LANE Hidden Gems Tour. Byron Bay.

Tuesday, July 15th 2014

“ We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls”

Head east, the furthest east, where salty manes and bare feet roam. A magnetic sun illuminates blue seas and the pacific breeze calms afternoon dreams. With energy like no other, Byron, is a euphoric place with an untamed soul.

A longtime haven for nomadic spirits and a regular witness to the many exchanges of sacred vows and words of forever, much has been written about this spiritual land. Translating to “ Cavvanbah” the aboriginal word for meeting place, its pull is strong and its appeal sweeping. 

Byron is made for late night swims and barefoot adventures; summer afternoons at Top Pub and shared dinners with friends. People travel from lands faraway and those close by, for rest, for healing and for a chance to immerse themselves in the laidback way of life and channel the free spirit that Byron radiates.

Winter on the East Coast in far north NSW is one of the most magical times of the year. The days are warm and the nights are clear. While in summer the town can feel a little overrun with tourists in winter there’s a peaceful serenity which can make for an amazing destination wedding, elopement or honeymoon. Byron is a regular weekend visit for The LANE team, we are drawn by its gypsy mood, artistic culture, sparkling beaches and amazing food and wine scene. This draw extends to many gypset couples seeking eclectic weddings that reflect their laidback style and so on our most recent trip we set out to find wedding and honeymoon venues that haven’t been done a hundred times over; those that will work beautifully regardless of your aesthetic! This journey unearthed some of Byron’s Hidden Gems and gave us the opportunity to revisit and bring to you some of our favourite venues and spaces, perfect for creating your dream wedding in this enchanting place. Some off the beaten track, some iconic, but all magical…

NEWRYBAR DOWNS...

There’s a certain shimmer to the sunset in the Byron Bay hinterland, it’s ephemeral and fleeting, but look closely and it’s there. It’s in those last magical minutes of the day when the rest of the world has turned their back and only those that are patient in their wait are gifted with the beauty. It’s when the sky is painted pink and the green fields are burnt amber. When a dark shadow begins to creep over the land and the mystery of the looming night begins to spread like wildfire.

Inspired by the celestial mood awakened by pink skies kissing green fields and a golden sun romantically lingering in the sky, the enchantment of a wedding in the Byron Bay Hinterland evokes simple serenity like no other. While hinterland and private estate venues might seem in abundance, there’s a romance in knowing that in Byron you are only minutes from the coast. It’s one of those enchanted places where the sea and land dance together.

Often discarded for their logistical trouble, it is true a hinterland marquee wedding requires much more than green fields and auburn sunsets. So we set out on an adventure to discover the very best Byron Bay hinterland venue for LANE Brides. One that provides the engulfing magic and serenity of fresh country air, a stylish homestay for the bridal party, the ease of bringing in a marquee while still radiating the spirit and laidback charm of Byron and its surrounds.

Drawn to the breathtaking views and the relaxed sense of serenity fused with the opulent glamour of a decadent party at a private estate, we immediately fell in love with the undiscovered Newrybar Downs - an incredible 10-acre property set amongst lush green Byron Hinterland and towering tropical palms.

Head up the tree-lined driveway of the property where a single story white rendered house dressed with black and white awnings awaits behind tropical towering palms, lawns are freshly manicured and green rolling fields sit to the right and there’s a definite mood of French chic meets relaxed country. Salty breezes and green fields evoke thoughts of a Hamptons style private party or a weekend country escape with a wedding thrown in for good measure. A venue perfect for those brides looking for a refined take on a gypsy marquee wedding.

A lingering setting sun paints blue skies pink and the stunning green landscape pulls you to the right of the house where a cabana area dressed with black and white arm chairs and cane furniture, a glass fenced swimming pool and timber sun lounges sit on top of a rolling green hill. The space is reminiscent of weekend escapes to a friend’s private estate where days are lost easily to drinking in the view and fresh hinterland air. This otherworldly serenity together with the French-inspired design elements (like the black and white striped accents and the oversized pear lantern) have us thinking of decadent dinner party in a clear-sided marquee.

The beauty of Newrybar Downs is its versatility and that is can work perfectly for two different styles of weddings – an opulent dinner party with a French chic aesthetic and a bohemian-inspired garden reception under the stars. For a decadent dinner party work with the French aesthetic and set up long timber tables dressed with black and white striped runners and white bentwood chairs. Add opulence in your choice of blooms with large oversized arrangements of berry and peach wildflowers organically spilling from bronzed urns or even large balls of white hydrangeas. Crystal stemware and antique crockery will add a regal touch. As night falls cluster hundreds of white pillar candles in an array of heights, have the dance floor outside and your first dance on a magical field of green under a blanket of stars.

For a bohemian garden party draw inspiration from a palette of all white to awaken a mood of whimsical innocence on a midsummers eve. If the weather permits do away with a marquee and simply erect timber trestle tables (joined together to form one long reception table) on the flat grass area. Draped with raw white linens and adorned with crystal vases and handpicked white blooms the mood of effortless bohemian romance will be brought to life.

For many the allure of a wedding at a private estate is the ability to create the homely atmosphere needed to give your wedding that beautiful sense of intimacy amongst close family and friends. Enter the house at Newrybar Downs where a freshly baked lemon cake made with fruits from the properties orchid cools on the kitchen island bench, vases of flowers handpicked from the gardens pop against dark timber floors and you are welcomed by property owners Pip and Greg and you instantly feel at home and that you are amongst the company of good friends. The eclectic aesthetic of east meets west and the fusion of French country design, Asian antiques and original artworks with an organic touch of an effortless Byron beach house creates a warm, homely ambience and would provide a beautiful backdrop to pre-ceremony wedding photos. The house with its 5 bedrooms is designed in a U shape around the properties courtyard which creates the perfect setup for entertaining pre and post wedding!

