Travel blog on one-of-a-kind travel experiences

The princess and the Sydney palace


Justine Tyerman’s childhood fantasy comes true at a palatial harbourside apartment in Sydney . . .

When I was a little girl, pretending to be a princess in a palace was one of my favourite games. My obliging friends played the role of my courtiers but I don’t recall them having a turn as princess!

I remembered this game a few weeks ago when I found myself in palatial surroundings at La Corniche, a Luxe Houses holiday rental property on the Sydney Harbour waterfront. There were no turrets or moats at the 14-room fifth-floor apartment and I’m not sure if any princesses have stayed there but many celebrities and VIPs have called the place home for a time.

And the degree of luxury, grandeur of the views and the services available to guests certainly make La Corniche fit for royalty.

We arrived at sunset as Sydney’s iconic sights were at their breathtaking best. The arch and pillars of the Harbour Bridge provided a perfect frame for the Opera House and as daylight faded, Luna Park put on a dazzling display with the famous Ferris wheel lit up like a giant Catherine wheel.

La Corniche. Luna Park is dazzling by night from the balcony at La Corniche

Luna Park is dazzling by night from the balcony at La Corniche

It took no time at all for me to resume my princessly demeanour but my husband and daughter had some difficulty coming to terms with their new roles as “courtiers”. However I discovered La Corniche came with a concierge and a tantalising list of bespoke services I could order, if I so desired – lunch, cocktails or dinner prepared “at home” by Luxe Houses’ own chef-to-the-stars; fine wines and fresh produce delivered to the kitchen which my food-obsessed “courtiers” got very excited about; in-house yoga, beauty, massage, hair, skin and revitalisation pampering; a personal shopper to advise me on the latest fashions; cruising on board a luxury super-yacht; flights by private jet; and even some acrobatic manoeuvres high above the harbour in a fighter jet.

It was so hard to decide, but after consulting with our concierge, we chose lunch for three prepared in “our kitchen” by chef Clancy Atkinson, and some feminine pampering.

La Corniche. Justine with chef Clancy (right) and Aldo (Clancy's partner) and the delicious lunch they prepared at La Corniche

Chef Clancy (right), Aldo and yours truly

Clancy worked for Gucci and other luxury brands for six and a half years before taking up the position as official chef for Luxe Houses. Sweet-natured, amusing and unpretentious, Clancy does not fit the modern image of a temperamental celebrity chef at all. He’s a charmer.

Our delicious Gourmet Spring Lunch was presented on regal Pillivuyt French porcelain plates at the 10-seater round dining table by the picture window overlooking the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, but for once the view was upstaged by the food.

La Corniche. Clancy's fancy lunch served at the dining table at La Corniche with a view of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House

Clancy’s fancy lunch served with a view…

The menu was:

  • Goat cheese, braised leek and mint pie with handmade olive oil pastry
  • Salad of shaved cauliflower, fennel, green apple and hazelnuts with sweet and sour honey dressing
  • Chargrilled asparagus with parmesan, pickled red grapes, baby cos and pickling juices
  • Banana gelato popsicle dipped in Belgian chocolate
  • White chocolate, cranberry and quinoa cookies
  • Fresh blueberry and bitter chocolate brownie
  • Homemade lemonade with fresh mint and cucumber slices

In the days that followed, we explored the delights and surprises of this exceptional private home, owned by a New Zealand family. The sheer size of the apartment, which takes up the whole floor at La Corniche, one of Sydney’s most sought-after waterfront apartment buildings, is impressive. At 300 sq.m it is extraordinarily spacious, especially the grand entrance-way, living, entertainment, bar and dining areas with their marble floors and Italian sculptures.

La Corniche. Justine's favourite chair beside the high-powered binoculars in the living area at La Corniche

My favourite chair beside the high-powered binoculars in the living area

I “held court” at either the oval walnut boardroom table in front of a pair of massive antique doors or the leather armchair and footrest set in the curved window of the living space beside a set of powerful binoculars – an ideal place to watch the daily parade of massive ocean liners cruising past at eye-level.

La Corniche. A cruise ship glides past La Corniche on Sydney Harbour

A cruise ship glides past La Corniche on Sydney Harbour

My “courtiers” preferred to sprawl on the huge white leather L-shaped couch in the living area where they could control the high-tech sound system and five televisions throughout the apartment.

We lived an idyllic life, barely leaving the “palace” except to swim in the heated indoor pool, soak in the jacuzzi with super-charged bubbles, steam in the sauna and work out at the gym, all handily-located, a few steps downstairs from the apartment.

La Corniche. Justine chilling out with a glass of pinot noir on the white leather couch at La Corniche

Justine chilling out with a glass of pinot noir on the white leather couch

In the sumptuous luxury of La Corniche with spectacular panoramas from every window and balcony, there seemed little reason to go anywhere else which made for a truly relaxing break from our hectic lives.

For Foodies, too

La Corniche. La Corniche kitchen with marble benches and Gaggenau appliancesThe foodies in the family were happy in the marble kitchen with its battery of German Gaggenau appliances and Nespresso machine, sans George Clooney, not to mention the well-stocked butler’s pantry.

They cooked delectable meals from produce delivered to the residence as part of the Luxe Houses’ concierge service and we dined in style inside by the picture windows or on mild evenings, outside on the balcony, admiring Sydney by night.

