Whether you want a weekend break away from Sydney’s bright lights — just two hours’ drive down the road — or you’re an international visitor road-tripping Australia’s east coast, Newcastle will offer a pocket of calm. With its towering sand dunes, pristine beaches and sweeping national parks, it’s the perfect place to reconnect with nature and unwind next to the Pacific ocean. Throw in a spa experience and you’ll be floating on air. Culture Trip picks the best places to stay in the area for optimum wellness.
There’s something undeniably therapeutic about staying next to the ocean. With Novotel Newcastle Beach it’s all in the name: the four-star hotel faces onto one of the best surf breaks in Australia and offers killer views of the east coast through floor-to-ceiling windows. Start the day strong with an early morning session at the hotel’s state-of-the-art gym and a hearty breakfast cooked by top-chef Nathan Pemberton, before a restorative coastal walk and a refreshing dip.
Comfortable apartments with all the mod-cons (from a hi-tech gym to smart TV), this is the perfect base to let off steam near Newcastle Beach. Wine lovers who believe wellbeing is often found in a crisp glass of chardonnay should visit Inner City Winemakers, close to Newcastle’s CBD, for an enthusiastic tasting of their authentic Australian creations or a wine tour in Hunter Valley. For dinner, head to the harbour-facing Honeysuckle Social for sunset and order a seafood tasting plate and a cocktail carafe. The drudgery of real life will quickly become a distant memory as you watch the sun sink.
The best apartments are ones that feel like a hotel, but without the pomp. Here a daily housekeeping service is included in the price, as is breakfast. There’s also an in-house gym and swimming pool. All feeling pretty hotel-like so far. But instead of going back to a lone room you get masses of living and dining space, a fully equipped kitchen and up to three bedrooms. Everything is taken care of so you can completely switch off.
Holiday decisions can be so tricky. At the Executive Inn you’ll be faced with such dilemmas as which of the two heated swimming pools to dip into first, whether to laze on a sunlounger under the shade of a swaying palm tree or relax in a comfy poolside cabana. That’s before you hit the spa or sink into your in-room whirlpool before dinner. There are also free bikes you can take out for a spin around the local area. Urgh, what to do first? It’s a tough call.
Maybe it’s the hotel’s secluded dune location in the Lake Macquarie area or the fact it sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, but the moment you arrive at Caves Coastal Bar & Bungalows, you’ll spontaneously exhale. This is one laid-back spot, just 40 minutes drive south of Newcastle, but behind the scenes the friendly staff are working a slick operation to make sure you are well looked after in your luxury beach bungalow. Get your feet sandy before enjoying a lazy al fresco lunch at the restaurant with its ocean inspired menu that includes lemon and black-pepper squid and pan fried salmon with salted cucumber and herb salad.
There’s no chance of ever experiencing boredom at Raffertys Resort. Not with its four tennis courts, canoe and speed-boat hire, four heated outdoor pools, plus “all the usual lake activities” on offer. It’s located right on the shores of Lake Macquarie, which allows for contrasting beach and bush landscapes within easy walking distance. Look out for the Pelican Pod next to the lake, while you try fishing or a paddle boarding session. At the moment there is no wheelchair access within the terraces and cottages which are accessed via steps.