Picture paradise ... the stylish interiors of the Bondi house.

Picture paradise ... the stylish interiors of the Bondi house.

Hold the snakes, leeches and camp stove, this is how you take a relaxing break, writes Danielle Teutsch.

When we were young, a holiday meant driving in a clapped-out Kombi van for hours - sometimes days - to set up camp in a remote national park in a far-flung corner of NSW.

No expense has been spared in the fittings. 

Sometimes there was no running water: I have a photo of me fetching water from a lake with a billycan, ready to boil on the camp stove, as proof.

The semi is a custom-design project.

The semi is a custom-design project.

We saw a slither of snakes, were attacked by leeches and saw koalas and platypuses. We lived real-life Leyland brothers adventures, but probably even rougher. There was bugger all to do apart from read and fish. That was my dad's idea of a relaxing break.

But I'm not doing anything like that this weekend. As if to prove how soft I've become, I'm going to Bondi with the family. That's right, all of 40 minutes' drive away. Naturally, I've packed enough to go away for a month (bikes, scooters, beach toys), as soft people do.

In my defence, there is peak-hour traffic to deal with and a full tunnel crossing from north to east. My three-year-old starts wailing right away that he wants to go home. He's already suffering the typical geographical phobia Sydneysiders get when they move out of their enclave - all the more reason to unrust ourselves and keep going.

The courtyard and garage.

The courtyard and garage.

The destination is Bondi 113, a boutique holiday rental. Ostensibly, it's a semi on a tiny block, but Sydney folk will have no trouble seeing its value and why its owners, furniture design company Robert Plumb, decided to spend a small fortune renovating it as a custom design project.

It's in a quiet North Bondi street that's a short walk from the beach, and therefore brimming with real estate ka-ching value.

It's had the full makeover by landscape designer William Dangar and building craftsman Bill Clifton, with high ceilings and a wonderful back room that opens to a small yard to make the most of the morning sun. No expense has been spared in the fittings, from the rain shower to the linen sofa, the designer outdoor furniture by Robert Plumb and the sleek kitchen.

We crank up the heating, put on the dimmer lights, try the Bose sound system and pretend we live here, something we work hard at doing all weekend.

Morning sunlight floods into the living area and we're happy to enjoy this luxury over coffee (we live in a place that gets no sun in winter).

Eventually, we get out the door for the business of being a tourist in our own city.

The Bondi Markets are the first pit stop for some incredible bread from an organic bakery, and a few other pastry treats.

Then it's to the beach to check out the scene. The muscle men are out and pumping iron, the pretty people have emerged and the eccentrics are doing their thing.

I indulge in one of my favourite pastimes of eavesdropping on the native hipster species, hoping to learn something new, only to find the conversation is all about Sydney's exorbitant rental prices. Oh well, some things never change.

I take note of what the cool folk are wearing and can report the following: asymmetrical tops are good, so is platinum-blonde hair and small tattoos of music notes on the nape of the neck. Beards and flannos are still going strong for blokes.

Anthropological studies over, we play some ball and frisbee on the sand, brave a chilly dip and meander back to Bondi 113 to lounge around and survey more of the place.

There's an olive tree in the small outdoor area and carefully placed designer pots of succulents, showing as much care and thought has gone into the small space as the interior. My man notices the screw nails on the deck have been expertly plugged. There's also a cool outdoor shower.

We don't bother with cooking during such a short stay, although I can't resist turning the new oven on and off just to see if it works better than ours. It does.

Obviously, this place is ideal for an executive's family looking for a short break, or overseas guests willing to splash out for a three-bedroom house rather than a city hotel room.

It's a place where they can self-cater and live like the locals, right in the middle of what Sydney does best: beachside living and excellent casual dining.

The choices for dinner are myriad: do we get a babysitter and go to Sean's Panorama or North Bondi Italian Food? Or do cheap-and-cheerful Nina's Ploy Thai with the kids?

We end up together at The Bucket List at the historic beach pavilion, a restaurant bar that heaves with locals on a Saturday night. We grab a table out the back and get the kids mini buckets of fish and chips, which are excellent (and come in an actual mini bucket), and a couple of fish pies for us, which are just OK. Then it's off to Pompei's, a Bondi institution, for gelati and a slow, contented walk home.

I admire the streets of dilapidated but beautiful old apartment buildings, thinking how they've been able to house, relatively cheaply, so many of the young and restless over the decades. I hope they're never spruced up too much.

The next day, we complete the eastern-suburbs tour with stops at Nielsen Park and Watsons Bay - more fish and chips - before heading back over the bridge.

By now, the kids are moaning that they are leaving their "Bondi house". Sheesh. Poor petals. They really need to go on holidays with my dad some time.

The writer was a guest of Destination NSW.

 

Trip notes

Where Bondi 113, 113 O'Donnell Street, Bondi. Inquiries to Robert Plumb, (02) 9316 9066, info@robertplumb.com.au.

How much From $300 a night.

Style statement Slick architectural style for demanding tastes.

Perfect for A well-heeled, out-of-town family wanting a stylish beach holiday. Or an overseas executive who hates city hotels and loves surfing.

Take the kids Absolutely. It has three bedrooms and it's a 10-minute walk from Bondi beach.

Don't forget Your MP3 player to plug in to the excellent sound system.

A shame about The courtyard being so small. But hey, it's Bondi.

Kudos For the quality furnishings and fittings.