Waterlily, Berry review: Heritage highway's modern detour

Read our writer's views on this property below

Chic finishes and fabulous colours make this cottage the perfect place for a contemporary family, writes Angie Kelly.

When you tell people you're going to Berry, the reaction is almost always the same - such a pretty town, great shops, lovely cafes. It's all true and then some. And getting there is like driving through the idyllic countryside pictured on the lid of those old Derwent pencil tins - meandering roads cutting through rich green pastures, pretty farmhouses and ocean views.

The instantly inviting South Coast town is all about floral quilts, country-style homeware shops, Devonshire teas and antiques - which is precisely why you get a surprise when you open the door at Waterlily cottage.

What you get here is minimalist chic and cool neutral colours, a thoroughly modern detour off the heritage highway.

Our teen girls are particularly impressed with the funky decor. Off the open-plan living room, a deep-turquoise wall and another hot-pink one frame a Balinese-look nook made from daybeds. It's decorated with mirrored cushions, an Asian tea set and a giant pink canvas print of a waterlily. This colourful tableaux drew the highest of accolades in teen language signalling approval: "awesommme".

This slightly unexpected but fabulous combination of colour and minimalism in the other rooms added to the appeal of the house.

It has modular furniture, a flat-screen television, Foxtel, DVD player, iPod docking station, oh-so-white bedrooms, starfish motifs, frangipanis and Indonesian-style stone statues. A wall of concertina sliding doors opens to a timber deck with a barbecue overlooking a landscaped garden, flat and sizeable enough for plenty of ball kicking with our four-year-old.

Everything is new, so new it feels as if it all came out of its plastic minutes before we arrived.

Waterlily has the kind of kitchen that makes you want to go home and chuck out all your old utensils and start again. Everything from the salad servers to the saucepans is newfangled and nifty. It's a kitchen that inspires cooking. And so we did. Armed with our website-printed recipes from Nigella.com (our favourite English cook), the two girls and I set about whipping up a storm of cakes, sauces and desserts. Since the plates were so groovy and table linen straight out of a homewares catalogue, we kept the game of food goddesses going and embarked on a night of styling and photographing our creations.

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That's the kind of simple fun you can have when you go away for the weekend to a place like Waterlily.

The oval-shaped spa bath off the main bedroom got thumbs-up from the children, with grown-ups hardly getting a look-in during our stay.

Interestingly, the house also has a dedicated spa treatment room with a massage table permanently set up, almost daring you not to call the mobile beauty spa that services guests here. A brochure detailing Pamper Me's treatment options sits tantalisingly on the table at the front door.

For us, though, this unique feature was turned into a third bedroom with a comfortable, deluxe-model air bed to accommodate our family.

We were lucky to strike a heat wave during our stay, giving us the perfect excuse to drive to the magnificent Seven Mile Beach nearby. The unspoilt sector of Seven Mile known as Berry's Beach is only a 10-minute trip away while the more crowded, patrolled family mecca at Gerroa Beach is five minutes further on.

Back at the house and still 38 degrees outside at 5pm, the air-conditioning in the living room kept us cool. But the bedrooms were hot at night despite the fact they both had ceiling fans. The upside of the very hot weather was that we also found the very cute local public pool to cool off in, set in the Berry Showground, only a five-minute drive from the house.

Waterlily is a great base camp for discovering the South Coast - you're in a top spot for taking in the best of the beaches or Kangaroo Valley.

The town's main street is walking distance away, meaning ambling home after dinner in one of the gourmet dining options is easy. That is, if you're not channelling Nigella.

The writer was a guest of Waterlily and Tourism NSW.

TRIP NOTES

Address Waterlily, 19 Queen Street, Berry.

Bookings Phone 0418 662 836, see stayz.com.au.

Rates From $289 a night for up to four guests. Midweek spa escape, $169 a night for two adults, includes a pamper kit, chocolates and flowers. Two-night minimum stay.

VERDICT

Why you'd go Chic, modern, spacious and close to everything.

Why you wouldn't You prefer the Laura Ashley look. It'll be fashionable again one day. No, really!

FIND TIME TO

* Send the kids to The Berry Bon Bon lolly shop, then call Pamper Me. Phone 4423 3707, see pamperme.com.au

* Decide what gourmet meals to order from Feast of Kangaroo Valley. Phone 0432 762 816, see feast.net.au. (Order ahead).

* Get a surf lesson. Phone 4234 3278, see landsedge.com.au

* Do laps in the public pool. There's also a toddler's pool.