What you need to know
Newrybar Downs can be taken for the entire weekend with check in Friday and check out Monday.
- The house accommodates 10 guests with 4 queen bedrooms and 1 room with two single beds.
- Weddings of up to 150 can be accommodated. The cabana area can be used for up to 60 guests.
- A flat turf area in front of the pool area has undisrupted views of the rolling green fields and is available for marquee set up.
- While the house sleeps 10 and is equipment with a kitchen there is also a private shed for wedding catering. Portaloos can also be brought in so access to the house can be closed off for the wedding. 
Newrybar Downs is located in Newrybar just outside Byron Bay NSW and a short drive to Lennox Head and Bangalow. It is 20 minutes from Ballina airport or 40 minutes from the Gold Coast with lots of additional accommodation available in Byron and it’s surrounds.
- The best place for guests to stay would be in Byron or Bangalow and coordinate bus transport to pick up and drop of guests.

Styling Ideas
French Chic
James & Nadia Real Wedding / Bridal Gowns: Chic Minimalism / Wedding Guest Fashion: Le Smoking / Reception Decor: Crystal Cut Glassware / Flowers: Classic Arrangments / Styled Shoot: Tres Chic / Ceremony Decor: Beach Chairs / A Love of Letterpress / Flowergirls: Teaprincess Ivory Wildflower Collection

Bohemian
Kara & Jeff Real Wedding / Decor Hire: Timbermill Rentals / Theme: Summer Whites / Theme: Sheer Simplicity / Flowers: Astilbe Boquets / Beauty: Daisy Chains / Bridal: The New Crochet / Florist: Fleuriste / Cakes: Gillian Bell / Food Styling: Flower Food

To see more of this property you can view Newrybar Downs on The LANE Directory or find out more here

RAE'S ON WATEGO'S...

Wategos Beach, Byron Bay, Australia. The days pass freely and the sultry summer nights come quietly.  A cauldron of bohemians and spirited souls adventure barefoot, warm sun kisses bronze skin and salt breezes calm afternoon dreams. A positively dreamy wedding area for those drawn to the serene coastal charm of life in Byron Bay.

Evoking a 70’s beach club vibe and inspiring dreams of lounging poolside after salty summer days, for the bohemian luxe brides we fell in love with Rae’s on Watego’s; the iconic seafront boutique hotel full of exotic charm. 

Built in the 1970s, the whitewashed, Moroccan-inspired Mediterranean villa is the perfect blend of modern luxury and bohemian grandeur. With its beachfront open air restaurant space, seven luxurious suites, walls adorned in eclectic David Bromley art, exotic décor, Moroccan inspired details, climbing fuchsia bougainvillea and laidback coastal charm, it’s the perfect wedding space for the boho luxe bride.

Beams from the Cape Byron Lighthouse dance romantically on the sea at night affront of the luxe, yet laid-back restaurant space, open air dining terrace and beachside bar, where clear shutters can be opened up for guests to revel in the fresh sea breeze and tables and chairs can be moved out creating a blank beachfront canvas. Work with the eclectic bohemian vibe of white timber floors, pink mother of pearl archways and art painted walls to create a cocktail style reception that pays homage to the whimsical Byron location.

Chanel the mood of iconic bohemians like Talitha Getty and opt for a heavily embellished gown worn barefoot, with groomsmen in soft linen suits. Dress the curved restaurant window seat with vibrant cushions and scatter antique Moroccan rugs in a palette of cream, burnt orange and faded purple on the white timber floors. Hang an abundance of white Chinese lanterns for mood lighting and to mirror the full moon on the quiet sea or even clusters of shell chandeliers. Use the beachfront manicured lawn with the backdrop of the ombre blue waters of Wategoes Beach (given privacy by palm tree clad gardens) or the intimate Moroccan-inspired pool area for a relaxed and spirited ceremony.

You can hire out the entire hotel for complete exclusivity and spend your post wedding days reveling in morning swims, pink sunrises and lounging on the sun-drenched balconies of the Mirabella Penthouse. Marble floors, arched white windows, sunlit rooms, the four poster timber bed, open plan spa, David Bromley art and painted surfboards and daybeds dressed with an eclectic mix of soft furnishings make this amazing space feel like your very own bohemian beach abode!

Styling Ideas
Bridal Gowns: Kaftan Silhouettes / Bridal Gowns: Heavy Metal / Reception Decor: Mood Indigo / Decor: Cadry's Rug Hire / Accessories: Turquoise & Diamond Rings / Florist: Fleuriste / Cakes: Gillian Bell

You can view more information about weddings and honeymoons at Rae’s here and view Rae's on The LANE Directory.

ITALIAN AT THE PACIFIC...

Think about those nights that stay with you, the ones that draw you back and make you nostalgic for days gone by. For summer moments by the beach and for skin kissed gold, for afternoons that roll into spontaneous dinners and for sharing spirited stories and breaking bread with close friends. Think about these nights. It’s not a moment you remember or even a place it’s a feeling; a fleeting feeling of carefree happiness in those rare times when you are completely surrounded by family and friends.

Italian at the Pacific is made for these kinds of nights. Nights for eternal memories made over a shared meal with amazing friends, nights for dinner and nights for dancing. Located in the heart of Byron, nestled just to the side of Top Pub and right across from Main Beach, where spirited travellers and locals migrate on dusk and the night comes alive, it has stolen many midnight hours with its incredible food and delicious cocktails. If you have visited Byron before chances are you too would have fallen in love with the incredible food, but might not have thought of this rustic and intimate space as a potential Byron wedding venue.

