InterContinental Hayman Island Resort, Hayman Island, Queensland © InterContinental Hayman Island Resort
From grand city hotels and luxurious coastal resorts to cosy eco-friendly farm stays in the wilderness, the accommodation and hotels across Australia are as diverse as they are dreamy.
You could think about Australian accommodation the same way you do the landscape – with plenty of diversity that caters to all kinds of preferences. This is great for visitors because it means there’s a near-endless array of places to call home while you’re here. Let’s explore the different types of accommodation in Australia.
If you’re looking to relax in style, there’s no better way to do it than in one of Australia’s Luxury Lodges. These high-end hotels and camps combine the finest views with first-class services. At these lodgings, you can wake up to rainforest sceneries, ocean outlooks and some of Australia’s most dramatic landscapes.
Take in the true majesty of the Great Barrier Reef at a luxury lodge near Cairns, like the award-winning Lizard Island Resort where you can enjoy ocean views, private beach access and daily gourmet meals. If the wilderness is calling you, explore the 60,000-acre (243-square-kilometre) private wildlife conservancy at Arkaba in the heart of the Flinders Ranges. With safari-filled days and unforgettable starry nights, there’s no better way to experience nature – and support conservation while doing so. If you prefer to get your fix for the finer things in the outback, Longitude 131° in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is one of the most celebrated retreats in the Red Centre, with everything from an open bar and plunge spa to fine dining beneath a glittering canopy of stars.
Kick back at one of the many deluxe resorts in Australia, where everything you need is in easy reach. You’ll enjoy spacious, high-quality, luxurious accommodation set among beautiful surrounds. You can also access a huge range of services and activities, tailored to your location, and plenty to keep the kids busy, too.
Immerse yourself in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef at the Intercontinental Hayman Island Resort where you can enjoy private helicopter tours, sunset picnics and indulgent spa treatments. Or, revel in the tranquillity and peace of Kangaroo Island with a stay at the Ecopia Retreat, where you can explore coveted wilderness landscapes, enjoy exclusive access to Eleanor River and sip locally grown wine on the deck – all in a day's work. If you’re looking to wine and dine yourself (with an emphasis on the wine), then a few nights at the Hunter Valley Resort is for you. Here, nestled among the rolling hills of the Hunter Valley, you can enjoy on-site winery tours, private tastings, helicopter rides and grape stomping experiences.
Stay in a hotel room or suite and enjoy all the creature comforts of home. Around the country you’ll find a host of international chains, such as Marriott and Hyatt Hotels, which are great for all traveller types. Wake up to Sydney Harbour and Opera House views on your doorstep at the Five-Star Park Hyatt, offering guests access to a rooftop pool and terrace, luxury spa and private wharf. For a more affordable alternative, ibis hotels are conveniently located all over the country, offering urban and regional stays with excellent service and quality dining.
If you’re looking for something more chic, opt for a local boutique chain, such as the Art Series Hotels and QT Hotels, which offer guests a great range of facilities, including pools, gyms, business centres, restaurants and bars. You’ll find these in each capital city, such as the Alex Hotel in Perth or the QT Hotel Melbourne, complete with eclectic artefacts and bespoke furniture.
Motels offer the perfect place to rest your head for the budget-conscious traveller. These cosy rooms offer comfort and convenience at a reasonable price and typically include a private bath or shower, television, tea and coffee-making facilities and a small fridge. Most have room service (especially for breakfast), while the larger motels also have restaurants on-site.
Some are still delightfully retro, while others celebrate the golden age of travel, but have been given a facelift to bring them into the here and now. Try the remodeled Capitanos motel in Darwin, featuring a refreshing outdoor pool and tropical courtyard. Or, on the Gold Coast, La Costa Motel will send you back in time with their 50s chic and complimentary vintage bikes.
Hostels are sometimes considered the dwellings of backpackers and travelling youth, but many boutique hostels provide guests with private rooms and some seriously nice stays – great for families and travellers on a budget. They typically have all the home comforts at only a portion of the cost of a hotel, and they are usually in incredibly central locations. Not to mention, they’re a great place to meet other travellers, and their receptionists tend to know the city secrets better than anyone.
The Youth Hostel Association (YHA) Australia is Australia's largest budget travel provider, offering great accommodation options for students, backpackers, families and groups alike. There are also plenty of independent and local providers. You might want to check out Base Magnetic Island which boasts waterfront views at impressively low rates. For mountain sounds and all-inclusive prices, you can’t go past the Blue Mountains Blue Lyrebird complete with a cinema room.
