Bells at Killcare:

107 The Scenic Road, Killcare Heights NSW

Up the Pacific Highway from Sydney you’ll discover a touch of Provence on the Central Coast. Or perhaps it’s more Fred Perry-era All-England (croquet anyone?); or even a beach ‘shack’ in the Hamptons — not that I’ve ever been, but I watch a lot of movies.  In 2006, advertising leviathan John Singleton and owner/managers Brian and Karina Berry (formerly at Singleton’s Bluetongue Brewery in the Hunter Valley) bought the property and decided to endow it with some coastal charm. This has resulted in a shift to a fresh, nautical décor sans the kitsch starfish and shell trappings. Gone are the ’80s floral curtains with their lashings of peach and green, in fact, the combined talents of Chrissie Jeffrey (No Chintz), Julie Manfredi Hughes and proprietor Karina Barry has resulted in a relaxed coastal makeover, which includes a sea and sand colour palette, pale-striped banquettes, and polished floors. Integral to the overhaul is the signature blue — a special brew mixed by Porters Paints. Porters also made the striped wallpaper, incorporating the blue and white.  The main dining room is light and airy, and the covered veranda, although more casual, has the same chic feel. There are private dining rooms, in case you eat with your mouth open. There’s also a library and a wine room. All the existing furnishings had to be re- used and so Chrissie Jeffrey either re-covered or painted just about everything. Large mirrors were added to bounce light around the room. It was important the dining room not be too commercial, like you’ve wandered into someone’s stylised beach house.  One of the most appealing aspects of Bells is the ‘destination restaurant’, featuring Signor Stefano Manfredi. This, of course, means you can partake of a scrumptious feast while drinking gallons of fine wine and no one has to be the designated driver. An amble or stumble down the gravel path takes you to your luxury abode for the night.  The accommodation appears to be designed for loved-up couples, but don’t let that stop you if you’re single or, indeed, ‘happily’ married. There is a pair of two-storey villas and nine single-level suites, clustered amid the thriving coastal gardens. Timber exteriors are painted a rich blue; with navy-and-white blinds and plantation shutters whilst cane furniture adorns the decks.

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