Got a couple of days to spare? Go on, give yourself a break with our round-up of the country's latest, greatest mini-getaways.
Below you'll find the best NSW and the ACT has to offer, from downtown staycations to coastal havens.
PARAMOUNT HOUSE HOTEL
80 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills; (02) 9211 1222; paramounthousehotel.com
THE LOCATION One of the hottest new hotels in Sydney is housed inside the former headquarters of Paramount Pictures, in the heart of happening Surry Hills.
THE PLACE Coffee impresario Mark Dundon teamed up with Russell Beard of Reuben Hills roastery and property investor Ping Jin Ng to create a hotel with a design aesthetic that's defiantly anti-chain. There are 29 rooms split between four categories in the ultra-chic warehouse space: Everyday, Sunny, Loft or Mack Daddy. Each is impeccably turned out with French linen, terrazzo bathrooms with Aesop products, a quirky minibar featuring local wines and beers, and other on-trend flourishes.
THE EXPERIENCE Things are done differently from the moment you check in, with a beverage tap at the reception desk for pouring an ale, wine or (of course) kombucha. The private, polished rooms work in harmony with the original building, the exposed bricks and beams lifted with urban touches such as wooden Japanese baths and elegant indoor plants.
DON'T MISS This isn't just a hotel, it's a lifestyle hub. Catch an art-house movie at the Golden Age Cinema and Bar. Order a textbook flat white at the Paramount Coffee Project cafe. Practise yoga on the Paramount Recreation Club roof. And book a meal to remember at Poly, the new restaurant from celebrated chef Mat Lindsay (Ester).
IDEAL FOR Cool cats with a yen for an urban getaway.
FROM $240 a night. Michael Harry
SOUL OF GERRINGONG
143 Belinda St, Gerringong; 1300 017 685; soulofgerringong.com.au
Soul of Gerringong. Photo: Tanya Zouev
THE LOCATION This high-end beach house lies in the pretty coastal town of Gerringong, about two hours south of Sydney, where lush hills roll down to a spectacular coastline.
THE PLACE The property was originally a guest house, but new owners Simone Mathews, an interior designer, and her builder husband Ben quickly concluded that guests weren't keen to share. Step inside the white farmhouse flanked by a frangipani tree and, frankly, you won't want to either. The farmhouse and smaller barn and cabana can comfortably sleep 16 in seven luxurious guest rooms, each of which comes with plush carpet and its own ensuite featuring handmade stone tiles. Oak timber floors flow throughout, with other beautiful touches including two original fireplaces (one indoor, one out), jute wall decals, linen sofas and a heated swimming pool surrounded by alfresco entertaining areas and lush tropical gardens.
THE EXPERIENCE Chill out with mojitos by the pool or kick back in a swing chair on the wraparound verandah. By night, gather round the enormous fire for cheese and wine, or cook up a storm in the impressive kitchen.
DON'T MISS Lunch at Blue Swimmer, a bistro by the sea at Gerroa. A concierge-on-arrival service can book for you.
IDEAL FOR Milestone celebrations or groups of friends.
FROM $1500 a night for up to 16 people; minimum two-night stay. Sheriden Rhodes
Glasshouse Restaurant at Goonoo Goonoo Station. Photo: Supplied
GOONOO GOONOO STATION
13304 New England Hwy, Timbumburi; 0429 384 297; goonoogoonoostation.com
THE LOCATION Fifteen minutes' drive south of Tamworth, Goonoo Goonoo Station is one of the most historic working properties in the area. Over its 187-year history, the self-sufficient station has been home to hundreds of families, who attended its tiny chapel and school, and worked the land.
THE PLACE The main homestead and a series of cottages, shearers' quarters, wool sheds and villas have been restored and transformed by Simon and Sarah Haggarty. Once-dusty paddocks are now lush, manicured gardens, replete with swimming pools. The handsome main homestead features five bedrooms, four bathrooms, two lounge rooms, a billiard room, courtyard, private swimming pool, dining room and full kitchen.
