One of the latest in the trend of revamped Australian motels is Motel Molly, on the NSW South Coast town of Mollymook, which opened in December 2022. The former beachside motel received a multi-million-dollar refurbishment with a décor inspired by the pastels of Mediterranean coastal towns, with hints of Moroccan influence.
A three-hour drive from Sydney and two hours and 40 minutes from Canberra, the hotel makes for an easy weekend getaway. Choose from one, two, or three-bedroom apartments and several king suites, some with Moroccan-style sunken baths. The most popular so far has been the Oceanside Balcony Suite, with views of Mollymook Beach.
“When renovating the property from the inside out, we wanted to retain the South Coast spirit, striking the balance between the approachability of motels of the past and the subtle luxury of modern boutique hotels,” says Josh Crealy, one of the founders of Motel Molly and co-director of Knox Group, the Sydney-based developers behind the property.
Crealy describes the initial site as a “quintessential surfside motel, built in the ‘80s”. To bring his and the other founders’ vision to life, the team collaborated with Exterior Architecture for exteriors and award-winning interior design and architecture practice, Richards Stanisich for interiors.
Features of the room include bed covers and ceramics by LRNCE, bedside lamps by Spence & Lyda, and kitchen appliances by Smeg’s ‘50s retro line. The bedside tables are by McMullin & Co, as are the armchairs. In the bathroom, you’ll find amenities by Le Labo Santal 26.
“The design [of the property] is quite unique — retro with a Mediterranean twist,” says Crealy. “The property is spread over four buildings, each painted a different pastel colour, inspired by the coastal towns across the Amalfi, Portofino, and Cinque Terre. The Richards Stanisich team curated a range of luxurious and quirky designer pieces that complement that aesthetic.”
In addition to the property’s 16 rooms, it features a kidney bean-shaped pool, and barbecue facilities. You can also grab snacks or drinks from its vending machine, or hire its surfboards or the Motel Molly cruiser.
As for the motel’s surroundings, Crealy says that though Mollymook is known as a summer destination, there’s in fact much more to it. He suggests that you make the most of the motel’s location – a one-minute walk to Mollymook Beach — by spending your time there during a stay swimming, surfing, and walking along the sand.
“There are several cafés close by, so you can easily spend a full day at the beach before retreating from the sun to relax around our Motel Molly pool,” he says. “The area also has great hiking tracks, from beginner to advanced, and the view from the Pigeon House Mountain Summit should be top of your list.”
If you’re looking for an active option, he also suggests visiting nearby Mollymook Beach Gold Course or sister club Mollymook Hilltop Golf Course.
When it comes to dining, venue highlights include Pilgrim’s in Milton, local secrets like Milk Haus, The Guild, and GWYLO and hatted restaurants, Small Town Food and Wine, and the Milton Hotel. The Ruse, Altar Bar, and Harvest Bar are among his favourites for afternoon cocktails and live music, as is Cupitt’s Estate Winery, which is just under a 10-minute drive from Motel Molly.
“Suburbs like Mollymook have really evolved in the past few years — once a sleepy suburb with a handful of dining options is now home to incredible restaurants, cafés, shopping, and wineries,” he says. “Even though it’s gained in popularity and offerings, it’s still retained its laidback, casual, and friendly atmosphere — this intangible spirit of Australian coastal towns is what really sets them apart.”
Crealy says he wants guests to walk away with a renewed appreciation for the Australian coast. “We created Motel Molly to blend the South Coast’s relaxed charm with a cool aesthetic that guests would want all their friends to experience,” he says.