The Ultimo Hotel, Sydney, New South Wales
From a desert cave to a historic jail, we have some extraordinary places for you to spend the night.
By Ashlea Wheeler
Australia has some curiously unique accommodations that we would classify as a little weird, different, or unusual. If you love the idea of spending an evening staring at the stars in an astrology-themed hotel or cosied up in a glamping tent at the zoo, we’ve got a list of places to stay that are sure to excite you.
An astrology hotel in Sydney
It’s written in the stars: the hottest new place to stay in Sydney is The Ultimo Hotel. Located in Haymarket near to the city centre, this astrology-themed accommodation curates guest itineraries that are informed by individual star signs for a personal, engaging experience.
The hotel offers a number of Astro packages (including accommodation plus a personalised star chart on arrival, a moon calendar, and slippers) which are designed to help guests feel aligned to their astrological sign. Guests at the boutique venue, which features 95 contemporary rooms, also have access to Astrolo teas specially selected to match their star sign, and an astrology library in the lobby.
What you need to know: The Ultimo Hotel is a quick 5 minute walk from Sydney’s Central Station, making it easy to use public transport to explore the city.
A capsule hotel in Sydney
If you like to travel light and prefer to spend most of your time exploring your surrounds rather than holed up in a hotel room, then you may well enjoy bunking down in Australia’s first capsule hotel. While the original capsule hotels in Japan were basic pods aimed at workers who couldn’t afford high-end hotels, The Capsule Hotel in Sydney has flipped the no-frills concept to provide a more upscale experience.
The cosy capsules are just 1.1 metres (3 feet 7 inches) wide and 2.1 metres (6 feet 10 inches) high, but the small spaces pack a punch with a contemporary cushioned interior, dimmable LED lights, climate controls, a stereo system and TV. The capsules aren’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a clean, affordable and conveniently located crash pad in the heart of Sydney, this could be your best bet.
What you need to know: The Capsule Hotel is located in Sydney’s city centre, and is a great base for exploring the city's main attractions.
A zoo sleepover in Sydney
This exclusive zoo experience is something to tell your friends about. At Roar and Snore, you’ll get to spend the night inside Taronga Zoo in a cosy glamping tent with spectacular views of Sydney Harbour. The evening activities include an after-hours night safari and a behind-the-scenes tour, and for a special treat - the keepers will also visit your campsite with some of the zoo’s friendliest creatures for an up close and personal animal session.
What you need to know: Taronga Zoo is located on Sydney’s north shore, and is accessible by ferry from Circular Quay. The Roar and Snore experience operates every weekend and is very popular, so it should be booked well in advance.
A prison in Fremantle
Not everyone who steps into Fremantle Prison is there to serve their time – this historic building was built in the 1850s and later converted into a hostel. These days, you can book a bed in a jail cell, or for something a little more luxurious, a night in one of the Victorian-style guard’s cottages. Compliment your time in the slammer by learning about the true crime and convict stories on one of the prison tours.
A storytelling hotel in Hobart
In Tasmania’s trendy capital you’ll find a rather unique storytelling hotel. MACq 01 brings forward the state’s rich history, with each room featuring the story of someone local from Aboriginal times to the modern day. Step inside, wave hello to the staff storytellers (there are four, who host free tours of the property), and prepare to meet the character with whom you’ll be sharing your room.
Each of the 114 suites is dedicated to the tale of a Tasmanian, their story emblazoned on the door of their suite. Whichever story you end up with, you’ll get to see it, hear it and touch it, as well as read about it, as there are artefacts and objects installed in the walls of each suite along with custom-made bedheads and furniture inspired by each character’s personality traits. The hotel has even published a book of all 114 stories, titled One Hundred and Fourteen Doors, and left a copy in every suite.
An old grain silo in Launceston
On the banks of Launceston’s Tamar River sits an iconic set of four grain silos. This heritage structure, which was built in the 1960s, was sitting empty for decades before it was converted into a flash and sophisticated hotel. 52 of the 108 guest rooms are located inside the former silos which have been decorated with earthy tones and raw materials to compliment the building's history. For something special, pick one of the rooms which offer views over the river and surrounding landscape.
What you need to know: Peppers Silo Hotel is located in Launceston, in Tasmania’s north. Flights to Launceston are available from Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
A desert cave in outback South Australia
In the South Australian outback town of Coober Pedy, the desert sun can be harsh and hot above ground level. For this reason, locals have taken to living in ‘dug-outs’ below the ground. Inspired by this long-standing tradition is the Desert Cave Hotel, which has a selection of rooms buried beneath the earth’s surface. Sleeping 25 metres (82 feet) underground in this luxury den with its natural sandstone walls and outback-inspired furnishings is a completely unique experience. The hotel also has underground facilities such as shops, a cafe, an opal interpretive centre, and an underground bar and gaming room.
A fire station in Adelaide
Adelaide’s first fire station, established in 1866, still sits in its original North Adelaide position. This historic building is no longer used for fighting fires – it has since been converted to the Fire Station Inn, where you can stay in a Fire Engine Suite complete with a 1942 fire truck parked inside your room. The room features bright red station-themed décor, and you can let your imagination run wild with the fireman’s pole and dress-up box.
What you need to know: North Adelaide is easily accessible by bus from Adelaide’s city centre. The Fire Station Inn is perfectly located near the bustling strip of O'Connell Street.
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