Living like a local but holidaying in style has been the Holy Grail for many travellers. You know that pent-up desire: stay in a great, hopefully quiet location where you feel the fabric of real life but are within striking distance of the hub.
That's what's on offer (and quite a bit more) at Byron Bay's swanky Bask & Stow, a complex of four suites with private verandas set around a pool, as well as a separate self-contained cottage.
I have the entire holiday indulgence – dreamy bathroom with deep bathtub, good coffee and designer leaf-teas that are a mere yoga stretch from the super-comfy bed (which someone else is going to make) – plus the local residents' grievances of pot-holed roads and inadequate street lighting to make me feel right at home, and provide a conversation starter if I bump into the neighbours.
The stylish bolthole is a 10-minute walk from Byron's throbbing nucleus but tucked into a laneway that's so secluded it takes a while to find it.
Once I know where I am, however, it's an easy uphill amble to the Top Shop café, where young mums and local hipsters hang out, and a downhill walk to Woolies – once touted as the most expensive supermarket in NSW – where I browse the shelves with the other punters, gathering supplies.
Bask & Stow is a treasure and not too far from Byron's epicentre that the terrific Byron Easy Bus, which transfers travellers to airports at Ballina ($20) and Gold Coast ($32), won't come and collect me.
Designed by Byron locals – Harley Graham Architects – and decorated with a Palm Springs, US vibe, the place seems to murmur "oasis". I take one look at the space with its dwarf palm trees edging the pool and cane chairs dangling from the veranda, and exhale deeply.
Each room has its own verandah. Photo: Bask & Stow
After three days of rubbing shoulders with the literary set at the Byron Bay Writers' Festival, where my brain is nourished by words but exhausted from concentration, I know I'll relish this haven in the semi-burbs.
And the fact it has breezeblocks for decoration – shielding my balcony from the other guests and forming a cute wall around the pool – is just the icing on the cake. Breezeblocks, a big feature of the homes of my suburban upbringing, are back in fashion, I read.
I settle into the Sun suite – the others are Sea, Sand and Salt, and are near identical in lay-out, although decorated in different colours, but each with that mid-century modern look, emphasised by bright tropical cushions, splay-legged furniture, cane, fringed rugs and paintings of desert scenes. These bright splashes are soothed by a mostly white palette.
While the space is a bedroom with a long white leather lounge and small kitchenette, and a decadent bathroom with alluring bathtub, it all looks bigger, thanks to the veranda. I love the two cane chairs that hang from the ceiling and the school-room-style table and bench stretching the length of the veranda that acts as a breakfast buffet and desk.
I set my laptop on it, connect the Wi-Fi and away I go. I look out over the pool through the breezeblocks, but despite its inviting surrounds of sun lounges and 1960s fringed umbrellas, August is far too crisp for a dip.
Instead, I act like a local and wander up to the Top Shop for breakfast, down to Red Ginger for lunch and think about what Woolies might have on offer to pop into the microwave for dinner. Yep … just like home!
Jetstar and Virgin fly to Ballina Airport, which is 30 minutes from Byron Bay.
Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar fly into Gold Coast airport, which is 50 minutes away.
For transfers, see byronbayshuttle.com.au
One-bedroom guest rooms, which sleep two, from $280 a night. The three-bedroom Federation cottage, which sleeps six, from $600 a night. See baskandstow.com.au
Caroline Gladstone was a guest of Bask & Stow.