Surf Hotel

  • 2022

  • Architectural
    Architectual Design

Designed By:

  • Design King Company
  • Jon King Architect
  • Katie King Interiors
  • Ola Bruins Assistant Architect
  • Sinead Spence Assistant Inter

Commissioned By:

Mayne Family

Designed In:


On what had been a motel site since the 1920’s, this new boutique hotel provides a distinctive destination for visitors to Yamba and is part of the reframing and reimagining of tourist’s expectations. A designer needs to be sensitive and careful to acknowledge context and place and amplify the experience.

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Image: Brett Boardman Photography
Image: Elise Hassey
Image: Brett Boardman Photography
Image: Brett Boardman Photography
Image: Brett Boardman Photography
Image: Brett Boardman Photography
Image: Brett Boardman Photography
Image: Elise Hassey
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  • To design and construct a unique boutique hotel was the basic premise of the brief on this remarkable but constrained site. As the architects and designers of the project we developed the detailed brief and concept to ensure that it technically and economically viable. Given the 520m2 site, the complex planning and building requirements, and the limited infrastructure of Yamba, this was no easy task . But once established, the focus became carefully responding to the very particular context and how to ensure that the guest experience was at once connected and immersive through a highly considered and integrated interior design.

  • The success of The Surf in the first six months of its opening is a testament to the correctness of the design thinking that sits behind this project. As already noted building a small commercial building embodying numerous building classes is no easy thing and certainly tested the viability of the project. The building encapsulates the essence of coastal living, enhancing and magnifying the sense of place, shifting the visitors perspective to fully appreciate privileged nature of this place. We did so with a robust materiality, through the play of light and breezes, and a complete, seamless and comfortable interior.

  • The Surf has received a great deal of publicity and done exactly what many knew and hoped would happen. Yamba is back on the map with the creation of this commercially viable and unique small hotel. It has done so at an appropriate scale, with only 12 rooms and a rooftop terrace and pool. It is about quality, not the quantum of change. With a site area of only 540m2 this very compactly planned building over 4 storeys, with egress, circulation and provision of structure and services carefully designed to ensure safety, compliance with all the relevant controls and standards.

  • It is the creation of an atmosphere and sense of place that makes this such a successful and universally liked building. While private in nature the hotel contributes very much to the streetscape of this most prominent site. Appropriately scaled and designed to embrace the public realm, it presents an uplifting and renewed image for Yamba which had been languishing for some time. Architecturally and stylistically the building draws on some of the key icons of Yamba, the 1955 Lighthouse and the 1934 Pacific Hotel, with their nautical and deco detailing. We wanted this building to simultaneously resonate with the past and the future. There is also the romance of European coastal architecture that can be detected in the striped blinds, shutters and deck furniture used throughout. The imagery that reinforces the delight and privileged position of the site leaving occupants with the distinct impression of being on a boat rather than in a building. Great care in the assembling of every element and integration of all services was taken right through to the design and selection of all the furniture, fittings and artworks. Detailed research underpins the apparent simplicity and cohesive experience for guests within a commercially tight budget.