From a luxurious beach house, to a charming lakefront cabin, feel the love at these romantic destinations... 

Palm Beach Pool House, Palm Beach

Palm Beach Pool House

When it comes to a romantic escape, there’s nothing quite like spending a weekend à deux in a converted boatshed. You’ll fall asleep to the somnolent sound of waves and wake up to a view of sailing boats bobbing in the bay. Restored by Gael Boglione and her husband, Francesco – owners of the acclaimed Petersham Nurseries in London – this timber-clad boathouse studio has bi-fold doors that open onto Pittwater. Inside there’s a simple wooden four-poster bed dressed with Italian linen and set against an exposed sandstone wall. An elegant French armoire sourced from an antiques fair in Avignon and a battered boat lantern found at an antiques store in Sydney’s Woollahra hint at the owners’ Euro-Australian heritage. You might spend your time here lounging on the bed or seated in one of two chairs perfectly positioned to catch the purple-pink dusk light reflected on the water.

The boathouse has a tidy bar kitchen with an oven, dishwasher and fridge (stocked with a bottle of Pommery Champagne). Or you could try Hamptons-inspired Barrenjoey House just minutes away.

You’ll love this…
Given that the boathouse can only be rented when the main house is empty, you’ll have exclusive use of a 10-square-metre pool, a barbecue and a long table under a cabana.
By Lauren Quaintance

Halcyon House, Cabarita Beach

Halcyon House

Nothing says “I love you” like scoring a reservation at the hottest hotel on the Australian coast. Halcyon House marries Amalfi chic with a laid-back North Coast vibe that works its seduction on many levels. It can be a dream holiday retreat, a breezy fine-diner, convivial beach bar and/or full-service love shack, set against the luminous Pacific Ocean. At Halcyon, it’s the details that delight: handmade floor tiles, upholstered walls, bookcases stocked with volumes in a spectrum of blues and vintage objects arranged with a bowerbird’s eye for charming hearts. Cabarita Beach is close to both Byron Bay and the Gold Coast but there’s much to recommend staying put in this sleepy town, not least long walks along the golden shore to Norries Headland.

The 90-seat in-house restaurant, Paper Daisy, opened with a fair whack of fanfare because of Ben Devlin, named 2014 Young Chef of the Year while at Brisbane’s Esquire restaurant. At Halcyon, he’s confirmed his star status with two hats and an assured menu that includes local pipis with semolina pasta and lemon myrtle, and paperbark-grilled fish with seaweed and beach plants.

You’ll love this…
The service – helmed by GM Mauro De Riso, an alumnus of Capri’s exclusive J. K. Place – would be notable in any capital-city setting but it’s truly extraordinary in casual Cabarita Beach.
By Kendall Hill

Spicers Sangoma Retreat, Bowen Mountain

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For many Sydneysiders, a trip to the Blue Mountains means visiting Katoomba, Leura or Wentworth Falls. But to the north of these villages, in the foothills, lies Bowen Mountain and the recently refurbished Spicers Sangoma Retreat, an eco-certified property that instantly envelops guests in its luxurious yet cosy embrace. Catering for just 12 people at
a time, the property’s six suites use natural materials and tactile finishes (wood panelling, suede bedheads) in neutral tones (chocolate, charcoal and fawn) to calming effect – and the dense bushland that surrounds it all doesn’t hurt, either. But if that still hasn’t lowered your shoulders a little, try lighting the fire in your room, curling up on the day bed on your private deck or sinking into the deep bath. While tall glass windows allow for views out, rest assured the cleverly situated suites ensure maximum privacy.

All meals and drinks are included and chef Sam Hardinge serves a four-course menu
each night with a focus on local organic produce. Dishes might include Yarramundi carrot
with Willowbrae goat’s curd
and purple cabbage or tender pork served with chilli, fennel, red shiso and buffalo milk.

You’ll love this...
Our pick of the spa’s massages for couples is the Sangoma Signature Kahuna, which uses flowing massage techniques. Try a twilight session – the wildlife outside provides
a surprisingly soothing backing track.
By Jessica Irvine

SEE ALSO: Why Port Douglas is an Idyllic Mix of Noosa and Byron Bay

The Atlantic, Byron Bay

The Atlantic

Beach shacks, backpacker hostels and large resorts have long been on offer in Byron Bay but the North Coast town had been yearning for a property much like The Atlantic, a boutique hotel that opened in the heart of town in 2010. With a tropical-chic-meets-Hamptons aesthetic, The Atlantic has four guesthouses with ample space for storing your surfboard, basking in the sunshine or curling up with a book, as well as an almost-too-comfortable bed with views of the surrounding rainforest reserve. If the beach seems too far to reach on foot (it’s a mere 13-minute walk away), take a dip in the lap pool before rinsing off in the outdoor shower. 

