Category: A Place to Lay Your Head

The Star Casino, Sydney

The Star Casino, Sydney

The Star still shines!

There is no doubt that with James Packer’s flashy new hotel and casino going up across the way at Barangaroo, that Star City and Astral Towers may become a thing of the past. But don’t write them off just yet.

When we travel KAM and I like a little space. There are thousands of hotels in Sydney City but there is a reason we choose to stay at Astral Towers instead of any other. ‘The Star’ also hosts the Darling Hotel, which is much fancier and new. But the space and styling of the apartments at Astral Towers suits us. We always choose a 1 bedroom harbour view apartment which is large, and modern with a big balcony. The view of the harbour bridge is pretty hard to beat – especially when you are upgraded to the 12th floor. Sitting up so high is wonderful (although I struggle to look down!) and as the sun goes down over the harbour these rooms are a welcome relief from the busy city and the casino floor below.

If you become a member of ‘The Star’, at no charge, you get great discounts on accommodation and you can earn dollars for food and beverage if you like a little tipple on the tables. Name your poison! The Star Casino floor has just about everything and it pumps 24 hours a day!

But gambling isn’t all ‘The Star’ has to offer. The restaurants in and around the casino are great! Black by ezard, with its dark lighting and leather furniture is the go if you want a good steak and great bottle of wine. It’s a bit pricy but worth it and gives you a nice excuse to get dressed up. Pizzaperta down on the concourse is always good too, with sweet and savoury pizzas ranging from $15 to $21. It’s casual and always busy which is a sign of regularly good food – not to mention, designed by Stefano Manfredi who I happen to think is a bit of a Food God! Yes I know…. Another Italian. You can never love too many of them! It’s an addiction I am happy to admit to!

After a hard day of meetings or gambling (or both), the rooftop pool and spa are a great place to relax and take in the city skyline. But your balcony is just as good. When the sun goes down over the Harbour and the city lights come on, you can sit there and just take it all in. Get your lover to run you a tub, and enjoy a glass of wine in the massive bathroom while he orders you some room service. Everything is good and it arrives quick and hot and most dishes are no more than $30 including surcharges.

But my favourite thing about ‘The Star’ is the Lyric Theatre. I love a musical and KAM always buys me the best seats available. Sitting in the front row of Les Miserables was incredible! Not to mention being invited to dance on the stage during the finale of Strictly Ballroom! Epic core memory!! Being able to get ready upstairs and casually head to the theatre without having to worry about traffic or parking, is a luxury worth every penny. I am hard-pressed to think of a nicer experience.

‘The Star’ might be a bit retro, but it’s definitely our ‘go to place’ when having to travel to the city for work. Don’t get me wrong, there are other places that we love in the city too. But this place just feels right. The service is quick and efficient and always with a smile. The location is central and quiet. The view from the rooms is beautiful and you’re not stuck in a tiny space with no room to do much else other than sleep. You can’t really ask for much more.

Don’t take my word for it though – try it. ‘The Star’ continues to shine brightly amidst an ever changing landscape and I think it will take me a lot to switch to the other side of the Harbour. Good luck Mr. Packer, the Duchess is standing firm for now.

The Star and Astral Towers
80 Pyrmont Street,
Pyrmont NSW 2009
P: 1800 700 700

Bells at Killcare

Bells at Killcare

All the Bells ring!

Every girl dreams of the ultimate proposal. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or whether you have been married before. When you know you have met Mr. Right, the thought of the perfect proposal is always in the foreground of your mind. Talk of marriage has been bantered around for a while and you have an inkling that he has purchased ‘the ring’. You don’t care how he asks you or where it is, just as long as it is romantic and as perfect in real-life as it is in your mind. Enter… the beautiful Bells at Killcare.

Turning down the drive, you literally have no idea what you are in for. You really have reached Heaven on Earth. A place that meets all of your desires and bathes you in the lap of luxury every single moment you are within this hidden paradise.

The gardens at Bells are lush and beautifully manicured and the soft sound of running water is constant from the number of fountains and miniature rivers dotted around the property. The buildings are all designed in East Coast Hamptons style and the main house, which includes Manfredi’s restaurant, is the height of elegance.

We recently organised a two night stay in one of their two story spa cottages. Really, for no reason at all – we didn’t really feel like we needed an excuse to return to Bells. Neither of us can say we have enjoyed a hotel stay more than this and for 3 days bathed ourselves in the simple luxury that ‘Bells’ seem to do with ease – as if its second nature.

