Freelance writer, publicist, blogger and latent yoga teacher.
Outnumbered by my four boys in Cooee Bay on the Capricorn coast.
0409 615 118 PO Box 523 YEPPOON QLD AUSTRALIA
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There was a buzz in the air when I arrived at the Novotel North Wollongong. The sunken lobby bar was filled with school principals finished with their day of conferencing and ready for the 60's dress-up dinner that was on later. The hotel was full and the only rooms to be found in the place were a cool $400, so it was lucky we booked in advance for $250.
While I checked myself in with the very helpful girls on reception, I helped myself to the self-serve lolly bar and before I had finished my strawberries and cream, they have me checked in.
Turns out the tenth floor was the top floor and the view of the northern Illawarra and round to the south coast is amazing. It was so good it distracted me from the room decor circa 1990. The room was big but it was really tired. There was mould in the shower and the bath was so high off the ground that I almost tripped out of it. But a renovation might be underway.
On my way down in the lift to go for a run, I met the manager of the Novotel North Wollongong. He was inspecting the new carpet on the conference floor. We made small talk. We chatted about the hotel that used to be Novotel and its closure, all bar the Japanese restaurant and the golf course. He reveals that the owners were an interesting lot.
I met my besties and my brother downstairs in Pepe's beach bar, bypassing the in-house Windjammers restaurant because I was too lazy to walk anywhere else in Wollongong, even though I know there are excellent options like North Beach Pavillion and Caveau close by. I couldn't quite figure out why the bar had suddenly exploded with early 20 somethings who came from every which way. Then as I watched the suave, sophisticated young git in the booth next to us, drinking beer from the same sneakers he ran from the train and wore through eight hours of lectures, I realised it was happy hour Monday. A happy hour that lasts from 6pm-10pm and all beer and wine is $5.
It takes the four of us a millennium to decide what to eat. We finally decided on the southern fried boneless whole chicken for $44. Thinking that's all that we're getting, we also order a large side of sweet potato fries $12 and mini cheeseburger sliders (3) also $12. What comes out was a mountain of food. The chicken came with a mountain of sweet potato fries and a mountain of really good salad. So to say we had more food than the four of us is a fair statement. Somehow though we managed to eat pretty much all of it.
Windjammers was more of a buffet type restaurant and it has been renovated and offers healthy choice options. But just from looking in from the maitre d' desk, the atmosphere was MIA.
The room was so blissfully dark in the morning that these parents of 5.30am wakers sleep through to an unheard of 7.30am. The room was quiet and the bed was so soft that we kept rolling into the middle. The mini bar was average and the toiletries were nowhere to be seen, so I grabbed some on the way back from my run.
There was no free in-room wifi but for $25 you can have 24-hour access for up to three devices. Foxtel channels are there as well as pay per view movies and tv messaging services.
In the morning, we didn't worry about room service breakfast or the in-house buffet in Windjammers. Instead, we walked up to the lighthouse and back and headed across to the beachfront Diggies, which was casually, but not in your face full, for Acai Berry bowl, bacon and eggs and more flat white than I needed.
Then it was time for checkout which was quick and painless. Soon we were in the car with an hour to kill till Sydney Airport and the rental car drop off, which luckily for us was in between the Qantas and Virgin terminals and which gets us to bag drop off 15 minutes before the 45 minute Virgin Australia cut off.
I wouldn't go out of my way to book the Novotel North Wollongong again but I would definitely stay there if it was on special. The rooms were a little tired but large and very dark. The service was excellent.
Editor's note: Our stay was late 2016. Let us know if you've stayed since and it's improved.
Cost: $250 on sale
Wifi: $25 for 24 hours in your room. FREE in lobby
Parking: three day passes available.
Darkness of room for sleeping: 8/10
Bed & Linen: 8/10
Stay again? If it was reasonably priced or on special.