Kim's Beach Hideaway: Toowoon Bay, NSW

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Where Is It: On the NSW Central Coast at Toowoon Bay.

Why Go: The beachfront location, the retreat atmosphere, the accommodations.

Best For: Couples looking for quiet and romance.

Three Things We Loved: The views, the outdoor spa baths, the food.

The Ultimate Factor: Absolute beachfront and privacy.


One of the first places my husband took me after we moved back to Australia many moons ago was the NSW Central Coast. Dotted with picturesque beaches and small towns, it's an ideal retreat, particularly for anyone from Sydney who doesn't wish to drive far, and is seeking a romantic getaway. Kim's has an incredibly long history, first established as a camp as far back as 1886 by the seafaring trader, Captain Frans Charlson. Back in the day he built a slab-timbered kitchen-cum-dining room, with paths through the sand and bush to accommodation laid out initially as tents, and later, timber cabins. In the late 1920's, two American brothers by the name of McKimmin bought the business, and it was reborn as "Kim's Camp". The retreat changed hands again in 1944, taken over by the retired army colonel Clive Loc Hughes-Hallet, and he shortened the name to Kim's. The property has a legion of fans, it is strictly couples only, and it is recognised as one of the country's most famous couple's retreats, as well as being ideal for a relaxing stay combining wonderful food and sublime accommodations. And there's that gorgeous beach out front, on Toowoon Bay, which in the past has been voted one of Australia's cleanest.

The Accommodation:

Kim’s offers a mixture of luxury lodge style accommodation in bungalows and villas to suit all needs, 34 in total, and each with their own unique features. Each one has either an indoor spa bath for two, or an outdoor jacuzzi, or both. Some also have their very own private swimming pool, sauna, double massage shower temples, wood fire places, and separate lounge areas with bedrooms.

Where We Stayed:

Our home for a two-night stay was a bungalow with a large combined living and sleeping area, a kitchenette, and a large wraparound sun deck with a private jacuzzi. The views were expansive, across the beach and bay. The decor overall was heavy with warm wood, featuring a highly polished floor dressed with traditional Persian style rugs, and a super comfy king sized bed. Adorning the walls were framed black and white photographs of local beach scenes from a bygone era, and the room also had some vaguely Japanese elements in the yukata robes, and a white panelled ceiling. The kitchenette had a small sink, tea and coffee making facilities and a martini kit, while the spacious bathroom boasted lots of cararra marble, with a double shower temple and a bathtub. Other facilities in the bungalow included a Bose Wave sound system with an iPod dock, a small collection of books for guest use, and a few light listening CDs to play. On the sun deck there were two chairs and a table right outside the living area, and around the side of the bungalow was a large, heated jacuzzi tucked away in a secluded corner. Two sun loungers completed the look, for enjoying the great outdoors and the view.

What Else Is There:

Dining is an integral part of a Kim's stay, and steeped in ritual and history. In fact, friends have told me about enjoying amazing dining experiences, even though they weren't guests at the resort. As a guest, however, all meal times are marked by the ringing of the historic ship's bell, when everyone will gather to enjoy one of Kim's famous and unique buffets. They say 100 recipes have been handed down through the generations and some of these are lovingly hand made and served to guests; quince paste, Seville orange marmalade, and lime chutney to name a few. The kitchen also churns its own butter, bakes its own bread, smokes its own salmon and makes its own ice cream. It is top quality artisan cuisine all the way. Breakfast is taken either inside the dining room or on the deck, weather permitting, and it's as comprehensive a buffet as you could imagine, with the bonus of freshly cooked eggs however you want them, ordered from the hot food kitchen. Lunch is also available, and dinner begins at 7.30pm, but first, however, you are invited to join the other guests in house for cocktails in the rustic Cocktail Lounge, where top quality live music is often the playing. Dinner is another delectable buffet with a menu which changes daily. Fish and seafood are always featured, with appetisers including succulent sashimi, crab legs, and choices of mains including a Tasmanian salmon baked in a red curry. The choice is overwhelming, and everything is good so my advice is go with an appetite. If you enjoy dessert they looked amazing; unfortunately we didn't leave enough room to try one. For a boutique resort Kim's has everything a weary traveller seeking luxury and solace could wish for. Besides your private jacuzzi and the unspoilt beach on your doorstep, Kim's can also provide some pampering in the form of a one hour massage, or a back, neck and shoulder massage. Beyond the property there's plenty to enjoy in the immediate vicinity.

The Verdict:

A visit to Kim's had been on my bucket list for a long time, and aided by picture perfect weather, our stay was a delight. With the beach at your doorstep, a spa on your deck, those calming ocean views, and three fabulous meals a day on offer, it is a retreat in the true sense of the word. Why leave?

Kim's Beach Hideaway is located at 16 Charlton Street, Toowoon Bay, NSW 2261. Call 02 4332 1566, or visit for more information.

Joanna Hall