Each of the staff are highly trained and perfectly professional in every aspect of their role. You can tell that Bells expects a certain standard from them and they seem happy to oblige, always aiming to please. Welcomed by each and every one of them you feel like you are being invited into a big family home with beautiful amenities, a Chef Hat Restaurant, and possibly the best wine room I have ever seen. KAM found me a number of times just standing at the glass staring at all the beautiful wines I wanted to experience while there.

The weekend of our stay, the weather is cold with sleeting rain a constant on the landscape. This suited us perfectly as the cabin has a big slow-combustion fireplace which KAM gets cranking. Each of the cabins here are like a secret hideaway, completely hidden from other guests by careful placement and well-designed gardens. The cabin is roomy but homely and there is a beautiful large bed gracing the top floor, draped in expensive linens and big soft pillows. My favourite spot is on the covered balcony watching the rain and enjoying a glass of wine with the most beautiful man I have ever known, sure that this moment will be one we will treasure forever.

The bathroom has a big corner spa which I recommend enjoying with a glass of bubbly. I did and enjoyed getting myself ready for dinner in such a luxurious space. Just as I am ready for dinner though, I exit the bathroom to find the lights off in our cabin and the whole space lit with soft candlelight. There is music playing – Lior, This Old Love and I wonder why KAM is pacing back and forth with his back to me.

The moment he turns to face me, there is a knowing in my heart and as he begins to say the most beautiful words I have ever heard him speak, he gets down on one knee and says “Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?” Of course I say yes (a thousand times over and over again) and he reaches for a beautiful Gregory’s box on the coffee table. Its only then do I see it for the first time and the two glasses of champagne strategically placed next to it! I wonder how I never saw it when I first came out of the bathroom!?

After enjoying the moment, I realize we are now running very late for dinner. It’s the only problem with Bells. Time seems to slow to a point of almost standing still. There is magic in the air as we walk across the lawn towards Manfredi’s and although this is my favourite restaurant of all time, KAM and the excitement has haltered my hunger for a while. I am sure once I see the menu though, my appetite will come roaring back! Nothing a beautiful bottle of wine won’t fix, I’m sure!

The team have taken care of everything and have arranged for us to have the verandah to ourselves. Seated at a big table with comfy cushions and blankets, we gaze out over the garden and reflect on the moment just passed.

But from here on in is a whole other story, for another time. Bells and Manfredi’s are each two amazing experiences in their own right and deserve their own chapters. So you will just have to wait for the next installment in this amazing property.

In the meantime, thanks to all at Bells with all of our hearts. This remains one of our favourite stories to tell and one which we can’t wait to experience again. We were made to feel ever so special and the memories we made that weekend, we will treasure forever.

But please don’t take our word for it – pick a weekend to write your own story of love, enchantment, and luxury. Who knows…. There may just be a proposal on the horizon for you as well?

Bells at Killcare
107 The Scenic Road, Killcare Heights
P: 02 4349 7000
[email protected]

The Sebel, Hawkesbury Valley

The Sebel, Hawkesbury Valley

Stop-over in style at the Sebel

There are some places where luxury is in abundance. Hotel after hotel offering luxury inclusions and top of the line service. I have to travel to the Hawkesbury region of southern Sydney quite a bit, and when I do, there is only one place I choose to stay. I mean, if you have to work, you may as well lay your head somewhere nice at the end of a long day, right?

Heading out through town towards the air force base, the Sebel Hawkesbury Resort and Spa appears like a mirage in the middle of a desert. The country Manor House styling of this hotel and its beautiful grounds are inviting from the moment you enter the gate. The lobby is grand and the staff welcomes you back like a member of the family.

After checking in and before heading to our room, we usually head straight to the bar. Set with big booths and deep leather couches, it is the perfect place to unpack your day, before unpacking your luggage. If you are up to it, the snooker room is a great place to challenge a loved one. If you are going to do this though, have a Shivers and take your time. The space is perfect for a slow afternoon wind-down after a long day. And KAM is a good snooker player, so I need something to soften the blow!

There are a number of room types in this lovely hotel, but we only ever chose to stay in the Balcony Suite. Priced at around $ 300 per night, this room is full of heritage country charm with the separate living room having big comfy lounges to meld into while staring at the blazing fireplace (which you will need in winter as it gets very bloody cold here!). The living room also has a tiny hideaway balcony where you can sit with a morning coffee and watch the mist rising from the mountains beyond.

