Halcyon House: Australia’s Hottest New Boutique Hotel



Hand’s up if you’ve been pouring over the dreamy blue and white interior images that keep popping up on Instagram with the #halcyonhouse wondering where this hot new hotel that everyone keeps snapping is? I certainly was, which is why I grabbed my mum and girls and headed to Halcyon House in NSW’s Cabarita for a few days and also interviewed the clever founders behind the hotel, sisters Elisha and Siobhan Bickle.

For the record, Halcyon House is even better than it looks on Instagram. Everything about the classic beachy blue and white interior is spectacular, thanks to the talented Brisbane-based interior designer Anna Spiro. You could spend days wandering around the hotel taking every detail in. The bedheads! The upholstered walls! The eclectic art collection! The interior inspiration is seemingly endless. The staff – many of who are Italian – are welcoming, warm and make it an experience to remember. As for the food, it’s phenomenal. The beachfront restaurant is called Paper Daisy and the path that leads to the restaurant is lined with pretty yellow and white paper daisies. And you’re right on the beach, so you can either laze by the pool on a blue and white striped lounge or if you have kids, let them burn off some energy running around the beach.

“We wanted to create a space that felt like your own beach house, whilst keeping the sensibilities of the 1960’s beach motel. We believed the best people to help us with that were architect Virginia Kerridge and interior designer Anna Spiro,” says Elisha, a mother of four (Harvey, 10, Anakin, 9, Mary, 7 and Vincent, 4). Siobhan is a mother to five children – Arki, 10, Julius, 8, Theodora, 6, Stavros, 4 and Balthasar, 4 – so between them life is full. We were thrilled to catch up with the sisters and find out more about Australia’s chicest new boutique hotel…

Photography: Raegan Glazner Additional images and words: Georgie Abay


ELISHA BICKLE


What has motherhood taught you?

To be organised and patient. In those early years it really was a shock how much more difficult little things in life took. Getting milk from the shop in the mornings was such a hassle, so I really learnt to be more organised. Life is short so enjoy it.


Can you tell us about your background and how you came to launch Halcyon House?

My background has been hospitality businesses and property investment.  After buying the motel we worked through what we thought would be the best application for the property and we saw a gap in the market in Australia for an intimate and relaxed beach getaway in an old coastal town.  It took two years of planning and 15 months to build.


Can you tell us about your work with Sydney-based architect Virginia Kerridge and Brisbane-based interior designer Anna Spiro?

We have a beach house that VK designed and we have always loved it so much, there isn’t a single thing we have ever wanted to change in the house, so we thought VK was an obvious choice. We believed Anna Spiro would be able to achieve the collected and comfortable beach house feeling that we were looking for. Anna really understood the brief and totally nailed it.


What pieces in the hotel do you love the most?

Funnily enough one of the goals we had is that the spaces will give guests the opportunity to recall past memories of their beach holidays and also create new ones when at the hotel. I love walking around the hotel looking at the various collected pieces and there is already for me these wonderful often very funny memories behind how we came across them, so ironically for me the memories are what I love the most.  The upholstered walls are a close second.


What is your favourite part of the hotel?

The beachfront restaurant Paper Daisy.  Australia has such a vast and beautiful coast line and for whatever reason we have a real lack of beachfront dining.


How do you juggle work with motherhood?

I was very fortunate that I was able to take my little babies to work with me for the first 5-6 months while I was breast-feeding. They were all such content babies so I didn’t find this a burden at all. Siobhan and I also pretty much had child for child so in the beginning years, we shared a nanny so the cousins have spent a lot of time together which is really beautiful…. And noisy!  Nowadays I try to work via the school terms and take the school holidays off to be with the kids.


What has been the most challenging part of motherhood for you?

Getting enough sleep so I can be patient.


What are your key tips for running a successful business?

Make your product different and empower your staff.


Why is Halcyon Hotel so unique?

It’s the way it makes you feel when your there and from the moment you walk in, you feel like you are somewhere completely different to your everyday life.


Why is Cabarita so special to you?

The headland at Cabarita is beautiful and the town represents that old surf town for so many Australians.  I love hearing stories from people that have holidayed there for over 60 years.  For me, it was the place where I tricked my then friend and now husband that I was a surfie chick.


SIOBHAN BICKLE


What has motherhood taught you?

Definitely patience. Also appreciation for my own mother and all the sacrifices she made for us.


How has life changed for you since becoming a mother?

Life is extremely busy and I have been warned it will become even busier as the children get older. I think something has to give when you are working and also have children and for me it has probably been late nights. I don’t function well without sleep.


Can you tell us about your background and how you came to launch Halcyon House?

I have a business and hospitality background. I love starting a business from scratch and watching it grow and evolve.


Did your career change at all after the birth of your children?

There were definitely adjustments that needed to be made. More work was done in the evenings to catch up on lost time during the day. When we added twins to the mix to make five my career went on hold for a couple of years. It was great diving back into it with Halcyon.


What has been the most challenging part of motherhood for you?

Definitely jumping from three to five children with the arrival of our twins was the most challenging period. It took me two years to get on top of things to reach a stage where I felt I could work again. I think as a mother you are always learning and trying to do things better. Sometimes when I feel I have mastered a stage or age something happens to turn everything on its head. Children grow and learn quickly and it is challenging to keep up and stay in tune.


What’s your philosophy when it comes to decorating?

For me it is to surround yourself with things you love. I have always loved antiques and could think of nothing better than fossicking through a flea market on a weekend.


What are your summer fashion essentials?

Living in Queensland the summer is long and the sun is strong. I always wear a wide brimmed hat and sunscreen. I buy a couple of pairs of new bathers every year, Havaianas and book in for regular pedicures.


What’s your favourite part of the day?

If sleep wasn’t such a priority I would probably love to be up to see the sunrise every day but that doesn’t happen very often. So shortly after that I love waking to the noise that a large family brings.

Go to www.halcyonhouse.com.au


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