Pittwater is a "drowned valley estuary", adjacent to the Kuringai National Park, which flows out into Broken Bay between West Head and Barrenjoey Head. It is 25 kilometres from the Sydney CBD but its bush-cloaked seclusion makes it seem much further.
Jonah's is perched on the hill above Whale Beach. The view from the hotel sweeps uninterrupted for a full 180 degrees, the sapphire of the ocean off-set by the deep green of the bushland carpeting the hills. Whale Beach is home to "The Wedge", a famous surf break, and is less popular with swimmers than its southern and northern neighbours, Avalon and Palm Beach. This lends it a more secluded, castaway feel than other parts of Pittwater.
Jonah's doesn't look like much from its road-side, and even its foyer is poky and unprepossessing. But you forget all that when you see the view. A verandah leads to a small garden shelved into the hill, where diners can enjoy an aperitif in the sea haze as they take in the vista. The boutique hotel has only 11 rooms, recently refurbished, which are tucked away neatly so the diners don't interrupt the guests' privacy.
My (recently refurbished) room looks straight out over the ocean, giving onto a private balcony where you can contemplate the sunrise in total seclusion. The new decor is Hamptons-chic-meets-Continental hotel, with linen-cloaked lounges blending with gold-accented table lamps and a grand double-sink bathroom. The bathroom also has a spa-bath in its corner with shutters which open out onto the main room.
Jonah's restaurant is a destination in itself. The cuisine is contemporary Australian, with some Italian influences and an emphasis on seafood, for obvious reasons.
We sample everything from linguine with ocean perch, bottarga and squid ink, to black angus beef battuta, roasted lamb rump with baby peppers, desert lime and toasted linseed, and juicy Mooloolaba king prawn with bisque, green tomatoes and basil oil.
Desserts include sheep yoghurt with mango, almonds and cucumber granita, and coconut mousse with pineapple, milk chocolate and fairy floss. The food is delicate, well-balanced and utterly gorgeous to look at. The wine list is more like a bible.
Pittwater is a playground for water sports' enthusiasts, with paddle-boards, surfboards, kayaks and sailboats all available for hire. There are several beaches, both ocean and Pittwater-side, to choose from, and the walking is spectacular. The best walk is the arduous-but-quick trek up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse, which has incomparable views of Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury to the north, and down the barrel of Pittwater to the south.
Jonah's is a luxurious and low-key Sydney institution. It is easily accessed from Sydney, making it a perfect high-end weekend getaway spot. Just looking at the view liberates you from whatever cares wait for you back in the Big Smoke.
It's a tough call between the food combined with the view, the glorious luxurious seclusion of the rooms, the proximity of the ocean, and the warmth and friendliness of the front desk staff. So tough I can't choose.
The poky entrance, and the incongruous hanging of reproductions of French impressionist artworks on the walls. Why not invest in some good local or Aboriginal art?
Overnight midweek packages start at $796 per room with breakfast included. A dinner, bed and breakfast package costs $1044 per room mid-week and $1174 on a weekend. For various other packages including massages, sommelier-matched and boat cruises, go to jonahs.com.au
The writer stayed as a guest of Jonah's Restaurant & Boutique Hotel.