While there is no doubt that I love Australia with every iota of my being, its lack of literary inspired hotels is one thing that makes me appreciate the UK’s wealth of bookish boltholes whenever I’m back on British soil. For, while I’m constantly on the hunt for Australia’s best boutique stays for book lovers, finding suitable places to feature on this blog often involves being ten pages deep on a Google search on a Friday night when I’ve got nothing better to do.
Fortuitously, said trawling of the internet and late night searches all become worth it on the rare occasion that I find a hidden literary gem; and indeed never more so than when I found Deux Belettes. Nestled in the beautiful Byron hinterland, a twenty-minute drive from Ballina Airport, it’s one of the few places – if not the only place – I’ve stayed in that has rendered me almost completely speechless. Designed and erected over a forty year period by Francophile and interior designer Sharon and her architect husband Ross, it’s a love letter to France, to literature, and to the couple’s joint passion for beautiful buildings.
Near the town of Alstonville, a twenty minute drive from Ballina airport, Deux Belettes is positioned at the end of an elegant tree-lined driveway that crosses a stone bridge and is flanked at intervals by large earthen pots. Pebbled pathways around the property lead to gardens, rambling roses, perfumed trees, and topiaries, and the house features vine-covered walls, cobblestone pathways, wooden shutters, a wooden shingle roof and a stunning stone turret. Inspired by quintessential French farmhouses, Deux Belettes evokes a wonderfully European vibe and the house looks as though it was built in the Dordogne hundreds of years ago. Deux Belettes is close to the village of Alstonville, which boasts bric-a-brac shops, coffee shops, restaurants, and a lively 100-year-old pub.
Deux Belettes offers guests the choice of two opulent suites, both of which have generous sized bathrooms complete with shower, bath and bidet, bedrooms, sitting rooms and mini kitchens. The Tower Suite boasts timber ceilings and old wooden beams, and covers the entire top floor of the chateau, while The Granary has frescoed stone walls and avian-inspired walls decked with nesting boxes. We stayed in The Granary and loved its home-away-from home feel, its great selection of books, and the generous sized living area. The bed was cloud-like in its quality, the kitchen was thoughtfully stocked with snacks and a selection of teas and coffee, and it truly has to be one of the most beautifully places I have ever stayed in.
Food and Drink
Guests are served breakfast in the elegant sitting room, with French music playing in the background. We dined on a feast of fresh orange juice, fruit, muesli, croissants and yoghurt and were also offered substantial English breakfast of free-range eggs, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes and bacon. On our second night Sven (Sharon and Ross’s son) treated us to a candle-lit fiesta of home made wood-fired pizzas in the courtyard, which we enjoyed alongside copious glasses of chilled white wine.
As well as paying homage to all things French, Deux Belettes too has many a literary link. We stayed in The Granary Suite, which had a stunning library corner in the sitting room, stocked with centuries old encyclopaedias and ample tomes to choose from. Suffused with a moody literary ambience, each rendered wall of the lounge room bears a quotation from poetic heavyweights including D. H. Lawrence and Oscar Wilde.
Books and Stuff in Lismore is a rare, antique and secondhand book store that is centrally located and services not only Lismore, but also the surrounding towns. Located in an old building, this book store is packed to the brim full of wonderful titles. Slightly further afield in Byron Bay, you’ll find The Book Room at Byron which is a small but excellent bookshop with a wide range of titles and friendly staff.
Useful information about Deux Belettes
104 Victoria Park Road, Dalwood, NSW, 2477
Nestled in the beautiful Byron Bay hinterland, Deux Belettes is surrounded by tropical fruit plantations and fertile organic farms, a rainforest of primeval fig trees, small marsupials, rare butterflies and raucous birds. Situated at the end of a long driveway of established plane trees, and less than 40 minutes drive from Byron Bay is this much celebrated wedding venue.
Prices for suites at Deux Belettes are available on request
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