ANGELA SAURINE and her moon-loving toddler check out the new Galaxy Room Upgrade package at this beachside hotel
Located opposite Manly Beach, with views of its golden sands and towering Norfolk Pines, this hotel makes a great base to explore the famous Sydney suburb. Many rooms have balconies with views over the ocean, so you can fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing against the shore, while its rooftop pool is a highlight. You can also rest assured that Novotel is a family-friendly hotel chain, offering free accommodation and breakfast for children under 16 when staying with two paying adults, and 50 per cent off a second room. Its new Galaxy Room Upgrade is a great addition, with an in-room light projector displaying the moon and stars on the roof and a telescope a hit with littlies.
If you love the ocean, it’s hard to beat the hotel’s location on North Steyne on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, just a minute’s walk from the landmark Hotel Steyne at the end of the Corso, with its many shops, restaurants and cafes. It’s around five minutes’ walk to Manly Wharf. If you are in a hurry you can take the fast ferry to the city, which takes 18 minutes, but if you have time it’s more fun to ride the iconic Manly Ferry, which takes around 30 minutes.
The hotel has 213 guestrooms and suites. They range from Standard Rooms, which can accommodate up to two adults and two children, through to two-bedroom Ocean View Suites with two bathrooms. If you have more kids there is an extra charge for more guests, subject to availability. Our Superior Ocean View Room on level six has a balcony with views over the beach. I’m particularly impressed with the shampoo made with fair trade cane sugar from Paraguay, and conditioner made with fair trade pine nut from Ghana.
Swimming in the rooftop pool on level eight is the hotel’s biggest attraction. Kids will also love playing in the bubbles in the adjoining spa, while parents admire the views all the way to Shelly Beach. For $50 more per night, you can book the Galaxy Room Upgrade – a novelty room decked out with a telescope for stargazing out the window, and a projection light. My three-year-old son gets extremely excited about the “flashing lights” when we walk in. It also includes a welcome pack with an activity booklet filled with puzzles and pencils for kids ages three to 10, and a pile of kids’ movie DVDs to watch.
FOOD AND DRINK
Watch people surfing, playing volleyball and jogging from the hotel’s elegant French-bistro style restaurant, appropriately named Bistro Manly, on the ground floor. Dads will love the 120-day dry-aged beef sirloin with truffle salted hand cut chips, while the kids’ breakfast includes pancakes with berries or maple syrup and waffles. One of Manly’s most family-friendly restaurants, Japanese rock’n’roll bar, Daniel San, is also located in the same building. Other options include casual Italian eatery Fratelli Fresh or The Bavarian at Manly Wharf, which offers a Feed the Family Feast with giant pretzels, schnitzel, a roast pumpkin salad (with yummy goat’s cheese and beetroot) and dessert for $49 for two adults and two children aged under 12, before 6pm. Or just grab take-away fish and chips and eat on the beach (but beware of seagulls!), followed by an obligatory ice-cream. If you feel like staying in, you can also scan a QR code on your phone to order room service.
Book a surf lesson at the beach or take the coastal walk to Shelly Beach to snorkel in the protected Cabbage Tree Bay Marine Reserve. Hire kayaks or stand-up paddleboards from Manly Wharf to get out on Sydney Harbour, or rent bikes and ride up to North Head Sanctuary to the former quarantine station, now a retreat known as Q Station, where you can do history and ghost tours. You can also catch the ferry to the city to enjoy a picnic in The Royal Botanic Garden, see a family show at the Opera House, climb the Harbour Bridge, or visit attractions, such as WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and Madame Tussauds, in Darling Harbour. From late May until October, you can also do whale watching tours with Captain Cook Cruises to spot humpbacks as they make their way from Antarctica to Queensland and back during their annual migration.
The writer was a guest of Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific and Captain Cook Cruises.