Cradled amongst seven acres of beautiful bushland in the heart of Bouddi National Park, is one of the nation’s most exclusive and luxurious lodgings.
With a personal chef preparing exquisite modern Australian cuisine, impeccable design, spectacular views and an enriching serve of Indigenous culture, Pretty Beach House is where millionaires and models go to escape and reconnect.
After being burned in a bushfire and reopening in 2014, it has risen like the proverbial Phoenix to offer a whole new level of luxury accommodation for visitors to the Coast and with billionaire Bill Gates recently choosing it for his family, it could even be argued that it’s the ultimate Australian hideaway.
Premier publishing powerhouse Condé Nast agrees, adding Pretty Beach House to Condé Nast Traveler’s 2018 Gold List – one of just three hotels to receive the coveted accolade in Australia.
Owned by millionaire John Singleton and run by Karina and Brian Barry (who own and run sister property Bells at Killcare), Pretty Beach House is a luxury gem, completely immersed in nature.
Kookaburras swoop between branches and ancient angophoras create a shady canopy all around. There’s even a wriggly, knobby trunk growing from the sandstone around the main pool.
Made from Bowral mud brick and local sandstone and with grand flourishes of recycled timber, mostly sourced from a decommissioned bridge in Queensland, the property is at once chic and cosy.
The main house offers breathtaking views over Pretty Beach below and a picturesque plunge pool dominates the vista from the luxe lounge room, cocktail bar and dining room.
Located down a set of stairs, the magnificent dining room doubles as a lounge room with a comfortable Chesterfield draped in fur perched in front of a fire place.
It’s here, under the watchful eye of Sidney Nolan and John Olsen artworks, and a ringed light installation by Christopher Boots, that we sip champagne and devour crunchy sourdough bread with drool-worthy truffle butter.
The property can sleep eight adults, either in one big group or split individually over four pavilions.
Bayview and Hideaway are separate to the house while inside there is the two-storey Retreat and Treetops, the penthouse.
Pretty Beach House is the only accommodation we’ve stayed in where we haven’t been given a key. There’s just no need.
Each room is dominated by striking timber features, a bed draped in Italian linens (which also has a built in massage function) and unique design elements ranging from a copper bath to brass pendant lights.
An in-room bar is stocked with vodka, gin and scotch, plush day beds offer a secluded spot to relax and for tunes, there is a record player or iPhone stocked with funky playlists.
In the bathroom, linen robes are at the ready, along with a pair of his and hers espadrilles.
A lovely scent lingers throughout the house and the most likely candidate, aside from the open kitchen, is the property’s own ‘Bouddi’ Cocolux candle with notes of sage flower, bush honey, lemon myrtle and amber.
While the property proudly heroes the natural beauty of the Coast’s stunning Bouddi National Park, it also does a tremendous job in bringing the local indigenous culture right to the door.
Not only are there rock carvings dating back several thousand years located within cooee of the house, but all guests are welcomed into the home and onto the land with a smoking ceremony.
An aboriginal man carrying weapons made from mulga appears from the bush to the rhythmical whirring of a didgeridoo and after finding us – with our champagne, canapés, and cashmere blanket – to be good people who don’t pose a threat, invites us to bathe in the smoke of stringy bark and let any negativity float away into the starry sky.
The Bouddi Spa located downstairs practices a beautiful routine called Li’Tya which has been devised by indigenous elders and uses ingredients harvested by hand from the Australian bush including wattle seed, desert lime and wild rosella.
It begins with a footbath of lilly pilly and pepper berries and a smoking ceremony of gum leaves, paperbark and oak moss – held with the permission of elders – then a massage is set against a stirring soundtrack of didgeridoo and bush sounds.
They say each ‘dreamtime’ treatment takes you on a spiritual journey – it’s certainly a welcome immersion into the local culture and a great way to feel even more connected to such a special place.
After our spirit has been lifted and our soul fed with culture, it’s time to feast on a five-course degustation by in-house chef Duncan Kemmis.
With the fire crackling nearby, a heated floor underfoot and beautiful natives blossoming from a vase, we settle into plush leather chairs and make our way through courses of burrata salad, wild mushroom ragu, swordfish with celeriac puree, truffle spatchcock and a flourless chocolate cake with mint ice cream. Every bite is divine.
Hostess Camilla ensures the fire never wanes and our wine glasses are never empty.
The next morning, we wake in an oasis of peace and tranquillity on the lower level of the two-storey Retreat.
Beyond the heavy linen curtains, luxe daybeds overlook a plunge pool, and the first rays of the day are illuminating Pretty Beach below.
Duncan is back in the kitchen and a breakfast spread of crunchy croissants with fig jam, housemade granola with sheep’s milk yoghurt and stewed rhubarb, freshly baked bread with local honey, and silky scrambled eggs with herbs, pecorino and truffle, is soon laid out.
They don’t do anything by halves at Pretty Beach House.
Coastal Chic Tip: It’s not cheap to stay at Pretty Beach House but when you take into account all the inclusions – open bar, personal chef and hostess etc – it’s a wonderfully indulgent experience and well worth considering for a special occasion