Tiarri at Terrigal Beach review: Old memories put to bed

Read our writer's views on this property below

Melissa Singer discovers a spacious suite with spa is a great addition to the classic Terrigal motel stay.

The motels of my youth were shabby relics of 1970s Australia, associated with interminable road trips with mum, dad, baby brother and the kitchen sink in the back of the station wagon. Beds were as hard as boulders and the ceilings so low you risked having your nose sliced off by the overhead oscillating fan during your mosquito-disturbed sleep.

Thankfully, Tiarri at Terrigal Beach has taken the motel moniker on from those days.

On the first Sunday of the school year, we expect the place, and the town, to be deserted. However, it's a full house.

The cosy property is nestled in a cul-de-sac a few blocks from the beachfront, within easy striking distance of all the local attractions and amenities.

The main entrance opens on to a communal living area (the other leads you straight from the car park into the lounge), which is more B&B - without the breakfast - than motel.

The lounge offers an alternative to hanging out in your room and in winter, an open fireplace keeps things nice and toasty. Newspapers are delivered each morning (although you will have to share one copy of each major Sydney daily with the other guests) and most of the magazines are up to date, thanks to the generosity of departed guests.

The property is, in effect, split in two, with motel-style rooms and spa suites down the front and a one-bedroom apartment and a family-sized townhouse at the rear.

A friendly staff member shows us to our spa suite, which is larger than many B&B rooms we have stayed in. It's worth booking for the extra legroom, even if you prefer to soak in the outdoor chlorinated spa, which is open until 10pm.

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The rooms are decorated in a style typical of many beach complexes: neutral tones with oceanic-themed prints on the walls and smatterings of blue to remind you, yes, you are beside the sea, even if you cannot immediately detect it.

There is no balcony but a sliding door leads out to a small courtyard, a comfortable place to catch the evening breeze while tucking into some fish and chips.

Guests are also welcome to grill their own on the communal barbecue. Utensils and crockery are available for self-catering guests - and you don't even have to wash them yourselves.

Terrigal offers myriad options for eating, drinking and late-night beach strolling but the rooms at Tiarri are spacious enough for a cosy night in. All rooms feature televisions and DVD players, so watching in bed isn't a problem. Guests can choose from a reasonable assortment of DVDs at no extra cost.

If you haven't dozed off to the soothing sounds of Hugh Grant or Colin Firth, then the spa bath is the ultimate nightcap. Easily big enough for two, the bath fills quickly. With candles for romance and bath gel for bubbles provided, you're ready to soak away all your stresses. If that's not your thing, then the separate shower will do the job - although we did notice Tiarri hadn't made the switch to water-saving shower heads.

Being on a small property, guest privacy is one of Tiarri's few drawbacks. To access the reception, guests and visitors have to walk past each of the front rooms, which can result in a few awkward glances. On a positive note, the roller blinds block out most of the morning light allowing you to sleep in, although one pesky garden light managed to shine its way through a gap and into our eyes.

A small parcel of breakfast provisions is provided but it's hardly gourmet fare. A better option is to skip the muesli bars and tinned fruit and head to a local cafe, where you can latte with a view.

For a place that's booked out most weekends until winter, Tiarri hits a lot of high notes.

The beds aren't heavenly but they are comfortable and the rooms, while not exotically decorated, are serviced daily and roomy enough to stretch out in and relax.

Travellers who prefer the anonymity of a hotel or the smell of bacon frying in the morning should book elsewhere. But for those looking for fuss-free accommodation a short distance from the Central Coast's main attractions, Tiarri is great value. It won't set your world on fire, but it will change your view of motels for the better.

The writer was a guest of Tourism NSW and Tiarri at Terrigal Beach.

TRIP NOTES

WHERE 16 Tiarri Crescent, Terrigal. See tiarriterrigal .com.au.

HOW MUCH From $110 a night for regular rooms, $120 for spa suites.

BEST THING Lowering yourself into the double spa at the end of a long day's beachcombing.

WORST THING The uphill walk back from the beach — it's a killer.

LOCAL SECRET The best coffee can be found at Zanziba on Church Street, where they grind Campos.