Lively, intimate and full of laid-back coastal charm, the restaurant space is perfect for those wanting a no-fuss dinner party style reception with a focus on amazing food, wine and cocktails. For those planning a Byron elopement or trying to coordinate a destination wedding from a distance, logistics can get tricky and the costs of a marquee wedding at a blank canvas venue can creep up quickly, with additional elements like catering, portaloos, décor hire and transport needed. While a reception at Italian at the Pacific might not be dinner under the stars, it is a reception that is full of soul, where the true meaning of celebrating with only your closest family and friends is not lost.

Simple romance and raw love is the mood that envelopes when taking in this charming space and thoughts of dinner and dancing are awakened. Really is there anything more romantic? The space has a beautiful rustic aesthetic with timber bi-fold doors and windows, paneled roof, exposed white bricks, thatched roof frontage, glass wine cellar, striped lounge seating in a palette of cream, black and grey and menus scripted on a chalkboard wall and as such lends too minimalistic styling. The inside area can be transformed from its usual set up to have three long dining tables allowing for a dinner party of 70 seated guests. The Byron ocean front location and rustic beach restaurant vibe inspires dreams of an ethereal bride in billowing chiffon with brown feet adorned in chunky shell anklets. Simple additions of fresh hand picked blooms, wildflowers or natives placed organically in glass bottles, ivory tapered candles, driftwood and clusters of seashells will mirror the mood of Byron beach life. After formalities the middle dining table can be moved out to allow for more dance floor room. The restaurant can also be hired out exclusively and the front and side courtyards can be used for cocktails and canapés and adorned with your personal styling touches.

Food is the focus of this venue, which inspires a more organic and intimate reception. As one of our all-time favourite restaurants, we can’t visit Byron without dining here. The menu and food is like nothing else! For weddings we love that there isn’t a traditional alternate drop menu that one might expect and guests can experience the food in all its amazingness. Menu highlights of braised beef, potato puree & caramelised onion; snapper & lemon crushed potato; pepperonata, braised lamb with a herb risoni; wild mushroom risotto; set chocolate custard, candied peanuts & a banana, natural yoghurt ice cream and beverage options that include lychee martinis are like nothing we have ever experienced at a wedding!

What you need to know
Italian At The Pacific offers an array of catering packages, seated dining for between 50 and 120 guests or a cocktail menu for between 60 and 140. The outdoor courtyard area can be booked for weddings of 20-65.
- Wedding bookings are from 6pm until midnight and bookings can be made as late at 6 weeks out from your chosen date.
- White napery, tablecloths, crockery, cutlery and the necessary glassware are provided. Any additional décor styling and flowers can be brought in and staff are really accommodating in arranging these for you.
- Live bands or DJ’s can be set up inside the restaurant.
- Menu prices range from $65 - $75 per person. Beverage packages start at $55 per person.
- Christmas holidays in Byron are an extremely busy period and it can be hard to get venue options and accommodation. Italian at the Pacific does not take wedding bookings during this period (December 25th - January 10th).

Styling Ideas
Flowers: Fleuriste / Flowers: Wild Flowers / Accessories: Anklets / Cakes: Gillian Bell Cakes / Cakes: Berry Wedding Cakes / Reception Decor: Tied Cutlery / Reception Decor: Rose Ice Cubes

Visit Italian at the Pacific's official website to view more or visit The LANE Directory.

HARVEST CAFE NEWRYBAR... 

The night comes quietly at Harvest. The soft auburn glow of the afternoon light seems to hang magically in the air as the hinterland fields come alive with the luminous sparkle of a setting sun. Like us and the abundance of barefoot beauties, if you have been pulled to the Byron area for its bohemian charm and laid-back existence, chances are you would have hustled for a table at Harvest on a busy Sunday or lined up for a coffee and pastry from their famous deli. However with its rustic, yet chic aesthetic and relaxed vibe, Harvest is also the perfect space for an intimate bohemian, effortlessly luxe or country inspired reception full of soul.

Set in a little town called Newrybar in the Hinterland of Northern NSW, just outside of Byron Bay, this 1900’s rustic cottage house with its whitewashed weatherboards, teak floors and small town vibe, is our routine weekend visit for lazy Sunday lunch. Romanced by fresh county air and wide-open spaces, we love to lose our days feasting on their local, seasonal and sustainable menu and cocktails inspired by the native Australian bush and tropical fruits.

Our favourite spot for a rustic reception dinner in the Hinterland is Harvest’s verandah. A sprawling, open roof, timber decked area, which looks out to the neighboring deli, Harvest gardens and historic 100-year-old bakery, has us instantly dreaming of a shared meal with friends reception dinner. Think dramatic long tables and bentwood chairs set with incredible handpicked arrangements of wildflowers in deep plum, rich berry, jewel tone and wine stain hues, complementing the natural landscape of the area and the seasons harvest. A spirited ambience and magical serenity created with an abundance of soft flickering pillar candles and mood lighting.

The old-bakery set at the back of the cottage house is another of our favourite spots to hold a spirited and lively reception. Retreating to the space after wandering the Harvest Garden (where small ceremonies can be held), with its concrete floors, exposed brick walls, bi-fold French windows, wooden ceiling beams and dramatic rustic chandelier, we feel we have discovered the ultimate gem for an intimate and completely original wedding reception. Inspiring thoughts of 40 of your closet family and friends enjoying a shared table menu or embracing the spirit of paddock to plate with a whole beast from the woodfire oven. The rustic details are divine and if keeping costs low is a priority, minimal styling is needed. The beauty is in the spaces, history, charm and the unique story it tells (it is still a functioning bakery during the day). We recommend opting for oversized florals held in dramatic crystal cut vases to bring a sense of opulence to the space.

