A hotel by the sea, housing a collection of villas, a small, bright restaurant overlooking rolling lawns and a day spa toward the side of the property. Upon first glance, the equation for success at Bells at Killcare is elegant, if a little simple. However when you take a closer look, it’s the details that will surprise you most here.
Google search the small town of Killcare, situated just an hour and a half from Sydney, and you’ll find that Bells is the second listing. It’s no great shock that the hotel is the pride of the area, if not the greater Central Coast region. Tucked up a winding road away from the water, the grounds are hidden behind a thick hedge. The lawns are lush and dotted with white Cape Cod sun chairs and umbrellas. Down the bottom of the property sits over 500 square metres of kitchen garden, an orchard planted to quince and olive trees, 50 free-range chickens for fresh eggs and a row of beehives for honey.
15 per cent of the produce used in the kitchen at Bells is harvested from this garden and orchard, and chef Stefano Manfredi, since joining the hotel in 2007, has been a pioneer of sustainability. The experience of eating in a restaurant where the produce on your plate has been plucked from the soil 100 metres away is a truly special thing. Seafood is a focus, from seared scallops with polenta and wild hops, to cannelloni of crayfish, leek and ricotta, or a risotto bright with saffron, mussels and locally caught school prawns. In terms of wine, Manfredi’s Italian roots also find a solid place here - the range on offer is diverse, interesting and excellent.
In 2014, Manfredi appointed Tuscan-born Marco Ribechini as head chef and Adam Lambeth, formally of Tetsuya's, as food and beverage manager; two experienced heads to marry with his own creative vision for the restaurant.
Many come for the restaurant alone, but if you do get the chance to spend the night, the range of Hamptons-style villas, suites, bungalows and cottages at Bells are hard to resist, with Ralph Lauren furnishings in fresh shades of blue, creamy white and neutral blond wood. Most offer their own veranda, freestanding bath, and are stocked with fragrant Bouddi beauty products, which are all blended on-site at the Bells day spa. If you can squeeze in a massage or treatment, the experience is sublime.
Romantic, relaxing, and hidden from the world, Bells is a self-contained oasis of its own, created with supreme elegance in mind.