I left Kariong at 8.30 am to travel to Bowral for a meeting on the following day. The train trip to Sydney, as usual, was on time and pleasant on a beautiful, but very cold, July weekday. I was too early for the fast train to Canberra so made a decision to take the next train to Campbelltown. Wrong choice, the wires were cut near Mittagong and so a coach was needed to complete the journey, exceeding the travel time by many hours. No matter. One of the other reasons I travelled to Bowral was to buy some very warm winter woollies. Just had time to see a coat at Baskerville & Brown I couldn't live without, which was totally impractical but will be great in spring. Bowral is a wonderful place to shop for both winter and summer clothes, and a great place to visit. Next time I'll stay longer and spend some time as a tourist.
Not knowing the area very well I chose a hotel near the downtown area, thinking I would need to find a restaurant for dinner. So I booked the Berida Manor Hotel. I arrived late and was enchanted by the façade of the building that started its life as a family home. Dr. Freeman built Berida Manor for his wife and 4 children in 1925. After his death in 1941 his wife, Jessie, donated the home and 3 acres of ground to the Red Cross.
In 1977 it changed hands and was converted into a health retreat and spa. A tennis court, swimming pool and treatment rooms were added and special meals were created by Margaret Fulton. In 1990 it was converted back to operating as a hotel. 2017 was the beginning of major refurbishment which will be completed by Christmas this year, embracing the original décor of the building. It already has a well-established garden which as we speak, is being enhanced.
On entering the building one is struck by the classical elegance and old world charm of the building and the warmth of the greeting from the staff. I had been quoted the incorrect tariff (lower than the usual) for the night and without hesitation I was upgraded to the best room in the hotel at the quoted price. That's style. They were unaware that I wrote reviews, so this was unexpected and typical of the service for the rest of my stay.
It has features of a typical manor house. Although the refurbishment is ongoing, it is clear that the best of everything is being handpicked. New doors and furnishings are ordered and a new bathroom is to be built in the room I was in. The colourings are restful, and at the same time, striking. It features a large guest lounge (which doubles as a breakfast room and bar in the evenings on the weekends), a roaring fire and comfortable furniture to sink into. There is also a games room with a billiard table, a heated undercover 25 metre swimming pool, a spa, sauna and a personal training centre. Scattered around the building among the 42 guest rooms are alcoves for guests to lounge in to chat or read. Comfort and style are the keywords at the manor. Next door is the Bowral golf course.
I didn't pack my cossie, which was a pity as a swim would have excited my appetite after a long day of travelling for dinner at the unexpected 5 star Bistro Officina at the hotel. Nicola and Alexandia Coccia have created a menu that showcases traditional European cuisine. As Nicola said 'I want to cook like my grandmother did years ago in Naples'.
The menu is constantly changing and features local produce in season as well as other delicacies chosen from time to time. I chose 2 entrees, dishes I wouldn't prepare at home. I sat by the fire after dinner and read and sipped a glass of wine chosen from the comprehensive wine list. You need to book as many locals, as well as hotel guests, are regulars at the bistro.
Nicola & Alexandia, mine hosts at the Bistro
Visit the website here for more information and to book.
Berida Manor hotel is a real find for lovers of elegance, style and world class cuisine. Don't forget your cossie!
Guest lounge,come breakfast bar and cocktail bar in the evenings