The food however is the real star of Harvest for us and if amazing food and wine is a big focus for you, then with just one mouthful you will fall even more in love with this incredible venue. Renowned for their fresh and seasonal produce sourced from the local region and Harvest’s own garden and 5-acre organic farm.
What you need to know

Wedding packages can be tailored to suit your reception preference and range from cocktail style for up to 120, shared table dining or even a luxurious dinner for eight in the private dining room (housed in the century old bakery). The Harvest Restaurant can accommodate 88-seated guests or 120 cocktail style. The Old Bakery can be booked for 40 seated guests or 100 stand up.

Styling Ideas
Reception Decor: Raw Wooden Tables /  Reception Decor: Bentwood Chairs / Reception Decor: Rustic Table Textures / Food Styling: Cheese Displays / Reception Decor: Tied Cutlery / Decor Hire: Timbermill Rentals / Flowers: Anemones / Flowers: Raw Simplicity / Flowers: Rustic Buckets of Flowers

You can view Harvest Café Newrybar on The LANE Directory and find more information, package options as well as venue hire fees over on Harvest Café’s official website

OTHER HIDDEN GEMS...

EWINGSDALE HALL...

Built in 1908 this hidden gem / community space is a charming rustic country hall just outside of Byron which can be hired out for weddings and events. Nestled on a fig-lined street and beside a cute little Anglican Chapel, the hall with its cream frontage and burgundy accents evokes nostalgia for the simplicity of weddings in days gone by. Think a raw and real ceremony in the garden amongst the giant figs and flowering purple tree with the rolling green hills of the Byron hinterland as a magical backdrop.  

While still in the Byron area Ewingsdale Hall doesn’t have the serenity and views of other hinterland or coastal properties. It is right of the main road so it is for those looking for a quaint and cute space, but not too worried about the location. While undeniably full of vintage charm to ensure a timeless wedding reflective of your personal style we recommend steering away from any vintage references. Over the top vintage styling is not a look we personally love and because the venue is so rustic it works best when given some contrast. This will create a fresh and timeless aesthetic and ensure your wedding isn’t too trend based. Inside the hall the floors are timber and beams are exposed so it is an absolute blank canvas and stylists dream to bring in your own décor and styling.

If you're inspired by bohemian charm and free spirits you could bring more of a gypsy aesthetic to the fields next to the hall with Tipi Tents from KataLane. The beautiful silhouettes of the tents on the wide-open field and the backdrop of a landscape painted with a multitude of colours will enchant. Think lively chatter over homemade favourites, a mellow tune hanging overhead and a palette of earthy hues working to create a mood of gypset luxury. Style tents with low-slung loveseats, Moroccan floor rugs and an array of low tables and picnic style seating. Light fixtures can be kept either oversized or understated, while pretty tea lights and dripping mismatched pillar candles cast magical shadows on the canvas walls. 

A marquee can also be erect to the left of the property for those that want added refinement and additional space. Our Wild Rose theme with its stunning contrast of rich decadence and earthy decaying textures offers the perfect blend of gypsy luxe for this venue.

What you need to know
- The hall can be hired from Friday am until Monday am, allowing plenty of time for styling, set up and pack down.
- Venue hire fee is approximately $1200. Guest capacity is 200. The hall is equipped with a fully functioning kitchen although caterers often set up tents outside of the hall for additional space.
- There are four toilets on site.
- There is ample parking available, but we recommend hiring bus transport for your guests.
- Décor available is minimal and we recommend working with a local stylist like Little Grey Station to help you with décor hire and to completely style the space. The noise curfew for loud music is midnight.

Styling Ideas
Gypsy
Theme: Wild Rose / Beverages: Cake Wines / Decor Hire: Timbermill Rentals / Decor Hire: KataLane / Food Styling: Flower Food / Reception Decor: Floral Clash / Decor Hire: Tipi Tents / Ceremony Decor: Musical Instruments / Reception Decor: Crystal Visions / Reception Decor: Tied Cutlery / Flowers: Jewel Tone Florals / Brice & Leah's Real Wedding / Tim & Hannah's Real Wedding

More information and contact details for this venue can be found here

Many of the hidden gems we unearthed also offer beautiful spaces to hold your wedding ceremony, but for those dreaming of a traditional church ceremony before their reception at one of these amazing venues some of our favourite local churches discovered were….

Bangalow Presbyterian Church
73 Byron St, Bangalow NSW 2479
02 66291484

A tiny chapel on a little lane in the historically charming small town of Bangalow was our standout favourite. With a cream frontage, blue trims, leadlight arches window and gardens lined with overgrown hydrangeas come spring it awakens a love of tradition and timelessness.

St. Oswald’s Church in Broken Head
14 Kingsley St, Byron Bay NSW 2481
(02) 6685 6431

Bexhill Open Air Cathedral
Grace Rd, Bexhill NSW 2480
(02) 6628 4225
(30 minutes drive east from Byron Bay)

Our handpicked photographers based in either Byron Bay or the Gold Coast area…
Bushturkey Studios
Bek Grace
Lucas & Co
Figtree Pictures
Joeseph Willis
Sail Me to the Moon
Amelia Fullarton

A few of our favourite things to do in Byron…

To Eat
Bay Leaf, Byron Bay
Miss margarita, Byron bay
Italian at the Pacific, Byron Bay
Harvest Café, Newrybar

To Shop
Hope and May, Byron Bay
Pompidou, Byron Bay
Ahoy Trader, Byron Bay
Island Luxe, Bangalow
Brauerbirds, Bangalow

To Explore
Byron Markets
Bangalow Markets
Wategoes Beach
Tallows Beach
Broken Head Beach

For Beauty
Mud Honey, Byron Bay
Byron at Byron Spa

 

A Day at Harvest Cafe Newrybar.

