We’ve just come back from some time away – not a huge amount of time, but some – in one of Unyoked‘s cabins.
Was it good? Overall, yes, but with a sprinkling of hmmm to add to the escape’s piquancy.
The break has been a while coming. We’ve been building a house over the past… eon, it would seem… and it’s taken a toll. I mean, I haven’t been swinging a hammer myself, but the organisation and chasing and OH GOD THE STRESS I CAN NEVER GO ANYWHERE ELSE AGAIN all stack up until a brief respite is pretty necessary.
(Yeah this is absolutely a first world problem, I’m very aware.)
But it was decided: a quick flit away before getting back into the unenviable task of packing up our lives and making the big move in a couple of weeks.
So, you’re not supposed to say where the cabins are. (Even though Time Out kinda did.) But en route we were able to stop in at the architectural wonder that is the Big Potato at Robertson, NSW. Robertson is quite lovely – blossoming trees lined the roads, far more beautiful than the rendered pootato – but it wasn’t the final destination of this little escape-from-work trip. There was another half-hour or so to go.
(Stop in at Moonacres, though, if you’re after a bite. Ridiculously good.)
When we arrived at the rural location – two or so hours from Sydney, and past a couple of dozen bemused cows and sheep – we parked at the required spot and filled up the provided wheelbarrow. The last 200m of the journey were walked, and we came upon Miguel, a cabin on a trailer in a clearing in the middle of a 400-year-old forest. It was about four in the afternoon – check-in is from three – and the cool in the air was just as delightful as I’d hoped.
It was pretty impressive, and there was a hammock frame, so I was set for a good time.
As we’d planned, this was just a little break designed to provide a relaxing hiccup. So we got down to the hard work of doing fuck-all, which included drinking tea and staring off into the distance. There’s phone coverage, yep, but it’s a bit spotty so it’s an excellent inducement to put the bloody thing down.
The stay itself was pretty much what’s advertised. It was an excellently quiet place that is conducive to doing a whole lot of nothing. We cooked snags and I managed to not fall into the fire. We read and talked. We slept and listened to the birds start their calls across the treetops in the morning fog. It was precisely as restful as hoped, and I felt a bit bummed to be going home so soon, but work deadlines are inescapable, at least for me, a non-Houdini.
But there were some things that weren’t great.
The cabin was pretty well fitted out. It looks as lovely as it does when snapped by an influencer. There’s some really lovely touches – Penguin Classics! Pendleton blankies! – but there’s also some missteps. Mostly, these seem to be about upkeep. There’s no doubt that the cabin was pretty schmick when it was brand new, but it felt a little bit tired, and certain surfaces reflected the griminess that comes with only being given a casual clean. There were sticky benches, and some much-marked enamel ware. Supplied torches piddled our their last as we looked for light, and one of the lanterns was stuffed. The least-used bed – the king single, as I guess it’s mostly couples that rent Miguel – was dusty, and scuffs were found sprinkled through the place. The pull-holes in the cupboards were pretty dank, and the unsealed wood finishes were starting to look a bit hangdog. The chemical toilet was grim, but that’s standard for a chemical toilet, I guess.
Look, none of the problems were earthshattering, or were enough to make us want to pack up and fuck off in high dudgeon. (After all, we’d paid.) But it was a bit of a bummer to find things were a bit how’s-yer-father. It was something that you’d probably not think twice about were you staying at a mate’s uncle’s joint, say, but when you’re paying to stay somewhere that’s pretty popular, and looks pretty gorgeous online it does rankle a bit.
I’m used to some expensive – let’s face it, these cabins aren’t exactly holiday park-cheap – things being a bit of a disappointment. Not enough to harpoon the experience, but enough to make a dent, for sure. A different example: a couple of years ago, I had the good fortune of being taken to MONA in Tasmania to make up for a crappy landmark birthday. We stayed in a fancy-pants pavilion there, and while it was architecturally spectacular and very scenic et cetera, I couldn’t believe how, in a place that charged so much, I’d find some stuff in worse repair than fixtures in my own house. It was a bit.. well, grotty. And that was a bummer, because, to be fair, if you’ve splurged on somewhere that’s a one-off, you-beaut celebratory joint, you kind of want everything to be right. Same thing.
Now I understand Unyoked are not ploughing the same furrow as MONA in respect to accommodation options. Hell, they rate their cabins with chilli icons to highlight how flavourful the experience might be. But it was a bit disappointing – especially as I’d followed them on Instagram since they came to prominence because, you know, it’s cabin porn – to rock up and find out that something that’s been so carefully styled for the socials was a bit down at heel. The price didn’t change, after all.
It would appear that Unyoked is expanding – they’ve just announced six new cabins – so I would guess that Miguel might receive a bit of a touch-up soon, as there’ll be some extras to take some of the booking strain. (The cabin is booked out every weekend until March next year, at this point!) I wouldn’t let any of my comments stop you from heading along – we really enjoyed being there, and would love to have that kind of getaway again – but I would caution that it mightn’t be exactly what you’re expecting.
That said, I’m keen to give them another go. The idea is great, and I did have a good time. It’s just with a little bit more attention to detail, it would’ve been properly great.
(Also: I know it’s mostly the editing snob in me, but PLEASE Unyoked, let me loose on your copy. If you give me a free night in a new cabin, I’ll sub all your booklets and emails. They’re little mistakes, but they count!)