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Dovecote hotel review

An architecturally stunning $5 million, 400-square-metre beach house perched on a lush escarpment with stunning views located less than two hours south of Sydney near the seaside town of Gerringong. Exceptionally comfortable, Dovecote‘s ultra-modern and spacious living areas create a feeling of luxury, privacy and exclusivity, yet are close enough to amenities so as not to feel completely isolated.

The facts

Traveller: Roderick Eime
Room: The Headland
Address: 27 Princes Highway, Gerringong 2534 NSW, Australia
Date: July 2019
Best for: Great location for anything from a romantic couples weekend to a family and friends gathering or even a small business group.

The Signature factor

Location, location, location. Step into your own fantasy with this blockbuster designer property with a stunning outlook. You’ll want to shoot your own mystery or Scandi noir thriller.

The concept

A successful Sydney designer Jeffrey Simpson wanted an escape from the inner city and chose this location for his ideal holiday escape. Through business and social connections, he approached acclaimed young architect and industrial designer, Andy Carson, who helped him realise his dream beach house using zen principles gleaned from the teachings of an ascetic Japanese monk.

The two accommodations, The Headland and The Range, sleep eight and four respectively and are both self-catering and self-contained. Each building is a design exercise in itself.

First impressions

The sense of arrival begins as you navigate the sweeping driveway that cuts through some of the 60 hectares of lush dairy pasture and delivers you through a code-locked gate to the doorstep. The 400-square-metre house creates the sensation of a hideaway or lair and, once inside, the eclectic design elements produce a minimalist environment that may puzzle you at first, but you’ll soon settle into its embracing comfort.

The Headland

The room

The main bedroom in The Headland is the premier room and occupies one end of the accommodation wing, complete with dual panoramic windows and large ensuite complete with deep bath tub.

On my plate

As a self-catering accommodation your choices are to bring in your own food to use the state-of-the-art kitchen, call for on-premises catering or dine locally at any of the eateries in Gerringong, Berry or Kiama. If driving, that may limit the enjoyment for one of you. However, the owner does provide a gourmet breakfast selection of local produce such a smoked bacon, free-range eggs, yogurt, cereals, organic milk and quality juice. The pantry has a selection of condiments, spices and sauces for your use.

Highlights from the mini-bar

A welcome bottle of quality wine is provided for your stay.

I wish I could take home…

If there is one thing you’ll want to take home it is the view. However, when you close your eyes and recall your stay, that panorama over the pasture, beach and lagoon is seared into your memory anyway.

Spa life

There is a heated plunge pool outside as well as deep tubs in every bathroom. Massage and spa services can be booked via the concierge with local operator, Skin Soul.

Morning sunlight at The Range, Dovecote
The Range, Dovecote
The Range dining area at The Range

The Range

On the green

The nearest golf course is just 10 minutes away at Gerringong.

Staying in

It can get windy up on the headland, so it’s just as well there is plenty to do if the weather is against you. You can call the concierge for an in-house massage or spa treatment, relax in the TV or games room, or luxuriate in your private bath tub and admire the view. The courtyard is well protected from wind, so an outdoor barbecue or splash in the plunge pool is on the cards. In the evening, sitting around the fire pit with a local red is almost heaven.

Other add-on activities (via the concierge) include in-house spa treatments, wine tastings, cocktail hour and outdoor big screen movie nights in the courtyard. Otherwise there is fast Wi-Fi if you feel the need to connect, but that view is always calling.

Stepping out

The vast range of local attractions at your doorstep includes the local Crooked River wines and cellar door and eateries such as The Hill, Blue Goose, Sea Vista or Deli, which all offer quality eat-in options in nearby Gerringong. Just a few minutes down the road is the foodie mecca of Berry, with an even wider range of fabulous eateries and wholesome produce.

If you fancy an energetic walk, the coastal track delivers great oceanfront paths with more than enough fresh air. If you’re a surfer, bring your board to catch a wave at famous Werri Beach. Ask the concierge about fishing boat charters or horse riding. Day drives to Berry, Kiama and the scenic Kangaroo Valley are just minutes away.

The Headland

The accolades

Dovecote has captured the imagination of the luxury media with copious coverage in travel, architecture and real estate publications. This year, The Headland won Australian Home of the Year and Australian Custom Built Home from the Housing Industry Association (HIA).

Celebrity sightings

Shooting has just finished in the Illawarra for The Invisible Man with actors Elisabeth Moss and Oliver Jackson-Cohen, with The Headland being used in several scenes. The stunning location has also seen fashion shoots for Gucci, Coco Republic, King Living, Burberry, Hugo Boss and Louis Vuitton with actor Sam Reid. Otherwise I am told (on the quiet) that the property has hosted both international and local A-List celebrities.

Insiders’ tips

If practical, the best way to arrive is in your own (or hired) vehicle. This gives you the flexibility to travel at your own pace and visit local attractions as you wish.

Green thumbs up?

Comprehensive and exhaustive environmental and heritage requirements were met during the construction. Dovecote has all-underground mains power and also feeds back to the grid via an extensive solar array. Additionally, all water is tank fed; the sewer is a self-contained septic system; bathroom amenities are quality refillables from the new-on-the-scene organic and animal-free brand, Sans Ceuticals; and all recyclable waste is treated according to council regulations.

Room for improvement

Our only (minor) frustration was decoding some of the hi-tech features of the house such as the piped music which was locked on The Beatles and the security system. But never fear; the concierge is always just a call away.

The Range

If only…

Part of the attraction of Dovecote is its seclusion and privacy, but if you miss the driveway, you need to make a ‘go around’ via Kiama to correct your approach as there is no right turn along the northbound route. Similarly, if you are returning from Gerringong, you must do the same.

Final verdict

Dovecote impresses on so many levels, it’s clearly designed for upscale guests with the wherewithal for such a stay. Couples would be best to book The Range for its more intimate atmosphere, while families or small business groups (up to 12) can book The Headland, or both. It’s isolated but not impossibly remote and private without feeling exiled.

Where to find Dovecote

Scheduled flights and private aircraft operate from Illawarra Regional Airport at Shellharbour. Fly Corporate operate Saab 340B and Metro 23 regional turboprop aircraft with direct routes to Melbourne and Brisbane. Supercars such as such as Mercedes, McLaren, Maserati, Aston Martin or Audi can be hired via Prancing Horse with airport pickups on request. Helicopter transfers direct to Dovecote can be arranged via Blue Sky Helicopters.

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