Monday, June 16th 2014

Sitting on the sprawling verandah of Harvest Café Newrybar, shaded by the overhanging wisteria tree, face lit by warm afternoon sun, as aromas of autumnal delights hang in the crisp hinterland air, you get an overwhelming nostalgia for a simpler existence, where time spent and meals shared with family and friends takes priority over the hustle of our busy modern lives. 

Set in a little town called Newrybar in the Hinterland of Northern NSW, just outside of Byron Bay, this 1900’s rustic cottage house with its whitewashed weatherboards, teak floors and small town vibe, is our routine weekend visit for lazy Sunday lunch. Romanced by fresh county air and wide-open spaces, we love to lose our days feasting on their local, seasonal and sustainable menu and cocktails inspired by the native Australian bush and tropical fruits.

Like us and the abundance of barefoot beauties, if you have been pulled to the Byron area for its bohemian charm and laid-back existence, chances are you would have hustled for a table at Harvest on a busy Sunday or lined up for a coffee and pastry from their famous deli. However with its rustic, yet chic aesthetic and relaxed vibe, Harvest is also the perfect space for an intimate bohemian, effortlessly luxe or country inspired reception full of soul. We wanted to visit one of our favourite spaces and show it to you through the inquisitive eyes of a free spirit on the search for her dream wedding space…

Enter Harvest’s restaurant area and memories of lazy Sundays spent around the fire in the living room of a family country retreat flood in. The open plan kitchen and bar area, leather clubman chairs, hanging pendant lights, casual stacks of coffee table cookbooks and worn daily newspapers set amongst the spirited conversations of friends catching up over a long lunch, instantly makes you feel like you are amongst good company. Inspiring thoughts of a newlywed couple sharing stories and a glass of red wine with family and friends well into the night.  

Our favourite spot for a rustic reception dinner is Harvest’s verandah. As we move out onto the sprawling, open roof, timber decked area, which looks out to the neighboring deli, Harvest gardens and historic 100-year-old bakery, we are instantly dreaming of a shared meal with friends reception dinner. Think dramatic long tables and bentwood chairs set with incredible handpicked arrangements of wildflowers in deep plum, rich berry, jewel tone and wine stain hues, complementing the natural landscape of the area and the seasons harvest. A spirited ambience and magical serenity created with an abundance of soft flickering pillar candles and mood lighting.

The food however is the real star of Harvest for us and if amazing food and wine is a big focus for you, then with just one mouthful you will fall even more in love with this incredible venue. Renowned for their fresh and seasonal produce sourced from the local region and Harvest’s own garden and 5-acre organic farm, the new autumn menu is a delicate and fresh celebration of the season. Our feast of Local heirloom tomato carpaccio, Harvest salted ricotta, garden herbs; and a Harvest Garden Celebration on toasted buckwheat to start, looks and tastes like a beautifully delicate flowering garden on a plate. The mains of Risotto with pearl barley, smoked mushrooms, kale, toasted macadamias and pecorino; Brunswick Heads Spanish Mackerel with Sweet Corn and Baby Beets; and Pan seared duck breast with fennel puree and braised cabbage with currans give you the hearty satisfaction that only comes with eating wholesome food appropriate for the season amongst good company.

The old-bakery set at the back of the cottage house is another of our favourite spots to hold a spirited and lively reception. Retreating to the space after wandering the Harvest Garden (where small ceremonies can be held), with its concrete floors, exposed brick walls, bi-fold French windows, wooden ceiling beams and dramatic rustic chandelier, we feel we have discovered the ultimate gem for an intimate and completely original wedding reception. Inspiring thoughts of 40 of your closet family and friends enjoying a shared table menu or embracing the spirit of paddock to plate with a whole beast from the woodfire oven. The rustic details are divine and if keeping costs low is a priority, minimal styling is needed. The beauty is in the spaces, history, charm and the unique story it tells (it is still a functioning bakery during the day). We recommend opting for oversized florals held in dramatic crystal cut vases to bring a sense of opulence to the space.

The night comes quietly at Harvest. The soft auburn glow of the afternoon light seems to hang magically in the air as the hinterland fields come alive with the luminous sparkle of a setting sun. A reminder to us that at just 40 minutes down the coast, there is an undisturbed, unpretentious and breathtakingly beautiful place can be escaped to.

Wedding packages can be tailored to suit your reception preference and range from cocktail style for up to 130, shared table dining or even a luxurious dinner for eight in the private dining room (housed in the century old bakery). You can find more information, package options as well as venue hire fees over on Harvest Café’s official website

Royal Mansour Marrakech.

Thursday, June 12th 2014

There are times for barefoot adventures and times for camping under a magical blanket of stars. There are times for rambling conversations and close company with friends. There are times for midnight swims, late night city dates and dancing until dawn. There are also times to escape the madness and retreat. Times to hide away from reality and times to dream. There are times to get lost in a fantasy world of beauty; times to recharge and refresh and times for absolute indulgence and complete luxury.

