I had already checked out Tonics website before leaving the UK, but we decided to freewheel the latter part of our Australian trip and see how much cash we had left before choosing our "homeward bound" hotels. Tonic looked impressive, but it wasn't exactly cheap, so I passed.
Lady luck was smiling on me when I chanced upon one of the few spare rooms left in NSW during the Christmas period - I had spent hours looking for a spa or boutique resort before we headed back to Sydney then home to the UK.
Perhaps it was serendipity, but unable to find a suitable hotel along the coast I decided to revisit the Hunter which we had briefly spent a day/night in when we first embarked on our Aussie adventure. Lo and behold - Tonic had rooms, but for a 3 night minimum stay. I called the charming and accommodating owner, Nici, who kindly waived their Christmas 3 night policy and booked me in for 2 nights.
We had enjoyed (endured ?) a hectic month with friends and family, driven 4000 miles in search all the sights, drunk obcene amounts of wine and all I wanted was a chill out haven. And then came the Tonic I was in need of.
From the road, Tonic doesn't really sell itself. We overshot the hotel as it's entrance is on trend, hip but oh so discreet. The rooms are in 3 small blocks set back from a serene and pretty group of small lakes, but the starkly modern corrugated iron units were not screaming luxury, they were whispering funky, stylish, offbeat and secretive.
Some people, as previous reviews indicate, just won't get what Tonic is about. It's not some peoples idea of luxury. But MY kind of luxury is the discreet service, the stunning views, the high thread count bed linen, the perfect jazzy CD playing when we entered the room, the fridge stocked to overflowing with Australian local gastronomic delights, the Aesop toiletries....oh I could wax lyrical about this place all day.
It sells a lifestyle, and that lifestyle is not everybodys cup of tea but I am a believer - I've been sold the concept and it was perfect for my husband and I. We love funky little boutique hotels with personal but laid back service. If I wanted carpets and a concierge I'd book into the Crowne Plaza but I don't like corporate or quaint, I like off beat, up front style and shaggy slippers.
Best of all - it's the Views and the Roos. Sitting on the balcony, sipping a bottle from Nici's well chosen wine selection, I was chilled and laid back and relaxed and in Seventh Heaven - all of those wonderful sensations that a happy place gives a person.
If you like funky (I love the polished concrete floor - it's sensuous not industrial !) fun and fabulous - book a couple of days at Tonic. Not the cheapest retreat in the Hunter, but it will ease your tired and jaded city souls, and offer you a hip hideaway that you will want to return to. If you like corporate hotels, or are horrified by wet rooms, or are too precious to warm your own breakfast (Ragout of mushrooms with bacon - yum) then be prepared to be disappointed - but check out the website, what you see is what you get (and more, more, more...)
If Australia was less than a 24 hour trip away, I'd be booking 4 times a year. Whenever we do make it back, I'll make sure it's on my itinerary. I found my "happy place" at Tonic.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- tonic is - a place of uninterrupted relaxation and style, a place where you want to be a guest. A stunning spot - the Lovedale area of the Hunter Valley just 2 hours from Sydney. Simple modern surroundings - Australian design, steel and glass against native grasses. Non invasive service - discrete and informal, no formal check in and check out. Every luxury - crisp white linen, the best towels, groovy furniture and the latest in gadgets. tonic is opulent minimalism. we invite you to come and share ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Tonic Hotel Pokolbin
- Tonic Hotel Greater Newcastle/Pokolbin, Australia