THE EXPERIENCE In summer, attend the nearby Tamworth Country Music Festival, returning to Goonoo Goonoo for a little luxury and truly remarkable sunsets, with the sound of galahs serenading the dusk. In winter, cosy up by the huge open fireplaces and enjoy the morning frosts and brilliant blue skies. A key attraction is Glasshouse Restaurant, a stunning modern dining room created with the help of Sydney foodie Stan Sarris, serving a changing menu created from locally sourced produce.
DON'T MISS The Stone Store, offering a guest lounge and dining, which was meticulously restored over the course of a year.
IDEAL FOR Weddings, couples and group holidays.
FROM $165 for the Shearers Quarters; from $300 for the Cottages; from $875 for the Homestead; minimum two-night stay for the Homestead. Andrew Hornery
EMIRATES ONE&ONLY WOLGAN VALLEY
2600 Wolgan Rd, Wolgan Valley; (02) 9199 1811; oneandonlyresorts.com
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley. Photo: Supplied
THE LOCATION Wedged between two national parks – Wollemi and Gardens of Stone – on the western side of the Blue Mountains, this valley could be the idealised one Ayn Rand wrote of in Atlas Shrugged, to which the captains of industry escaped. You could marvel for hours at the grand sandstone escarpment that towers over the valley, or write about it, as Charles Darwin did on a visit in 1836.
THE PLACE There are 40 private villas, each with its own pool, double-sided fireplace and a private deck that offers stunning views over the valley and the plentiful wildlife, including wallabies, kangaroos and wombats. The latter are certainly not shy and can often be found nibbling grass outside your front door. Get up early to take in the ethereal sight of the mist that frequently engulfs the valley.
THE EXPERIENCE Activities offered include horse riding, private 4WD tours, night wildlife spotting, stargazing around a campfire, mountain-biking, bushwalking and archery. Wolgan also hosts weekends themed around experts in winemaking, photography and yoga.
DON'T MISS A guided 4WD tour over part of the 2800-hectare nature reserve, with a side order of canapés and bubbles.
IDEAL FOR Couples wanting a special getaway.
FROM $1990 per night, fully inclusive for a two night stay, for a one-bedroom villa. Anne Hyland
9-13 Marsden St, Camperdown; (02) 7922 3845; collectionisthotel.com.au
The Collectionist Hotel. Photo: Terence Chin
THE LOCATION This game-changer fits perfectly in the inner-west suburb of Camperdown, four kilometres from the CBD and close to lively Newtown.
THE PLACE There are 39 different rooms across three levels, with no two identical. Guests can view the rooms before selecting one.
THE EXPERIENCE Seven designers and 13 artists have ensured that everything, from the wallpaper to the curtains, is unique to each room. Wander through the available rooms – each has a theme, such as Bootstrap and Moonshiner – choose the one you like and enter your PIN. There are no TVs but there is entertainment aplenty, with daily drinks in the lobby area that doubles as a bar.
DON'T MISS A short description outside each room details the design concept, similar to those that accompany pieces of art in a gallery. It's a great feature, especially if you're at a loss as to what the room is about.
IDEAL FOR Creative types with interest in art and design.
FROM $200 a night. Annie Dang
MRS BANKS HOTEL
259 Oxford St, Paddington; (02) 9331 8111; mrsbankshotel.com
Mrs Banks Hotel is housed in a former bank. Photo: Supplied
THE LOCATION Three kilometres east of the Sydney CBD, bordered by raffish Darlinghurst on one side and fancy-pants Woollahra on the other, Paddington is all plane trees, early-Victorian terrace houses and don't-even-think-about-parking-here signs. But its shopping strip, on Oxford Street, is buzzy and fun.
THE PLACE This hotel, in a former bank building, opened last year. The 27 standard rooms are compact but smartly decorated, with comfortable beds and rainfall showers. A larger room and two elegantly furnished suites with high, pressed-metal ceilings have been created from the bank manager's residence. The impression is of style, energy and attention to detail.
THE EXPERIENCE There's a sense of generosity. The continental breakfast is free, for instance, as is the Wi-Fi, while the Molton Brown toiletries in the bathroom are eminently snaffle-able. But the staff set the tone. Friendly without being overbearing, they make paying customers feel like guests.
DON'T MISS On Saturday mornings, Paddington Markets swing into action and cafes fill with skinny soy latte sippers reading newspaper real-estate liftouts. A short stroll up the road is beautiful Centennial Park, where well-toned ladies in expensive exercise gear walk designer dogs. Bondi Beach is a five-kilometre bus ride away.
