Hotel Reviews

Halcyon House review

The refurbished '60s surfer motel is now a boutique hotel offering laidback luxury.

Halcyon House, Byron Bay
The Halcyon Suite.

Some hotels only come to life in at night, but the halcyon hour at this remarkable property is the morning. Wander over the dunes for a surf or a stroll along the beach and saunter back, splashed with salt, rinse off by the pool and jump into one of the world's great hotel breakfast experiences. The Slim Aarons aesthetic is invoked up and down the east coast but no one nails it with anything like the savvy and verve of Halcyon House. It combines the Ace idea of refitting an old surf motel with a level of plush comfort and bold but finely judged detail that recalls the luxe UK and US properties of Firmdale Hotels. If only they could muster food this sunny and brilliant in London and New York.

We love

A poolside experience framed by pandanus palms and white-painted fences, trimmed with playlists that are en pointe, a magazine rack that gives equal weight to surfing, fashion and travel, a stunning drinks list, plus prawn sandwiches? We're in love.

Poolside cocktails, anyone?
Poolside cocktails, anyone?

Thoughtful extras

Cold and hot outdoor showers for those fresh off the beach.

Dining options

Hands down one of the best hotel restaurants in the country. Fresh fare that's inventive without ever becoming taxing to the diner, with a focus on the local that translates as flavour rather than earnest ideology. Even the club sandwich is reimagined with flair: crisp chicken skin with mortadella on milk bread.

The Master Room, one of only two at the resort.
The Master Room, one of only two at the resort.

Drink up

The ordinariness of the drinks offer that the hotel opened with has been thoroughly remedied with the offer of Provençal rosé, chilled Beaujolais, Ochota Barrels chardonnay and bottles of Dom with some reasonable age on them. And that's just from what's on offer at the pool.

This review was made independently for the Gourmet Traveller Hotel Guide. The guide's reviewers visit unannounced and pay their way.