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A Hamptons-style beach getaway in Sydney that feels miles from the city
This heritage guesthouse in Palm Beach is a storied institution for Northern Beaches locals – people have been meeting and dining here for decades, but over the years the paint faded and some of the fixtures lost their shine. Enter the Boathouse Group, who have brought their particular brand of easy-living coastal chic to bear on the beautiful weatherboard building that faces out onto Pittwater.
You might already have experienced their brand of aspirational hospitality at blue-ribbon locations like Shelly Beach, Palm Beach and Balmoral. The Boathouse venues are daytime destinations where café dining receives a lifestyle magazine makeover and makes you think that your wardrobe could definitely benefit from more white linen.
And now they’ve applied that Hamptons sweet life treatment to Barrenjoey House, and you can even stay the night. The top floor of the building now boasts seven hotel rooms, including a spacious attic suite if you want to spread out in your own coastal garrett. This is the kind of mini-break accommodation designed to feel like a guest room in a very rich friend’s holiday home. The linens are blindingly white; the textiles are printed with aquatic species and tropical leaves; and there’s Netflix available on each TV if you want to hibernate.
A room here would make a convenient base for exploring the northern tip of Sydney and its impressive beaches and walks, but equally you could just lounge in the shared courtyard under a striped umbrella or spend your time downstairs, moving between the bar and restaurant as your midday meal becomes afternoon drinks.
Choose how much of a Kennedy you want to feel like over lunch, with oysters for $4 a pop, or $99 for caviar with blinis. You come to a waterfront diner for seafood, which is why there’s scallops, ceviche, prawns and calamari, and we’re yet to leave the entrée menu.
If you’re just feeling a little snacky, order a flatbread, which exists in the crossed axis of a pizza and a Turkish lahmacun. Strips of crisp, toasted flatbread topped with béchamel, lobster meat, fresh red chilli and micro herbs is about as luxe a carby bar snack as you could hope for.
Word to the sweet-tooths in your party – the desserts here are huge. Order a strawberry sundae in a novelty-sized glass dish, or a classic banoffee pie that’s not quite family sized, but by no means an individual pastry. And vegans are not left behind, but presented with a coconut shell filled with a creamy coconut tapioca pudding spiked with pineapple for tropical sharpness and cooled down with coconut sorbet.
Whether you’re here for a meal or fully immersing yourself in an overnight stay, Barrenjoey House speaks to a kind of relaxed, coastal elegance that’s hard to afford full time but available in 24-hour increments at this seaside retreat that is technically still in Sydney, but feels miles from the city.