The New South Wales hotel that’ll inspire a return visit

The high-design Halcyon House is matched by the barefoot-fun vibe of Cabarita Beach

Cabarita Beach was, until last year, a place in Australia that most Australians couldn’t have located on a map. Halcyon House(www.halcyonhouse.com.au; from about £285) is testament to how a great hotel can tip the fortunes of a whole destination; thanks to this one, tastemakers as far afield as Cape Town, Brooklyn and Shepherd’s Bush now know exactly where Cabarita Beach is (but in case you don’t: just above Byron Bay, in northernmost New South Wales). I’ve stayed two winters in a row, lured by Halcyon House’s sui generis blend of high design, characterful service and directional, delightful food (chef Ben Devlin’s Paper Daisy restaurant draws friends up from Sydney and Melbourne), all underscored by an exuberant barefoot-fun vibe that’s quintessential Oz. It’s a bricks-and-mortar testament to that ineffable thing we call lifestyle, which this country does uniquely, and very well.

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