It may only be 15 minutes from the hippy chic town of Bellingen, on NSW’s north coast, but Hermes Estate is anything but bohemian. The epitome of elegant luxury, this private retreat is tucked away on two lush hectares in Gleniffer’s Promised Land, by the edge of Never Never River. Tyres whisper on the gravel drive, a butler silently appears to valet park and unload the car, and postcard-perfect views of woodlands and bubbling brooks open up like a magical storybook.
Step through the front door and the enchantment continues as the heady scent of dozens of lilies in bloom fill my nose and my first sip of Dom Perignon tickles the back of my throat. Yes, I could get very used to this. The elegant reception room is chic and considered; a grand piano to the left, a wood-burning fire to the right, and front and centre is a large and deep cream sofa, where canapes have been served. Don’t mind if we do…
Above our heads, the ceilings twinkle with crystal chandeliers and beneath our slippered feet (you leave your shoes at the door) are glimmering floors. For the sybarite, it’s a place of grandeur and comfort, where walls are hung with silk, objets d’art abound and vast windows frame breathtaking views of the hills beyond.
On our way to our room, I stop to inhale the sweet scent of another vase of fresh blooms, before breathing in that distinctive smell of antique first editions lined up on impressive library wall – a true bibliophile’s delight – which includes an 1867 Charles Dickens. It sits just outside the West Wing Mountain Suite, with its plush bed so high that a leather footstool is needed to climb atop. At last my long-awaited Princess and the Pea moment – I’m not disappointed. After a lazy afternoon nap, followed by a luxurious soak in the bathtub, we’re ready for dinner.
We make our way to the elegant dining room, complete with silverware engraved with the Hermes crest, for a menu created by our private chef, according to our pre-determined preferences. The food here is deeply anchored in seasonality and locality with winning dishes across the board. Tonight, it’s the freshest of prawns with saffron risotto, followed by marinated rack of lamb, and rounded off nicely with ‘France on a plate’; a delightful assiette of desserts, including crème brulee, lemon tart, chocolate fondant and raspberry sorbet. We finish the evening with a glass (or two) of New Zealand pinot noir by the fire. And exhale…
The next morning we’re gently woken by the rising sun appearing through the floor-to-ceiling windows – with this kind of exquisite privacy there’s no need to draw the curtains at night – and while it’s tempting to linger in this lavish cocoon, watching the landscape change before our eyes, we resolve to take advantage of what this beautiful part of the world has to offer.
Hermes Estate isn’t just luxury personified: its magic-wand level of pampering is testament to the idea that dreams can come true.
After a breakfast of fruit, pastries, eggs (Benedict, of course) and the perfect cup of coffee, we set off for Coffs Harbour; an easy 30-minute drive north. The Estate will happily offer you a chauffeur, if you’re sans transport, and arrange an array of excursions too, but we choose a DIY day. After a stroll along the harbour jetty, we take a brisk walk up Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve – surely that will work off at least one croissant – and when we reach the summit, we’re rewarded with the sight of whales at play. Is there anything quite like watching the powerful presence of these awe-inspiring creatures as they make their way along the Humpback Highway?
All that bracing air and ocean excitement can work up a hunger so we return to a lunch of oysters, fresh and Kilpatrick, and perfectly cooked baked salmon, which we enjoy with a glass of chilled Whispering Angel rose on the terrace. Could life get any better? Well, yes, particularly if you’re a film buff and you’re in the mood for a classic watched from the comfort of the Estate’s sumptuous private movie room. The butler draws the blinds and turns the lights down low and we settle in, but not before a large bowl of warm buttered popcorn and cold refreshments arrive, making the next two blissful hours truly complete.
As the credits roll, and we leave the comforts of the movie room, yawning, stretching and squinting a little in the late afternoon sun, the butler appears again, this time with another stellar suggestion: ‘Would you like me to get the Jacuzzi ready?’. Well, it would be rude…
Just as dusk descends, we tiptoe across the dewy grass, slip out of our fluffy white robes and into the hot bubbling water. It’s a little chilly in the valley at this time, but not from where we’re sitting. And you really can’t miss the spectacular sunset, as a light mist floats across the escarpment and the sky turns the prettiest shades of pale pink and lilac. We clink glasses and wonder how did we get so lucky.
Hermes Estate isn’t just luxury personified: its magic-wand level of pampering is testament to the idea that dreams can come true. There really is no place quite like it.
Hermes Estate: Quick facts
Hermes Estate Private Retreat is aptly named after the ancient Greek god Hermes, who presided over wealth, hospitality and travel.
Upon booking, you’ll be consulted on everything from your choice of pillow and preferred villa scent to your favourite tipple. No request is too great and it’s the little touches that make this place so special.
Located at Promised Land Road, Gleniffer, NSW, the retreat is about a six hour drive from Sydney, five hours from Brisbane and 45 minutes from Coffs Harbour airport. Airport transfer via chauffeur is available.
Indulge in Australia’s best kept secret for A$25,000 a night , with a three-night minimum stay, including all chef-prepared meals and drinks and butler service. Other luxury experiences can be added upon request.
Feature image: Scott Ehler