Sure, in 2020 international travel might be a no-go and interstate trips trickier than they need to be—but who needs to leave New South Wales when we have some of the most stunning resorts and hotels in our own backyard.
If it's luxury you're seeking, like hatted restaurants heroing regional ingredients, renowned day spas, secluded retreats in stunning locations—look no further.
Here are 12 of the best regional hotels, retreats and resorts in NSW.
Emirates One and Only
Nestled in the lap of the Greater Blue Mountains, Emirates one and Only Wolgan Valley is a seven-thousand-acre retreat that gives city escapees a chance to immerse themselves in nature without skimping out on any luxuries.
Take the three-hour drive yourself, or book a chauffeured transfer (by luxury car or helicopter) to the stunning retreat, where you check into your very own one, two or three-bedroom villa. Festooned with private pools, verandas overlooking the mountains and fireplaces to keep you cosy, dropping temperatures pose no worry to the resort.
With three dining options, celebrating the garden-to-table philosophy and local ingredients available, and gourmet picnics, an award-winning spa, horse riding, nocturnal wildlife and bush walks that can be curated to fit custom preferences for a family or romantic getaway, Emirates One and Only Wolgan Valley is truly the place to be.
Sydney’s favourite getaway spot Byron Bay is home to a boutique hotel that is pretty much the embodiment of summer. Located on the shores of Cabarita beach, Halcyon House’s blue and white façade blends in perfectly with the colours of the Pacific Ocean, creating the ultimate relaxing escape where you can forget all your troubles.
You can choose to stay in one of 21 rooms and suites, each one designed to be unique with vintage furnishings and art, personally sourced by Brisbane based interior designer Anna Spiro and hotel owner Siobhan and Elisha Bickle.
Treat yourself with a romantic lunch of the best local seafood and seasonal produce at their hatted restaurant Paper Daisy, then wind down for the evening with a full body massage at the Halcyon Spa.
Edging away from the classic beachfront location in a seaside town, this luxury accommodation in the Byron Hinterland is here to show you Byron Bay is not just about the beaches.
Set in a backdrop that embodies nature at every turn, Blackbird is framed by a rainforest and boasts unrivalled views of Cape Byron and the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy solitude and privacy by booking your very own detached living pavilion, which comes with complimentary bubbles on arrival, a wine and cheese board, daily turndown service and a 24-hour concierge.
Enjoy immersing yourself in nature amongst natural waterfalls, native flowers and trees or lounge in the Magnesium mineral swimming pool as you enjoy the ultimate escape close to home.
Pretty Beach House
The Central Coast’s best-kept secret might be in the Bouddi Peninsula. Set above Pretty Beach, framed with panoramic views of the ocean lies the ultra-exclusive luxury lodge Pretty Beach House.
Divided into four separate pavilions, the large rooms house a king bedroom, separate dressing area, open plan sitting area, outdoor day bed, fireplace and premium minibar. The property takes its inspiration from the coastal environment and earthy interiors and bespoke furniture pieces reflect soft, relaxing colours designed to make you feel at home. The main house has an open plan kitchen, dining area, sandstone fireplace, day spa, outdoor infinity pool and even a pizza oven for when you want a casual poolside dinner.
Home to a beach which boasts of some of the whitest sand in the world, Jervis Bay is a mere two and a half hours from Sydney. It’s also home to a camp like no other.
Paperbark Camp has been running for over 20 years, offering a blend of nature and fine food and wine you can enjoy in the heart of the Australian bush. The canvas, safari-style tents are built above the ground to be low-impact on the delicate coastal environment and to capture the sea breeze, and boast of wrap-around decks, hardwood floors and bespoke hotel amenities including handmade soaps and lotions. Take the extra step and book yourself into the King Deluxe tent with its bush facing bath, to relax under starlit skies with nature all around you.
The camp’s restaurant The Gunyah follows the same blueprint. Built among the treetops, the dining room, reception and communal lodge area has large open windows to let in the summer breeze and an open fireplace for when it's chilly. Swap travelling tales over paella every Saturday night, or enjoy your morning toast with a sneaky visit from resident possums, it’s all a part of the Paperbark Camp experience.
Spicers Vineyards Estate
Enjoy a getaway in the Hunter Valley in their most awarded romantic destination: Spicers Vineyards Estate.
The perfect spot for a romantic weekend, a 2-hour drive from Sydney will bring you to the heart of NSW’s famous wine region, where you will find the estate nestled in eight, unobstructed acres of private vineyard and natural bushland. Laze in front of the fireplace in one of 12 luxury suites, complete with heated floors, minibar, a rain shower and separate spa bath.
Indulge in cheese and wine tastings, or try the modern Australian offerings at hatted Restaurant Botanica. The menu incorporates freshly picked produce, with seasonal ingredients and some of the best locally produced wines to match. If you need more convincing, Spa Anise’s phone-free policy will give you a chance to enjoy stress-free indulgence with your partner, in style.
