From luxury pool-side suites with Aboriginal artworks to character-laden rooms in a converted outdoor movie theatre, Alice Springs has a bed to suit every taste and budget
By Lee Atkinson
The largest town in central Australia, laid-back Alice Springs is the perfect base from which to explore the fascinating and culturally rich red heart of the country, with a number of unique outback attractions right on the city's doorstep. The best time to visit is between May and November, when days are warm and nights are cool. There are plenty of good options when it comes to finding somewhere to stay, but it's a good idea to book ahead during these busy cooler months as rooms can fill up fast.
Alice Springs' most luxurious hotel can be found in the only casino complex in Australia's Red Centre, Lasseters. Rooms are decorated with Aboriginal art and most have a view of the majestic MacDonnell Ranges, which stretch east and west of Alice Springs. There are four restaurants and four bars, a resort-style pool and spa and a gym. The hotel and casino complex is less than 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) from the centre of Alice Springs, where you'll find shops, cafés and art galleries. Hop on one of the hotel's free mountain bikes and cycle into town or follow the footpath beside the usually dry but picturesque Todd River – it takes about 15 minutes to walk from the hotel to the town centre. Rooms from AUD$149.
Modern Comforts: Doubletree By Hilton Alice Springs
Not only does this hotel have a great location next to the 18-hole Alice Springs Golf Club, but it is also home to one of the best eateries in central Australia. Hanuman Restaurant serves Thai and Indian cuisine and has a cult following. Cool off in the pool, or stroll to Lasseters Casino to try your luck - it's only one block away. Rooms from AUD$139.
Affordable: Desert Palms
The studio villas at this family-friendly motel complex have verandas and kitchenettes, and are surrounded by lovely tropical gardens and lots of palm trees. The pool is a big hit with kids. It's only a few minutes walk to the bars and restaurants of Lasseters Casino or the Alice Springs Golf Club, and about a 10 minute riverside stroll to the cafés, galleries and shops in the centre of Alice Springs. Desert Palms has plenty of parking, a handy guest laundry and free Wi-Fi. Villas from AUD$135.
Central: Diplomat Alice Springs
If you want to stay in the centre of Alice Springs the Diplomat is a great choice. It's just a few minutes walk from the art galleries, cafés and shops of Todd Mall (a car-free, gallery-lined shopping street). If you feel like staying in, the hotel has its own tavern and restaurant, as well as a saltwater swimming pool. Rooms from AUD$129.
Budget: Alice Springs YHA Hostel
The in-house movies are bigger and better at the Alice Springs Youth Hostel Australia, better known as the Alice Springs YHA (YHA is a well-known brand in Australia, and the largest backpacker accommodation network in the nation). This used to be an outdoor movie theatre before it was transformed into a hostel, and movies are still shown on the outdoor screen every night. Private rooms are available as well as shared dormitories. Dormitory beds from AUD$24.
Caravan and camping: BIG4 MacDonnell Range Holiday Park
Nothing beats the freedom of the open road, and hiring a campervan or motorhome is a great way to explore the outback, especially if you are on a budget. The BIG4 MacDonnell Range Holiday Park offers comprehensive facilities and friendly staff nestled in the picturesque surrounds of the MacDonnell Ranges, just 4.5 kilometres (3 miles) from the galleries, hotels and shops in the centre of Alice Springs. Don't miss its famous pancake breakfast held every Sunday morning all year round. Campsites from AUD$44.