We got an Airbnb place just across the road from the beach for a couple of nights after New Year and while I wouldn’t recommend the flat itself or the host, I loved being in Coogee. It’s like Bondi’s laid-back little sister, but the beach itself is every bit as fabulous, and there are cafés and bars galore – top pick is the Coogee Pavilion (upstairs for rooftop cocktails, downstairs for sashimi or fish and chips). Turn left from the beach and you can walk the busy track to Sydney’s most famous glitzy big-sister beach, or turn right – past the saltwater baths – and walk to Maroubra, an even more laid-back seaside spot. Take an outside table at The Bay Hotel to enjoy a beer, and a giant pile of fish and chips. You’ve earned it.
My BFF Gwennie has lived in and around Newtown forever, and on a recent night out, she took us to two of her new favourite spots. Queen Chow in Enmore Road is the most fabulous dumpling emporium in a refurbished pub. The upstairs dining room is a real corker. Gwennie must be about to get her own set of chopsticks to hang above the bar, she goes there so often! But the real treat came afterwards when we walked back to the Continental Deli Bar in Australia Street, where the “mar-tinnies” are served in a can. And the T-shirts. Oh, yes. Happy place.
I was lucky enough to spend a few months plum in the middle of this inner-city hot spot when the Ginger was working here. It’s a dangerous place if you like clothes shopping. On one corner – known as The Intersection – there’s a Scanlan Theodore, a Camilla and Marc and my favourite, Jac + Jack, all within credit card-throwing distance. Nestled in the middle is Jackies Café, great for people-watching and Japanese food, but my favourite eatery is down the hill towards Rushcutters Bay at Five Ways. Vino e Cucina and its deep-fried zucchini flowers are possibly Paddington’s best-kept secret.
Well, you have to love it just for its name, don’t you? This former docklands sits neatly between Sydney’s Botanical Gardens and the foodie fave of Potts Point. The pick for accommodation is the Ovolo – formerly a Blue hotel and a W hotel, all of which have taken up the same industrial space inside the longest timber-piled wharf in the world. (Russell Crowe owns an apartment at the end.) From here, you can walk to the Opera House in one direction, and to Billy Kwong, Fratelli Paradiso, Yellow and popular wine bar Monopole, to name but a few of the temptations, in the other.
OK, this is actually not a suburb of Sydney, but a coastal town about three and a half hours south of the airport. We headed down this way to visit friends on our last trip and loved it. Mollymook has a beautiful beach and is famous for Bannisters, a boutique hotel overlooking the water with perfectly placed pool and – drum roll please – a Rick Stein restaurant. Other than that, there’s not much to do but chill, which we certainly did plenty of, squeezing in an afternoon listening to jazz on the lawn at Cupitt’s Winery. It’s an easy drive, especially if you stop at the cute town of Berry on the way, or you can head inland to the boutique loveliness of Bowral.