If I had to venture a guess on the closest place to heaven on earth, then I would strongly vote in favour of New South Wales's Northern Rivers region. Encompassing the Byron Bay Shire, it's a locus where rolling green hills meet a clear blue sea; where buskers dominate street corners and organic farm-fresh food is the standard fare. Back when I lived in South East Queensland, I was lucky enough to be a short drive from Byron Bay, visiting the area frequently to splash around at Wategos Beach, or to enjoy some live local music at one of the region's major music festivals.
In much need of a respite from the chaos of Sydney, I headed back for a short vacation and to check out Crystalbrook Byron Bay – one of the township's most indulgent stays. So, I thought I would share how I spent my time over those couple of days and my trip highlights.
I've been to Byron Bay a few times, but I have to say that my stay with Crystalbrook Byron Bay was by far the most luxurious. Nestled amongst a luscious beach-side rainforest, and only a seven minute drive from the centre of town, it can only be described as a sanctuary; like the peaceful eye of the storm that is busy Byron Bay. The hotel is accommodating, quiet, and indulgent – with all the facilities you could ever want on site (morning yoga classes, bookable tennis courts, and free bicycles to rent).
We stayed in one of the resort's 'Rainforest Suites', which was situated along a boardwalk amongst a sprawling plantation of native trees. Private and serene, the only interruption being the odd Brush Turkey or Green Catbird.
There's always plenty to do and see in Byron and its surrounds, and while I opted to enjoy most of my time at the hotel pool, I did manage to squeak in some time to explore the township. Shopping is abundant and luxe for a small beach town, so I had to pop into some of my favourite local brands' brick-and-mortar shops. Deiji Studios, Venroy and Nagnata all had gorgeous retail experiences that offered some luxurious everyday basics.
I also took the opportunity to head to the Eléme Day Spa at Crystalbrook, where I was treated to the 'Bejewelled by the Sea' treatment. This warming treatment used therapeutic lava shells to massage tense muscles, and boost lymphatic circulation. It was genuinely one of the most relaxing and enjoyable treatments I've experienced to date.
In my opinion, no holiday is complete without a good book on hand, and for this trip I lugged a copy of Olivia Liang's Funny Weather to the coast with me. It was a perfect pool-side and bedside companion, and a great excuse to get away from my dreaded iPhone screen. Other than a good broad-spectrum SPF and some comfy walking shoes, Crystalbrook really has you covered on pretty much every other front. Don't even bother bringing a towel from home!
I did purchase a pair of cosy woollen socks from Deiji Studios, which were perfect for trotting around the hotel room in during the chillier, evening hours. And a reusable water bottle is always a must for me – Crystalbrook even has free water bottle refill stations dotted around the property (and if you forget yours, your room's fridge has some in stock).
On the first night of our stay, we headed to the hotel's in-house restaurant Forest for a five-course degustation that was as magical to look at as it was to taste. Some raw Hiramasa Kingfish kicked things off with a bang, but a personal favourite was the line-caught fish in paperbark, which was presented with roasted kelp, lime and bunya “maple”, avocado and sesame. After some delicious coconut panna cotta and mango sorbet for dessert, we enjoyed a night cap shot of Mac Liquer by Brookie's on the rocks. A delicious, whisky-adjacent flavour pulled from macadamia nuts and toasted native Australian wattleseed. I will be hunting down a bottle of this for my own home very soon.
We also enjoyed daily breakfast at Forest, which was equally as delicious – and enjoyed with a ritual pot of steaming green tea on my end.