Pretty Beach House, Australia – hotel review

Originally published by Evening Standard, 17 July 2019

A cosy all-inclusive for all seasons, but not every budget
Pretty Beach House is a dreamy coastal getaway in the Australian bush, just 90 minutes north of Sydney in Australia’s New South Wales.

This peaceful nature escape, deep in the heart of the Bouddi National Park, guarantees a totally refined yet relaxed accommodation experience.

Here’s everything you need to know about staying at Pretty Beach House.

Where is it?
Pretty Beach House is tucked away inside the Bouddi National Park in Australia’s New South Wales. Just 90 minutes drive north of Sydney, or a short 20 minute seaplane or helicopter ride, this is an intimate and serene coastal retreat. Surrounded by native gums, surf beaches and sparkling bays, the setting for this hideaway is terribly inviting.

Driving up the very steep and winding driveway into the bush, a beautiful timber and sandstone building eventually comes into view. Pretty Beach House consists of four one-bedroom wood-pannelled pavilions, each full of natural light and with lovely glimpses out over the sparkling Broken Bay.

The style here is quintessentially Australian and luxurious. In the main house, the light-filled, atrium-style dining room showcases Australian art (by renowned artists such as Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and John Olsen), natural fabrics, sheepskin rugs, local sandstone floors, roughly hewn timber, floor-to-ceiling windows, and decommissioned railway pylons.

Pendant lights by Melbourne designer Christopher Boots hang from the ceiling, and there is a grand piano in one corner next to a large open fireplace. A large deck flows off the main dining room, the perfect place to catch some sun, and there is a spectacular infinity pool as well.

Which room?
The four pavilions at Pretty Beach House are named Treetops, Bayview, Hideaway and The Retreat. Each come complete with their own private plunge pool, with the exception of Treetops (which is housed in the main building).

We were in the Hideaway Pavilion, aptly named due to its secluded location amongst the gums, which offered plenty of space and privacy. Our suite consisted of a king bedroom with large open-plan living room, fully stocked (and complimentary) mini bar, large bathroom with a claw-footed bath, huge dressing room, private deck, sun loungers and our own private pool. The Retreat is the largest offering, spread out over two-floors..

Food & drink
The food at Pretty Beach House is simple, fresh and flavoursome, and draws inspiration from local, native ingredients.

Menus are devised each morning, and produce is sourced and cooked with skill, care and love by the house’s passionate chefs. With an open kitchen, you are free to make any special requests directly with the chefs, and any dietary requirements can be suitably taken care of.

At lunchtime, it is a spoken menu, and in the evenings, it is a five-course degustation menu. With lovely views over the surrounding natural gardens, and native flowers on each of the tables, the dining room is a beautiful space to settle in for a few hours.

When we visited, a pan seared Blue Eye cod with tomatoes, black olives, grilled finger lives and cape leaves featured on the lunch menu, alongside a grilled beef cheek with mustard, roasted peppers and beef jus, together with a green vegetable salad (kale, parsley, mint) with a sheep’s milk yoghurt dressing and macadamia nut.

At dinner we enjoyed Skull Island king prawns al sambuca on cauliflower puree and crisp kale, tagliatelle with wild mushrooms and smoked garden egg yolk, and a Cape Grim beef fillet with smashed potatoes and herbs, roast capsicum and fried shallots.

Anything and everything that appears on the Pretty Beach House menu is suitably impressive and delicious. Being an all-inclusive experience, all meals, snacks and drinks are included in your package. Also included is an open bar stocked with premium wines, beers and spirits, pavilion mini-bar.

In addition to the light-filled restaurant, there is also a small whisky bar, perfect for an afternoon or late-evening drink. The main pool is very inviting on a sunny day, with its captivating bay views, as is the day bed that is hidden away on the edge of the property.

The in-house Bouddi Spa is small and serene and features all-natural products by Li’tya. We loved our Rhythmic Kodo body massage, inspired by traditional Aboriginal healing techniques that works to balance and realign energy flow, enhancing mind and body wellness. The ultimate stress reliever, this was a heavenly treatment.

Make sure you take part in one of the “Welcome to Country” smoking ceremonies on offer for guests of Pretty Beach House each evening. Other aboriginal experiences that can be arranged include fascinating dreamtime stories, and a tour of the Aboriginal rock art around the property that dates back an incredible 8,000 years.

Go for a hike through the Bouddi National Park (taking the Bouddi Coastal Walk), meandering over coastal sandstone cliffs and through wildflowers and coastal flora. We fell in love with a beautifully empty and untouched beach called Putty Beach. There are many other beaches just a short walk from the house – Lobster Beach, Box Head, and Tallow Beach with its great surf break. Alternatively, ask for the lovely chefs at the house to arrange a picnic hamper for you and head out on the Pretty Beach House’s skippered Cabo 38 Express fishing boat.

Best for…
Couples, definitely couples. This is a romantic retreat. Or anyone looking for a solo getaway for that matter. This is serenity at its finest.

When to go
We visited at the end of summer, which was lovely as it meant we were still able to catch some warm sunny afternoons, and a swim in the beaches throughout the National Park. Winter would be equally as lovely and cosy, though, with the giant fireplace raging.

How to get there
The best way to get to the Bouddi Peninsula is by car. Rent a car at Sydney airport, and take the M1 north for 90 minutes. It’s a very easy, very scenic drive (once you get out of the city). For the ultimate indulgence, consider taking a seaplane or helicopter charter instead (a much shorter ride of only 20 minutes).

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