Rae's Byron Bay

I first came to Byron Bay 15 years ago, the streets were bare, the language was hippy and waves would go days untouched. The last decade has seen this secret place evolve into a renowned destination that wanderers can’t get enough of. I always remember my very first trip; my dad took me took me to see the lighthouse, pointing out sun glistened Wategos Beach. He reminded me that no matter how full the main stretch got, this easterly little beach would always stay untouched.

I think that’s symbolic of Wategos charm, so close to a vibrant town, yet distant enough to pose a sense of seclusion and calm. Perhaps because it’s a little harder to get to, or because it’s a long-boarders territory, but all I know is that I’m not complaining. This perfect hideaway wouldn’t be complete without the Moroccan-inspired castle on the hill. As iconic and full of grandeur as the lighthouse, is Rae’s on Wategos – a boutique retreat offering only seven opulent suites.

A place I’ve lusted over for some time did not fall short on any expectation, all-starting from the personalised service. Our hostesses name was Marionne De Candia, and fittingly, she’s a renowned beautician who runs the award-winning spa downstairs. She ensured we were greeted and comfortable before letting us loose ourselves amid the heavy bowed walls and spiralled staircases. When we reached the very top floor, we found our luxurious hideaway- the Mirabella Penthouse.

This elegant suite has tall white walls, adorned in original Bromley artworks. The expansive living-area connects to two noble terraces, each boasting ocean and lighthouse views. At the rear is an exquisite atrium, overlooking the green wild garden and in ground pool. The hero of the suite is the hand carved four-poster bed, made of a fine wood and dressed in elegant silks. A few steps away is the marble powder room, embellished with a sunken spa bath and his and hers basins. The main living area has a European-inspired day bed against arched glass-windows, exposing glimpses of the nature filled exterior. That night we slept with the bare salty air blowing through the open doors, adding a real bohemian undertone to the moonlight. When the morning came we were greeted with a wooden tray of fresh fruit and croissants, only igniting our love for this dwelling a little more. We borrowed a few long boards from the shed and spent the day dancing on the waves, merely a stone throw away.

That very night we made our way to Rae’s Fish Café, an indulgent dining experience right under our terrace. This beautiful space follows suit to the already established theme, including expansive ocean views and more striking Bromley’s. The restaurant is fuelled on fresh, local produce and a selection of unique seafood. The al fresco dining room can seat 60, however the clever layout makes you feel subtly disconnected.

The pristine shores of Wategos were hard to leave; we spent the whole ride home lusting for one more sunrise. This place is special and unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.

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