A romantic escape with room for just two is always a treat. But nothing beats gathering a group of friends and family to chill out for a few days.

Well-equipped kitchens, ample space to relax and plenty of activities to partake in – these are the ingredients that make for the ultimate weekend away with a crowd. Add in a fireplace, hot tub and access to some of the east coast’s best beaches, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

Thankfully, no one will have to sleep on a sad foldout couch at these spectacular houses.

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Simpson Cottage, Bundeena NSW
A heritage-listed stone house on the cusp of the Royal National Park, Simpson Cottage is truly special. There’s room for six guests (eight on request) inside the house; the 1500 square metres of landscaped gardens offer plenty of space outdoors too. The modern kitchen, casual dining area, laundry and bathroom feature polished concrete floors fitted with underfloor heating to keep you warm on winter stays. But wide verandahs, a six-burner barbeque and private beach access make this house an ideal choice for summer holidays.
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Nerissa, Rye Vic
Nerissa is an elegant, expansive property on the Mornington Peninsula. With room for 10 guests across four bedrooms (one has two sets of bunks), the modern home was designed by Larritt-Evans and is just a short walk from Number 16 Beach. Dine under the shade of Moonah trees, cosy up next to the wood fire on chilly nights or soak in the marble-clad tub – just remember to take a deep breath and slow down. The house is divided into two pavilions: one centred around daily living and entertaining, the other for sleep. Guests also have access to an outdoor firepit and grassy yard.
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Montville Estate, Montville Qld
Montville Estate is home to two charming stays: Eastnor House and the Postman’s Cottage. The former is a three-bed, two-bathroom homestead that has been lovingly restored and equipped with modern amenities. On the same one-and-a-half-acre property, the cottage is a cute abode for two; together, the two buildings offer room for up to eight guests in total. Both feature lush linens and towels from Cultiver and pared-back furnishings. And there’s a magnesium pool and access to plenty of garden nooks on the shared grounds. The romantic location is a favourite for elopements and intimate nuptials.
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The Anchorage, Rye Vic
A smooth transition from indoor to outdoor living is what makes The Anchorage truly special. It has space to sleep eight and plenty of room for activities – there’s a solar-heated pool, table tennis and a large collection of books and board games to borrow too. A cast iron fireplace keeps things cosy when the weather is chilly, but split-system air conditioning is also on hand for summer stays. The modern home is set on the cusp of Rye and Blairgowrie, with easy access to incredible beaches. And the pet-friendly owners are happy for you to bring along a well-behaved four-legged friend so none of the family misses out.
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Homeostasis Retreats, Tamborine Mountain Qld
The Main Haus at Homeostasis Retreats is an eco-conscious venue on Tamborine Mountain. Encouraging slow stays, the spot caters for up to seven guests across four bedrooms. Natural interior finishes complement the surroundings. A deep soaking tub in the main bathroom is begging to be filled with bubbles. And the outdoor firepit is perfect for gathering around with friends and family. There’s a bamboo grove to explore, as well as organic permaculture gardens, beehives and resident chickens pecking about. You can indulge in complimentary wellness treatments and pre-order a breakfast basket filled with local goods to make relaxing mornings even better. A sister site to the Main Haus, the Wellness Cabin is a separate, smaller booking option, designed for couples who want an off-the-grid relaxation retreat. Book both together for an extended family stay.
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Crane Lodge, Palm Beach NSW
Nestled among rainforest-like gardens in Palm Beach, Crane Lodge will make you feel like you’re much further than an hour from Sydney’s CBD. Sleeping up to 15 people across five rooms, including a self-contained studio that’s slightly removed from the rest of the house, this stay is the perfect choice for group gatherings. There’s a chef’s kitchen that lives up to its name (the team can also arrange for a private chef during your stay); multiple indoor and outdoor living spaces, including three fireplaces and a firepit for maximum cosiness; a heated magnesium swimming pool and cedar hot tub. You’ll find plenty of board games in the cupboard and a soaking tub in the master suite. And the owner’s speedboat is available for hire on Pittwater. Wild Luxury has a second property on stunning Berowra Waters, Calabash Bay Lodge, which has room for eight guests if your crew is slightly smaller.