After a whirlwind, adventure-filled trip across Morocco with thousand of miles covered, 3 editorials and 3 films shot, a new home furnished, a sandstorm braved and eternal memories made, we were in much need of time to recharge and take a break. As creative souls endlessly inspired by colours, textures and architectural details, the luxurious Royal Mansour has always held a top spot on our wish list of hotels to visit for it's sense of mystery, extravagance and seamless blend of Moroccan tradition with modern comforts. Romanced by cities and their stories, their secrets and their spirit, there are some spaces in a city that one dreams of visiting. Often it is those like the Royal Mansour that stand as noble as the city itself. Drawn to Morocco for its innate sense of beauty and driven by our fueled desire to experience the country in its most authentic and true form we had long dreamed of visiting the city’s most illustrious space. An icon (like only a handful in the world) managing to hold within its secret walls the spirit of a country and tell an authentic story of tradition and culture.  Anticipation, hope, wonder and emotion enveloped as we waited to discover the true Morocco behind the secret walls.

Enter the grand grounds of this secret oasis through elaborate bronzed gates and you are transported to a magical city where the madness of the souks is left behind (although only a 5 minute stroll away), nothing is as it first seems and reality gives way to a royal terracotta palace where dreams are brought to life and everything is possible. Nestled inside the Medina, hidden by ancient city walls and amidst giant palms and citrus and pomegranate trees, the Royal Mansour; a labyrinth Medina within Medina is an intoxicating mystery waiting to be discovered. With the opening of the city gates begins an excitement of the senses, a royal treatment, an astounding service and a beautiful discovery of Moroccan tradition. Where everything you could possibly want for is available and 500 of the most committed staff preempt your every need to make for the most relaxing, indulgent and inspiring stay. The beauty of the hotel reveals itself in layers as you come to discover the warmth and generosity of the Moroccan people and their commitment to craftsmanship, tradition, excellence and most importantly their unique culture.

Just like the city of Marrakech, the beauty of the Royal Mansour is that it is an open page for travellers to write their own story. There is an unpredictability, a randomness and organized chaos that excites. Designed to mirror the mystery of the city with its mazed alleyways, exotic charms, ancient otherworldliness and beautiful romance of the old and the new, the hotel unfolds with unexpected alleyways and endless twists and turns. Anticipation is heightened and senses are set alight with rose scents lingering in the air, trickling fountains flowing and intoxicating visual delights of rich colours, elaborate details, mystical objects and sumptuous materials. From the moment of arrival the eyes are conflicted. There isn’t an inch of space not to be consumed, as you set out to discover the hidden nooks, romantic rooftops with views of the Koutoubia Moaque and Atlas Mountains, exotic palm tree clad gardens, serene pool area, winding paths, cozy bars, relaxing lounges and heavenly spa (which requires a full post of its own). You sip cocktails by the fire, gaze at the stars from the retractable roof library and soak up the extravagance of the open roof reception lobby where a sunken fountain ebbs and flows and a huge rustic chandelier is suspended almost as if in mid air.

Forever drawn to the intricate and breathtaking details of Moroccan architecture, the grandness and the talented craftsmanship behind the visually intoxicating city, for us the Royal Mansour is the ultimate in design inspiration. Commissioned by King Mohammed VI and with the best hands of more than 1500 Moroccan artisans working for 4 years to create the city within a city, every single detail of the hotel celebrates traditional artisan skills and local Moroccan design. Inspired by the exoticism and richness of Marrakech and the Medina, walls are clad with rose gold leaf like the last of the rays of a setting sun, doors are turquoise and riads are terracotta, plasterwork is delicately carved, zellige tiles are mosaiced in intricate geometric patterns, wood is cedar, hallways are arched and symmetrical, and surfaces are juxtaposed to create an unparalleled grandness.

If it is sophistication and luxury that you seek there is no better time or place to indulge and a stay at the Royal Mansour will have you questioning the value of every other hotel you have ever stayed at. The level of service, sophistication, elegance and detail making it worth everything you have invested in this experience. From being ushered to your private riad where you check in in complete privacy and your bags and butler await in your room (accessed magically by secret underground tunnels for staff), the luxuries and service from the staff will be like nothing you have ever experienced. Your very own 2 bedroom private riad resembling a small palace spread over three elaborate floors becomes your private hideaway. You dine in your private dining room at all hours on the most delicious Mediterranean cuisines that rival a fine dining restaurant.  You indulge in frozen margaritas by your rooftop pool or visit the Hotel’s two fine dining restaurants, La Grande Table Marocaine and La Grande Table Francaise, which sits within their very own miniature palaces inside the hotel walls and are supervised by celebrated Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alleno. You might lose hours in the sun in the garden restaurant feasting on a continental breakfast of breads and pastries, traditional crepes, fresh fruit and porridge, baked eggs and pancakes, the freshest of orange juices and way too many coffees. Your days will pass easily and the outside world will disappear as the creation of a city within a city draws you in and allows you to fully retreat.

For those romanced by tradition and culture there are authentic Moroccan experiences to immerse yourself in. Whether it be an authentic meal of Moroccan cuisine, exotic spices and age old recipes that have been given contemporary flair at La Grande Table Marocaine  (think local rose wines, homemade bread, small tapas style Moroccan salads, lemon chicken tagine, seven-vegetable couscous, crystal stemware and white glove service) or a traditional Hamman treatment at the hotel’s iconic spa, we love that luxury hasn’t meant the loss of culture and tradition.

While extravagant, lavish and indulgent, the Royal Mansour is also breathtaking beautiful, charming, inspired and an absolute must visit whilst in Marrakech. It really is a celebration of all that makes Marrakech one of those extraordinary places that draws you in and excites the senses. Whether it’s a time to relax and retreat or a time to overindulge, a time to be inspired, a time for romance or a time to celebrate; whether you are romanced by architecture and art, culture and heritage or excellence and all that it is lavish you will absolutely love the Royal Mansour. Unlike other luxury hotels around the world it is also an authentic cultural experience and gives those seeking to immerse themselves in sophistication and culture a glimpse of the countries soul. From the most unparalleled service you will ever experience to the ongoing excitement of the senses you are mesmorised by a world that mirrors the city. It is, like Marrakech a mysterious tapestry intricately woven with textured threads of magic and culture, of colour and history, of architecture and tradition, of old and new.

