Let nature nurture you at Bangalay Luxury Villas, a boutique New South Wales bolthole where green is the new black and golden sands are just a stroll away. Eco-minded owners Tom and Michelle Bishop have taken their South Coast setting as their muse: cosy minimalism and rattan touches bring beachy vibes to each sleek, slate-hued villa; and the restaurant serves up a locally sourced menu that’s proved a siren song to switched-on Sydneysiders. Add in lounge-worthy landscaped gardens, the local links in putting distance and the Shoalhaven’s embarrassment of national parks to explore, and Bangalay is the place to be to let that sea-salt-sprayed hair down.
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A welcome bottle of prosecco and a selection of fruit
10am. Earliest check-in, 2pm. Both are flexible for an extra fee, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £277.68 (AU$490), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates don’t usually include breakfast. The à la carte breakfast menu includes chia puddings, pastries and home-made sourdough toast as well as hearty cooked options.
Ever eco-considerate, owners Tom and Michelle revegetated the whole site as part of their building works.
At the hotel
Gift store, parking and Tesla-charging stations. In rooms: kitchen, private deck, laundry room with washing machine, dryer and iron, fireplace, Aspar bath products, beach towels and bag, TV, free WiFi, minibar and air-conditioning.
Our favourite rooms
Golf-course or garden view? It’s a tough choice, but someone has to make it. The mountain glimpses clinch it for the golf-course-facing villas in our book. Coming with a crowd? Swing for the Four Bedroom Holiday House and the beach will be right on your doorstep.
The tree-fringed pool is on hand right by the restaurant for a cooling dip, but we’d be tempted to snag one of the sleek charcoal loungers for a lazy afternoon.
There’s no spa, but in-room massages can be arranged on request, as can private yoga sessions.
Leave enough room in your luggage for all the Coolangatta wine you can carry.
The Two Bedroom Villas are accessible for wheelchair users, as is the Four Bedroom Holiday House and all the common areas. The hotel has mobility aids to borrow, including shower chairs and elephant-feet raisers, and two accessible parking spaces.
All ages are welcome. Under-twos stay free of charge – cots can be added to rooms.
Eco-consciousness is in the hotel’s DNA. The buildings are designed for maximum energy efficiency, solar panels power the restaurant and villas, and planet-friendly cleaning products and energy-saving light bulbs are used throughout. The restaurant’s seasonal menu features largely local produce, including a New South Wales wine list. All cardboard, green waste and bottles are recycled, and coffee grounds are given to the local school for composting in its kitchen garden.
Bag a seat by the floor-to-ceiling window to soak up some extra vitamin D as you dine. In summer, sit out by the pool to catch the coastal breeze.
Keep the beachy feeling flowing with floaty sundresses and crisp linen suits.
Bangalay Dining has racked up a stellar reputation with weekending Sydneysiders, and with good reason. Staying true to the ethos of the rest of the hotel, head chef Brent Strong takes his cue from his South Coast surroundings. Local produce is the star of the seasonal menus, right down to the herbs and florals foraged right outside the window – if you spot banksia in your dish, you can be sure the wildflower was plucked from the property’s gardens. Opt for the six-course tasting menu to sample the freshest regional ingredients, paired with bottles from the award-winning vineyards just down the road. The restaurant is open for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays; evening opening hours change seasonally, but dinner is usually available on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Breakfast is served daily.
Specialising in indigenous ingredients and Australian spirits, Bangalay Dining’s bar serves up classic cocktails with an artful Aussie twist. We’re particularly tickled by the wattleseed espresso martini and the lemon-myrtle piña colada.
Breakfast hours are 8am to 11am; lunch on Saturdays and Sundays is from noon to 3pm; and dinner (on the days it’s served) is from 6pm to 9pm. The bar serves drinks during dinner hours.
Bangalay Luxury Villas is a few hundred metres from Seven Mile Beach in Shoalhaven Heads, on the coast of New South Wales. The town is surrounded by vineyards and national parks, and the hotel is bordered by the lush links of Shoalhaven Heads Golf Club.