It’s self-catering and the kitchen and dining spaces are shared. If eating out is on the agenda, there are plenty of options within striking distance. Breakfast at Bayleaf Cafe (1 Marvell Street) is a standout, as is St Elmo Dining Room & Bar for dinner. Featuring low lighting and modern Spanish tapas, it’s the brainchild of two Sydney creatives.

You’ll love this…
Borrow a bike from The Atlantic and cruise around town, stopping at The Roadhouse for coffee – or a margarita, if you’d like something stronger.
By Tony Rice

The Boathouses at Leaves & Fishes, Lovedale

With four cloistered lakefront cabins, this couples-only retreat in the Hunter Valley is an idyllic hideaway for romantics, babymooners or those craving an escape from the city. So enchanting are these Boathouses that you’ll be reluctant to leave them, even to explore the region’s wineries (a must). The spacious Balinese-inspired cabins feature a sumptuous king-size bed and marble bathroom with a double shower and stone bath.

And there’s no cumbersome check-in process – prior to arrival, you’ll receive an access code to your Boathouse, making for an uninterrupted stay if you so desire. If that sounds like you, pre-order the minibar breakfast and enjoy it in bed.

The restaurant at Leaves & Fishes serves excellent local fare with an Asian twist. Be sure to try the Sichuan spiced chicken wings with pepper-caramel-roasted peanuts as a starter.

You’ll love this…
Sit on your private deck and graze on a cheese platter with a chilled glass of Hunter white while enjoying the waterlily-filled pond (early summer is a great time to see the blooms).
By Craig Fordham

SEE ALSO: A Weekend In… the Central Highlands, Victoria

Cottage Point Inn, Cottage Point

Cottage Point Inn

It’s tucked into a pocket of Sydney so secret that mobile phone companies can’t find it. Thankfully, the odd ferry captain and seaplane pilot know how to get there. So do food disciples, who, following signs north through stunning Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park to a placid stretch of Cowan Creek, will arrive at Cottage Point Inn. This ramshackle waterside weatherboard is the home of modern culinary creations: “green” chocolate with peas and mint cream, gossamer veneers tricking up a dessert of fresh blueberries, assemblies of perfectly cooked produce. Thank goodness there’s somewhere nearby to sleep it off: two not-so-toffy apartments, just a meander up a path behind the inn, where a view of the calm water is interrupted only by the throaty churn of another seaplane full of epicureans. There’s little else to disturb you. Not even your phone.

Choose from an eight- course dégustation (the Spanish mackerel is a standout) – for which you’ll need to allow three hours – or à la carte. Vegetarians are looked after with knockout dishes including baby globe artichoke barigoule.

You’ll love this...
The thrill of stepping out of a seaplane and into a fine-diner so aware of its location that the maître d’ also feeds visiting kookaburras.
By Steve Taylor

Hyams Beach Bed and Breakfast, Hyams Beach

Hyams Beach Bed and Breakfast looks like something out of a Nancy Meyers film. The pastel-coloured weatherboard home has plantation shutters, soothing gelato-hued walls, airy interiors, crisp white linen and beautiful ocean views. About the only thing it lacks is the company of Diane Keaton. There are two generous suites to choose from: The Terrace Suite opens onto a lawn with the water not far off, while The Courtyard Suite has a private sun-drenched outdoor space. The Garden Room is another, smaller option with outdoor seating. All spaces lack wi-fi but if the weather plots against you, you’ll find board games, books and DVDs to entertain you until the sun re-emerges.

Each suite has a kitchenette but across the road is local institution Hyams Beach Store and Cafe, where B&B guests are served breakfast and quality coffee each morning. For dinner, go to Wildginger in nearby Huskisson – a Thai restaurant and bar owned by Kierrin McKnight (formerly a chef at Sydney’s renowned Sailors Thai).

You’ll love this...
Just minutes away is Hyams Beach, one of the world’s whitest stretches of sand.
By Alex Greig 

QT Sydney, Sydney

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There’s something decidedly sexy about spending a weekend in a city hotel. Even more so when your room is on the top floor of Sydney’s iconic Gowings and
State Theatre buildings and is called the State Suite (read: best room in the hotel). QT Sydney is located in the centre of the CBD – just a credit card’s throw away from David Jones, Myer and Westfield if your idea of romance involves a little retail therapy – but it’s tempting to retreat and enjoy all the space at your disposal in this glamorous suite that features Art Deco crystal cabinets, a separate lounge room and a balcony that’s reminiscent of one found in a New York high-rise. QT is known for its kooky styling so expect to see ceramic rabbits, a throne-like chair in the bathroom and bowler-hat light fittings. It’s best described as Alice in Wonderland meets Gloria Vanderbilt and it’s a romantic riot.

