Novotel Wollongong North Beach

Novotel Wollongong North Beach needs an upgrade

There is a buzz in the air when I arrive at the Novotel North Wollongong.  The sunken lobby bar is filled with School Principals finished with their day of conferencing and ready for the 60’s dress up dinner that’s on later. The Hotel is full and the only rooms to be found in the place are a cool $400 so it’s lucky we booked in advance for $250.

While I check myself in with the very helpful girls on reception, I help myself to the self-serve lolly bar, and before I’ve finished my strawberries and cream they have me checked in.

Turns out the tenth floor is the top floor and the view of the northern Illawarra, and round to the south coast is amazing.  It’s so good it distracts me from the room decor circa 1990.

The room is big but it’s really tired.  There’s mould in the shower that won’t come off no matter how hard they try and the bath is so high off the ground that I almost trip out of it. But a renovation might be underway.

On my way down in the lift to go for a run, I meet the Manager of the Novotel North Wollongong, he’s inspecting the new carpet on the conference floor.  We make small talk. When he finds out it’s Yeppoon in Queensland, we chat about the hotel that used to be Novotel, it’s closure all bar the Japanese restaurant and the golf course.  He reveals that the owners were an interesting lot.

I meet my besties and my brother downstairs in Pepe’s beach bar, bypassing the in-house Windjammers restaurant because I’m too lazy to walk anywhere else in Wollongong even though I know there are excellent options like North Beach Pavillion and Caveau close by.  I can’t quite figure out why the bar suddenly explodes with early 20 somethings come from every which way.  Then as I watch the suave, sophisticated young git in the booth next to us drink beer from the same sneakers he ran from the train and wore through eight hours of lectures I realise it is happy hour Monday.   A happy hour that lasts from 6pm-10pm and all beer and wine is $5.

It takes the four of us a millennium to decide what to eat.  We finally decided on the southern fried boneless whole chicken for $44.  Thinking that’s all that we’re getting we also order a large side of sweet potato fries $12 and mini cheeseburger sliders (3) also $12.   What comes out is a mountain of food.  The chicken comes with a mountain of sweet potatoe fries and a mountain of really good salad.  So to say we have more food than the four of us good eat is a fair statement.  Somehow though we manage to eat pretty much all of it.

Windjammers is more of a buffet type restaurant and it has been renovated and offers healthy choice options. But just from looking in from the maitre d’s desk the atmosphere is MIA.

The room is so blissfully dark in the morning that these parents of 5.30am wakers sleep through to an unheard of 7.30am.

The room is quiet, and the bed is soft we keep rolling into the middle.  The mini bar is average and the toiletries are nowhere to be seen so I grab some on the way back from my run.

There is no free in-room wifi but for $25 you can have 24-hour access for up to three devices.

Foxtel channels are there as well as pay per view movies and tv messaging services.

In the morning, we don’t worry about room service breakfast or the in-house buffet in Windjammers. Instead, we walk up to the lighthouse and back and head across to the beachfront Diggies which is casually but not in your face full for Acai Berry bowl, bacon and eggs and more flat white than I needed.

Then it’s time for checkout which is quick and painless. Soon we’re in the car with an hour to kill till Sydney Airport and the rental car drop off.  which luckily for us is in between the Qantas and Virgin terminals and gets us to bag drop off 15 minutes before the 45 minute Virgin Australia cut off.

I wouldn’t go out of my way to book the Novotel North Wollongong again but I would definitely stay there if it was on special.  The rooms are a little tired but large and very dark.  The service is excellent.

Editor’s note: Our stay was late 2016.  Let us know if you’ve stayed since and it’s improved.

THE FACTS

Cost:  $250 on sale

Wifi: $25 for 24 hours in your room.  FREE in lobby

Parking: three day passes available.

Darkness of room for sleeping: 8/10

Service: 9/10

Toiletries: 6/10

Bed & Linen: 8/10

Stay again? If it was reasonably priced or on special.

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