Luxury on the QT – Life in a ‘Bondi Bubble’
The ‘Bondi Bubble’ is just seven kilometres from Sydney’s CBD but it may as well be a separate planet, Contributor Justine Tyerman discovers…
An apricot sheen on the horizon announced the dawn, and even at this early hour surfers were riding perfect silver-green waves edged with frothy lace. The sunrise over the sea was magnificent, the golden rays warming Bondi’s famous stretch of sand, manicured to perfection overnight by a platoon of beach-grooming machines.
With my sleep patterns seriously awry after travelling from afar, rather than searching for the elusive sandman, I strolled a few paces from my QT Bondi hotel room to the sickle-shaped stretch of sand and watched the sun creep along the beach, transforming it from sable to gold.
Bondi, Australia, was awakening. Joggers were out in force along with mat-toting yogis, psychedelic-clad cyclists, and ocean swimmers sporting fins and goggles.
A bit later on the scene, but superbly kitted-out, were the look-at-me brigade who had spent a good hour choosing their designer-label fitness attire. They were heading for the coastal walkway followed by slightly harassed-looking young parents, running with pushchairs. This form of exercise is not quite as dangerous as running with the bulls but risky all the same if a small child is catapulted out of a pushchair or collides with another at speed.
From Bondi to Coogee
My ‘bubble’-based daughters advised me to hit the Bondi to Coogee walkway early to avoid the throngs who stream along the spectacular six-kilometre coastal path later in the day. The clifftop path weaves its way around the coast linking a series of exquisite bays separated by dramatic rugged headlands.
Spaced at regular intervals along the track are bars and other pieces of masochistic fitness equipment where young men and women with rippling muscles demonstrate their prowess. I was uncomfortably aware I was not wearing the right ‘uniform’, nor was I fit enough to keep up with the chin-up brigade for whom the walkway was clearly a stage on which to show off.
The first bay on my walk was Tamarama (known locally as ‘Glamarama’), a tiny perfect horseshoe-shaped beach inhabited by beautiful young beach gods and goddesses. I quickly decided it was a no-go zone for me so I continued on towards Bronte Beach where I stopped at one of the many bustling cafés for a fresh-fruit smoothie – hyper-healthy, of course.
At Bronte, surfies were riding tall waves boosted by a powerful swell, the ocean pool was chock-full of octogenarian lap swimmers, and yoga mats were everywhere. The sand was cool and silky, and squeaked under my feet like powder snow, its distant cousin. Families were playing beach cricket, frisbees, volleyball and footy, while others gathered around coin-operated BBQs cooking breakfast.
Beyond Bronte I found a cliff-top bowling green in the most stunning of locations overlooking the sparkling ocean. Clovelly was next – a long skinny inlet which had been concreted on both sides and looked more like an elongated swimming pool than a beach. I was enjoying the anticipation of discovering what lay around the next headland so much, I could have walked all day, but reluctantly turned back at Coogee, the largest of the pretty beach settlements.
Watching Life Pass By
In the days that followed, I took daily walks along the beach and coastal path and began to blend in rather well after my daughters kitted me out in the right gear
and my fitness level steadily improved.
Staying at the QT Bondi right in the heart of Bondi, I felt like a local in no time. Just watching Bondi life go by was fascinating entertainment. I missed Harry and Megan by a couple of weeks!
The arty, chic QT was a breath of fresh air after all the muted, neutral, boring shades of some snooty hotels I’d been staying at where the décor was so minimalist and refined, they were completely unmemorable. The colourful funky lobby sets the tone for the whole establishment with its full-on, floor-to-ceiling Shaun Gladwell art installation; giant screens playing surfing and beachy videos; tropical plants; neon lights; a QTique boutique showcasing local artworks and products; and bubbly reception staff ready to advise on any Bondi-related topic.
My spacious top-floor balcony room was a super-comfortable, convenient home-away-from-home. I loved the generously-sized, well-equipped kitchenette with its DeLonghi coffee machine, induction cooktop, dishwasher, microwave, and all the utensils you need to whip up a fabulous meal with fresh produce from the Bondi markets or Harris Farm Earth Food Store. Such a treat. The Bosch washing machine/dryer was also extremely handy, such a boon when you’ve been travelling and longing for some home comforts.