Sydney International Airport is the best place to touch down. From there, it’s a two-hour coastal drive. Alternatively, the hotel can arrange private return transfers from Shellharbour Airport if you’re coming from Melbourne or Brisbane.
It’s a scenic drive south from Sydney, and three hours from Canberra. You’ll want some wheels for exploring local wineries and national parks, so it’s worth hiring a car at the airport. The hotel has on-site parking, including two accessible spaces, as well as Tesla chargers.
Worth getting out of bed for
Greet the day with a gaze out at the greenery from your private patio. After a day of serious sun-soaking, the pool is on hand for a cooling paddle (but we won’t judge if you’re seduced by a siesta on a palm-shaded lounger instead). Come evening, follow gourmands from far and wide to Bangalay Dining for a paddock-to-plate meal; or let the seasonal menu inspire you to get crafty in your suite’s private kitchen.
Outdoorsy types don’t have to go far for adventure: Seven Mile Beach, a short stroll from Bangalay, is renowned for its surf (and horse-rides along the sand). Equally close by is Shoalhaven Heads Golf Club – tee off at the 18-hole links if the view from your villa has you itching for your irons.
Seven Mile Beach National Park is the place to head for coastal forest hikes, or venture to Budderoo National Park for a wander past an impressive array of waterfalls. Water babies should paddle towards Jervis Bay, where white-sand stretches and whale-frequented scuba-diving spots await. Alternatively, try a forest-flanked kayak through Kangaroo Valley, then choose between the pie shop and the pub for lunch and a well-earned drink.
To enjoy the local landscape in a more leisurely manner, the region’s wineries are a must. The multi-award-winning Coolangatta Estate in nearby Berry is the jewel in the South Coast’s viticultural crown, and comes with a helping of 19th-century history for good measure. At Gerringong’s Crooked River Wines you can sip craft beer alongside your Chardonnay, and Mountain Ridge Wines, just outside Shoalhaven Heads, hosts live-music events every Sunday.
For a brunch you can feel good about, stop by Figbird Cafe and Deli, where the menu of fresh cakes, cured meats and artisanal cheeses puts the focus on local, organic and fair-trade ingredients. Fuel up for adventure with lunch at The Emporium Food Co. Tuck into thick-cut sandwiches and home-baked pies from the deli counter, and stock up on hearty snacks for your afternoon hike while you’re at it.
If it’s a laid-back alfresco dinner you’re after, look no further than The Garden Berry, where the Med-inspired menu is best enjoyed in the leafy courtyard. Dishes centre on Aussie ingredients with an emphasis on the ethical; try the Northern Territory barramundi with apple and fennel ’slaw or the free-range Mediterranean-style roast chicken. For a more formal affair, snag a reservation at South on Albany, where owners John and Sonia showcase the tastiest side of the South Coast. The chef’s three-course menu changes weekly, but you can expect locally reared meat and just-caught fish of the day, expertly paired with New South Wales wines and ales.
Pull up a seat at très chicQueen Street Eatery, a European-inspired restaurant and wine bar where French and Australian tipples are served against a backdrop of Gallic-flavour cool coastal design.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this nature-seekers’ hotel in New South Wales and unpacked their Coolangatta Estate cabernet, a full account of their South Coast escape will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Bangalay Luxury Villas in the Shoalhaven…
At Bangalay Luxury Villas, it’s not so much a question of getting back to nature as what type of nature you’d like to get back to first. A surfer-approved beach is steps away and mountain-conquering hikes are close at hand, but frazzled city folk fear not: manicured gardens and a palm-fringed pool await if that all sounds a bit too intrepid. It’s a landscape with lots to celebrate, and husband and wife design duo Tom and Michelle Bishop have done just that – each villa carefully catches the ocean breeze, wall-to-wall windows all but beg you to bask in the South Coast sun, and everything that can be locally sourced is. Tuck into reared-down-the-road beef and freshly foraged florals at Sydneysider favourite Bangalay Dining, then scurry back to your villa, where Michelle’s minimalist interiors deliver buckets of breezy style and calm-inducing comfort in spades – welcome to the home of hot-weather hygge. There are award-winning wineries to tour, coastal trails to traverse and another national park at every turn, but at Bangalay, a quiet one in is always on the cards…