From rainforest retreats to rustic outback shacks and the ultimate in luxury, accommodation in Australia doesn’t always have to be beachside hotels and glitzy high-rise buildings. From Tassie to Sydney, Uluru and beyond, here are some of the unique places to lay your head on your Aussie vacation.
Campbell Point House
If absolute marble-covered French-style luxury is top of your list, it’s time to pack your over-sized, floppy, wide-brimmed hat and head towards Lake Connewarre in the Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria. Here you’ll find the magnificent Campbell Point House, complete with five large bedrooms, tennis court, billiards room and infinity swimming pool overlooking the gorgeous lake.
Able to accommodate up to ten adults, each night will set you back around AU$4,000. It’s an indulgent holiday that may or may not be cheaper than flying to France to rent your own villa! Rest assured, however, that you’ll be entering another world – and if you can split the cost with a bunch of traveling mates then it may just be worth splurging on.
“Visiting this expansive private estate is like being transported to another world,” marvels View Retreats co-founder, Mat Lewis. “You don’t ﬁnd many properties like this in Australia."
Homestead Stables Kinnon & Co.
There’s nothing more Australian than taking a tub in the open air. The stunning outside claw-foot baths at Kinnon & Co. are just one of the many highlights of the self-catered, 4½ star Homestead Stables in Longreach, Queensland. They allow you to relax while still enjoying all the wonder and beauty of your magical surrounds.
The stables – inspired by traditional stable-boys’ quarters – come with all the modern-day comforts while still holding some old world rustic charm. They have recently been renovated to accommodate four people with kitchen and dining facilities as well as the bathroom (if an outside scrub isn’t your thing), air-conditioning and TV/DVD.
Karijini Eco Retreat
It’s like camping, but way more exciting and more glamorous!
Nestled in the remarkable Karijini National Park are a bunch of semi-permanent deluxe eco-tents and cabins that offer a breathtaking insight into outback Western Australia.
There’s no need to spend hours arguing over which tent poles go where, or trying to hold on so you don’t have to ‘squat’ outside the tent in the middle of the night with God knows what crawling up your leg. It’s glamping at its best with solar power, an actual floor, king size bed and private ensuite!
Even though you’re a world away from civilization, the Karijini Eco Retreat Alfresco Restaurant will make you feel like you’ve landed in the finest dining precinct in the city. You can mingle with other guests while sitting in at the restaurant or take the hot meals back to your tent and cozy up for the night. This unique retreat really is for those who always say they’d choose 5-stars over a million stars. Here, you get the best of both worlds.
Desert Cave Hotel
Surfers Paradise and Dubai may be famous for their high rise hotels and spectacular views, but there are few places in the world that offer underground accommodation.
At the Desert Cave Hotel in Coober Pedy, South Australia, you can choose to stay above or below ground. If you go for the later, there are no windows. It’s quiet, cool and when the lights go out, it’s dark – can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face-dark. It actually makes for a perfect sleeping environment.
The only underground 4-Star hotel in the world also houses a restaurant, pool, spa and opal shop showcasing what Coober Pedy is famous for. The hotel was actually built by opal mining machinery. You’ll become mesmerized by the stunning interior walls that have been painstakingly carved out to create the 19 underground rooms.
Woodbridge on the Derwent
Imagine enjoying breakfast in the sunshine by a gorgeous bay window overlooking the Derwent River… You’ve just enjoyed a cozy sleep by firelight and a day of exploration awaits.
The captivating Woodbridge on the Derwent in New Norfolk, Tasmania, is a 5-star heritage listed mansion dating back to the convict era and featuring many antiques and artifacts from this time.
You can be Rapunzel for the weekend, locking yourself away in the Tower Room with absolute privacy, over-looking the well-maintained gardens and river. It’s a perfect honeymoon destination or getaway for those simply wanting to get away from it all.
If you are feeling up for an adventure, Hobart is only a short drive away, as is the Mt. Field National Park and some charming wineries and whiskey distilleries. Or you can choose to spend your day on the water, fishing, swimming or exploring the river in a kayak.
Ayers Rock Resort
In this majestic heart of Australia, nature really does the talking. You’re not going for an incredible resort experience at Ayers Rock Resort, you’re going to experience Uluru and all its wonder. That being said, there are a number of accommodation options to suit your budget and expectations.
Experienced traveler, Scott McHattan, recently returned from a trip to Uluru and was in awe of how ‘discreet’ the hotels are.
“The hotels are built to blend into the environment,” he explains. “They can’t be higher than the highest sand dunes.”
Scott stayed at Sails in the Desert and said he liked the strong emphasis on Indigenous culture and also marveled at the isolation of the region: “The town has only 1,000 people. You really do feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.”
Arguably, the most unique hotel within the resort area is Longitude 131°. It houses 15 luxury tents complete with king sized beds that face Uluru for an unmatched view of the sunrise over the sacred red rock.
The Mouses House Rainforest Retreat
It’s hard to believe that just minutes from the hustle and bustle of the Gold Coast and Brisbane is an enchanted rainforest just waiting to be explored. From the stunning waterfalls and bush trails to the quiet village atmosphere, Springbrook is the perfect getaway for those wanting to switch off and just relax. The Mouses House in Springbrook, Queensland, takes you into the heart of the hinterland and you will feel your muscles relaxing as soon as you drop your bags and take a peek out the window.
Each chalet (there are 13 in all) is named after a fairytale character and has been beautifully constructed to blend in with its surrounds in the World Heritage Listed National Park. You’ll fall asleep to the chatter of nocturnal animals and wake to the sound of birdsong. All of this, and you’re only a short distance from all of the Gold Coast’s world-class beaches!
Roar and Snore Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo has to be one of the most spectacularly appointed zoos in the world. Its stunning views of Sydney Harbour are almost a distraction from the fascinating animals (almost). What’s more amazing is you can watch the sunset over the harbor and then fall asleep to the sounds of gorillas, elephants, exotic birds and more as part of the incredible Roar and Snore overnight experience.
Not just for the kids, adults will also delight in the buffet dinner and intimate night safari through the zoo before setting up camp in your purpose-built tent. The next day will greet you with an equally stunning sunrise ahead of breakfast and behind-the-scenes experiences.
They also offer special school excursions; which Sydney school teacher Sam Goodman says is “definitely a unique experience” for the kids. “They get to sleep in the amphitheatre, which is inside the monkey enclosure!” she marvels. “You get to experience so many different animals and lots of them behave differently at night.” One for the bucket list, wouldn’t you agree?