Serviced apartments and holiday units
If you’re travelling in a group (whether friends or family) for more than a few days, you might want to consider a self-serviced apartment. These are typically fitted with hotel essentials – from plush beds to air-conditioning and (in apartments) daily cleaning – but boast a cheaper price tag and a few more mentions of home, such as laundry facilities, multiple bedrooms, a living and dining area and a fully equipped kitchen.
Above all, it will give you the chance to really live like a local during your stay. Best of all, many can be found in unbeatable locations, such as Adina Martin Place (you can walk to the Opera House in a couple of minutes) and Waterfront Melbourne Apartments, offering up to three bedrooms, all with river views. On the Gold Coast, check in to Peppers Broadbeach, where one- to three-bedroom apartments come with full kitchens and balconies for whale watching. There are also thousands of holiday houses and vacation rentals that travellers can unlock using Stayz or AirBnB. These booking sites host a diverse range of places to stay, from condos and cottages to huts and homes, offering visitors access to some of the most unique travel lodgings in the country.
Bed and breakfasts
If you love intimate lodgings where you get to mingle with real Aussies and their families, then bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) are for you. These small, family-run establishments range from historic houses to miners' cottages, country homesteads and inner-city townhouses. B&Bs offer comfortable rooms at a reasonable price and unlike a self-catered apartment, you’ll have the hospitality of a hotel provided by your host. (Note: B&Bs typically provide breakfast but it’s not always complimentary.)
One of the best things around B&Bs is their unique charisma, not to mention home-cooked meals and travel tips from those in the know. Such as the Carter family’s Lanzerac Country Estate in the Barossa Valley, where individually designed suites sit metres from grapevines; the cheery owners of Storm Bay B&B, whose property offers water views and easy access to Tasmania’s heritage-listed Port Arthur region; and Victoria's picturesque Tara B&B, perched amid a beautiful garden bursting with home-grown produce.
If you’ve ever wanted to know what life on the land is really like, add this experience to your itinerary. An Australian outback farmstay gives you a taste of rural life, letting you glimpse the operations of farm life but with plenty of home comforts. They can range from budget-friendly beds beneath a cosy roof to luxury lodges on picturesque homesteads.
Check in to Mount Mulligan Lodge in Cairns and Great Barrier Reef Region, where your oh-so-chic pavilion forms part of a 28,000-hectare (70,000-acre) outback property (of course, horse riding is on the agenda). You might also love Curringa Farm in Tasmania, where your hosts are sixth-generation farmers overseeing a flock of very happy sheep in the Derwent Valley.
Camping and glamping
Some of the world’s best campsites can be found in Australia, and it's a beautiful, budget-friendly way to see the country, especially on a road trip. The campsite offering is as diverse as our landscapes, with national chains including BIG4 Holiday Parks and Discovery Parks to free sites run by national parks. There are those with all the trimmings – powered campervan sites, waterparks for the kids, barbecue facilities – and the more basic, with little between you, the earth and the starry sky.
For an unforgettable night under the stars, you can pitch your tent next to the picturesque Yellow Water Billabong at Cooinda Campground, inside Kakadu National Park. Or, if you’re more of a glamper than a camper, it’s worth checking out some of Australia’s best glamping experiences, including the Bubbletents on the edge of the Capertee Valley (the world’s second-largest canyon) outside of Sydney.
It’s never been so important to support environmentally friendly, sustainable tourism. Eco-friendly hotels and accommodation offer an alternative to the conventional, as they seek to reduce their environmental impact and in many cases have net-zero emissions – by using efficient energy, local products and eco architecture. These generally fit into other accommodation categories but are committed to preserving our country and our planet.
Enjoy sustainable luxury at the bespoke Alkina Lodge, nestled along the coastline of the Great Ocean Road and designed to generate its own power using solar panels and a wind generator. Or perhaps you want to get in touch with nature at Nightfall Luxury Tents, a micro-getaway buried in the rainforest, south of Brisbane. Thinking of getting away from it all? There are few better places to escape than the solar-powered Lodge at Bamurru Plains, where you’ll be surrounded by an exotic landscape and abundant wildlife. You could keep it cosy with a stay at a tiny house, like the Pink Lake Tiny House, an eco-friendly accommodation overlooking the exotic (pink) Lake Bumbunga. Or marvel beneath the stars with a sustainable camping experience at one of the many non-powered campsites dotted around Australia’s national parks (bookings can be made on park websites).
Australia’s Accommodation Stars System:
Offers guests luxury in all areas, providing an extensive range of facilities and comprehensive personal services.
Provides a deluxe experience, with excellent service, high-quality furnishings and a wide range of facilities.
Properties offer a range of amenities and exceed ‘above-average’ accommodation needs with great service, quality design and a basic range of facilities.
Less than three stars
Accommodation is comfortable but basic, providing just the essentials for your stay (a bed, a bathroom, TV and a kettle).