IF THERE is one hotel that has been lapping up all kinds of praise both here and over *there*, well, it’s certainly this little Aussie one.

Halcyon House used to be a one of those old-school motels, nestled on the beach at Cabarita on the north coast of New South Wales — kind of half way between the Gold Coast and Byron Bay.

Cabarita may not role off the tongue like the Goldie or Byron but Australia’s newest and incredibly sleek boutique hotel, Halcyon House, is impressing all the right people.

The hotel was opened by Elisha Bickle and her sister Siobhan, the family buying Cabarita’s ‘Hideaway’ motel and morphed it into Halcyon House.

There is no question that Halcyon House is one of Australia’s most special beachside hotels. So good, it was recently awarded the 2016 Condé Nast Traveller ‘Hot List’ Award.

Only a select 60 properties made the Condé Nast Traveller Hot List Awards and represent not only the vanguard of the hotel world, but where travellers are headed to next.

The outcome of the list was that hotels have rediscovered the true meaning of the term design hotel; that ‘eco-friendly’ has come to signify something truly inspired; and emerging destinations have been put on the holiday map.

This former surf motel turned luxury hotel was one of Australia’s best kept secrets but now, the secret is out. Of their recent award, the Brisbane-based sisters always believed the hotel would hit the right note.

“Our vision was to create something that was completely different to what was currently being offered in Australia, a boutique hotel with a low key Australian feel,” says Elisha.

“A hotel which pairs the beauty of location, with relaxed understated elegance and intuitive service. Such an accolade in our first year of opening doors is testament to the team holding true and achieving this vision.” Siobhan adds.

The hotel may have only been open just over a year but its interiors — designed by Anna Spiro and Sydney-based architect Virginia Kerridge — are eclectic and feature groupings of vintage cameos, seascapes, mirrors and collected beachside paraphernalia.

So popular and ‘instagrammable’ has Halcyon House become, it has reached Pinterest and Insta fame as the ‘Halcyon Hang’.

One of the highlights of Halcyon turned out to be Mauro De Riso, the hotel’s general manager whose life has been spent in the world of hospitality including a long stint on Capri.

“I have spent several years working overseas in high-end properties and it is a privilege to now manage Halcyon House,” said Mauro, who even picked us up from Coolangatta airport in a super-duper Audi, before driving us for 20 minutes to Cabarita.

“The beachfront location, property size, access to incredible fresh produce and passionate staff all contribute to our ability to offer extraordinary and unique experiences for our discerning guests.”

Halcyon House has 21 individual suites, vintage furnishings and a poolside restaurant Paper Daisy under the helm of chef Ben Devlin, who was awarded the Brisbane Good Food Guide Young chef of the year in 2014.

When we visited, Ben had just started a new winter menu and it was seriously sensational (baby lobster anyone?) with local fish, meat, fruit and veggies his best working tools.

Previously, Ben worked at world renowned chef-owner René Redzepi’s Noma in Copenhagen.

The 90-seat dining experience at the restaurant is a celebration of Halcyon House’s unique part of the world and the relaxed setting worked just as well on the cold, windy, rainy night we had as it did the next day, when it was crystal blue and simply beautiful.

When it comes to room rates, they’re not cheap, starting from $550 for a King suite to $1400 for a two-bedroom suite. There is no question, Halcyon has had fantastic reviews — and it is a real occasion location — including a spectacular one from the renowned Mr and Mrs Smith travel site.


• The way Halcyon House still has that 1960s “motel” kind of feel, but boy, the existing building has been beautifully and faithfully restored so it doesn’t look “untouchable”

• In a cool move for a beachside hotel, the walls of each room are entirely upholstered — each in a unique fabric.

• No two rooms are the same; textiles, antiques, art and furnishings have been sourced from all over the globe — from estate sales as near as Brisbane and as far afield as the legendary Brimfield antiques fair in Massachusetts

• The walk along the beach — which is right outside the hotel — takes you right up to the Cabarita headlands where you get a 360 degree view of the surrounding area and some brilliant swell and the odd whale or three. Sensational!

• When arrive at Halcyon House, you are greeted not with a cold towel or glass of champagne … but with some freshly made lemonade. (The Presecco comes after you’ve settled into your room.)

• Lastly and while it wasn’t poolside-sitting weather when we were there, the blue and white deck chairs and drinks cart make the whole vibe very relaxed and not at all “up itself” — a quality that fits in perfectly with a hotel that deserves all the accolades it has received.

I’d suggest to save up and give Halcyon a twirl. You’ll really, really like it.

Take a look at their website and you’ll certainly get the picture of what is a simply sensational and relaxed holiday playground.

Melissa Hoyer stayed as a guest of Halcyon House

This article was originally posted on news.com.au