With its striking red door and sky-blue weatherboards, the picturesque cottage on one of Bowral’s central streets could easily be mistaken for yet another charming Highlands home, but there is more to this warm and welcoming property than first meets the eye.
The Hidden Door Cottage and Villa, as the name suggests, offers two separate buildings with distinctly different accommodation options – quaint and cosy at the front, and sleek and stylish tucked away at the back of the block.
In warmer months, the leafy green canopy stretching along Bundaroo Street is so spectacular and distracting some guests (and I am one) drive straight past the cottage and have to double-back. The location couldn’t be more convenient, within walking distance to just about everything Bowral has to offer.
For many visitors to the Southern Highlands, often groups of family and friends attending a wedding, finding accommodation to suit the unconventional make-up of their party can be challenging. In this sense, The Hidden Door may be the perfect solution providing flexible living for two couples or a small family in the two-bedroom cottage, and a similar configuration albeit in a completely different style in the modern villa.
Both properties exude elegance and charm, with thoughtful local touches including mouth-watering treats (Sea Salt Butter Caramels for our visit) from Ms Peacock Fine Chocolates, translucent resin bowls from the Milk Factory Gallery, and fresh seasonal flowers from the garden of the Hidden Door’s property manager, Maree. During our visit, both the cottage and the villa showcased a selection of (French & English) roses with intense fragrance, a sure sign of home-grown rather than mass-produced varieties.
In a former life, century-old cottage was well known in the area as Campbell and Robertson Fabrics, and new owners Kym and Garry Whatman, fourth generation Highlanders, have respectfully retained its heritage, evident in the beautiful bed linens, colourful block-mounted fabric prints and distinctive Sanderson wallpaper. In addition to the two double bedrooms, guests can sink into comfortable lounges in the living area or share a meal in the cosy dining room next to the kitchen. All the basics required to make a cuppa are provided but with close proximity to cafés and restaurants, most guests choose to take a night off cooking and head out for a meal, or pick up takeaway. The bathroom is contemporary and spacious with heated floors, a pleasant surprise for bare feet. Out on the front verandah, an upcycled timber church pew is the perfect spot to get lost in a book.
To discover the Hidden Door’s villa accommodation, follow the path down the side of the cottage, a clever layout that ensures privacy for guests who choose to keep to themselves.
The clean lines of the entrance set the tone for the minimal design of the two-storey villa, purpose-built six years ago.
On the ground floor, the double bedroom and open-plan kitchen and living area wrap around an outdoor terrace. Sliding doors along the polished concrete hallway open up to create an al fresco entertaining area, perfect for a cocktail or two as the sun sets.
The kitchen is well-stocked with crockery, cutlery and glasses for all manner of occasion – it seems the type of property where guests instinctively reach for champagne flutes and these are thoughtfully provided. A small outdoor area at the back of the property provides an extra spot to sit and enjoy the fresh air.
A delightful cow theme adds a touch of country whimsy to the villa; a black-and white cowhide covers the floor in the entry foyer, and artwork includes a gorgeous monochrome portrait in the lounge room of a friendly Highlander peering at guests through its shaggy fringe.
Head up the wide sisal-covered staircase to the master bedroom and second bathroom, the only two rooms on this level. Remnants of the Hidden Doors design heritage are present throughout with the choice of quality fabrics and furnishings, including another example of Sanderson wallpaper, this one in muted tones of stone and wood. Linen curtains pull back for a daytime district view, or a touch of stargazing at night.
In its two distinctly different yet complementary properties, The Hidden Door blends traditional with modern, and quaint with sophisticated to create a unique accommodation offering, just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of town. The properties can be booked separately or together and have a minimum two-night stay.