 

THE SPA...

There are some images that become so iconic that they are synonymous with a country. Forever pinned on the spilling mood boards of nomadic beauties and the interior design infatuated as that magical place that calls; an enticing world for escape in a land far away. When the days are long and the stresses high there is peace in knowing that this dreamy place awaits. Most will never go, but the romance is in the hope. The hope that one-day you will escape, you will seek and you will retreat.

The iconic Royal Mansour Spa with its lavish white web lace design and temple-like ethereal space that floods with the golden light of the red city has long been our dreamy place for escape in a land far away. Like the many who have been memorised by the image of the incredible design before us and the many that it will continue to inspire, we have long dreamed of visiting this Marrakech icon and one of the world’s most beautiful and luxurious spas. This single image is responsible for igniting exotic daydreams and an obsession with all white interiors. It was obvious the Royal Mansour Spa was our number one must visit on our trip to Morocco.

Enter the 2,500 square metre Royal Mansour Spa where ethereal natural light floods through floor-to-ceiling white ornate web lace work and the cool air is filled with the sweet scent of fresh roses where you automatically feel the relaxation and serenity take over. If the Medina and private riads of Royal Mansour intoxicate the senses with exotic richness, the spa (set separately with its own entrance and driveway and gardens of citrus and lemon trees) calms the emotions with beautiful bright white light flooding in in as far as the eye can see, heavenly high ceilings, trickling fountains and a mood of serene opulence.  This peaceful temple forces you to leave behind the hustle, bustle and heat of Marrakech and emerges as a magical place charged with majestic powers to take you far away.

From the moment of arrival your escape begins. As you wait for your treatment to commence in the Spa’s lobby where private booths are adorned with pastel soft furnishings, sunlight streams through the glass atrium and the soft trickle of the centre fountain silences out any outside noise, you know this is going to be an otherworldly experience. An experience that is infused with luxury and tradition and perhaps one that holds much more than the iconic images of its beautiful design.

Move through the lobby area and take the lift upstairs (the Spa is spread over three elaborate floors) in anticipation of your treatment and you will fall even deeper into this heavenly rabbit hole and start to question exactly how you will find your way back to reality. Elaborate relaxation rooms and private treatment suites lay secretly behind close doors and secluded terraces overlooking the exotic terracotta city await moments of peace.

From ancient holistic rituals to modern advances in anti-ageing and skin care this is really is a world-class spa and the 101 different treatments on offer and prestigious brands used rival the world’s best luxury spa experiences. Think Moroccan Deep Tissue Massage, Traditional Hammam, Reflexology, Maroc Pureness Facial, Balneotherapy, Sea algae wrap, Sisley Hydration Facial and Therapeutic massage.

Inspired to deliver a traditional Moroccan spa experience a number of treatments are steeped in history and are influenced by Moroccan tradition. Romanced by immersing ourselves in local culture and the spirit of a place, we opt tor the ancient Moroccan ritual of the traditional Hammam - a signature bathing ritual that has existed for thousands of years. The Hammam, meaning “spreader of warmth” in Arabic is a traditional cleaning ritual, undertaken by Moroccan people once a week in a communal bathhouse. Wander around the old city and in every neighbourhood you will see a public Hammam usually close to a bakery to help heat the steam room and marked by intricate and colourful tiles. The soulful Hamman experience at the Royal Mansour brings the purification ritual to a whole new level of luxury. Combing hot saunas, fragranced steam and cold plunge pools to revitalise the body and soul in a private treatment room (although you can book a double treatment if desired). Black soap scrub is applied whilst lying on heated hot marble and echos of tricking water filled the room. The steam allows your skin to absorb the oils and helps to relax the muscles. Exfoliation occurs when the therapist wearing traditional kessa massage glove scrubs you head to toe before you climb into an icy cold plunge pool. The treatment often referred to as a rebirth and makes us feel just that - refreshed, revitalised, cleansed and skin left silky smooth. It is the perfect treatment to indulge in after a week of madness and editorial shooting in the Sahara Desert.

Post treatment the options for further escape seem endless and we don’t rush to meet reality. The Spa really does deserve a whole day to take advantage of the full experience and if the day has been lost to the madness that is the Medina, the 9pm close time can be flexible for hotel guests. Whether you choose to sit by the indoor clear covered pool, take a nap in the relaxation room, work off some of your overindulgence in the Pilates studio or gym or even have your hair done at the salon, nothing quite compares to the level of indulgence and choice on offer. For a touch of Paris in Medina explore the Spa’s boutique where shelves of Maroc Maroc, Sisley, Dr Hauschka, Chanel and Leonor Greyl products used in the treatments can be shopped.

An iconic image might be able to spark exotic daydreams and provide moments of fleeting escape, but your imagination won’t do this dreamy space justice. If you are lucky enough to be in Morocco and regardless of whether you are a hotel guest or not a visit the Royal Mansour Spa will regenerate the mind, body and soul in ways one doesn’t even know possible. Just like the city within a city that is the Royal Mansour, the spa also waits to be discovered. A breathtaking white temple for the times to escape, times to relax and times to indulge. 

 

THE RIADS...

