on offer.
The rooms have a strong European influence and are small in size without being cramped. The tiled terraces face the ocean and overlook the pool, for those lazy mornings. The beds are stellar and the mattress is plush, with thick cotton sheets and a pillow menu for fussy sleepers.
With no two rooms exactly alike, you could have padded walls in blue or chocolate and a vintage desk and chair. Lounging is best done on the patio or in the common areas by the pool.
No luxury has been overlooked with robes and towels by Italian linen house, Frette. Hair and body products are supplied by luxe lab EVO, which are so good you'll want to take them home. If you're peckish raid the included mini-bar (excluding alcohol) and turn down service comes with cookies (homemade and divine).
The beachfront property provides guests direct access to the endless shore of Cabarita. It's quiet and makes for some incredible long walks and stunning sunsets. Time spent on the beach goes fairly uninterrupted other than a local going for a stroll or an in-the-know surfer.
If you're feeling adventurous, Halcyon House has powder blue bikes fitted with baskets for coastal exploration. A short 2o minute ride north and you're at stunning cliffs and privvy to fabulous views. If you're without a car, the hotel has a fleet of Audi hatchbacks for those wishing to venture further. Byron Bay is only a 45 minute drive away, with plenty to do along the way.
And if venturing out of the hotel seems too tiresome, it's no matter because sitting poolside is Halcyon House's forte. Order a cocktail, grab a book and soak up the sun - it's even balmy in the middle of winter in Cabarita. Staff are incredibly attentive and there's a great bar menu if you're hankering for a burger or a steak.
Perhaps the most spectacular thing to do at Halcyon House is watch the sun go down. From the light hitting the breezeblocks to feeling it filter through the palm trees, the glow off the white-washed walls really transports you elsewhere (Capri perhaps?). And it's this experience that makes you slow down, take a siesta and sip on rosé. Could this in fact be Australia's Mediterranean mecca?
FEEL: Med-cool meets Aussie surf-chic.
ROOM PICK: Any, they're all unique.
WIFI: Yes, complimentary.
RATES: Starting from $550 AUD.
IN-ROOM: Frette robes, slippers, fruit plate on arrival, EVO body products, writing material, TV with cable channels.
MINI BAR: Included in the rate, except alcohol. Crisps, chocolates, water refilled.
GETTING THERE: Halcyon House is about a 20 minute drive from Gold Coast and a 45 minute drive from Byron Bay.
I stayed as a guest of Halcyon House.