IDEAL FOR People seeking adventure within the city limits.
FROM $210 a night for a standard room. Jane Cadzow
26 Corlette Point Rd, Corlette; (02) 4984 2555; anchorageportstephens.com.au
The Anchorage. Photo: Supplied
THE LOCATION North of Newcastle in picturesque Port Stephens, The Anchorage is on the southern shore of the Karuah River, with cracking views to Tea Gardens.
THE PLACE It's been here 32 years, but this five-star resort feels freshly minted thanks to an 18-month, multimillion-dollar refurb that began in 2017. All but two of the 80 rooms have water views; the suites are light and airy, with two bathrooms, a separate living space, a private balcony with twin sun lounges, and, best of all, a deep, egg-shaped bathtub. It's got a lovely Hamptons-style aesthetic – white shingle facade, timber panelling and nautical references.
THE EXPERIENCE It's blissfully quiet, thanks in part to solid walls and thick carpets, but also to the fact that there's no through traffic. It also skews to an older demographic: there are two pools, for example, one adults-only. The restaurants, Gallery Kitchen and Wild Herring, tend toward fine dining, and there is a bar, Hemingway's, with high-backed leather benches. Try a whisky tasting and after that, drop into Spa Lucca, the therapy centre, for a full-body misting in the Spa Jet Capsule.
DON'T MISS The foreshore walk to Nelson Bay.
IDEAL FOR An exhausted, privacy-loving couple.
FROM $359 a night for a waterfront Anchorage Room, including breakfast. Tim Elliott
THE SEIDLER HOUSE
Joadja, Southern Highlands; (02) 9331 2881; contemporaryhotels.com.au
The Seidler House. Photo: Supplied
THE LOCATION A couple of hours' drive out of Sydney, The Seidler House is perched on a Southern Highlands clifftop, about 20 minutes' drive outside of Bowral. The last home designed by famed architect Harry Seidler before his death, and completed in 2000, it's not to be confused with Rose Seidler House, the mid-20th century home in the Sydney suburb of Wahroonga that Seidler designed for his parents and which is now a heritage-listed house museum.
THE PLACE It's all about the view, and the moment you arrive you'll be drawn to the huge balcony that extends out across an expanse of bush like a giant diving platform. Said balcony is the perfect place to enjoy breakfast; later in the day, plonk yourself with a book in one of the comfy chairs in front of the floor-to-ceiling lounge-room windows and you might find it difficult to get up again.
THE EXPERIENCE Did I mention the view? Now owned by a Sydney financier and rented out for fashion shoots as well as weekends away, the home has four bedrooms and two bathrooms, two open fireplaces, a separate TV room and a good-sized kitchen. Some of the kitchen amenities – including the crucial coffee machine – were sub-par for a house with this sort of nightly tariff but that should be easily fixed.
DON'T MISS The darling swimming pool, set among rocks to the side of the house.
FROM $1850 a night; minimum two-night stay, maximum of eight guests. Katrina Strickland
3020 Old Hume Hwy, Berrima; 0427 318 007; bendooleyestate.com.au
Bendooley Estate. Photo: Supplied
THE LOCATION In the rolling hills of the Southern Highlands, 90 minutes from both Sydney and Canberra, lies Berrima, admired as one of the best-preserved Georgian villages in Australia. The area is great for foodies, history hounds and nature explorers.
THE PLACE Owned by Paul Berkelouw, who grew up here, The Book Barn – which stocks new and antiquarian volumes – is at the heart of the 81-hectare estate. The new cottages, with their country-eclectic aesthetic, seem a natural progression for this popular wedding destination, boutique cellar door and restaurant.
THE EXPERIENCE The cottages have a uniform hardwood and galvanised roof exterior in keeping with the farmland setting. Inside, the individually designed spaces pay homage to Australian literary figures including Henry Lawson and May Gibbs. Each is intimate yet airy and features vibrant wallpapers and fabrics as well as a luxurious freestanding bath. Enjoy the rustic breakfast provided on the back porch, with its vistas of the lake and valleys.
