Since designer Collette Dinnigan first caught the eye of fashion followers 25 years ago with her range of dry clean-only lingerie and intricate, beaded gowns, she has built a solid reputation for her feminine, romantic aesthetic. In her latest project, Dinnigan has turned her hand to interiors, reimagining two penthouse suites at Bannisters by the Sea, the boutique hotel at Mollymook on the southern New South Wales coast, three hours' drive from Sydney.
"We have a farm down in Milton, which is just a five-minute drive to Bannisters," says Dinnigan. "It's a great area, and I'd always said I would love to do a hotel."
The partnership involved much more than Dinnigan adding a few cushions. The penthouses (suites 29 and 30) have been completely rebuilt, with Dinnigan advising on all aspects of the renovation. "The whole feeling was about opening the space up and, despite being indoors, creating the feeling of living outside," says Dinnigan.
The breezy new suites are elegant without being overworked. Both have wooden floors and feature hand-printed furnishings in blue, white and green, and curios that Dinnigan picked up on her travels in the south of France, found locally or had custom-made. "Nothing is a reproduction," she says.
Artworks from some of Dinnigan's favourite Australian artists also feature, including images from '70s surf photographer John Witzig and Sydney artist Murray Hilton, among others. "We had a Hilton at our Palm Beach home," she says. "It's just so Australian to me."
Meanwhile, Bannisters' new sister property, Bannisters Pavilion, is set to open on 1 December just 900 metres away. The pavilion has 33 guest rooms and another two penthouse suites, and a rooftop pool overlooking Mollymook Beach.
Bannisters by the Sea, 191 Mitchell Pde, Mollymook, NSW, (02) 4455 3044; penthouses from $625 per night including breakfast. Bannisters Pavilion, 87 Tallwood Ave, Mollymook, NSW, (02) 4455 3044; rooms from $255 per night, penthouses from $398.
Here are some more of our favourite beach hotels.