The old (and allegedly haunted) Quarantine Station on North Head at Manly is now an 84-room hotel managed by Accor, so if you fancy a relaxed and secluded holiday that’s a short ferry ride from Circular Quay, this is your place. Ten rooms feature harbour views – book early to secure one, especially in warmer months when weddings, families and conferences pack out the hotel. Or try a three-room cottage and bring the crew for a mini-vacay. The building’s heritage status means the rooms aren’t air conditioned – which means you can actually smell salt and gumtrees in the air, and it’s lovely. A shuttle loops the whole complex, taking you from reception to your room, the historic sights and down to the beach – or there’s a 239-step staircase if you prefer to walk to water’s edge. Down at the end there’s a restaurant, bar and visitors centre, plus a ferry wharf, kayak and SUP hire.
When you wake up…It’s a short drive to central Manly, where Show Box Coffee Brewers make a killer brekky roll with crisp pancetta, creamy scrambled eggs, onion jam, mayo and rocket.
During the day…Hire kayaks or stand-up paddleboards and explore the shore line from Quarantine Beach all the way to Little Manly via Store Beach and Collins Flat. Snorkelling is popular when visibility is good, or it’s a short drive to Manly Beach for surf lessons.
After dark…The regular ghost tours of the grounds are a creepy must. You visit the old hospital and morgue, and might even be thrown into the shower block, where it’s been said visitors… see, hear and feel things. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.