DON'T MISS Explore the grand colonial-era homestead and rose garden before experiencing the exquisite seasonal menu and wines at the property's restaurant.
IDEAL FOR Couples or friends seeking a creative retreat.
FROM $425 a night; minimum two-night stay. Nicole Economos
80 Orchard St, Taralga; (02) 4840 2003; theargyleinn.com.au
Argyle Inn in Taralga. Photo: Grant Harvey
THE LOCATION Two hours south of Sydney, in the tiny historic town of Taralga and on Gundungurra land, local farmers Hugh Wennerbom of Holmbrae chickens and Keith Kerridge from Bannaby Angus have taken over a once rundown country pub, breathing life, roast chicken, wood-fired pizza and a great wine list into the old girl.
THE PLACE The 143-year-old two-storey pub's ground floor is all warm wooden bar, huge mirrors, log fires and nooks and crannies, with a grand dining room that's home to lively five-course Saturday dinners, and a terraced courtyard for leisurely Sunday spit-roasts.
THE EXPERIENCE Upstairs, eight simply but elegantly furnished rooms come with fine linen, smart bathrooms, the creak of a timber floor and the scent of wood smoke. In some, the only hanging space is a hat rack, but hey – the dress code is "country". Meet other guests in the private lounge or, better still, commune with the locals in the bar. Breakfasts are help-yourself, with great sourdough bread, fruits, jams and yoghurt.
DON'T MISS A do-it-yourself picnic at the 420-million-year-old Wombeyan Caves – in summer, you can even swim through the water holes.
IDEAL FOR City folk who love fresh air, an open fire and a country pub.
FROM $220 a night, including light breakfast. Jill Dupleix
69 Canberra Ave, Kingston; (02) 6295 6925; easthotel.com.au
East Hotel, Canberra. Photo: Nathan Lanham
THE LOCATION Wedged between the inner-city suburbs of Kingston and Manuka, this boutique hotel opened in 2012. With Canberra's many galleries and museums, who doesn't like an excuse for a cultural getaway? In winter, hunker down with a glass of pinot; in summer there's Lake Burley Griffin to walk, jog or cycle around.
THE PLACE With 140 rooms, all complete with cooktop, small dining table and desk, politicians stay here during sitting weeks. But it's also ideal if you want a bit more space to lie around in on a weekend, and the option of boiling an egg – or possibly something more adventurous.
THE EXPERIENCE The contemporary cool of the decor is offset by the warm staff and a trio of inviting ground-floor culinary offerings. Agostinis is a family-friendly Italian joint; Joe's Bar serves nine different versions of gin and tonic; Muse does an excellent breakfast with good coffee.
DON'T MISS Apart from the aforementioned galleries and museums, the lovely art deco Manuka Pool is a five-minute walk away.
IDEAL FOR Those who like a bit more room and the self-catering option.
FROM $199 a night. Katrina Strickland
57 Rose St, Murrumbateman; 1300 122 633; abodehotels.com.au
Abode Murrumbateman. Photo: Rohan Thomson
THE LOCATION Murrumbateman is a half-hour drive from Canberra and halfway between Sydney and Thredbo, both three hours' drive away. But the clincher is its proximity to the Canberra wine district – there are more than a dozen cellar doors nearby, including award-winning Clonakilla.
THE PLACE This four-star outpost of the Abode hotel chain is like an upscale roadside motel. It's single-storey, with a fresh Scandi look across flexible public spaces and 50 simple but comfortable studio rooms. It allows pets.
THE EXPERIENCE There's a complimentary cheese platter on arrival and plenty of local wines to sample in the Abode Pantry. There's lots of communal space, including a lounge with a roaring fireplace where you can meet other guests, and a communal kitchen in which guests can whip up their own meals. But breakfast – consisting of pastries, cereal, toast, fruits and yoghurt – is provided, along with a barista to keep the caffeine flowing. The centrepiece of the buffet is a pancake-making machine.
DON'T MISS Taking one of the property's bikes for a winery tour, or wheeling over to the Saturday farmers' market.
IDEAL FOR Wine lovers; families or groups keen to stop for a night on their way to the ski fields. - Dana McCauley
FROM $129 a night; a $40 pet tariff applies. Dana McCauley