coogee beach from out to sea with the Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach hotel

A Sydney staycation at the family-friendly Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach

Family-friendly hotels like the Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach can be hard to find in big cities. So when we were offered the opportunity for a Sydney staycation with the kids, exploring a beach-side suburb on the other side of the city from where we live, we jumped at the chance.

On a wintery Friday, we headed across the Sydney Harbour Bridge from our home on the northern beaches for a weekend staycation in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. 

coogee beach from out to sea with the Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach hotel
Coogee Beach and the Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach hotel. Credit: supplied

To be honest I don’t think either of our kids had ever been to Coogee. And thanks to the last couple of years of COVID-19 lockdowns it’s been at least 3 years since either of us adults had been too.

Where is Coogee Beach?

Coogee Beach is 8km from the Sydney CBD and only a 20-minute drive from Sydney Airport.  It’s also the end point of the famous Bondi to Coogee coastal walk

You can easily access Coogee Beach by car or bus, and if you’re doing the walk from Bondi it’s 6km along a well-trodden clifftop path. 

Outside the Ross Jones Memorial Baths at the south end of Coogee Beach. Credit: Janeece Keller

Why is Coogee Beach good for families?

Coogee is one of Sydney’s oldest suburbs, made famous for its elegant historic buildings and ocean bath pools. 

Coogee is quieter than nearby Bondi Beach and with an average of just 35 rescues per year (less than 0.4 per thousand), it’s considered one of the safest beaches not only in Sydney but also in NSW. Families can take comfort knowing that the beach is patrolled by surf lifesavers each day from 7 am to 5 pm. 

Coogee Beach faces southeast and has additional protection from the wind and waves by a cluster of rocks known as Wedding Cake Island just off the coast. These two factors, coupled with the width of the bay and mean that it typically has some of the smaller waves in the eastern suburbs. 

Gentle waves and less overcrowding make Coogee Beach an extremely popular choice for families in Sydney.

For families who prefer a pool to the surf, there is a rock pool at the northern end (Giles Baths) and a man-made rock pool at the southern end of the beach (Ross Jones Memorial Baths) near the Coogee Surf Life Saving Club. Just a few minutes’ walk south of the beach along the Coastal Walkway are two of Sydney’s most spectacular ocean pools – McIvers Baths (women and children only) and Wylie’s Baths.

What makes the Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach a family-friendly hotel?

The Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach ticks all the boxes for a family-friendly beachside stay in a big city. 

Heading out on a Coogee adventure. Credit: Janeece Keller

1. It’s literally right next to the beach

So even with two toddlers in tow, we were on the promenade or sand by foot in less than 5 minutes. And most of the time we didn’t even need to take the pram (buggy)!

Ocean View King view from the balcony. Credit: supplied

2. The rooms are big

We stayed in a premium ocean view room and even with a cot and our inflatable toddler bed, we still had plenty of space. There are 209 rooms in the hotel and most of them have recently undergone either a full or partial renovation. Our room had a brand new bathroom and looked like it was one that had been fully renovated.

Our inflatable toddler bed fit perfectly between the two queen beds. Credit: Janeece Keller

If your family needs more space there are suites available. For families with accessibility requirements, Julie Jones from Have Wheelchair Will Travel reviewed the accessible rooms at the Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach in January 2022.

3. The pool

There’s a pool with plenty of sun loungers for when you feel like getting off the beach. We stayed during winter and temperatures were around 14 degrees and the kids were pretty disappointed that I wouldn’t let them go in.

4. Watch the sunrise from bed

If your family wakes up as early as ours, you’ll appreciate the view of the sunrise over the ocean.  If you’re lucky enough to still be in bed for sunrise, I suggest sleeping with just the sheers pulled so you can see the colours changing over the water propped up on your pillows.

Sunrise from our balcony was spectacular both mornings. Credit: Janeece Keller

5. Buffet breakfast

After going into hibernation due to COVID-19, the hotel buffet breakfast is back. I don’t know many kids who don’t love having free rein a the buffet on holidays and the buffet breakfast at Shutters does not disappoint. Bacon and eggs, waffles, cereals, smoked salmon and avocado, fruit and yoghurt, pastries and toast. There’s something to please the tastebuds of the whole family.

young girl looking excitedly at the camera with a hotel buffet breakfast spread behind her
Evie didn’t know where to start with the buffet! Credit: Janeece Keller

Side note: one of our kids has egg anaphylaxis and we were easily able to navigate the buffet to make sure we selected safe options. And when we had questions the staff were knowledgeable and easily able to help us.

Read more: A 2 day Sydney itinerary the whole family will enjoy

Where to eat and drink in Coogee with kids?

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to food in Coogee. Over a weekend we did our best to sample lots of different places to bring you a selection of options to cater for different tastes, styles and budgets.

La Spiaggia

Families feel welcome and at home in this stylish Italian eatery. We had a 5 pm booking and they could easily accommodate us with two high chairs.
The kids menu includes pizza, pasta and meat dishes. For adults pick from tasty antipasto, comforting pasta and woodfired pizza. We ordered quickly and were out the door before 6 pm, so if you’re eating with babies and toddlers this makes a great choice.

