This is not a blog about family travel. That is family travel with the kids coming with us. This is however, a blog about two members of a family getting some alone time with no children. I have a girlfriend who has a girlfriend who, I’m joking. A girlfriend’s dear friend in the UK stated once that she takes two weeks holiday every year with her husband. Just the two of them. She stated that she thought it was essential for a successful marriage. That’s great – but you need someone to take care of the kids. So, like most couples getting ‘A’ single night away required the logistical strategy similar to rolling out a presidency campaign.
Bells Killcare is located about a one and a half hour drive from Sydney. It is often on the top lists of best places to go. The Luxury Travel awards this year voted Bells in 3 of their top lists. Best Australian Property (within driving distance of the city) Number 3. Best Australian Boutique Property: Villa or Lodge – Number 2. Best Australian Food and Wine Experience – Number 6.
VisitNSW has the following description: Bells at Killcare Boutique Hotel, Restaurant and Spa is a luxury coastal retreat with an authentic regional restaurant featuring the cuisine of renowned Italian born chef Stefano Manfredi, one of Australia’s most celebrated and influential chefs.
Situated on the NSW Bouddi Peninsula, Bells at Killcare is just a 90 minute drive north of Sydney’s central business district. Set in the retreat’s lush gardens, guests can relax in designer suites and cottages. Take a dip in the outdoor lap pool or pamper yourself in the beautiful luxurious day spa. The day spa offers a wide variety of individual therapies and holistic wellness experiences using LI’TYA and Aspect products.
Manfredi at Bells restaurant has an outdoor dining terrace which is perfect for summer meals and breakfast in the sunshine. There is a private dining room for functions and cocktail bar with not only an extensive list but the skill set to match. (Don’t you hate ordering a cocktail only to wait while the barman ‘googles’ the recipe and method)
My husband had organised everything as a surprise and as he is usually either cheap or unorganised, I didn’t even guess where we were going. We have a friend with a nearby house so I had thought he’d borrowed it for the night again. What a lovely surprise to be going to a lovely quiet getaway. Adding further to the surprise and romance, he had organised a couples massage to kick start the evening. I usually hate day spa massages. Hate is possibly a strong word. I find they don’t do much. My back and shoulder muscles need a lot of pressure to release the tension I store in there and someone rubbing their hands over me doesn’t do a lot for my relaxation. Release the muscles is what is needed for me to relax. This however, whilst not being a full sports type massage, was very relaxing. They used stones along with other techniques and it was so good. One and a half hours of that! Pure bliss. The background noise of the Aussie bush was very calming.
I had been ‘juicing’ and on a raw food diet for the previous week. I’d missed lunch to leave the office and collect the car. I was hungry. Upon returning to our room and checking out the contents of the minibar I decided to order a cheese platter. European’s find it so strange that we cheese before a meal and not after. I love it. Some amazing cheeses arrived with the juiciest figs, San Daniel prosciutto, pear quince, olives and an amazing flavoured honey. It was just enough to get me through to dinner without eating my own arm but not too much to fill us up.
Mojito and a coffee martini followed by seared scallops with heirloom tomatoes and potato gnocchi. For main I had the most enormous rib eye with horseradish while my man had venison. The service was polite, efficient and knowledgeable. The wait staff were plentiful and willing to serve. For those form overseas, in Australia there tends to be a bit of attitude in some establishments from wait staff. They get paid $20 an hour plus weekends and loadings etc. They do not need tips to survive so we do not have a culture of wait staff desperate to give you the best service all for your tip at the end. This has mixed results but important to point out that wait staff wanting to serve is essentially the first sign that a restaurant is at least hiring the right people. A restaurant able to do this outside of the city is nothing short of impressive.
The wines were incredible – we stuck to Italian. We had photographed the list and text our Italian friend who recommended some great wines. He then of course was rolling on the floor laughing at how much we were going to pay for those wines, but it’s Australia right – we’re used to inflated prices of almost everything.
The rooms at Bells are wonderfully peaceful. A lovely king bed takes pride of place in our king suite. There is a gas fireplace with television over the top. A one and a half seater lounge, complete with ottoman to curl up in. Luckily for us this endless summer just keeps on going and going, so there was no need for a fire. We sat out on our own deck as the sun set, drinking wine and enjoying our cheese plate. There were a few mosquitoes, but the hotel was thoughtful enough to have insect repellent readily available in the room. Wifi connection (I know, why would I need that when on a romantic getaway with hubby? I had to quickly check some work emails and direct some staff – it was midweek!) was speedy and easy to access. The bath was a deep and oh so enjoyable. We have recently moved and our bath is fine for kids but not so great for adults, so having a bath is a luxury I can only partake in when away from home.
The hotel is situated at the top of a ridge and as old habits die hard we rose to watch the sun rise. The national park surrounding the park make for some great walks and vantage points to enjoy the view back to Sydney. Unfortunately for us the sunrise on this day was lame and ordinary. Regardless, all that activity worked off the meal from the night before and made room for the outstanding breakfast spread. The bircher muesli was some of the best I have ever had. The pink grapefruit juice a welcomed refreshing start to the day. Manfredi has his own line of coffee and it is outstanding. More fresh figs, Swiss cheese and prosciutto on the breakfast table. You can order eggs any which way you like. There are pastries and toast to your hearts content. You will not leave feeling hungry – that’s for sure.
Would I go again? I the blink of an eye if the kids are taken care of. I would like it to be warm enough to lay by the pool in the afternoon or morning. Would I recommend it? Hell yeah!