Three hours from Sydney CBD is the stunning South Coast region of New South Wales, a place known for its expansive beaches and relaxed attitude. Nestled within Mollymook, you’ll find Bannisters Pavilion, a boutique hotel that perfectly encapsulates the unique essence of the region. Littered with beautiful beaches, tranquil bushland, endless views and quaint restaurants and bars, this South Coast hotel offers a rustic, quintessential Aussie coastal experience that’s just waiting for you to explore.
The only way to make your visit down south extra special is to experience it all from the comfort of a stay at the shining jewel of the South Coast, Bannisters Pavilion, the newest companion to the original Bannisters By The Sea, which is just down the road.
I was lucky enough to enjoy two luxurious nights at the iconic spot in Mollymook, which left me and my partner feeling rejuvenated, zenned-out and full of so much delicious food that I just had to share what all the fuss is about.
Day 1 – First Impressions
Mollymook is a sleepy town on the South Coast, just a breezy drive down the winding roads past Wollongong and Kiama, yet upon arrival, you feel miles away. On the drive, don’t forget to take in the breathtaking views of rolling green hills and cascading cliff faces that overlook the Pacific Ocean, all the while breathing in that salty air. Stop for pictures, or continue along to Berry where there are plenty of shops, pubs and treats for the perfect pit stop. We suggest picking up a treat at the famous Berry Donut Van for some seriously delicious doughnuts.
Once you arrive, prepare to de-stress and bask in the beauty of Bannisters Pavilion and meet some new friends while you are at it thanks to the friendly staff. The unique thing about Bannisters is how it blends into the South Coast, becoming another part of the landscape and taking stylistic cues from the region, rather than being just a generic hotel that feels plonked into a beach town. Bannisters assimilated with the area to become a spot locals and visitors alike can enjoy.
The residence sits across from bushland full of swaying eucalyptus trees – you could easily imagine a Koala perched on one of the branches. Taking a moment of silence, you can hear the waves of the ocean crashing, just a mere 200 metres away. The room is everything you would imagine of your coastal escape – a light-filled room with calm, muted tones and white draped curtains, the world’s comfiest bed, a stone gas fireplace and several coastal-inspired artworks.
Before anything, I recommend putting on your robe to kick off your luxurious getaway, and for some added romance, order some drinks up to the room. No matter the hour, you can get anything you want – from cocktails to wines, beer or soda. All that’s left to do is run a bath and relax, or play some Jenga, because how can you resist when it’s right there? Luckily, there was a box of chocolates left for us which perfectly complemented the evening wines. Already zenned-out and feeling like royalty, it was then straight to bed for a long, dreamy sleep.
Breakfast at Rooftop Bar and Grill
There’s no better feeling than waking up in the oasis of a beautiful room, but almost feeling like you’re in nature, with cascading trees being all you can see from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
After taking in the surroundings, it’s time for brekky. Walk upstairs and be met with breakfast at The Rooftop Bar and Grill, which also offers casual dining for lunch and dinner surrounded by swaying palms high above the avenue below. The al carte menu has all your breakfast favourites, including an egg and bacon burger, eggs done your way with any sides you please, a delicious take on baked beans and some waffles. You also get a continental meal and can choose from overnight oats, yoghurt and granola, and fresh fruit. Of course, don’t forget to order some coffee and fresh juices for the ultimate start of your day.
Bannisters Rooftop Bar and Grill
Located in: Bannisters Pavilion
Address: Level 2/87 Tallwood Ave, Mollymook Beach NSW 2539
Hours: Mon-Fri 5-10pm, Sat-Sun 12:30-10pm
Exploring Mollymook and the Pool Bar
The second day was spent exploring the beautiful beaches at the doorstep of Bannisters Pavilion. Walking out of the hotel, you’re right in the middle of the sleepy, coastal town, a bottle shop, a chemist and a little cafe being about all there is around.
After walking for only one minute, we were already at Mollymook Beach. Floury white sand, endless ocean views and no one around – what could be better? If you surf, don’t forget to bring your board, the swell here is a surfers paradise. After spending most of the day cruising on the beach and walking around the little town, taking in all the views and getting acquainted with the local wildlife, it’s safe to say we had worked up an appetite.
We headed to the Pool Bar at Bannisters By The Sea, just down the road – a courtesy bus taking us from door to door offering ultimate ease. Here, we enjoyed cocktails and some small bites all the while basking in uninterrupted views of the glittering blue waters over the Pacific Ocean, combined with swaying gumtrees overhead creating a sense of serenity like none other. It was the perfect spot to while away the time while watching the sun go down over the ocean.
Pool Bar at Bannisters By The Sea
Hours: 12pm-9.30pm daily for in-house guests, 5pm-9.30pm daily for out-of-house guests.
Dinner at Rick Steins
Just a short walk down the stairs is the renowned Rick Stein Restaurant. We enjoyed the freshest, locally sourced seafood that you could imagine, it was caught the morning of in nearby waters. We enjoyed fresh sashimi, sea-urchin sushi, plump oysters, and seared scallops to start, accompanied by bread with delicious seaweed butter. For entrees, we loved the fish and shellfish soup and poached Morten bay bug risotto, followed by the lobster that was cooked to perfection with coconut cream and fish sauce infused with ginger, lemongrass and Asian fine herbs. The food tasted so good, that we couldn’t stop, also devouring the butterflied whole snapper with Savagnin sauce with caramelised walnuts, king brown mushrooms, and pommel fondants. With a menu inspired by the local sea, as well as dishes inspired by Rick’s iconic travels around the globe, it’s truly impossible to fault.
Being able to enjoy the best of both hotels, only 800 metres apart, was yet just another part of the experience that made it all the more unique, accommodating and enjoyable.
Rick Stein Restaurant
Address: 191 Mitchell Parade, Mollymook Beach NSW 2539
Hours: Wed-Fri 6-9:30pm, Sat-Sun 12:30-4pm, 6-9:30pm
Phone: (02) 4454 7400
Another breakfast was enjoyed in the morning at The Rooftop Bar & Grill and then we were left with a whole day to explore more of what the stunning South Coast has on offer.
With so much to see within such a short radius of Bannisters, we decided to explore the local area by car – driving ten minutes to Meroo National Park to enjoy more isolated beaches (FYI- four-wheel drives are needed for this one) or, if you don’t think your car can handle the dirt road, drive a few minutes down the road from Bannisters to nearby Narrawallee Beach.
After another morning beach-bumming out, we headed into Milton, a historic town just a five-minute drive inland from Bannisters. Here, you feel like you have taken a step back in time, with the buildings of the small, quaint town perfectly preserved from years gone by. While you’re in the area, go on a drive to see the lush, green farmland that Milton is renowned for and head to Milk Haus for farm-to-table dining for lunch or, checkout local winery Cupit’s Estate.
With so much to do in this stunning nook of the NSW South Coast, perching yourself in the middle of it all at Bannisters Pavilion in Mollymook is the way to go if you want the full South Coast experience. During your stay, you’ll be effortlessly transported into the calm serenity of the landscape and surrounding towns – you will never feel so well looked after and utterly relaxed.
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