Perfecting the art of the short break takes practice. While my inclination is always to drive further, there’s a lot to be said for staying within that magic three-hour band around Sydney. Working this band opens up the possibility of making ordinary weekends into an adventure; leaving for your destination after work on a Friday night and returning home late Sunday afternoon.
The popular beach holiday destination of Terrigal on the Central Coast is an easy drive from Sydney, coming in under the two-hour mark even when you factor in heavy Friday afternoon traffic. We pull into the region’s largest hotel and retail complex – Crowne Plaze Terrigal Pacific – just as the sun is setting.
It’s a surprisingly expansive property, with 199 guest rooms; three of their own bars and restaurants, all boasting ocean views; an outdoor swimming pool and a decent collection of shops to explore.
Racing up to our King Premium Ocean View Balcony Room (from $250/night) on the seventh floor, we catch the day’s final rays hitting low-lying clouds over the ocean. We’re tucked on the quieter side of the hotel, away from noise rising from the outdoor pool and bustling Florida Beach Bar, which offers up a variety of entertainments running from live music to a monthly night market.
Our room is spacious and tastefully appointed, with all the expected modern conveniences, from a flat screen television with an in-room entertainment system, to a well stocked mini-bar fridge.
From our balcony on the southern end of the cove, we can take in a portion of the long stretch of golden sand that runs past two lagoons to the picturesque Wamberal Beach.
Our ensuite had a bath, and a decent array of products. The king-sized bed turned out to be supremely comfortable, with enough fluffy pillows in the room to ensure you didn’t have to call down and ask for more.
Cluing in that many people often spend their nights away from home tossing and turning, I found the atomiser Elemis Quiet Mind Room Mist on the pillow to be a nice touch. I’m down on most aromatherapy fragrances, but this one was very soothing.
While only thirty years old, the hotel has a bit of old school pizzazz that you’ll discover when you leave your room and descend to level one.
The grand internal staircase captures your eye as you promenade around Seasalt Restaurant, the Endota Spa Terrigal, and their Aqueous Health and Leisure Club to arrive at your pre-dinner drink destination, the Lord Ashley Bar.
With huge windows looking out to the row of well-established Norfolk pines, the bar is a very civilised spot to enjoy a drink and contemplate your day as the light drains from the sky.
We kicked off with two on-tap beers, the 4 Pines Kolsch ($9/schooner) and a Balter XPA ($9/schooner), and moved to seats where we could take in the view.
Cocktails are also on offer, and if your dinner reservation time at neighbouring Seasalt Restaurant comes up, you can walk with them next door. I picked a Dry Martini ($19) straight from the cocktail list, only noticing afterwards there were over twenty different gins and vodkas that I could have used to customise the drink to my personal preference.
There’s something rather English about this hotel; meaning that even with a cold chill and storms forecast for the whole weekend, we feel like we’re still engaging in a water cure. Before we venture out into Terrigal proper, we take a spell in the heated spa, steam room and sauna, marvelling at the view from the warm bubbling water.
Lord Ashley Bar
Level 1, Crowne Plaza Terrigal,
Pine Tree Lane, Terrigal
Ph: (02) 4384 9133