The room was bright, airy and well-lit with cool hanging lights, down lights, up lights and recessed lights. Many super-sophisticated hotel rooms are so dimly lit these days, you can barely see yourself in the mirror. Talking of which, mirrors, especially large round ones, are a big feature at QT, bringing even more light, space and outside views into the rooms.
The ‘Bondi Bubble’
The sun streams through the floor-to-ceiling sliding doors which open onto a balcony with a side view to the beach. There are no beachfront rooms but the sea is so close you can hear the roar of the waves.
I got lost in the huge, sumptuous bed with fine linen and pillows like clouds.
“New gel mattresses,” manager Cian told me. “They’re guaranteed to give you a good night’s sleep.”
I can vouch for that. The spacious white tiled bathroom features a bathtub shaped for reclining, a luxurious shower with a massive monsoon rain head, square twin basins, towels and mirrors galore. The bathroom also has a nifty window through to the living-bedroom area so you can be part of the action while showering, a clever design idea to admit natural light to a bathroom area. There’s a blind to pull for privacy. A feature wall in the shower has green and white tiles which give a fresh clean look.
The lovely bath and shower products – Malin+Goetz body wash, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion – are replaced daily. The hooded bath robes, a little like boxing or gym wear, are a lovely touch.
Each room has an excellent mini bar with great wines and even underwear and a smart phone pouch. Special guests receive a welcome pack including a bottle of handpicked shiraz, Dux Nutts, a cellphone pouch by Nimble, a handy little travel kit with Bondi Wash body lotion, body wash and spray, a complimentary blow-dry from the Blow Bar and Recover remedy with turmeric, ginger, pineapple and lime – this was very useful after our daughter’s 30th!
Your Virtual Concierge
Guests have free access to 100 of the latest movies on the massive, recessed, back-lit flat-screen TV, and free use of surfboards, bikes, yoga mats and the Speedo Fitness Centre pool and gym downstairs.
The QT’s app-based concierge services are brilliant. After I got the app on my phone, I could find everything I needed: restaurants, gym, massage, beauty, yoga, spa, and shops of every description.
The app had great insider tips like Porch and Parlour where you find locals and Bondi hipsters getting their daily brew; The Shop, a tiny café with great coffee, a killer menu and a chilled-out vibe; and Coffee Bondi Beach, dedicated to making the finest coffee in Bondi and the only coffee roasters in Bondi; Drake Eatery, a café by day and chic restaurant by night; Sonoma sourdough concept store for honest, robust bready goodness; Saturdays NYC for men’s wear and coffee; Gertrude and Alice, a bookstore and café; Tuchuzy for high end women’s boutique fashion; Academy brand for stylish, preppy men’s apparel; Camilla’s beach house for boho chic women’s swimwear and elegant resortwear.
Out and About in the ‘Bondi Bubble’
Then there’s the Bondi markets. The Saturday morning Farmers’ Market has a myriad of stalls that sell seasonal fruit and vegetables, organically-grown meat, fresh flowers, artisan breads, jams, cheeses, oils . . . while the Sunday morning market specialises in designer couture, exotic imports, hand-made jewellery, arts, crafts, retro furniture, vintage clothes and knick-knacks. I was astonished to discover that top labels like Zimmerman and Sass and Bide started there.
With dozens of restaurants and boutiques within cooee, you never need to go near the city. In fact Bondi-philes seldom venture into the metropolis at all, apart from that necessary evil: work. Everything else they desire is inside their own bubble, a beautiful beach resort just beyond one of the world’s busiest cities. Life in the ‘Bondi Bubble’ is sweet and sustaining. And the pink and golden sunrises and sunsets are utterly breath-taking. The perfect backdrop for a glass of bubbles.
To learn more about QT Bondi and the ‘Bondi Bubble’ experience, visit the hotel’s website at www.qthotelsandresorts.com/bondi-beach. Looking for a car rental? Visit JUCY Rentals at www.jucy.co.nz/. And for flights, consider Air New Zealand (www.airnz.co.nz).
Contributing Editor Justine Tyerman is an award-winning travel writer, journalist and sub-editor from Gisborne, New Zealand, with 20 years’ experience in newspaper and freelance work. Check out her work at www.just-write.co.nz and Tyerman’s Travels Facebook.