There was a good selection of wines by the glass. The total bill for two adults and two kids was around $80.

The crayons kept the kids entertained at La Spiaggia. Credit: Janeece Keller

Fishbowl

I often eat at Fishbowl when I’m in the office in the CBD. It was great to see it open for takeaway in Coogee too. Choose your salad bowl (cold or warm) and then pick what base you’d like it on. My favourite is miso eggplant with sushi rice. Prices are around $14 per meal.

Estate

Seating at Estate Coogee spills out onto the beachside terrace where there are also two swinging chairs that make for a fun spot to sit with the kids.

Waiting for our table at Estate was super fun. Credit: Janeece Keller

This is a laid-back beachside restaurant with a fish-focused menu that is designed for sharing. The XO eggplant parpadelle was the stand-out dish for me, followed by the grilled king salmon and the buffalo cauliflower popcorn tacos. Getting two high chairs was no problem, although there is no dedicated kids menu.

The total bill for two adults was around $100 excluding drinks.

The laid-back atmosphere of Estate, Coogee Beach. Credit: supplied

Andersons of Denmark

There are plenty of places to get ice cream at Coogee Beach, but we chose Andersons of Denmark. Not only do they do chocolate-dipped cone bowls that work for a family ice cream feast, but it was only $11 for us all to share. The location was also super convenient, on the corner of Arden Street and Coogee Bay Road.

little girl holds an icecream sundae at Andersons of Denmark in Coogee Beach
She couldn’t believe her luck! Credit: Janeece Keller

Coogee Pavillion

A pub with a dedicated family area, complete with a lego brick building table, giant jenga and a movie room. If you’ve been to a Merrivale venue somewhere else in Sydney you’ll find your way around the Coogee Pavillion easily.

We got a table in the family zone which made it easy for me to catch up with a girlfriend while the kids entertained themselves while their dad kept a watchful eye on them and another on his beer. You can order from your table via QR code, which makes the logistics of getting your drinks and meal in a bustling pub much easier for families.

Brick building and beers on a Saturday afternoon. Credit: Janeece Keller

Barzura

Opposite the Coogee Beach surf life-saving club at the south end of the beach Barzura was busy both mornings we visited. Whilst we didn’t eat in, the food looked great (modern Australian) and there was always a queue for a table. We grabbed coffee here on the way to the Grant Reserve Playground and were impressed by the ‘not paper’ take-away coffee cups and lids.

Read more: Are these the best buffet breakfasts in Australia?

Other things to do in Coogee with kids

The beach promenade has lots of lawns and trees perfect for family get-togethers. Our kids loved riding their bikes and collecting shells on the sand. 

If you’re up for a bit more adventure, head off on the coastal walk. You can head north with the crowds towards Bondi Beach, or take the path less travelled, south towards Maroubra.

There are a number of playgrounds for kids of different ages. We spent most of our time at the Grant Reserve Playground next to the SLSC which caters well for toddlers with different slides and swings. It also caters for older kids with bigger climbing equipment and plenty of space to run around.

Slide fun at the Grant Reserve Playground. Credit: Janeece Keller

One afternoon we stopped at the Alby Smith Memorial Reserve Playground next to the Coogee Community Garden, a smaller playground that is better suited to younger children.

The parks and reserves around Coogee Beach are perfect for picnics and you’ll find a range of barbecues available for use.

Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times in adjacent parks and they are prohibited from the beach, playgrounds and food preparation areas. There is an off-leash dog park just five minutes walk south of Coogee Beach at Trenerry Reserve.

Read more: Things to do in Sydney with kids

Coogee Beach Fun Fact

The name Coogee is taken from a local Aboriginal word koojah which means “smelly place” owing to the amount of seaweed that can collect on the beach. But daily beach cleaning by Randwick City Council staff keeps the beach in pristine condition year-round.

Things to do near Coogee Beach with kids

If you’re in Coogee for a staycation, you’re also close to lots of other family-friendly attractions and activities.  Depending on how far you feel like adventuring, you might like to consider:

Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park

The Saturday morning markets are a great spot for families. There are food stalls, kids’ activities and often live music. Join the locals kicking a football on the astroturf or head to the playground for a turn on the swings.

Exploring the Saturday morning markets at the Entertainment Quarter. Credit: Janeece Keller

Once you’re finished at the markets, explore the shops and attractions throughout the precinct or check out what’s on at the Royal Hall of Industries or Horden Pavillion.

Bondi

It’s one of the most popular tourist spots in Sydney.  Watch the kids at the skate park (if you’re lucky you’ll see Australian Olympic skater Poppy Olsen practising), wander the shops, learn to surf or visit the Sunday markets at Bondi Public School.

Read more: 15 Instagram-worthy destinations in Australia for teens

Centennial Park

Sydney’s biggest city park is fantastic for families. Ride the bike paths (use your own or rent one), go for a horse ride or feed the ducks in the pond. This is city park life at its best and only a 10-minute drive from Coogee Beach.

Read more: 25+ summer events you can’t miss

More Sydney staycation inspiration

Nine steps to a sensational Staycation

How to have an accessible staycation in Sydney

3 treasure hunts to keep the kids entertained

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