Cloud 9, Gerringong: Glass half full

Read our writer's views on this property below

Cloud 9 is a vast sanctuary by the sea - it turns out Faith Aird could have taken a few more friends.

My sister and I set off on a road trip to the pretty village of Gerringong, on the NSW South Coast. We were headed for a house called Cloud 9, which I imagined was a clifftop sanctuary close to the heavens and filled with enough indulgences to warrant it's name. But we arrived to find the stunning, house-sized, penthouse apartment sitting in the middle of town, above a shop. From the street, the huge three-bedroom, split-level holiday digs are hidden behind a big silver door but once inside it's enormity belies the understated entrance.

We had pulled up in the main street after our two-hour drive just as the weather took a turn for the worse. The clouds rolled in and a gale whipped through the streets. We picked up the keys from Shimmer Restaurant and Bar also located beneath the property. (We were keen to have dinner there but we didn't know then that we would become so glued to the view from the apartment above that we wouldn't want to leave during the entire weekend). The fancy, chef-worthy kitchen - combined with perfect cooking weather - triggered our inner Nigellas and, in fact, we didn't eat out once, instead opting to whip up our favourite roast lamb and beef pies.

We devoured our dishes in what is frankly the biggest apartment we have ever set foot in. We felt it was too big just for the two of us. With its high ceilings, vast wrap-around balconies and televisions in every room it felt as if we should have brought a big group of friends with us to share our roast. (Though we concluded that having a dolls-house sized dining table inside must mean groups normally dine on the bigger table outside).

A 15-metre-high suspended sky walk on the first floor is Grand Designesque - leading from a lounge space to a small balcony only big enough for two chairs, though it boasts the best views in the house.

The main bedroom has a panoramic view out to sea but in a somewhat unusual design a glass wall means the boudoir looks over the lounge space as well as the ocean. (Don't forget to shut the remote-controlled blinds if you have company and go to bed earlier than your guests!)

I couldn't resist having a tickle on the grand piano in the main living area - another reason to feel the house needs more company - but sadly the owners make a point of instructing guests that no entertaining is allowed.

The weather was perfect to clock up some couch time in the cinema room, guilt-free. If only there had been some DVDs supplied - we couldn't find a single one. Relaxing on reclining leather couches, watching a 50-inch flat screen TV with surround sound would have been the perfect way to make the most of a chilly evening. Lucky we both brought our novels. (Next day we made the trip to the local movie shop, a five-minute walk away).

The South Coast is renowned for its beaches and Gerringong is no exception. Luckily the sun came out on our second morning but the cool breeze meant that the bikinis we had packed didn't budge from our bags. We opted for a rugged-up walk instead. Being fairly exposed, Werri Beach is a popular spot for surfers, but swimmers are advised to stay between the flags or travel the short distance to a more sheltered spot, such as Kiama.

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We had a wander along the main street and discovered some cute gift and homewares shops, a gorgeous and reasonably priced leather handbag boutique and the Gerringong Deli & Cafe, a great spot for morning tea.

On the way home we took a detour to explore more of the Shoalhaven Coast. Seven Mile Beach, a short drive away, deserves its place as a NSW favourite holiday spot and the hills behind Seven Mile Beach are home to some of the South Coast's wineries - great spots to have lunch and buy a few bottles to take home. (Two Figs Winery gets the thumbs up in particular for its panoramic view of rolling countryside and for its award-winning chardonnay).

TRIP NOTES

WHERE

Suite 5, 104 Fren Street, Gerringong.

HOW MUCH

From $1000 a night.

STYLE STATEMENT

Modern and elegant. Thoughtfully and cleverly designed accommodation.

PERFECT FOR

A mini-break for two or three couples.

BRING THE SMALL CHILDREN?

Probably not as the house doesn't have a child-friendly design with its internal skywalk and steep staircase plus the partly unfenced pool, accessed via the balcony.

TOP MARKS

The views and space.

SHAME ABOUT

For $1000 a night it would have been nice to supply a range of DVDs to play in the cinema room, especially as the weather wasn't great during our visit.

MORE INFORMATION

Phone (02) 4232 1688;

stayz.com.au/accommodation/nsw/south-coast/gerringong/102585