Think about the majestic places you may have visited, maybe only in the exotic daydreams that cloud days from the stresses of reality, that draw you back and have you never wanting to leave.  Often it’s not the modern comforts, extravagant luxuries or even the five star services, but the warm spirit a place illuminates that has your soul wanting to rest a little longer. It is in the details, the culture and tradition, the seclusion and privacy and personal journey that has your heart seeking a path back.

There are luxury hotel rooms, and then there are the private Riads of the Royal Mansour. Reminiscent of an ancient otherworld where tradition and luxury are delivered with warmth and spirit, and culture and authenticity is preserved in the face of an era that seems obsessed with technology and in-your-face glamour. The private riads of Royal Mansour offer a charming blend of culture and luxury.  Perfect for those seeking a luxurious and private honeymoon option in the complete seclusion of a private riad, a spirited pre-wedding getaway with girlfriends or even an inspired space to hold a lavish rehearsal dinner under the stars on a private rooftop with the last of the suns rays sets on the red city of Marrakech, the Royal Mansour Riads tell a story of exoticism and culture; one that is honest and true and cant be replicated by other luxury hotels around the world.

True Marrakech is discovered in the home where tradition is preserved, design is inspired and privacy and peace prevail. The two-bedroom riad (there are 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom available) that sprawls over three grand floors has been designed to embody this tradition of spirit and upon entering the space and standing in the central open-air courtyard with your face illuminated by natural light you are intoxicated by the beautiful blend of tradition and opulence. Think a living room under the open sky, trickling fountains, scents of wood and fresh roses, tiled floors layered with patterned rugs, an elaborate dining room, a traditional Moroccan Bhou (lounge), a chess room and bar. Bedrooms, dressing rooms and bathrooms for retreat complete with the softest linens and MarocMaroc beauty products, set separately on the first floor overlooking the tranquil open roof courtyard. A private rooftop looking over the city of Marrakech with its own plunge pool, open fireplace, dining area and solarium waiting your retreat on the third level.

As the eyes adjust to the overwhelming grandness of the riad, you take in the rich interiors, unique furnishings, colourful mosaics, luxurious fabrics, decadent antiques and handcrafted furniture sourced from all around the world. The divine details of the embellished space begin to emerge and you realise that this place might very well be one of those that you revisit time and time again, if only in your most animated daydreams. Each riad is unique and decorated differently, all with Moroccan design and craftsmanship. Think walls lined with glazed honey, blue, green or terracotta tiles; zelliges and smooth, shiny tadelakt painted walls; mashrabiya screens; ceilings of sculpted plaster and painted wooden panels. A mix of textures, a clash of surfaces and handmade details create a mood of warmth and opulence. Fusing the beautiful traditional architecture and Moroccan details with modern elements of technology hidden discretely make for a luxurious and modern stay. TV’s are hidden behind intricately carved walls, discrete touch screens control lights and open roofs are sensored according to the weather. We loved that the traditional riad design isn't compromised by technology!

The more you immerse yourself in your private world, the more you discover and the more that awaits. Whether it’s a moment of celebration with the arrival bottle of Champagne, a moment of complete relaxation in the enormous marble bath, a moment of peace taking in the exotic city from your private rooftop as the Muslim call to prayer echoes, or a moment of overindulgence with extravagant in-room dining and the most delicious Mediterranean cuisines, there are moments for whatever form of indulgence you seek. We recommend giving your days freely to sipping tea in the bhou, sharing rambling conversations around the dining table, indulging with cocktails in the sun by the private pool, snoozing on the rooftop day bed and feasting on the most amazing food. While the city waits outside an enticing world is on the inside of your very own private walls.

While visually spectacular, the real secret to the splendor of the riads is in the service provided during your stay. The design of the hotel has been carefully considered for complete privacy and seclusion with an elaborate underground tunnel system providing discrete access to the riads for staff. A private butler called Rishi with a warm spirit and gentle soul might service your stay. Available when required, discrete always and bringing a sense of culture and friendship to the stay, you’ll fall in love with the personalised touches and the way service is delivered with a kind smile.

As we immerse ourselves in this magical space and give ourselves freely to its majestic powers to transport, we fall even more in love with the city of Marrakech and what is stands for. When forced to return to reality and leave behind this once in a lifetime experience we will remember the time we were able to fully escape reality, immerse ourselves in culture and learn about the Moroccan way of life. It will forever stand as that alluring place that our hearts will be forever mapping a path for return.  

Weddings and Events

While there are large and elaborate spaces and terraces within the main lobby area for weddings and events, we love the idea of a small and intimate gathering in your private riad. As the last of red sunrays turn the city gold, the rooftop of your riad evokes exotic romance. Have a dinner party by the pool and feast on the delicious cuisine, cocktails and wine available. Your very own butler will service your dinner and no additional styling is needed. This is the perfect option for a small elopement!

The extravagant and formal event ballroom works for a more classic wedding aesthetic. It is very opulent and lavish so additional styling would be kept to a minimum in this area. Crystal vases filled with an abundance of antique roses and soft flickering pillar candles would work beautifully.

The Terrace space overlooking the main lobby or the Hotel’s lobby are our favourite areas for a bohemian-inspired cocktail style reception. Palm tree clad views of the city from the terracotta terrace or the open roof reception lobby with its huge rustic chandelier, bohemian drapes and intricate tiles are the perfect style for a mood of effortless bohemian luxury.

La Table is the Hotel’s courtyard dining space and is great for a more casual wedding luncheon. Think white cane furniture, picnic umbrellas and coloured crystal ware set in the garden amongst rustic olive trees. This more informal outdoor space (although the service is still that of a fine dining restaurant) is perfect to hold a pre-wedding lunch with your bridal party and guests.

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