The Anchorage is a gorgeous Hamptons style waterfront property made up of separate houses and a main homestead. There you'll find lovely, modern suites, two pools (adults only and general), a whisky bar, two restaurants, a gorgeous afternoon tea and the divine Spa Lucca.
"I want to get to The Anchorage before it gets dark!" I say to Mr NQN. The reason was that I wanted to catch the sunset from our suite. We pull up to the main homestead at The Anchorage and I'm offered a glass of champagne at check in before we make the short drive to our accommodation further down the driveway.
The Anchorage property was first built 32 years ago but received a major refurbishment four and a half years ago. There are 80 rooms and we are staying in a suite 408 in the Asquith building.
It's a loft suite with the ground floor loungeroom with balcony and upstairs is the king bedroom with adjoining en suite.
It is cosy and the plantation shutters on the smaller attic style windows afford privacy in the bedroom. Downstairs in the main room you could sit for hours watching the sun change colours and turn from orange to shades of salmon and pink.
The bed upstairs is very comfortable and the heating keeps things very toasty during this unseasonably cold and windy weekend although the pillows are on the high side. There are clever touches like a range of charging cables on the bedside table which I wish every hotel had.
There's a large free standing tub and Balmain Paris toiletries offered in the room. The selection is comprehensive and along with the usual items there is also lip balm, hand cream, bath salts, toothbrush and razor.
As soon as I saw that they were offering High Tea By the Sea I knew that we had to try it. Food is a focus as well as a drawcard here at The Anchorage. They have a dedicated pastry chef creating exquisite little morsels for afternoon tea and the restaurant. Afternoon tea is served every day from 2:30-4:30pm in the downstairs Galley Kitchen restaurant. Included in the $59 price is sweet and savoury bites, tea or coffee and bottomless sparkling wine.
We first try the hot savoury morsels; a lamb sausage roll has delicious flaky pastry while the vegetable quiche is also good. The scones are served warm and dusted with icing sugar with pots of strawberry jam and whipped cream.
There are three types of sandwiches: a coronation chicken, cucumber and cream cheese and a smoked salmon on rye sandwich. They're all tasty but the coronation chicken is my favourite.
The cakes are the star of this afternoon tea though. They are very fresh and well made and range from a classic opera cake, chocolate caramel slice, passionfruit and coconut mousse cake, a custard tart topped with meringue and two wonderful passionfruit ganache white chocolate truffles. Staff are generous with offering top ups of drinks and we could have stayed there all afternoon. Except I had an appointment next.
Just next door is Spa Lucca, a haven within a haven. The warmth of the spa envelops you as you walk in and I instantly relax. The robes are stylish and the treatment room has an outdoor bath.
My spa therapist Kelsea does a consultation with me based on the information I filled out on the tablet. I climb into the cocoon of soft blankets and she starts my marine facial.
She's a particularly gifted masseuse and in no time I fall asleep as soon as she starts the scalp massage (which is early on in the treatment). She uses Sodashi products on me with slow, even and deliberate strokes that are designed to slow down your pace and relax. I wake up just before the hand and arm massages and I shut my eyes tightly hoping that it won't end.
But leave I must because I am expected at The Wild Herring, The Anchorage's fine dining seafood restaurant set in the attached glass rotunda building. During the August Love Seafood festival they're holding a seafood lovers weekend on the 24th and 25th of August with a cooking class and a seafood and Semillon dinner.
Open Thursday to Saturday evenings the restaurant focuses on local Port Stephens seafood. The prawns from Soldier's Point are served with lime aioli and Japanese seaweed. The prawns are tender and melt in the mouth.
Also from Soldier's Point are the local oysters served with vinaigrette and flying fish roe.
King Prawn Tacos $26
One of the most popular dishes is the prawn tacos with a DIY house made soft taco that you can fill with avocado, labne, pickled chilli, cucumber and prawns.
Linguini Marinara $28
The seafood linguine is also popular and sizeable for a entree. It is full of tender mussels, prawns and a rich tomato based sauce.
Local kingfish puy lentils celeriac purée steamed brocolini prawn bisque cured bacon $41
Mains concentrate more on fish (although there are other meat options too). We have the kingfish fillet with puy lentils, celeriac puree, steamed broccolini and prawn biasuque finished off with crispy house made bacon. The fish is meaty adn thick.
Local soldiers point Snapper saffron potato clam sauce asparagus $41
My favourite is the snapper which is an abundant fish here in Port Stephens. It is served with saffron potato, a clam sauce and asparagus spears.
Dessert tasting plate
Dessert is a tasting plate made up of a few components. There's mandarin brûlée, dark choc cherry mousse, hazelnut ice cream, mandarin foam and raspberry and mandarin coulis on the side. Along with a bottle of Brokenwood semillon all we can do is waddle back to our suite, glad that we don't have to drive!
So tell me Dear Reader, when you plan your weekends away do you choose your hotel first or your restaurants? And which of the amenity products provided do you use?
NQN and Mr NQN stayed as guests of The Anchorage but all opinions remain her own.
26 Corlette Point Rd, Corlette NSW 2315 Phone: (02) 4984 2555 anchorageportstephens.com.au