Want a NSW beach holiday that combines food and destination: where you can party to live music, eat like a king, stumble upstairs to your designer room, then wash away any evidence in the surf over the road next morning?
Old Bar, 3.5 hours from Sydney on the NSW mid-north coast, is becoming a live music landmark thanks to a couple of young Sydney dudes who’ve taken their love of great bands, dining out and art, and poured their hearts, souls and some serious purse into making theirs the kind of hotel they'd love to visit.
Up late after gigs back home, this is the place they dreamed of.
ACCOMMODATION, MUSIC & LOCATION
There is a cult-following building in Old Bar, thanks to a new boutique hotel Boogie Woogie Beach House and its cafe/restaurant/bar: Flow Bar.
Fewer than 100m from the beach, the slick BWBH offers modern, luxurious rooms for a happening weekend away, or truly comfortable stopover, at beer prices.
Perhaps best of all, the entertainment comes to you, every Friday night and Sunday lunch, gratis. Just downstairs at flow, acoustic gigs by local and international bands offer jazz, rock and blues. So far so good.
Special priced events such as Diesel, The Audreys, Mick Thomas and The Celibate Rifles have sold out, and now, a room of one's own at BWBH with its private verandah overlooking the stage makes the venue all the more compelling. You can stay up late, and in the morning take a dip in the ocean and come back for a slap-up big breakfast.
As jolly punters climb the white-striped stairs from flow bar up to Boogie Woogie Beach House, where a wall-sized picture of The White Stripes hangs, there are huge grins and slow nods all around.
Yep, this place is cool.
To add to the vibe, across the road is well-known surf beach Old Bar.
"When the Celibate Rifles heard about Boogie Woogie they phoned us," laughs co-owner Stephen “Doss” Doessel, 46. "They asked if they could stay and play a gig, as they wanted to go surfing."
What's more, from Old Bar, it's an easy day trip to Crowdy Head, Black Head, Seal Rocks and South West Rocks.
Looking for an adventure as well as a great location, Doss - who has a background in finance and sales - was stoked to find this place and immediately contacted his business partner, David Craig. "It was just yes. I didn't even have to think," says Dave, 37.
But BWBH is not any old country B&B. The aesthetic here is unique, hip, luxurious and clean-lined, with touches of vintage. Fancy drapes, thick black carpet and custom artsy cushions give it a posh finish.
And for music lovers, each of the five rooms (another four are slated) is inspired by music and has its own bespoke bathroom, tiled in a special tribute to a musician. So far, there’s Nick Cave, Dave Grohl, Ziggy Stardust, ‘Satchmo’ (Louis Armstrong), and a nod to the now antiquated mix tape.
Steve and Dave have clearly hit the right note, because music fans are clamouring to shower and sleep in the "room" of their idol.
"People cry and gush," says Doss, of the reactions of guests when fronted with a bathroom tiled with the massive face of their hero.
"We're not Hard Rock Cafe: more music-inspired than music-themed," says Canadian-native David, a former art director who has a serious passion for art and music.
True, there's not a signed guitar in sight. What there are instead are beautiful books, bespoke artworks and hand-painted song lyrics tied in with the themes.
FOOD & DRINK
Doss is a one-time commercial manager for Carlton United Breweries, but it's not all about the impressive brewskis and cocktails.
When they say you'll eat like a king at Flow they aren't joking, chef Julie-Ann Booth has cooked for royalty.
Finding her was a eureka moment for Stephen and David, not least because she has plenty of startling stories to tell about the rich and famous.
She's blogged on how to eat like a billionaire (see thechefinheels.blogspot.com) and brings that mindset to Flow. "Modern kings eat very lightly these days," says Julie-Ann. "I'm into modern, clean, fresh and healthy."
Julie-Ann's "crown" clients have included The Sultan of Brunei, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Di and Prince Charles (plus Aussie rock royalty Doc Neeson of The Angels).
Her top ten hits you'll find at Flow include a burger with local salmon marinated in kaffir lime leaves with kaffir lime mayo; a lasagne of chargrilled veg, homemade tomato sauce and basil pesto; and a delish lemongrass broth with scads of juicy seafood and micro herbs.
It may be "clean" eating, but there are no shirkers in the flavour department here, each meal has been auditioned by a tough audience, after all.
Former prime ministers John Howard, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd have dined at Julie-Ann's table, too. And Kerry Packer even asked for her signature mashed potato recipe!
As good chefs know, great meals are made using first-class suppliers for seasonal ingredients that sing, well before they get anywhere near a flame. So the nearby Manning Valley is "an untapped wealth of resources" says Julie-Ann, a vocal advocate of 100-mile cooking.
Her proximity to that glorious hinterland (think succulent grass-fed wagyu and biodynamic/organic yoghurt), as well as a German butcher in Taree (oh, the bacon), and the obvious fruits of the Tasman, mean she'll be able to keep the culinary hits coming.
Flow makes a fine friend to gluten-free folk, too.
With rooms and meals priced for country folk, and the kind of luxe quality city slickers expect, Boogie Woogie Beach House and Flow Bar make a fine duet that is well worth an encore.
Queries: phone Jade Craig for interviews, famils and media rates.
Flow Bar | Café, Bar, Live Music & Boogie Woogie Beach House | hotel, accommodation
31 David Street, Old Bar Beach NSW 2430
t 02 6557 4224 | 0416395366 e firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com
www.flowbar.com.au | www.boogiewoogiebeachhouse.com.au
Flowbar Facebook | BWBH Facebook