Mollymook and Port Stephens
Owned by renown British chef Rick Stein and his wife Sarah, both Bannisters properties demonstrate the couple’s love for nature, calming ocean views and fresh, beautifully cooked seafood.
Bannisters by the Sea is exactly what a seaside hotel should be, soothing, minimalistic colours, uninterrupted azure views of the Pacific Ocean and 34 rooms, most of them featuring a private oceanfront balcony. Nestled in a quiet corner, a few minutes’ walk from Mollymook beach, guests can choose between luxury suites, or go all out with a group of 6 people and book the Cameron Kimber Penthouse. Ocean vistas, a day bed dotted deck, a clifftop spa and a private Hamman steam room are just some of the perks you can enjoy at this unique property.
The recently opened Bannisters Port Stephens combines luxurious escapism and laidback style like its older sister, Bannisters by the Sea. This four-star hotel has been painstakingly restored from an iconic retro motel into a stylish boutique getaway location, surrounded by water and lush koala habitat. Aiming to recreate classic beach holidays, the rooms are dressed in calming, pastel colours and have views of lush gardens or the dazzling Karuah Bay, Soldiers Point and the dolphins that call Port Stephens home. Bannisters Port Stephens is puppy friendly, so you won’t have to worry about leaving your furry family member behind when you visit.
Both properties would be incomplete without a restaurant by Rick Stein and the award-winning chef does not disappoint. You can experience Stein's concept of ocean-to-plate with the incredible, locally sourced seafood menu at the on-site restaurants of both properties.
Nimbo Fork Lodge
Located in the northern end of Kosciuszko National Park, Nimbo Fork is the perfect escape if you love the mountains and want to curl up with a good book and hot cuppa.
Offering six, luxury riverside cottages and five suites in the main lodge, the warm furnishings and breath-taking views combine luxury with tradition and the raw beauty of the natural surroundings.
Have drinks by a blazing fire before sampling the seasonal menu, and local, sustainable produce from the neighbouring Riverina district. The lodge offers fly fishing, horse riding, and bike riding, but you’re just in the mood for a bushwalk, grab a gourmet picnic basket filled with an assortment of local treats for an outdoor picnic like no other.
Bangalay Luxury Villas
Set against the backdrop of Seven Mile beach, the Bangalay Sand Forest and the Shoalhaven Heads golf course, these seaside villas are a little under two hours from Sydney.
Bangalay Luxury Villas are self-contained spaces of paradise, designed to blend with the natural surroundings. The 16 villas offer sun-filled decks, open fireplaces, in-house laundry and complete kitchen facilities—meaning they are basically a home away from home, where you can craft your own stay.
Byng Street Boutique Hotel
Set in the heart of Orange’s heritage precinct, this 4.5-star hotel is the mark of luxury, unique style and sophistication.
Restored from a family home, the front of the Byng Street Boutique Hotel is the heritage homestead ‘Yallungah’ built way back in 1896. Acquired by the Nock family in 2014, the restoration has left a unique accommodation in its wake. Many features including the slate roof, timber joinery and brickwork have remained untouched in an ode to the bones of the building. Drawing inspiration from existing buildings, local artists and the surrounding landscape of Orange, each of the 22 rooms and suites has been designed to be unique and tasteful.
Enjoy an all-inclusive breakfast in the Yallungah dining room, or coffee with your newspaper in the sun-dappled Guest Lounge.
Goonoo Goonoo Station
Originally built in 1831, Goonoo Goonoo Station is now a sublime mix of history and modern architecture. Located on the Liverpool Plains, Goonoo Goonoo Station has a range of accommodation options to pick from. Perfectly suited to families or groups of friends looking for getaways, you can choose to stay in cottages that can house up to 10 guests, with ample space, modern features and amenities like daily laundry service, Wi-Fi, a full kitchen, lounge room and balcony included.
Their state of the art Glasshouse Restaurant offers a view of sweeping hills and glimpses of the Liverpool Range, with award-winning chefs creating seasonal, delicious dishes. Many of the products are made from scratch, using foraged greens, house-smoked and aged meats, homemade pickles and more, encouraging visitors to learn more about native produce and local agriculture.
The tiny, country town of Gundagai has been a favourite of many writers. Proof of this lies in Flash Jacks, named for a Banjo Patterson poem about a shearer who travels around new South Wales.
Built into one of the grandest buildings in the little town, this nine-room, boutique hotel features a contemporary take on country style, with decor and textures inspired by the pioneers of Australian wool, timber and steel. Stay in one of the Premium King Rooms, complete with a custom-made king-size bed, high ceilings, bay windows and your own book nook, which is bound to give you the motivation to get through that reading list.
Need more accommodation ideas for a sweet NSW trip? Here are a few of our favourite tiny homes and cabins.
Image credit: Blackbird, Halcyon House, Blackbird, Pretty Beach House, Nimbo Fork, Bangalay Villas, Byng Street Boutique Hotel, Flash Jacks