Month: February 2016

48 hours & Sydney’s Finest Bars

48 hours & Sydney’s Finest Bars


This week was fun.

I flew to Sydney to attend the annual design trade fair, where I am able to source new furniture and homeware accessories for our current design and interior projects at White Chalk Design.  (

It is always a productive few days and there is nothing better better than sourcing new products for clients as they are being released hot off the press.

But…what I enjoy more, is finding inspiration out of the design fairs. Out and about. Researching and staying in new hotels. Checking out the latest bars and pubs. Sampling what I can from the real world and determining whether elements can be utilised in our projects.


Primus Hotel Sydney : (

Art Deco Glamour.

Recently launched and located right in the heart of Sydney at 339 Pitt Street, this brand new, seriously stunning hotel,  housed the Sydney Water Board’s offices from the building’s construction in 1939 until 2009. The former Sydney Water Rating Chamber, once a bustling office space, is now the hotel’s lobby, a grand room with cathedral-like dimensions. Eight spectacular red scagliola columns, each eight metres tall, surround a large, beautifully restored skylight.


It is truly stunning. The old world vibe mixes beautifully with the original restoration and the new design elements.  The ground floor used to house the 30 or so secretary offices partitioned by frosted glass, and a bustling work place.  You can literally close your eyes and be instantly transported to the chic 1930s. Glamorous women in pencil skirts, high heels and cigarette holders, typing on manual typewriters, whilst the male boss barks orders in a charcoal suit and hat. I swear I heard them echoing around the walls!

As and to the old, the designers have kept the old drinking bubblers on the walls for authenticity. Ceramic bowls with rust anchored on geometric wall paper walls. Classic old meets new. (the bubblers are for show only)


Also occupying the ground floor is the lobby bar and the Wilmot, a high-end restaurant serving contemporary Asian cuisine. The design and vast material selection is mix of Art Deco,  Hollywood Regency and New York 5Th Avenue. It soothes the senses and is indeed aimed at the highest 5 star market.

There is also a roof top deck with pool and bar which is very calming and much needed in the hustle of the busy Sydney CBD. The perfect spot to sip on a refreshing Whisky Sour and unwind.



Even the bathrooms are fancy. I mean seriously, what is not to love here??  Limestone, marble, gold, black,  white…Tick. Tick. Tick. Heaven. Thank you Primus Hotel.


Bondi Icerbergs: (


A slight change in pace, after walking most of the day through the design fair at Homebush,  we headed down to the famous Bondi Beach and on to Bondi Icebergs for lunch. The sun was shining, the beautiful people were lounging around the pools and the almost famous celebrities were eating lunch in the main restaurant. If you’re visiting Bondi, you can visit the surf club section for a bite to eat, the main Icebergs Bistro or Terrace Bar for a fancy lunch or dinner, or simply pay $6 and laze in the historic ocean sea bath. The choice is yours and any option is a winner.


The atmosphere here is pretty chilled. The view and ocean is the key player, so it is very cathartic to just sit and sip a chilled Rose and enjoy the ambience. So thats what we did. Until dusk.



Coogee Pavilion: (


Deciding to stay beachside, I was keen to explore the latest quirky hotel fitout by the Merivale group and Justin Hemmes. Famous for Sydney bars such as The Ivy, The Establishment, Hemmesphere…to name just a few from this ever growing empire.


This Hotel is located right on the beach at Coogee. It has 180* views of the ocean. It is amazing. 3 floors and a roof top bar, this pub is probably the quirkiest of all the Hemmes thus far.

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 1.16.02 PM

You wander through the rooms and can feast your eyes on hundreds of vignettes set around the 3 floors. I can’t even begin to imagine where they source these items from, but this is what certainly adds the eccentric character to this beachside pub. Its a focal and talking point. Especially if your table has critters under glass looking at you.


The roof top bar was my favourite. Sitting upstairs, with the ocean summer breeze, cocktail in hand, it felt very Bahamas mixed with Maui, and a sprinkle of Out Of Africa thrown in for good measure. Apparently the design brief for the roof top bar was based on a fictional character… an eccentric botanist in his conservatory. That works!

The Rooftop houses four indoor and outdoor bars each with its own exotic flair.


Walk the famous beachside track from Bondi to Coogee and then you have no excuse to indulge at the Coogee Pavillion. Life’s a balance after all.

Hotel Palisade: (


Switching gear on Day 2 (not really..another bar) and I was determined to find the latest roof top bar Henry Deane, at The Palisade Hotel in Millers Point. I had seen images of it on Instagram and wanted to see it for myself.

I should point out, my 20 year old daughter accompanied me on this ‘work trip’ and was quite surprised (aka pleased) to hunt out bars and hotels, rather than the more traditional mother /daughter get away of shopping and mani / pedis.

