Larissa Fuller
Sydney, Australia

Brave, Beautiful and Boutique: Behind the Renovation of Bondi's Prettiest Guest House

We discover the journey and inspiration behind Bondi's most charming guest house.

The iconic Australian dream has always been centred around the ownership of your own piece of suburban paradise - a detached house with a sprawling garden, all set on a glorious quarter acre block. It's a simple yet idealistic idea that's been firmly established for generations.

It is this dream, teamed with a strong entrepreneurial movement here in Australia, that see's designers, builders, families, couples and property managers get their hands dirty not only with the purchase of their Australian dream, but how and what they can do to creatively tap into a community, a purpose, its surrounds and new potential revenue streams.

With tourism demand on the rise, it is these local hospitality concepts that have the ability to deliver far more than a bite to eat or a bed to rest. The 'cookie cutter' style approach to accommodation is out and is being readily surpassed by accessible, honest and wholesome accommodation concepts that see guests positioned to attain an entirely unique experience where once before it was not available.

Tucked away in a calm and verdant street lies The Baxley Bondi, a boutique hideaway that offers an exceptional coastal escape.

With its Hamptons-inspired style, this luxurious retreat boasts a warm, classic charm that has only grown in popularity since its opening. It is all too often this hotel is referred through 'word of mouth' making this relatively hidden accommodation that much more interesting to check out. The Baxley Bondi delivers an affordable price point without compromising on the quality of the amenities, from plush bedding to an array of thoughtful touches.

We chat with the owner of The Baxley Bondi, Peter Magiros, about the build, the design and the concept that has brought this charming guest house to life in one of the countries most loved beach side neighbourhoods.

@ The Baxley Bondi,  In room facilities
@ The Baxley Bondi,  In room facilities
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@ The Baxley Bondi, Reception
@ The Baxley Bondi
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We officially opened The Baxley Bondi to guests early Aug 2018. The opening still corresponded with the Winter chill however gave us a great opportunity to perfect operations before the high season hit in Sydney.

Tell us, how did you get your hands on the property?

My family has been working in accommodation for 3 generations so it has always been on our radar to keep an eye out for small lodges and hostels in prized locations. This property came up at an auction in 2013 so it was as simple as committing to the purchase as a confident real estate buyer. Location, bones and opportunity were all very positive.

What was The Baxley Bondi before the accommodation renovation it is today?

An eye sore! It was known as 'Cranbury House' and used primarily for international student accommodation. The previous management of the property had really let it go so when we took it on, all be it still trading, knew it would require a decent makeover in the near future to keep it safe and desirable for future use.

How long did the renovation process take?

Renovation process was about 12 months from start to finish. We kept the original layout and enhanced the original building features while rejuvenating other aspects which bought it to life. These include painting, floor coverings, lighting, furniture and branding to tie it all together.

@ The Baxley Bondi, Queen Room
@ The Baxley Bondi, Queen Room
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"The Baxley Bondi concept was created with its immediate local surroundings in mind. It was only natural that the beach would form some direction for our branding, colour palette, and style."

Who designed the guest house? Any key players in the development?

Most of the features are original characteristics of the building dating back from when it was built in the 1960s. That said, at the time of renovating The Baxley Bondi, we had a boutique architectural firm come in to help accentuate those features (such as the front porch and indoor staircase) in accordance with The Baxley look and feel. The Baxley’s unique style comes down to all the details, such as the paint colours, signage, furniture materials and design, as well as the surrounding landscaping at the front entrance of the property that feels like you are coming home to your own little oasis.

Renovating accommodation and flipping motels is certainly a trend in Australia now. We too are seeing it throughout Italy, Portugal, Greece… the concepts coming out of smaller boutique estates and properties are just unreal.

What was the major challenge or piece of advice you wish you had when working on The Baxley Bondi?

At the time of coming up with a concept for the property, we were torn between either renovating the property by keeping its original structure and style vs. altering the structural elements through a new development application. Looking back on this, we went with the correct decision of renovating the property as is, keeping true to its' original charm and drawing attention to its key features that make it unique to other guest houses in Sydney. Add some beautiful wallpapers, light fittings and other unique touches, then before we knew it, we had created something special. Should we have altered the building through a DA, I feel it would have lost its unique charm that it offers today.

Tell us a bit about the property.. how many suites does it have?

The property has 30 rooms and 4 room types, varying from single beds to queen beds. The majority of the rooms have beautifully renovated shared bathroom facilities (individual private bathrooms throughout the hallways) that give the Baxley a unique selling point that is reflected in the pricing.

@ The Baxley Bondi
@ The Baxley Bondi
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Key Facilities?

Something that is unique to the property is our mix of en-suited rooms, and shared bathrooms. Whilst the concept is not for everyone, we love the feedback we get from guests, often the ones less enthusiastic about sharing a space with others. The fact is, we are meticulously clean so when people opt for a shared bathroom, and see them - they always come back. I think it is that light bulb moment where they know they can save a little but still get the service and amenities provided in a boutique hotel. It is a win win.. I also love our communal lounge area that makes for a perfect space to prepare coffee, snacks or breakfast. The mornings are brimming with creatives and corporates who find The Baxley Bondi a really easy stay.  

Best property asset? What makes it different to other accommodations in the area?

Easily our location – a quiet residential street. We are walking distance from Bondi Junction train station and Westfield shopping complex, as well 20 mins from the infamous Bondi Beach and Icebergs ocean pool.  

Talk about it all on your doorstep! Tell us what are your top 3 experiences in Bondi?

Bondi's Sculpture by the Sea in Spring is always a highlight where everyone can view some of the most unique artworks with a stunning sea horizon backdrop.

An afternoon seaside cocktail at North Bondi Fish or Ravesis never disappoints, followed by one of Bondi’s myriad of multi cuisine restaurants on Campbell parade and Hall street.

The Bondi to Coogee walk is the most special for me as you get to take in some of Australia’s best coast views amongst the fresh sea breeze – it’s like exercising and meditating at the same time!

Anything to avoid?

Avoid swimming outside the flags on Bondi Beach or prepare to be featured on Bondi Rescue. Amongst the locals, this ain't so cool!  

And finally, some feedback. It has been 5 years and you have seen a lot of visitors now through those beautiful Hampton-style doors. What travel markets have been your biggest fans?

The Baxley Bondi seems to attract both young and old professionals. We host travellers seeking clean, comfortable and stylish accommodation in a safe environment not only from around Australia, but throughout the world, particularly western European countries. Corporates in the Eastern Suburbs love the 'drop in' ease of checkin, as well parking in the local area whilst mothers and fathers visiting children and expats in the Bondi area too seem incredibly happy to have their own space with us.

@ The Baxley Bondi, Shared Bathroom
@ The Baxley Bondi
@ The Baxley Bondi
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