The word ‘hinterland’ brings a sense of magic with it. The rolling hills or forest tucked away in the less travelled areas of the world elicit the mystical and the unknown. The hinterlands are where we go to escape the ordinary, which is precisely what luxury adults-only boutique retreat Blackbird Byron has set out to provide.
Located about 40 minutes northwest of hipster hub Byron Bay, Blackbird Byron is set high in the hills at the end of a winding, unsealed road overlooking the sloping rainforest and striking New South Wales coastline.
James and Stella Hudson are the husband-and-wife duo behind this little slice of paradise. James moved from the UK to Australia in 2004. He was a restaurateur and nightclub owner in Bondi before he decided it was all a bit too “impersonal”. “There would be thousands of people entering and leaving my doors,” he recalls. “I wanted to do something that offered a more personal experience.”
It’s not your typical paradise. With James’ hospitality business expertise and Stella being an interior designer, the couple’s skills were the perfect catalyst to create a unique luxury getaway. James describes the design as a product of his and his wife’s imaginations. “It’s a little bit Moroccan, a little bit Palm Springs, with post-modern touches in a farm-like, industrial surrounding,” he says.
The style is distinctive; I’d call it eclectic–industrial chic. Each building on the property is an amalgamation of concrete, steel and corrugated iron. The centrepiece of the property is a 10-metre magnesium mineral swimming pool lined with black and white Moroccan tiles, its backdrop an incredible view of the coastline in the distance, framed by lush neighbouring rainforest.
Next to the pool lies the undercover lounge area, with a large table at which you’ll enjoy your included breakfast of local produce, and chat with other guests, should you wish. For ultimate relaxation, don’t miss the infrared sauna and be sure to ask about the in-room massages and on-site yoga.
After being welcomed by James and offered a glass of Champagne on arrival, my companion and I are led to our oasis for the evening: pavilion two. With only three pavilions on the property and a maximum of six guests, Blackbird Byron is a truly intimate experience.
Everything is beautiful, from the copper tapware to reclaimed timber countertops. The rooms offer all of the necessary amenities but with refined touches.
If you have an appreciation for details, you’ll love the blackbird figure – the brand identity being a nod to the native black cockatoos in the region – sitting on the wall behind the bed, along with binoculars and a stargazing book for clear nights. And who wouldn’t love the complementary organic chocolate? The cherry on top is a Handpicked Wines Trial Batch in the fridge and a delightful little cheeseboard.
I feel instantly at home. There’s no lack in comfort, and although it’s only 3pm I can’t wait to sleep in the plush-looking king bed with what I’ve discovered to be the silkiest eye mask I’ve ever felt.
The outdoor patio offers the perfect space to lounge and watch the light change with the setting sun, or witness a spectacular sunrise over the ocean with a tea or coffee in hand, made from the facilities in the room.
James and Stella are also committed to environmental sustainability, so every use of power is energy saving. There’s a TV in the corner of the room, but I can almost guarantee that you won’t want to use it.
Difficult as it is to leave the comfort of the room, it’s the ideal base from which to explore the area – one that offers so much to see and do. Byron Bay is only a 30-minute drive, while up-and-coming – and notably less packed – Mullumbimby is a mere 15 minutes down the hill.
Although a hippy town at heart, the latest influx of visitors and new residents from honeymooners to influencers means there’s no lack of stylish, luxe accommodation in the region.
But there aren’t many places where the owner welcomes you and sits down to have a drink and a chat, or where every aspect of your stay is perfected with the personal touch. The calibre of genuine hospitality found at Blackbird Byron is a rare creature indeed.
Blackbird has partnered with Scotch Whisky house William Grant & Sons to host an exclusive weekend in May to celebrate World Whisky Day 2020. Experience tastings of the finest whisky from The Balvenie Distillery, enjoy Glenfiddich and Krug Champagne cocktails, and dine on a degustation from Head Chef Alastair Waddell of award-winning local favourite Harvest – all at Byron Bay’s most idyllic hinterland escape.
May 15–17, 2020
Contact Blackbird to book directly.