Local Escapes

Bring On The Blast From The Past With 5 Of The Best Retro Motels In NSW

By Jessica Best
5th Mar 2021

retro facade of the sails motel and pool club

Here’s the deal, the year of the local getaway is here and that means it’s time to pack your car with all the holiday gear, and hit the “Holiday Road” Lindsey Buckingham style. 

Nothing quite beats the great Aussie road trip exploring sun-drenched beaches, wide-open national parks, dreamy coastal towns and of course, the never-ending line-up of country bowlos (it'd be rude not to sample a VB at them all).

If it’s a nostalgic, retro experience you’re after—the sort that feels like a William Eggleston postcard, but less Memphis, and more Brunswick Heads—check out the best motels in NSW.

The Sunseeker

Byron Bay

pool area of retro motelHaving just opened in December 2020, this boutique, low-rise motel has a lot of things going for it. The entire building has been consciously constructed, from its 82 solar panels and recycled timbers to its hemp insulation and repurposed slate tiles. Along with this, the motel sports four sprawling gardening beds, each containing a Subpod so the motel is able to transform its green waste into compost to feed the garden. 

As for where you’ll find The Sunseeker, it sits on Bangalow Road, just a short walk from the beach, Arakwal National Park, and Cape Byron Lighthouse. The motel is made up of 12 traditional-style hotel rooms (all of which boast their own private patio or balcony) and a handful of next level California-inspired bungalows as well. The timber panelling on the bungalows has been sanded by hand and every room will give you your own deck, BBQ, private garden, bathroom with a walk-in shower and recycled Italian terracotta tiles, bamboo bedding, and a dreamy outdoor bath. 

You can also amp up your stay with a selection of custom grocery packages prepared by the legends at Bay Grocer. Order the crumpet breakfast, fresh charcuterie board, or an entire dinner banquet, featuring pork sausages, Dutch cream potatoes, and Yalla chocolate mousse.

The Sails Motel & Pool Club

Brunswick Heads

girl swimming in clear pool at motelLet's be completely honest, as soon as you hit Brunswick Heads you feel like you’ve had a brief encounter with a DMC DeLorean (Back To The Future style) and been sent to the peak of retro vacationing in the middle of the 70s. 

There aren’t many motels that hit quite like The Sails Motel in Brunswick Head does. The Sails offers up 22 separate rooms in a Palm Springs-inspired setting that'll make you feel like you’ve jetted across the world to Coachella. Here, rooms range anywhere from a simple studio design to digs that can comfortably fit up to six guests. Though we hate to admit it, every point of this epic motel is a stellar photo opportunity you’re not going to want to miss.

Your dope facilities here look like a beautiful blue swimming pool with white sun chairs and striped brollies, a pool bar, and, if you can cop a five-minute walk down the road, one of the best pizza restaurants in Brunswick, Saint Maries. Here, you’ll definitely want to go full vaycay mode and order up the wild mushroom arancini with pickled enoki, “The Graze” platter with lavosh, burrata, goats cheese, and quince, and the “Prawnstar” pizza packed with mozzarella, prawns, basil chilli and rocket. The team can also make any of the bases gluten-free and “veganise” a pizza of your choosing. Schooners also go for $5 a pop between 3 - 5pm every day. There are also seven different types of spritz to hit up and honestly, do we need to convince you anymore?

Chalet Motel

Brunswick Heads

retro motel in brunswick headsJust down the road, you’ll find The Chalet Motel, another boutique motel giving you all the bang for your buck. Sporting a 60s-era aesthetic, you’ll feel like you’re on the set of Now And Then. The Chalet Motel has everything you could possibly need to make that ultra-charming film come alive like bike riding, swimming in the Brunswick River, a trip to the old Brunswick picture house and of course, a bakery treats from the rustic-but-delicious Brunswick Bakery (the blueberry tarts are a must).

Offering 12 stylish double, queen, and family-style motel rooms, this stunning spot also has a saltwater swimming pool and is the only dog-friendly motel in Brunswick Heads.

Blueys Motel

Blueys beach

courtyard area of light filled motel in blueys beachSet your motel sights on the straight-up champion of beach motels known as Blueys Motel. Located on Blueys Beach on the Barrington Coast in NSW (a super easy three-hour drive north of Sydney), this intimate stay has just 10 rooms for all the private and secluded vibes. The motel hits like a refreshing beachside post-swim margarita on a scorcher of a day and has everything from a glossy outdoor pool, spa, sunbeds, and a leafy courtyard. It's also just a short stroll from the beach. Blueys is the perfect budget accommodation for when you’re road tripping around the Mid North Coast of NSW.

The Mid Pacific

Port Macquarie

aerial view of pool area at port macquarie hotelThe beauty of this budget stay in NSW is that it just so happens to be sitting on a gold mine of local adventures. You’ll find four different types of rooms here ranging from cosy sleepers, if you’re just making an overnight pitstop, to more spacious suites, if you’re committed an entire weekend and need stellar but wallet-friendly accommodation. 

After exploring Diamond Head, Middle Brother National Park, Grants Beach, Queen Lake, and a whole slew of other adventures,  this no-frills motel also has a saltwater swimming pool that gives you panoramic views of the Hastings River. Before you ask, no—it’s not uncommon to catch sightings of dolphins popping up along here. The Mid Pacific also features two spacious indoor, heated spas which also (no surprise) overlook the river. To top it all off, there’s a perfectly manicured lawn just waiting for you and your mates to indulge in the ultimate sundowner session.

Need a break from the office? Check out the slickest spots for a "workation" in NSW.

Image credit: The Sails, The Sunseeker, The Sails, The Chalet Motel, Blueys Beach Motel, The Mid Pacific Motel

Editor's note: Urban List editors independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, so we get revenue from your purchases.

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