While you are here, if you are lucky enough to catch some of the training exercises being performed from the air force base, it is a sight to take in. Every now and again, the massive planes roar low over the hotel and hundreds of tiny parachuters jump from the rear hatch. It is awe-inspiring! I’m like a kid every time they fly over and I can’t help myself but to wave in excitement.

The bedrooms here are full of dark antique furniture and you really feel as if you have stepped back in time. There are lots of blankets piled high to keep you warm and the large European duck-down pillows are the softest anywhere. I look forward to this luxury every time I stay! You can snuggle up in bed on a cold night with a glass of something nice, watching television, forgetting all about the world beyond for a while.

In the morning, we suggest going down for their big buffet breakfast in the Atrium. This is the prettiest of spaces with floor to ceiling windows and a romantic courtyard off to the side. If you are warm enough, sit outside under the big umbrellas and take your time. The eggs are piping hot, the bacon is crispy and it all pairs very wel

The beautiful Atrium & Courtyard at Sebel Hawkesbury Valley
The beautiful Atrium & Courtyard at Sebel Hawkesbury Valley

l with a glass of bubbly – if you don’t have to go to work, that is!


Whilst the Sebel might just be a stop-over, who says you can’t do a stop-over in style? And the Sebel has style and charm in abundance. It might cost a little more than the company credit card will allow, but it’s worth the splurge. You can’t live to work, so you may as well work to LIVE.

Sebel Hawkesbury Resort and Spa
61 Hawkesbury Valley Way
Windsor NSW 2756
[email protected]

Love in Lockdown

Love in Lockdown

Christmas is my favourite time of year! If you love everything from carols to fairy lights, then you need to experience Yulefest in the NSW Blue Mountains. Running from June to August, the place comes alive with Winter Magic and the possibility of snow just adds to the excitement.

However when it does snow in this beautiful place, there is a very good chance you will end up stuck in your hotel. And as the snow can last for days on end, you better have a pretty nice hotel to be stuck in!

Enter, M Gallery. Originally the Fairmont Resort, M Gallery have taken over and given this grand hotel a make-over she deserved. With traditional fittings mixed with modern leather and blazing fire places everywhere, you are in love from the moment you enter through the covered walkway lit with large Christmas wreaths. As the snow buzzes around us, the double doors open and the warmth hits you like a big M Gallery hug! The view over the Megalong Valley is imposing from the massive picture windows that are everywhere and you can’t help but be transfixed by it as you explore the place, often walking into things because you are distracted by its beauty.

When staying at this hotel, we choose to only ever stay in the Megalong Suite. We see it as ‘ours’ and are very upset if someone else has been booked into our space. At around $500 per night, this room is a little pricy, but trust me, it’s worth every penny!

This room is not only one of the nicest we have ever stayed in – it also happens to be the largest! Walking into the double height foyer of the room, the living room is cosy and warm with the fireplace on, welcoming you in and relaxing you with every step. The view over the valley through the large double doors is spectacular and you can truly see why this place is called the ‘Blue’ mountains as they shine in all their colourful glory!

The balcony is small but big enough to enjoy a coffee on a cold winter morning before racing back to jump into the biggest bed you have ever seen! You feel like you’re from the Princess and the Pea children’s story, getting lost in the myriad of comfy blankets and pillows.

This room has romance written all over it and with a ‘his’ and ‘her’ bathroom you can have your space or immerse yourself together in the biggest sunken spa tub you will ever see! The surround is big enough to have a bottle of champagne on the side and the lights can be dimmed to allow for candles to light the mood.

If you happen to get bored with each other (which is highly unlikely!) you can head down the corridor to the bar for a whisky or enjoy a game of snooker in the Billiards Room. There is also a cafe and a more fine dining restaurant on-site and yes, they do allow champagne with your breakfast in the morning! This is important!

But whether there is snow or not, we generally choose to lock ourselves in and fully relax. This place insights slow morning wake-ups, with newspapers and coffee in bed. You can snuggle and watch the sun come up over the cold, awe-inspiring mountains and have no need to get up and dressed, until you get hungry. But let’s be honest…. Who’s got time for food, when you’ve got a man like KAM beside you?!

Thank you Accor Hotels
Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains M Gallery
1 Sublime Road, Leura NSW
Email: [email protected]