Finns at Old Bar: Halcyon Days By The Sea

Finns at Old Bar Bedroom
Surfboards designed by the owners’ friend, Jada Stanley, add colour to the crisp white bedrooms.

Old Bar is a tiny dot of a town on the NSW Mid North Coast with a fabulous surf beach and houses ranging from modern/sophisticated to fibro shacks and everything in between. The name ‘Old Bar’ seems very apt for the town looks like it has barely changed since the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

It reminds me of the halcyon days of my youth when we holidayed at the seaside and spent carefree days buying lime milkshakes, roller-skating at an outdoor rink, and gathering with the extended family, roaming freely with cousins who we saw once every year or two. That laidback vibe continues in Old Bar, and if all the family was getting together to laugh and play and do what families do, I reckon Finns at Old Bar is just the place you’d want to do it.

A mere 100 yards from the beach (how old-fashioned does that sound?), Finns is a big, two-storey, rambling old home that has been given a top-to-toe luxe makeover. It has been cleverly designed so that you can rent out either the whole property or individual apartments and suites.

Finns at Old Bar Exterior
Kick back and relax at this luxe accommodation that blurs the line between a holiday house and boutique hotel.

The two-bedroom apartment we stayed in occupies much of the upper floor. For anyone renting the whole property it would be the place where everyone would gather, thanks to its extensive lounge/dining area and its stunning chef’s kitchen. The long kitchen bench, well-equipped pantry and oversize oven are perfect for catering for a crowd, and the enormous dining table could be the scene for many happy family or group get-togethers.

Stepping out from the lounge onto the front veranda, there’s a hammock from which to watch the sunset, and a Weber barbecue. Out the back, there’s a 6-metre heated magnesium pool, shared with other guests or all yours if you take the whole property. The pool is surrounded by lush tropical palms and sun umbrellas. Free sporting equipment is provided including bikes that you can hire to cruise around town.

Finns at Old Bar Pool
The heated magnesium pool is surrounded by lush tropical palms.

The attention to detail by owners Kate and Vincent Primel is extraordinary, right down to the trays of ice cubes in the fridge, ready for sundowners. There’s a vast quantity of books, cookbooks, and magazines, such that it’s hard to get me out of chair or hammock (there’s even a fabulous hanging chair in the living area). Current editions of Frankie, Marie Claire, House and Garden, Home Beautiful and other magazines are laid out on the coffee table, along with a compendium of information about the property and Old Bar. It’s clear that our one-night stay is nowhere near long enough.

The lounge has a big couch to sink into, a big flat-screen TV, polished wooden floors with a rug and slow combustion stove, though I can’t imagine the stove gets used very often. The living area leads to a two-way bathroom and two double bedrooms, one opening to a sleepout with a couple of single beds. The bathroom is stocked with Wallawa indigenous toiletries.

Finns at Old Bar decorative piece
So many books and magazines to read. One night is not nearly enough!

Décor throughout the apartment is crisp white with pops of colour from decorative pieces and a colourful Nusa Indah surfboard hanging in each of the bedrooms. This reflects the owners’ passion for surfing: Vincent is French and coaches some of the world’s best surfers, and he and Kate own the local surf school. Guests can arrange to have surf lessons or borrow from the complimentary rack of boards.

They opened Finns at Old Bar in August 2020 after a seven-month renovation which has provided the property with all creature comforts and a luxe modern look while retaining the house’s old bones and homely feel. As well as the two-bedroom apartment we stayed in (sleeping up to 6 people), there are three private suites with French doors (two opening to a back balcony and one poolside), and another two-bedroom apartment on the lower level. All up, the house can accommodate 18 people. There is air-conditioning and free wi-fi throughout.

Hanging chair at Finns at Old Bar
Just the spot for hanging out!
Finns at Old Bar Pool
The pool is shared with other guests or all yours if you take the whole property.

Guests can play tennis next door at the local courts, or head to the skateboard park up the road. It’s a short stroll to the beach, which is patrolled and has a great kids’ playground and kiosk selling fish and chips. For a small town, there are quite a few dining options. As we were walking up the road past a Chinese restaurant, a fellow called out from a passing car: “Best Chinese ever!”

We might have checked it out had it not been for Kate’s recommendation that we dine at Sai, a Thai restaurant that is so good that people come to Old Bar just to eat there, she says. The menu comprises both classic and innovative dishes that are chef Mon’s own creation. We loved our meal at Sai. Note that it is BYO only (there’s a bottle shop nearby).

The lounge has a slow combustion stove.
The living area in Finns 2-bedroom apartment, complete with slow combustion stove.
The stunning chef's kitchen has everything you need to cater for a crowd.
The stunning chef’s kitchen has everything you need to cater for a crowd.

The next morning we followed up on another of Kate’s recommendations and had coffee at Buyi Espresso Bar next door to Finns. Buyi makes a good coffee, as the queue of customers attests to, but we could also have made our own as there’s a machine in the Finns kitchen.

If you’re planning a surprise for someone special or simply don’t feel like cooking, Finns works with local suppliers to provide services such as Champagne on arrival, a welcome platter, celebration cakes, beach picnics, brunch boxes and private dinners. See what I mean when I say the hosts have thought of everything?

If you are looking for a relaxing coastal getaway, sleepy little Old Bar, 3½ hours’ drive north of Sydney, is just the ticket. And Finns, sitting effortlessly between a holiday house and a boutique hotel, is the perfect spot for creating your own family memories.

Where to stay at Old Bar Beach, NSW
The patrolled beach at Old Bar, on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales.

If you go:

Finns at Old Bar
25 Old Bar Road
Old Bar NSW
Tel: 0421 180 821

With thanks to Finns at Old Bar for hosting us for one night in their lovely two-bedroom apartment. Five of the photos were supplied by Finns and used with permission. The other four (where watermarked) are copyright FoodWineTravel.

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