No one wants to be the annoying tourist. Particularly in Byron Bay – the Instagramable northern New South Wales paradise that has exploded as the country’s hottest holiday destination.
Even the celebrities don’t want to look out of place among the locals. That’s why the stars – the Hemsworths, Zac Efron, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg are just a few who live and holiday there – keep things low-key in the shire.
Living like a local is how Efron met his new girlfriend, Vanessa Valladares.
The movie star, who has been residing in the area since last year, met the 25-year-old budding model when she was working as a waitress at The General Store – a trendy plant-based eatery.
It’s one of many cafes in the town where you can spot celebs mixing with residents. The Hemsworths have been snapped hanging out at Top Shop and Bayleaf Cafe while everyone from Elle Macpherson to Tom Cruise has dined at the Instagramable haunt Rae’s down at Wategos.
But to truly live like a local, you need to find the proper place to crash at night.
A post shared by The Byron Bay General Store (@byron_general_store)
Motels always look fun and retro in road trip movies where people escape the troubles of their lacklustre lives and speed out of town in a vintage convertible while classic rock crackles over the stereo. But, in reality, the experience doesn’t match up. None of us are escaping our lives and no one owns a convertible.
At motels, there are always weird stains on the bedspreads. The drinking glasses look like they haven’t been washed since the ‘80s. And you grimace when your head touches the pillow at night.
To get around this, you have two options.
The first is stealing away into a Byron resident’s home while they’re at work, changing the locks and claiming squatters’ rights.
The second is booking on Airbnb.
Byron Bay residents Chris Hemsworth and wife Elsa are known to keep things low-key.Source:Instagram
Even Matt Damon prefers Airbnb. The blockbuster star flew into Byron Bay earlier this month ahead of filming Thor: Love And Thunder and quarantined in a palatial European-style home in nearby Knockrow.
Matt Damon and his family are avoiding all red carpets in Byron Bay.Source:Getty Images
The eight-bedroom pad, dubbed Chateau Du Soleil, costs $7000 a night on Airbnb and boasts a swimming pool, tennis court, manicured gardens, wine cooler and sweeping ocean views.
Don’t have that much cash? Same. But that’s not a problem. You can find more affordable rooms and homes on the app that are just as Damon-worthy – and some even cost less than what you’d pay for a dated motel room.
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The Local Studio is just one of these options. For $240 a night, you can stay in your own two-level villa that has been thoughtfully designed with a mix of modern touches and bohemian accessories to match the trendy, laid-back town. It’s just a 15 minute walk from the main street – and only a hundred metres away from The General Store cafe, so you too could snag your own Zefron.
Live like a local … the kitchen and lounge area of The Local Studio.Source:Supplied
The lodging is attached to the side of the main house which is occupied by the owners who can offer, via the app, local knowledge on the best places to eat, drink and play in the area. Its own separate entrance means privacy is never an issue and a full kitchen and bathroom lend you all the conveniences you’d find in your own home.
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On the Airbnb app, you can pick from accommodation options that are all supported with detailed photos and descriptions. You can also browse through the top-rated results that have been graded by previous guests and select from lodgings that abide by the company’s five step “enhanced cleaning” process.
What does this mean? Clean drinking glasses. Pillows that aren’t gross. And no weird stains on the bedspread.
And really, that’s all the matters.
If it’s good enough for Damon, It’s good enough for us.
The writer was a guest of Airbnb.
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