If the measure of a great hotel is how much of it you want to take home with you, then Pretty Beach House on New South Wales’ lower Central Coast is an outstanding winner. We’re talking much more than a bottle of organic shampoo and a fluffy towel: there are A.H. Beard Domino massage beds, Christopher Boots Prometheus III light fixtures, a cellar that would make any world class sommelier weak at the knees and the most amiable and exquisitely mannered team you could imagine (the types who anticipate what you might want even before you know you want it).
With a maximum of eight guests across the four pavilions staying at any one time, the proprietors – hospitality royalty Karina & Brian Barry, have created a private piece of paradise, nestled above the aptly named Pretty Beach.
Like a phoenix risen from the flames, PBH’s second life following a traumatic fire in 2012 is even more magical than before, securing itself a spot in Mr & Mrs Smith’s Best Smith Hotel list of the Top 10 hotels in the world in 2015.
Every detail has been considered with undeniable style, thanks to the work of leading Australian interior designer Michelle Leslie. The property is owned by advertising entrepreneur John Singleton, whose eminent art collection certainly helps, with a John Olsen hanging above the fireplace and Sidney Nolan’s ‘Ned Kelly’ sitting above you at breakfast. As for breakfast itself, after fresh juice and fruit, homemade granola, breads and jam, the open-plan kitchen will serve eggs any way you desire but we highly recommend Stefano Manfredi’s special breadcrumb-coated fried eggs, which absolutely guarantee your blissful day begins in the right way. Manfredi doesn’t just curate the boundless supply of gourmet food (think five-course degustations, octopus carpaccio and grilled quail served with truffles, followed by buttermilk panna cotta), but the film and music menu too. He’s responsible for the communal lounge room’s movie library and the selection of vinyls in each guest house. As the father of a legitimate rock star (Isabella, lead singer of The Preatures), your ears are in as good a pair of hands as your tastebuds.
Adding to the multi-sensory experience, a Darkinjung elder leads a ‘Welcome to Country’ indigenous smoking ceremony every evening. He shares stories of the local clan’s history, culture and spiritual outlook, offering a wonderful insight into the traditional custodians of the land.
Despite centuries of change since the Guringai people first met Captain Arthur Phillip here, the lush and timeless surrounds of Bouddi National Park are still rich in natural beauty. Bush trails wind all around the headland – one undulating route delivers you to the wild and often secluded Tallow Beach, and another leads to Box Head lookout, which boasts panoramic views of Broken Bay, Pittwater and the Tasman Sea. And while Palm Beach’s Barrenjoey Lighthouse sits just on the other side of Broken Bay, the busyness of Sydney feels like light years away.