Bellachara Boutique Hotel, Gerringong review: Sea missed

Read our writer's views on this property below

Emily Dunn finds comfort and a raft of onsite amenities in a boutique hotel set back from the South Coast.

The first glimpses of the Bellachara Boutique Hotel are impressive. A steep, curved driveway through lush gardens leads to the reception area set off a paved courtyard, which is filled with tables for the hotel's restaurant and wine bar.

The hotel is well appointed a restaurant, two swimming pools and a kids' club where parents can leave children while they play a game of tennis at the in-house courts or have a massage at the in-house day spa. There is even a Bellachara gift shop, if you desire a little keepsake of your stay.

The proliferation of onsite amenities is just as well. Much like a cruise ship at sea, Bellachara is in no-man's land. Unlike a cruise ship, however, Bellachara has no ocean views.

What was once a motor inn was given a lick of paint, equipped with some mod cons and reopened in 2006 as a "boutique hotel". The building retains the original two-storey motor-inn layout and, unfortunately, the motor-inn location it is a short detour off the Princes Highway. According to the hotel's website, it is one kilometre from the town centre of Gerringong and 500 metres to the nearest beach but we found neither was within comfortable walking distance.

The hotel is popular as a conference centre and wedding venue, with functions taking place on the top deck of the hotel, which commands panoramic views of the green, rolling hills of the Kiama stretch of the South Coast.

Those holidaying or staying overnight are not always so lucky. While some of the top-floor rooms have views, we check into a ground-floor room with a south-facing window looking onto a "garden" comprising native shrubs, a treated pine fence and glimpses of the roofs of the neighbouring housing estate.

There is very little natural light in the morning or the evening but the room is pleasant enough, decorated tastefully in shades of white, cream and dark timber. The proportions and layout, however, bring to mind that motor inn, with low ceilings and sliding windows.

Inside the door on the left is a small galley kitchen with microwave and full-size fridge. The bathroom, to the right of the suite door, is a little on the small side but there are nice touches: white towels for the bathroom and striped ones for lounging by the pool. The kitchen has a collection of quality teas and plunger coffee. There is a wide-screen television (no cable channels), a leather couch and comfortable king-size bed.

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It is not until we flop down onto the bed that we notice the wall-length mirror running alongside it. I'm sure it is there to make the room appear larger but to us it feels a little like something one might find on a porn-film set.

In an area with no shortage of boutique accommodation, Bellachara feels to us to be an expensive option. Unless you are checking in for a weekend package, the buffet breakfast is not included in the tariff and costs an extra $25 a head.

The next morning we rise late, grab our pool towels, jump in the car and head to nearby Werri Beach: a stretch of golden sand flanked by black rocks and imposing cliffs cloaked in green turf running right to the edge.

Check-out is 11am, so we have plenty of time to take in the views, walk along the beach and have a swim. But the outing also reminds us of Bellachara's less-than-ideal location in one of the most beautiful parts of NSW.

We check out and drive to neighbouring Kiama for breakfast. On the way we gaze wistfully out the windows, towards the rolling green hills to the west and the Pacific Ocean in the east.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.

VISITORS' BOOK

Bellachara Boutique Hotel

Address 1 Fern Street, Gerringong.

The verdict Convenient and comfortable but the location could bebetter.

Price A two-night weekend special for two in a garden room with breakfast is $490. Interconnecting rooms available for families.

Bookings Phone 42341359 or see bellachara.com.au.

Getting there About two hours' drive south of Sydney.

Perfect for A family weekend away.

Wheelchair access Yes.

While you're there Enjoy the hotel amenities or take a drive to nearby attractions including Jamberoo Action Park and Minnamurra Rainforest Centre.