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Chippewa Cottage, Mermaid Beach Qld
A quintessential beach house with retro flair, Chippewa Cottage is perfectly positioned to enjoy the spoils of Mermaid Beach. Six guests can stay at the property with three bedrooms and three bathrooms kitted out with homey appeal. A chequered tiled pool is the star of the backyard and two al fresco entertaining areas offer ample opportunity to (safely) soak up the sunshine. There’s a full laundry for stashing sandy items after a day at the beach, which is only a short walk away. You’re also on the doorstep of the Gold Coast’s thriving dining scene if you want to avoid the argument about who has to clean the barbeque.
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Sagres, Queenscliff Vic
A luxury retreat on the Bellarine Peninsula, Sagres has personal space aplenty. Set over three storeys, there’s five bedrooms and five bathrooms that comfortably accommodate 10 people. Beds, a mix of king and queen sizes, are dressed in luxe linens from Quoin and the bathrooms are kitted out with Leif products. The kitchen is equipped for feeding a crowd thanks to additions like a Thermomix and warming drawer. A bar corner, complete with colourful glassware, is sure to inspire the mixologists among you, and an outdoor bath and shower, two decks and a barbeque dining area mean there’s no reason to stay cooped up inside the four beautifully designed walls. If you run out of conversation, the views are heavenly enough to sit in silence for a while.
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The Joint, Byron Bay NSW
Find your bliss on Bangalow Road with The Joint, a contemporary home kitted out with Mediterranean appeal. Cabinetry is made from recycled timber and most of the earthenware was hand-thrown by friends of the host. Sleeping six, the house comprises three bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms. The light-filled kitchen features an oversized island bench, meaning many cooks can fit. There’s a record player, furniture from Australian designers like Sarah Ellison and Worn, and access to the communal courtyard, firepit and veggie garden. One of the best parts of the property is that there’s two adjacent guesthouses available to book if you’re coming with a crowd. Check out Saint Helena and Friday Hut.
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Elsewhere, Red Hill Vic
Food-lovers would be silly to book anywhere but Elsewhere. Set on four hectares in the hinterland of Mornington Peninsula, the Red Hill property sleeps six in a refurbished Victorian cottage. Yes, there’s access to a stunning pool, a clawfoot tub in the bathroom and two roaring fireplaces to keep you cosy. But the biggest drawcard is that owner Patrice Repellin (who helmed the kitchen of now-closed hatted French restaurant Koots Salle à Manger for 15 years) offers private dining alongside stays. Take up his offer to host a dinner party for you and your guests – you’ll be too tired to cook after exploring Merricks Trail and the wealth of wineries nearby.
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The Homestead, Bega NSW
If you’re looking for country charm with a side order of coastal chill, The Homestead is for you. The Bega property is set on the rolling hills of dairy country, a six-hour drive from Sydney and a seven-and-a-half-hour journey from Melbourne – but it's only 20 minutes’ drive from the sands of Tathra Beach. The house sleeps six guests across three rooms. The beds (two queens, one double) are dressed in French linens from Cultiver and layered with wool blankets in the cooler months. The open-plan living space is dominated by an oversized blackbutt window and centred around a slow-combustion fireplace. There’s antique furnishings and a kitchen designed for gourmet cooking. It features two ovens, an induction cooktop with a pot tap, a big double sink and access to a veggie patch that is yours for picking. A bit further down the coast you’ll find sister property, Lotte’s Hjem.
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Camillo House, Blairgowrie Vic
Just 50 paces from Blairgowrie’s back beach, Camillo House is the stuff of daydreams. Six guests can enjoy the property with three bedrooms (one king, two queen) and three bathrooms offering ample privacy – and no one having to worry about getting stuck on a pull-out sofa. Expect ready-to-pour, all-inclusive Negronis on arrival; an almost gallery-like feel, with mostly vintage furniture and 25 original artworks throughout; and views for days – every window is a picture window here. There’s also two custom-made bathtubs: one indoor, made of spotted gum, and the other outdoor, a circular concrete slab where you can have a secluded post-beach soak.
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This article was first published on June 29, 2023 and has since been updated.

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