Australia’s design confidence has been growing exponentially over the years and has reached a place where it can happily rub shoulders with the best on the world stage. This innate élan is reflected nowhere better than in the exquisitely designed hotels which now nestle in the most beautiful areas of the country.
From a remote cattle station in the Northern Territory to spa hotels in Daylesford, the Hunter Valley and Cabarita Beach, discover some of our must-visit design stays, which have also been created with the talents of our Decor + Design exhibitors and speakers.
The Kirkton Park Hotel, Hunter Valley NSW – Greg Natale Design
Australian interior design luminary Greg Natale hardly needs an introduction. The charming linchpin of the Sydney design community is known for his deft use of pattern and colour. In the words of Jonathan Adler, ‘his rooms are designed with such sureness that they look as if they were always meant to be.’
In 2016, Natale brought his highly-trained eye to the revamp of The Kirkton Park Hotel in the spectacular Hunter Valley wine region. His chic revision of the old hotel features a grand entry hall with an elegant atmosphere, complemented by rural and whimsical touches such as equine paintings.
The hotel also features Natale’s Hudson furniture range and wallpapers from Porter’s Paints – particularly ‘Atlantic Pearl’, a stunning blue that runs through the entire property and is the perfect foil for the elegant monochrome palette of the furnishings and flooring.
The revamp was originally undertaken for Sebel; Natale was seconded again for a refresh in 2019 when the Voco group took over the property. He updated the soft furnishings with luxurious touches, helping the Kirkton Hotel cement its position as one of the Hunter Valley’s most esteemed properties.
It’s a polished design destination that befits one of Australia’s most respected interior designers, who inspired us when he showcased his work at the 2018 Australian House & Garden International Seminar Series at Decor + Design.
Bullo River Station, Northern Territory – The Society Inc.
Deep in the Northern Territory, 800 km from Darwin and close to the WA border, lies a gem of Australian design: The Guest Wing at Bullo River Station.
Bullo River is a 500,000 acre, working cattle property which runs 9000+ head of cattle for export, mustered by horses and helicopters across the sweeping property. Also open to guests, it is a defining destination for outback hospitality. Visitors can see incredible wildlife: wallabies, dingoes, wild buffalo, saltwater crocodiles and migratory birds – all frolicking across an ancient landscape of sweeping plains, craggy outcrops and galleries of Indigenous rock art.
Decor + Design 2019 exhibitors The Society Inc. by Sibella Court were recently invited to refurnish the guest rooms and breezeway, creating a new ‘undone’ Australian luxury.
This is homestead stay at its absolute best. Sibella Court and her team are experts at capturing the history and essence of a place via the medium of design.
They collected, bottled and pressed natural materials from around the vast property, including ochre, paperbark, eucalyptus, river mud, wild rice, feathers, rocks and waterlilies. This fed into the colour palette, patterns, textures and materials that The Society Inc. used throughout the property.
The materials are also built to age well in a harsh climate, with leather, wood, steel, stone, brass and cane all featured heavily. Known for her clever design magic tricks, Sibella also drew on traditional bush craft skills, using a blacksmith, a whip maker and weavers throughout the process.
A wonderful feature is the ‘Guest Breezeway’. For those not familiar, a breezeway is an architectural feature that allows the passage of a breeze between structures. At Bullo River Station, it is designed in salvaged Australian hardwood and displays specially commissioned artworks of subjects such as a Wyarra ancestor spirit from Arnhem Land that protects and guides people who may lose their way. All are made from paperbark by the artist Lena Yarinkura.
This is the epitome of thoughtful design; a continuation of the surrounding landscape which has been curated by a master to connect visitors to the spirit of Australia.
The Lake House, Daylesford VIC – Coco Republic and Warwick Fabrics
The Lake House at Daylesford is one of Australia’s must-visit hospitality destinations; it is also a paean to tranquil and stylish interior design.
About an hour and a half from Melbourne, Daylesford is justifiably renowned as Australia’s spa capital. With fantastic natural springs and next-level fine dining available, it is an elegant destination for a whistle-stop weekend or a week-long retreat.
The Lake House hotel boasts one of Australia’s best restaurants and is understandably popular for romantic weekends away.
Coco Republic Interior Design were also commissioned to create a deluxe but relaxed environment at ‘The Retreat’ at the Lake House – two incredible villas which lie behind a discreet gate and take the luxury quotient up another notch.
With a colour palette of beige, olive, navy and neutrals, Coco created a classic country feel with decadently soft textures and locally-sourced accessories.
Halcyon House, Cabarita Beach, NSW – Virginia Kerridge and Anna Spiro
Since it opened in 2015, the spectacular Halcyon House at Cabarita has established itself as a serious Australian design destination, with buzz stretching from its East Coast location around the country! The beachside property lies roughly halfway between the Gold Coast and Byron Bay and features a spa, top restaurant Paper Daisy and a stunning poolside bar which is perfect for lazing the days away.
The property went from rundown coastal motel to powerhouse design destination when it underwent an extensive and stunning renovation by Sydney architect Virginia Kerridge.
Being big fans of Palm Springs at Decor + Design, one of the features we love is the hotel’s entryway, which is lined with white-painted breeze blocks. Halcyon House has contributed to the revival of the once popular geometric blocks, which are now popping up as features in design-conscious houses up and down the coast.
A stalwart of mid-century architecture, breeze blocks are a famous component of the extraordinary retro ‘desert modernism’ of Palm Springs in California’s Coachella Valley. While they fell out of favour for a number of decades, these beautifully versatile blocks are making a serious comeback. Designed to protect against hot sun and winds while still allowing air to flow, they are a natural fit for the Australian climate and landscape.
Halcyon House has an aesthetic all its own. As one enamoured guest says, ‘it’s Hamptons meets Palm Springs meets the Australian East Coast’
The entire property is reflective of Australia’s growing confidence in design. Its 21 rooms and suites were furnished by noted Brisbane interior and furniture designer Anna Spiro, who spoke in conversation with Lisa Green at the Australian House & Garden International Seminar Series in Melbourne two years ago.
The primarily blue and white colour palette is naturally ideal for its coastal location. Although do not make the mistake of thinking this is simplistic design; it is expertly layered and complemented by vintage pieces and furnishings such as John Derian sofas, Madeline Weinrib rugs and drawings by Wayne Pate.
Working predominantly with a two-toned colour palette also the splashes of other colours to be used to great effect. Anna Spiro is brilliant at experimenting with pattern and colour, mixing and matching and hanging mirrors and artworks on patterned wallpaper. It’s not easy to carry off well but Halcyon House is a masterclass in how to do it. The effect is timeless yet contemporary and cool.
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