A rooftop pool, custom lobby scent and chic, coastal interiors by Coco Republic are just the start of Manly Pacific’s $30 million refurbishment. The all-at-once facelift saw the long-time hotel landmark and former Novotel unveiled as an MGallery, a more upscale Accor hotel brand, in January this year.
I was fortunate enough to be invited for a two-night, weekend stay in one of the hotel’s 213 rooms, a Coastal Suite, apartment-style accommodation with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and an ocean-facing balcony that went along the length of the lounge room and part of one of the bedrooms.
Walking into the hotel along oceanfront North Steyne, the first thing I noticed was the scent. “It’s an ocean breeze scent that comes through the vents,” said Sundip Mace, the hotel’s Director of Brand and Marketing who gave me a tour of the hotel later told me. “It’s made with Australian botanicals, sage, mandarin, and sea grass — it was quite a process to come up with the scent.”
If the hotel’s signature scent didn’t immediately make me feel like I was on holiday, the welcome cocktail I sipped from the balcony while admiring the waves crashing beyond Manly’s famous pines, moments after checking in, definitely did the trick.
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The MGallery hotel brand is all about bringing the hotel’s destination to the forefront. In this case, that translates to photos of scenes from Manly by local photographer Murry Fraser, from Sprout Daily, featured throughout the lobby and local suppliers, including 7 Miles Coffee, Manly Spirits, and 4 Pines, stocked in the minibars and kitchenettes.
The lobby’s Beach Club also partners with local activity and wellness suppliers — think cryotherapy, kayaking and cycling — to offer guests 20% off. The concierge there can book whatever you’re wanting to do or see in the area. That said, it’s tempting not to even leave the hotel. I didn’t, until Sunday morning when I walked less than five minutes to get a coffee from alley café Rollers (recommend!) and then another 10 minutes, past all the ocean swim groups and runners, to Shelly Beach.
I spent most of my weekend here parked on a black-and-white sun lounger at the pool, located on the rooftop on the eighth floor, sweating out my toxins in the infrared sauna, which needed to be booked but was free for those in suites, or simply lounging in my waffle knit hotel robe on my suite balcony. I did also spend time taking too many selfies to count in one of the suite’s five mirrors, including two floor-length — the lighting and room setting was that good.
“None of the rooms have any artwork on the walls,” Mace told me during the tour. “We wanted to bring the outside in with mirrors.”
The indoor-outdoor feel is also noticeable in the hotel’s lobby bar, 55 North, one of its three venues alongside Asian fusion restaurant Tokyo Joe’s (formerly Daniel San) and French Riviera-inspired Bistro Manly, which was made to be more feminine in its design with whites and pinks and where breakfast (not included in the room rate) is served.
55 North spills from its interior with zig-zag tiles and colourful couches to its street-side outside area with the help of doors that fold all the way open. This, along with live acoustic music on Fridays and DJs on Saturdays, a steady stream of beachgoers passing by on the street, and a menu filled with fruity, photo-worthy cocktails and local beers and wines, also adds to the holiday feel.
Finally, the last thing to know about Manly Pacific is that it’s striving to be more sustainable. Air-con in the rooms turn off automatically when balcony doors are open. The kitchenette is stocked with biodegradable coffee pods and the hotel is aiming to cut back on its single-use plastic, starting with built-in, full-sized shampoo, conditioner and body gel (the suites get Leif products), as opposed to travel-size, take-home bottles.
If you live in Sydney and are looking for a staycation hotel, even if you already live by the beach (I live in North Bondi), a stay at Manly Pacific will really make you feel as though you’ve been away. Or, alternatively, if you’re visiting Sydney, and want to explore a local suburb, as well as the major sights in the city, it’s also a great hotel to consider. A five-minute walk to the wharf and 30-minute ferry ride will get you to Circular Quay.