A boutique hotel brings laidback luxury to Yamba - Spaces AU
A boutique hotel brings laidback luxury to Yamba

A boutique hotel brings laidback luxury to Yamba

Boutique hotels are emerging in the unlikeliest of places, answering the call of travellers looking for memorable experiences in beautiful settings without having to leave Australian shores. The Surf in Yamba is one such hotel making waves

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

Yamba isn’t a holiday destination known for its glitz and glamour, but its laidback beachtown vibe has gained it a loyal following. The Surf is the first boutique hotel to pop up in the town, where holiday lets and humble motels are the norm. But architect Jon King hopes theirs won’t be the last boutique hotel to emerge in the town.

“Hopefully we’ve set an example for others to follow,” says Jon. “The Surf Hotel ties in with what Yamba has always been – it’s luxe but still has that laidback vibe.”

The Surf Hotel Yamba by Design King Company | Photography by Brett Boardman & Elise Hassey
The Surf Hotel ties in with what Yamba has always been – it’s luxe but still has that laidback vibe

The 12-room hotel, overlooking Yamba’s Main Beach and dramatic coastline further north, is owned by father-and-son trio David, Andrew and Phillip Mayne, who have long considered Yamba their second home. Their pre-pandemic purchase of the 1920s hotel and cafe occupying the site could not have been better timed. Improved roads, the rising popularity of boutique stays, and a boom in regional travel have helped turn the rebuilt and designed hotel into a delightful drawcard for the town.

The Maynes tasked the talented team at Design King Company with delivering the architecture, interiors and custom-designed furniture for the project, allowing them to create a cohesive look and feel throughout.

The Surf Hotel Yamba by Design King Company | Photography by Brett Boardman & Elise Hassey

The footprint of the three-storey building wasn’t huge, and neither was the budget, so the designers soon shelved initial plans to incorporate a cafe on the ground floor in favour of a more spacious reception area. Dozens of nearby cafes and restaurants could easily satisfy the culinary needs of guests, after all.

Echoing the art deco curves of the original hotel, the new exterior manages to be both nostalgic and contemporary. Curved balconies, breezeblocks and railings reference the classic ocean liners of the 1930s, while striped awnings and deck chairs overlooking the ocean hint at the romanticism of the Amalfi or Mediterranean coast.

The Surf Hotel Yamba by Design King Company | Photography by Brett Boardman

Italy’s use of terrazzo influenced the interior design of the project, but Design King Company co-director Katie King says the decision to feature a different terrazzo tile colour on each floor meant they faced supply issues during the build, which coincided with COVID-19 lockdowns in NSW and around the world.

“Yamba was like a ghost town when we flew up during the design and build,” Katie says. “It’s great to see it bustling again now.”

Tile issues sorted, guests staying at the hotel now enjoy spacious rooms, each with its own balcony, living area and beautiful bathroom. The rooms’ interior schemes draw inspiration from the terrazzo tiles, which range in tone from emerald green to pink.

The Surf Hotel Yamba by Design King Company | Photography by Brett Boardman
The Surf Hotel Yamba by Design King Company | Photography by Brett Boardman

Detailed timber joinery and bespoke furniture pairs with grasscloth weave fabric for a cool and comfortable beachside vibe. Jon designed key furniture pieces for the rooms, which was then handcrafted. Stylish the furniture may be, but it also had to be robust enough to maintain its good looks through the years to come – no matter how many rambunctious children climbed on it.

“We wanted people to feel relaxed and comfortable there,” says Katie, explaining that the interiors were designed with that quintessentially Australian casual beach culture in mind.

The Surf Hotel Yamba by Design King Company | Photography by Brett Boardman
The Surf Hotel Yamba by Design King Company | Photography by Brett Boardman

Leif bathroom amenities, featuring native botanicals, and bathrobes by Australian linen designer Bemboka bring a touch of luxe to the guest experience. The bathrooms feature curved-wall showers and grass-weave screens that can slide open to bring in natural light and those incredible ocean views.

Australian creatives are championed in the limited-edition artworks by Elizabeth Barnett and Caroline Walls, while additional furniture comes from Hay, Muuto and Tait.

The Surf Hotel Yamba by Design King Company | Photography by Brett Boardman & Elise Hassey
The Surf Hotel Yamba by Design King Company | Photography by Brett Boardman

The Surf opened in September 2021 and has since been shortlisted for a 2022 Australian Interior Design Award and 2022 NSW Architecture Award.

Katie’s favourite part of the hotel is the chic rooftop terrace, which she says epitomises their intention of creating a joyful and relaxed holiday destination. Striped yellow and white sunbeds, a pool designed for lounging about in rather than laps, and 360-degree ocean views provide a recipe for relaxation .. and perhaps a cocktail or two at sundown. 

If the hotel’s 100% occupancy rate is anything to go by, Design King Company's mission certainly seems to have been accomplished.

Browse more projects by Design King Company and get in touch.

Words by Joanna Tovia

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