Bannisters By The Sea, Mollymook, NSW

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Where Is It: On the NSW south coast at Mollymook, between Mollymook Beach and Narrawallee Beach.

Why Go: It’s a full service resort with amazing accommodations, and fine dining.

Best For: Couples seeking a relaxed-yet-elegant romantic getaway.

Three Things We Loved: The infinity pool, the penthouse bathroom tub, Rick Stein’s cuisine.

The Ultimate Factor: A fabulous location enjoying sea views and ocean breezes.


We've always loved taking road trips to the NSW South Coast; with its near deserted beaches, and pretty towns and villages, it's an ideal weekend trip away from Sydney, especially for couples seeking a romantic getaway. As for places to stay, it's a holiday destination where there are few options when it comes to luxury hotels, but ask anyone in the know, and you'll hear the name "Bannisters" repeatedly. Enjoying a cliff-top location in Mollymook, this luxury boutique hotel is ideal for anyone seeking a full-service resort with all ocean-view accommodations and private balconies, a spa, a pool and bar with a view, and fine cuisine at Rick Stein's restaurant. 

The property dates back to 1970, when it began life as a seaside motel, but over the years a series of upgrades, including a recent collaboration with the designer, Collette Dinnigan, has seen it evolve into a much-loved luxury resort packed with style. Today Bannisters has a well-deserved reputation for being one of NSW and Australia's most popular couple's retreats, an ideal spot for a relaxing getaway, just three hours from central Sydney, and combining sublime accommodations and views with world-class cuisine. It's also in an excellent spot for a variety of activities, from golf and beach walks, to local wine tasting, should you be able to tear yourself away.

Bannisters is opening a sister property, Bannisters Pavilion, on December 1. With 33 stylish guest rooms and and two luxury penthouse suites, the hotel is set back from Mitchell Parade and Beach Road, just 900m from Bannisters by the Sea. Highights include a roof top lined with sun loungers and private lounge spaces, a bar and grill, and a dramatic, suspended pool, with food inspired by Mediterranean, Southern Californian and Mexican cuisines, complemented by seasonal cocktails craft beers and an Antipodean-focussed wine list.

Check out the special opening deal here.

Read our Ultimate Romantic Getaway #2 featuring the South Coast.

The Accommodation:

Bannisters has 32 luxurious rooms and suites, which come in a variety of types to suit all needs, and each with their own unique features. Ocean Deluxe rooms, for example, have a queen sized bed complete with a sitting area and private balcony, and a bathroom, with features including a plasma TV, tea and coffee making facilities, and bathrobes. There are also Spa Retreats which come either with an interior or deck spa and  at the top end of the scale is The Pinnacle, a huge two-bedroom penthouse complete with its own hammam steam room and media room with 243 square metres of living space, and 55 square metres of deck with a roof garden. Each room has something to give it individuality, whether it's a unique piece of artwork or a particular angle of view, or both. Penthouses 29 and 30 have been renovated recently by Collette Dinnigan.

Where We Stayed:

Our home for two nights was spacious Penthouse 30, one of three in the lodge, just down from the top car park and above the Spa. Since the recent renovation access has now been changed to a private hallway adored with John Witzig’s nostalgic Australian surf photography from the 1970s. The penthouse had a large, open plan kitchenette, dining and living area, with a separate sleeping area and bathroom, with a long deck spanning the entire front. All up the living space was around 100 square metres, with 40 square metres of deck, and an expansive views across the gardens, to the ocean and northern beaches beyond.

Walking past a kitchenette and large dining table into the living room you have stunning ocean views towards the east, and north towards Jervis Bay. Comfortable linen sofas, handprinted cushions by textile designers such as Kathryn Ireland, Penny Morrison and Carolina Irving, wool rugs by Madeline Weinrib and Robyn Cosgrove, a fire place with marble mantle, and wooden oak floorboards. Then past wooden shutters and doors you emerge onto an extended balcony with antique Indian day bed filled with cushions, two sun lounges and customised cane furniture.

The bedroom features plush Schumacher fabrics, custom lamps and a chair Collette bought in the South of France hand covered in Belgium linen. And the adjoining bathroom is real luxury featuring hand-made vanities with Carrara marble, Perrin & Rowe tapware, a sizable bathtub and shower, and heated floors. There is also a separate powder room. Australian photographers and artists, such as Martine Emdur and Hugh Stewart, who have an emotional connection to the water and the landscape are featured, and along with Suite 29, have a collection of botanical and coral sea life sourced from the French markets, as well as charts from Collette’s family’s sailing journeys across the Indian Ocean.

What Else Is There:

Dining is an integral part of a stay at Bannisters, with lunch and dinner at Rick Stein at Bannisters. It's a brightly coloured venue beach views, but has a different atmosphere from day to night. To access the restaurant you pass through a lounge complete with a library and an open fire for cooler seasons. Breakfast is enjoyed in the restaurant too, either inside or al fresco on the deck, and it's included in the room rate; there's a full buffet of cereals, fruit, juices and more. The only thing you need to pay extra for is a specialty coffee made to order, but you can enjoy as much filter coffee from the buffet as you wish. During the day, should you get peckish, there is a pool side pizzeria and cocktail bar which is open from midday until late, and has live music on the first, third and fifth Friday of the month, and alternate Sundays. 

Read our rull restaurant review of Rick Stein at Bannisters.

For a boutique resort Bannisters has plenty to occupy your time. Besides private balconies, views and some rooms sporting private jacuzzis, there's a small but full service day spa with four treatment rooms and a couples therapy room with a sunken jacuzzi, and a range of treatments from facials to massage, and even specialist oncology massage. The spa also has its own range of spa products, Pinnacle, which includes luxurious body oils, delicious organic herbal teas, quality candles and more. There's also a triangular infinity pool situated on the edge of the property enjoying those views, with sun loungers for relaxing. Beyond the lodge there's plenty to enjoy in the immediate vicinity of Mollymook too.

The Verdict

Bannisters is one of those properties you keep on hearing about from discerning travellers, and it's one of a few which has been on my bucket list since moving to Australia 15 years ago. Our spacious penthouse accommodation, now further upgraded by Colette Dinnigan, combined with picture perfect summer weather, and a spot of fine dinning at Rick Stein's made for a memorable stay. With a huge deck, the beach at your doorstep, and those expansive ocean views, it's a romantic getaway in one of the prettiest holiday destinations in NSW.

Bannisters is located just three hours from Sydney at 191 Mitchell Parade, Mollymook, NSW 2539, +61 (0)2 4455 3044,

Joanna Hall