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Hotel Review: Experiencing the simple luxury of Australia’s Bannisters by the Sea

Australia is a massive country the size of the continental United States. It is literally on the other size of the world from the US and a far trip from Europe. However, it is a destination worth the journey with so much to see and do from wildlife to the deserts to lush mountains, as well as the endless miles of coastline and the sea.

Mollymook is a seaside community in New South Wales not really near anything; which is just fine as it is a destination unto itself. Like Australia, the beguiling boutique hotel Bannisters by the Sea is far from it all but oh so worth the effort.

Located three hours south of Sydney, Bannisters by the Sea is perched atop a rocky bluff facing the Tasman Sea.  The mornings are the most spectacular times of day as the sun rises in the east with the sounds of waves crashing against the rocky shores and colourful birds chirping and squawking their g’day.

At certain times of the year, guests watch the whales migrating north just a few 100 yards away.  To be there is what makes the trek worth the effort as evidenced by the steady flow of so many honeymooners, Sydney weekenders and foodie travellers.

Bannisters is a peaceful and simple hotel that does the important things well so its guests can have a relaxing and effortless stay. The common areas are tastefully decorated with a coastal chic design with tasteful objects d’art, colorful Moroccan style plates and tiles, and drift wood accent pieces.  It is a boutique hotel so one never feels like just another hotel room key. The staff is very personable and attentive as is the capable and seasoned management.

There is a lovely barefoot ready lawn facing the ocean surrounded by pine trees and crashing waves. That’s where you’ll find the temperature controlled infinity edge pool where guests can be seen swimming or just taking in some rays on daybeds while overlooking the beautiful seascapes beyond.

There is a casual beach bar and café which is perfect for grabbing a light lunch or a cocktail before dinner.  The hotel also hosts a popular Veuve Clicquot pop-up venue where the local café society and hotel guests clink flutes under bright yellow canvas umbrellas as they gather for bubbles and canapes.

As shared, the hotel’s guests are mainly Sydney’s weekend holidaymakers, honeymooners and in-the-know global explorers. They all share this gem of a hotel with faithful foodies who flock in droves to dine at one of the top dining experiences in Australia created by British celebrity chef Rick Stein.

Stein is a popular personality who is the Executive Chef and a partner in Bannisters. He has published numerous books and produced hundreds of televisions shows on the love of food and owns several restaurants throughout the UK.

Rick Stein     Credit Cliff Kent-Photographer

Stein has created a destination dining experience based on his ethos of creating fresh seafood cooked simply. Expect the freshest local seafood served with an unfussy presentation. His style of cooking puts the flavours of the key ingredients at the forefront so don’t expect fancy spumas, micro dishes, or a 12 course meal.

Just really fresh and delightful seafood, light sauces and herbs, and a scrumptious meal.  The must try dish is the ‘Fruits De Mer’ which is seafood in the French style, all left in the shell and served on ice with mayonnaise and eschallot vinegar. Guests can also expect wonderful Australian wine pairings and the service is stellar as well.

Rick Stein is an integral part of the hotel experience and even has a five bedroom villa available, gourmet kitchen included, for rent 400 metres from the hotel. Rick’s Place  is a 60’s retro-style beach house with wrap around wooden decks, stained timber panelling and a tremendously large Jacuzzi.

The gourmet chef’s kitchen was designed by Rick himself so perfect for taking on those uber complex culinary dishes or perhaps just peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids.

The resort itself is much like the dining experience. The simple things done very well. There are 34 individually designed rooms ranging from standard to the palatial and all face the sea. The Collette Dinnigan Penthouses are exactly what guests would seek in a seaside getaway.

The style boasts oceanfront elegance with a bright and fresh colour palate of white and blue accents with seascape paintings and vintage photography of the area’s 70’s era surfing life. There is weathered oak flooring and a gas fireplace for those occassional chilly nights.

There is a full size kitchen as well with all the equipment one would need for an extended stay as well as a large trestle style table for six.  The living space is uber comfortable with large couches and chairs, and a wall of sliding glass doors and wooden shutters which let in plenty of natural light and when open, create a fresh air indoor – outdoor living space.

The bedroom is lovely as well with comfy bedding and a large bathroom with full bath and rain shower. The sliding doors open onto the balcony as well which is just perfect to allow in the sounds of the waves in order to lull guests into a deep deep sleep.

The main reason that guest stay at Bannisters by the Sea is to experience being near the ocean. To provide the flawless mix of comfort and the outdoors, the higher category suites have extensive deck balconies which are more of an outdoor living space with a Balinese day bed with canvas covers and blue and white pillows, chaise longues and rattan furniture.  This is the place to watch the waves while drinking your morning coffee or a glass of wine at night as the moon rises and casts a silvery shadow across the waves.

There is plenty to do in the area away from the hotel as well. Mollymook is known as a surfers paradise so there is plenty of surfing and swimming in the nearby crystal clear waters at  Mollymook Beach. There are also nearby beach towns to explore with tony little boutiques and bistros.

The ocean provides an array of activities above and below the water from scuba diving to fishing. Guests may also choose to hit the links at an 18-hole golf course which is 15 minutes away. Also nearby is the Narrawallee Creek Nature Reserve which is the local bushlands and a great place for fishing, trekking and birdwatching.   After all that activity to relax, the resort has a lovely day spa proving a wide range of massages as well as a Hamman.

Often times luxury is about simplicity. The opposite of over complicated experiences that overindulge the senses. Just a simple and relaxed holiday of honest cuisine, and the natural beauty of the sea and the comfortable accommodations to enjoy the area with a loved one. That, quite simply, is what you can expect from Bannisters by the Sea.

Address: 191 Mitchell Parade, Mollymook Beach NSW 2539, Australia

Phone:  +61 2 4455 3044