Gowings Bar & Grill is several notches above the usual hotel restaurant and does one of the best breakfasts in the city. If you want to venture out for dinner, there are
a stack of great options within walking distance, including one of our favourites,
the Spanish-inspired Mercado on Ash Street.

You’ll love this...
The oversize bath in the oversize bathroom has more than enough room for two.
By Kirsten Galliott

Boogie Woogie Beach House, Old Bar

Boogie Woogie Beach House

When it comes to raising the bar on romance, can you do any better than spending a night with a musician? David Bowie, Dave Grohl, Louis Armstrong and Nick Cave are all on offer at the Boogie Woogie Beach House, a coastal-chic hideaway with the perfect dose of irreverence, on NSW’s Mid North Coast. Each of the five themed rooms – the Ziggy, the Cave, the Louis (above), the Grohl and the Mix Tape – is decked out with floor-to-ceiling mosaics of the featured artist (that’d be Ziggy Stardust looking down on you in your spa bath), recycled timber finishes and quirky embellishments to give guests a taste of the rock-star treatment. If your room doesn’t give you the sense that this getaway turns it up to 11, the hotel’s restaurant and live-music venue, Flow Bar, will; punk-rock band The Celibate Rifles and Johnny Diesel have both rattled the walls here.

And, as the music winds down, you’ll find the seaside location is ideal for evening strolls – the stargazing here would have made Bowie smile.

Flow Bar does breakfast, lunch and dinner; share a seafood platter for two.

You’ll love this...
Borrow from the library of collectable vinyl and spin a tune on the vintage record- player in your room.
By Tessa Penny 

Desiderata, Kangaroo Valley

Can a sprawling family holiday home that spruiks 
its kid-friendliness tick the romance box as well? You bet. First step: remove all children. Then pour yourself a drink, light the wood fire and drop into one of two big comfy sofas that face off in the vast, warm open-plan living room. If the weather
is mild, slide open the bi-fold doors and watch the setting sun perform magic tricks
on the escarpment, turning its emerald-green façade ochre before fading to grey. The home sits on four lush hectares that sustain five goats, several fruit trees
and a vegie patch. The main bedroom has a king bed (with 1000-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets),
 a walk-in wardrobe and a dreamy wraparound rural panorama. Sure, you can feel a little friendless perched at the end of the solid 10-seater dining table but two’s company, 10’s a crowd, right?

The home is self- catering, with an alfresco dining area housing a built-in gas barbecue, wine fridge and sink – all surrounded by remote-controlled flyscreens. It’s tempting to eat in rather than drive to the village. But, having said that, The General café and restaurant (151 Moss Vale Road, Kangaroo Valley) is five minutes away and a gem (it’s open Friday to Monday).

You’ll love this...
The silence 
is broken only by birdsong.
By Di Webster 

Calabash Bay Lodge, Berowra Waters

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In the days of horse and cart, Sydney hotelier John Fretus put the wrong one before the other when he shipped tonnes of sandstone to a breathtaking corner of the Hawkesbury River and built a pub. Then, just as he finished, officials scrapped a road that was planned to the hotel’s otherwise inaccessible door. Uh-oh. A bit over a century later, metres from where Fretus got it so wrong, Calabash Bay Lodge gets it spectacularly right. This light, bright, crisply furnished four-bedroom, three- bathroom home sits on the water’s edge, packed with all you’ll need for a cruisy stay, from kayaks to a downy day bed with sweeping views of the river. Guest relations manager Manuel Affarian picks you up in a runabout that’s yours for the stay and, with a quick switch of hats, becomes a gifted cook you can hire to whip up dinner while you sip Champagne on the deck. The forlorn skeleton of John Fretus’s folly is a 10-minute hike from the house. Clamber up the rocks and, like Back to the Future’s Emmett “Doc” Brown, whisper to Fretus’s ghost: “Where we’ve been you don’t need roads.”

Take all the food you’ll need (or have Manuel provision for you) but for a treat, the hatted Berowra Waters Inn is a five-minute putt up the river. Moor your boat out the front, behold the dégustation menu and say goodbye to the afternoon. A more informal seven courses is on offer at local favourite Peats Bite, a 25-minute trip down the river. They’ll pick you up for a fee.

You’ll love this...
Arriving by seaplane gives the weekend a dashing (and proposal-worthy) edge.
By Steve Taylor

This piece was originally published in February 2017 and has been updated.

SEE ALSO: 10 Most Romantic Islands of the Great Barrier Reef

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