So, this stunning 100 year old building, sits alone and is now a multi-level boutique pub/cocktail bar/hotel. It was once an overnight nap-and-grog stop for Anzacs and “wharfs”.  A newly built rooftop cocktail bar, above the pub,  pays homage to the Australian engineer-architect who designed the building, Henry Deane.


The cocktail bar, which sits over two levels – the top floor and rooftop of the original hotel is very fresh and light.  It’s complete with pink-leather sofas, copper furnishings, double-hung windows and marble everywhere.


Separate to the Henry Deane bar, there are nine boutique hotel rooms opened in December and each named after an Anzac. Half have views over Barangaroo and the waterfront. The other half look out over Millers Point towards the bridge. It is quite small upstairs, cosy in fact… but this just adds to feeling of being in the right place. And that view!


Downstairs is more black and white and geometric, with wall panels and custom papers plus exotic leathers and masculine sofas. The ground floor is a typical old school pub. We actually thought we may have been at the wrong spot when we got there. Its very understated. But very busy.

As a designer it is so refreshing to see a shift away from the cold retro, prohibition style bar design that seems to be everywhere at the moment.

Every new bar these days seems to have red exposed brick, copper exposed bulbs, no soul and is bare, boring… and on every corner.

Let it go people. It’s time.

Lets do more Detail. More Design. More Accessories. More Products. More Glamour.

More everything.

Thank you Sydney for the inspiration and being a perfect host.



One & Only Hayman Resort : Day One

One & Only Hayman Resort : Day One


Hayman Island.

Luxury. Indulgent. Breathtaking.

This year I was fortunate enough to visit quite possibly one of the most beautiful Islands in the world…Big call I know…But I remain firm…Hayman Island is a premier resort located amongst the Whitsunday Islands, offering unrivalled luxury.

To put it mildly…it’s pretty freaking perfect!


From the minute you land, the full luxury, rock star treatment begins. The handsome crew from Hayman Island Luxury Launch Crew meet you at the airport, then with the utmost discretion lead you into a cool air-conditioned room to refresh and sip a glass of bubbly. Whilst you relax, they collect and load your luggage onto the Island’s very own luxury super yacht. Once aboard, more bubbles, canapés and the crew present you with a welcome pack, your room key and you’re all checked in. It feels indulgent because it is!

A one-hour luxury launch transfer is an experience itself, departing the Great Barrier Reef Airport and gliding through the water to and from your island paradise, the perfect way to start this vacation…costs vary, but expect to pay $200 return p/p.  If you choose to arrive on Hayman by helicopter or private sea plane from the airport, the cost jumps again to approximately $1000 p/p…


Hayman staff greet you at the jetty upon arrival, one staff member per couple, and escort you by buggy to your resort room. It is quite the cavalcade, and once again reiterates the very personal and luxurious experience that the One & Only hotel brand is world renowned for.


A massive renovation of Hayman Island commenced in 2013 and officially relaunched as One & Only Hayman Island in 2014. You very quickly see where the $300 million plus was spent, and it hasn’t been in vain. Hayman Island has received numerous international awards and recognitions. ‘Conde Nast Traveler’ has named Hayman Island as one of the ‘Top 3 Hotels and Resorts Worldwide’, and Forbes Magazine went one step further, declaring it ‘The World’s Best Beach Resort’. Hayman Island is the only Australian island to be accepted as a member of the prestigious organisation ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’.


So its a big deal for this resort that originally opened in 1950 with a few beach shacks and a modest swimming pool. In 1980, a new vision for Hayman when Ansett Chairman, and my old boss!, Sir Peter Abeles, set out to create a truly magnificent luxury resort, establishing Australia’s highest standards and unsurpassed service. Hayman closed in 1985 and a $300 million rebuild project commenced. In 1987 the Pool Wing opens and we are introduced to the iconic Hayman salt water pool, that winds its way through the West Wing of the resort. (It is the size of 7 olympic size pools)


Over the next 2 decades it is bought and sold to various hotel groups and millions and million are spent in upgrading and expansion of the resort. And wow… was worth every cent.


So… back to us…and accomodation…we decided to stay in a beach view suite. The accomodation levels are varied and as the resort only accommodates a small number of guests, the once 300 rooms …now 150 larger rooms are spacious and you never feel crowded. Once again..this helps the luxury vibe. Very little noise. Or people.


The pool access rooms are smaller, but the ground level has direct access to the magnificent swimming lagoon. A private deck, sun beds and a ladder to the pool…you may never leave your room!


Or, if you are feeling very indulgent, you may prefer to stay in a full beach villa with your own private pool, hammock and garden.


The room choice is pretty endless, but whatever style you choose, trust me, you won’t be complaining.

Day One……