La Corniche.The main balcony and outside entertainment area at La Corniche

The main balcony at La Corniche

La Corniche would be a prime spot to celebrate New Year’s Eve – guests are guaranteed box seats for the spectacular annual fireworks display launched at midnight from the Harbour Bridge arch. The apartment would also be a perfect venue to watch the annual Vivid Festival in May-June when the Harbour Bridge and Opera House are centrepieces of a fabulous light and music extravaganza.

We had guests for drinks one evening, seated at the bar where many celebrities have entertained their A-lister friends. There were enough crystal glasses in the cabinets to invite the whole royal family.

Your private spa

At night, I sank up to my nose in the luxurious spa bath, one of two at the residence, and watched as the ferries criss-crossed across the harbour, calling at Circular Quay before dropping into McMahon’s Point jetty immediately below us. Even the hydro-therapy shower in the master ensuite had a stunning view.

La Corniche. The master bedroom ensuite bathroom with a million-dollar view at La Corniche

Hydro-therapy shower in master bedroom ensuite bathroom

The three bedrooms had deep, plush carpet and tiled ensuite bathrooms while the master bedroom had a large dressing room for all my jewels and finery. The beds, made up with finest linen, were superbly comfortable – certainly fit for a princess.

About Luxe Houses

I was shown around La Corniche by Luxe Houses founder and CEO Jessica Kirkpatrick who has welcomed many a celebrity to the 200 prestigious private rental properties she manages in Australia and New Zealand. I was expecting a tough-talking, middle-aged Australian businesswoman but instead met a beautiful, clever young entrepreneur who has carved out a high-end niche market, securing Australia and New Zealand’s most desirable properties for her rich and famous clientele including Gerard Butler and Ronan Keating.

Luxe Houses CEO Jessica Kirkpatrick at La Corniche

Luxe Houses CEO Jessica Kirkpatrick at La Corniche

The Sydney University economics graduate and former UBS wealth management advisor and competitive polo player, is married to Ben and describes herself as a “mumpreneur” having given birth to their first child, daughter Ayla two years ago, about the same time she began setting up Luxe Houses.

In recent years we have seen the emergence of the domestic and international luxury traveller seeking more bespoke accommodation.

says Jessica.

The Luxe Houses portfolio provides these discerning travellers with an elite experience in some of Australia’s most exclusive private houses.

It’s where stars, black-book celebrities and well-to-do expats call first to seek outstanding accommodation.

La Corniche is one of our flagship properties but there are stunning multi-million dollar listings scattered all around Sydney including fashion icon Collette Dinnigan’s former Paddington home and stylish Tamarama mansions overlooking the sand, sea and coastal walkway to world-famous Bondi Beach.

Looking ahead, we are planning to expand Luxe Houses globally – the UK is next on the horizon and then Switzerland.

Luxe Houses are also used by businesses for corporate, public relations and media events, VIP client entertainment, product launches, advertising campaigns, movie/photography shoots and conferences.

As we moved out, Ronan Keating and his entourage moved in to celebrate a birthday soirée for his girlfriend, catered for by “our Clancy”. Had Ronan known I was a princess, I’m sure I would have been invited.

La Corniche.The dining area set up for Ronan Keating's party at La Corniche

Dining in style like Ronan Keating’s girlfriend

Meanwhile, my entourage and I spent the weekend at one of Luxe Houses beachfront properties, overlooking the famous stretch of sand at Bondi, a beautiful beach resort just seven kilometres from Sydney CBD, one of the world’s busiest cities.

Bondi Beach at dusk from the balcony at the Notts Ave Luxe Houses apartment

Bondi Beach at dusk from the balcony at the Notts Ave Luxe Houses apartment

While a little more compact than La Corniche, the view from the top-floor, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment was spectacular. The spacious living/dining area opened onto a large balcony and even from the kitchen at the rear of the apartment, you could see the surfers and paddle-boarders catching waves.

Bondi Beach. A surfer rides a wave, the spray streaming off the crest of the breaker. Photo taken from the balcony at the Notts Ave Luxe Houses apartment.

A surfer rides a wave at Bondi Beach

I claimed the armchair and footrest beside the floor-to-ceiling balcony doors as my “throne” although the lounger on the huge rooftop balcony with its splendid 360 degree view of Bondi was also a top contender.

Bondi Beach. The rooftop balcony at the Notts Ave Luxe Houses apartment overlooking Bondi Beach

Rooftop balcony at the Notts Ave Luxe Houses apartment overlooking Bondi Beach

The bed linen and towels were so thick and luxurious I thought they were doubled and the feather pillows were like resting your head on a cloud, while the tiled bathrooms had mirror walls which pleased the princess no end.

Bondi Beach.The master bedroom at the Notts Ave Luxe Houses apartment overlooking Bondi Beach

Master bedroom overlooking Bondi Beach

We slept with the doors and curtains wide open to the balcony so we could see the sun rising over the sea. Unforgettable!

And for a special treat, we asked the concierge to organise a yoga session at home on the balcony. Everyone does yoga at Bondi . . . even princesses.

Justine Tyerman stayed at the following Luxe Houses


Visit to view 200 spectacular properties in Australia and New Zealand.

Getting there

Air New Zealand flies direct to Sydney from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Rotorua with flight options also available on alliance partner Virgin Australia. A range of inflight products are available including; Seat, Seat + Bag, The Works and Works Deluxe. One way ‘Seat’ fares ex-Auckland start from $206 (inclusive of taxes).


About Author

Justine Tyerman is an award-winning New Zealand journalist, travel writer and sub-editor with 18 years' experience in newspaper and freelance work. She has worked as a news reporter, feature writer, designer of an award-winning Newspapers in Education programme and sub-editor on local, national, business, education and international desks.

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