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Bondi at its best outside of summer

The off-season in Sydney’s most glamorous beach suburb, Bondi, is pleasantly peaceful.

There are still a lot of people about in the cafes and bars, but there are less crowded streets, and parking isn’t the usual chaos.

There are fewer British backpackers lining the sand and traipsing from beach to hostel, and there’s a more relaxed vibe among the locals.

No matter the season though, Hall Street is always the heart of Bondi, and it’s here the suburb has its newest addition.

The stylish Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach opened in June. The hotel welcomes guests with a lounge area that features a skilful sandstone wall and soft furnishings in an earthy palette.

The natural colour scheme and relaxed atmosphere carries through the rest of the building, including to the sleek pool and spa area, and the spacious apartment rooms.

So far, just stage one of the development has been revealed, with a new retail precinct opening in September.

The retail offerings will include the popular Sydney gelato and dessert bar Gelato Messina, (the black forest gelato cake recently featured on MasterChef).

There will also be A Tavola, a one-hat Italian restaurant specialising in Abruzzese cuisine.

China Doll chef Frank Shek has come on board to create a modern Asian menu for the new China Diner, while there will also be a premium steakhouse, coffee roaster and cafe, an Italian bakehouse and delicatessen, an Italian pizza and porchetta restaurant, and Harris Farm Markets.

This retail precinct will be split over two levels, with pedestrian access from Hall and O’Brien streets.

A new Wilson Parking station will also help ease Bondi’s parking problems and take traffic pain away from hotel guests.

“Set amongst a diverse mecca of vibrant restaurants and trendy shops, the commanding position of the apartment hotel allows guests to soak up all the glamour and lifestyle that Bondi offers,” Toga Hotels CEO Rachel Argaman said in a statement following the launch.

The restaurants beneath Adina will add a renewed spark to Bondi, which can at times appear drab and tired. That’s despite, or perhaps because of, the more than two million people that visit Bondi every year.

Of the already existing vibrant restaurants Argaman is referring to, they’re easily spotted by the number of hipsters spilling out of doorways onto kerbsides.

Le Paris-Go Cafe, just down from the Adina, is packed with trendy Sydneysiders sipping on double-shot piccolos. Despite mixed reviews regarding food and service, this cafe is clearly the place to be seen.

“The staff are super cool and friendly and this place does attract the beautiful and photogenic crowd of Bondi,” wrote a visiting Melburnian on yelp.com.au.

A Sydney resident wrote: “Every time I walk by this buzzing cafe I see a slew of beautiful people acting as if they don’t have a care in the world.”

And that’s the Bondi way. Embrace the cool and head down Hall Street (toward the beach) and swing a left down Gould.

Here you’ll be in shopper’s heaven, with Crab Shack Skate Shop offering the latest trends in decks, along with Nike and Adidas shoes. You’ll also find Ksubi here and Aesop.

On Sundays, you can wander up to Bondi Beach Public School on Campbell Parade and check out the markets. They’re a little over-rated but you may find a gem of a souvenir among the stalls selling jewellery, t-shirts, jumpers, hats and photo frames.

Of course, a stay here wouldn’t be complete without heading over to the beach, made even more famous since reality TV show Bondi Rescue premiered in 2006.

It’s best in the off-season, as in summer sun bathers line up almost on top of each other battling for the best frying position.

The surf breaks are hectic then too, as experienced surfers share South Bondi’s right-handers with swarms of travellers.

If you’re in the mood for people-watching, or have a young shredder in the family, stop off at the beachside skate park. Here, young boys and girls aim to perfect their latest tricks in front of a crowd of onlookers.

Behind them, people play volleyball on the beach as others feast on fish `n’ chips on the grassy knoll.

Locals jog the esplanade with pet pooches, while away from it all, at the back of Bondi Pavilion, old men play chess on shaded tables.

You see, there’s plenty to do in Bondi, even in the not-so-busy off-season.

IF YOU GO

GETTING THERE: Bondi is in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and is easily reached from the city centre by train to Bondi Junction, bus or car.

STAYING THERE: Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach is located at 69-73 Hall St. For bookings and rates, call (02) 9300 4800 or go to www.adinahotels.com.au.

PLAYING THERE: For activities in Bondi, go to www.sydney.com.

In spring, Bondi hosts the annual Sculpture by the Sea (Oct 24-Nov 10), a collection of often strange and creative sculptures.

*The writer stayed in Bondi as a guest of Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach

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Mystic Maggie

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