Darwin is awash with options to suit all budgets from luxury hotels and apartments to holiday homes to wallet friendly lodges. All you need to do is decide which option is most appealing to you.
The Hilton Darwin is right in the heart of the CBD, perfect for the “bleisure” traveller (business traveller who extends their stay for pleasure). The lobby bar is a good nook for a quiet pre-dinner drink or nightcap. The rooms are as you would expect and the new modern decor has dragged Darwin’s first five star hotel back to that status.
One of the newest additions to Darwin’s hotel scene the Mantra Pandanas is upping the ante with its chic and contemporary design. The hotel is quite literally fit for a king; Prince Charles recently chose to lay his most royal head there. Almost sleek and minimalist enough to be Japanese but with a tropical feel throughout its 336 rooms, a lagoon-style pool, great views of the setting sun, the funky East Meets West restaurant and Endota Day Spa complete the picture.
The ‘great value’ badge with accompanying silk frill goes to Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront. Its location is a superb jumping-off point for travelling around the city, provided you don’t mind the man-made surrounds (the hotel’s located in the centre of a newish development of shops and bars). The front yard boasts a public wave pool; its rooms feature fresh, modern designs and supremely comfy beds; and the downstairs Curve Café – decorated with bright Aboriginal art and traditional fishing nets – is an ideal spot to catch up on your travel journal and re-energise.
Probably the most resort like place to stay for holiday makers in Darwin, the SKYCITY Darwin is famous for its fabulous suites with swim out pool access. Recently refurbished and spick and span.
Glamping and Camping
Crab Claw Island is situated 40km south-west of Darwin and offers an affordable getaway to this Balinese-style fishing village in Bynoe Harbour. There are beachfront, family and palm garden cabins on offer for less than $100pp per night – and camping sites are cheaper still. If you like mud-crabbing or barramundi fishing, this is the option for you.
Spending a night under the stars is an appealing option for many, especially in Darwin and the Top End. You can do it simply (and affordably) by camping in one of the NT’s national parks, which are fully equipped for sleeping under the stars – thanks to dedicated camping areas with toilets, showers, bins, barbeques and tables (most of these work on an honesty system – just pop your money in the box when you enter). Or you can choose to step things up a notch, glamping somewhere like Wildman Wilderness Lodge, two hour’s drive east of Darwin towards Kakadu National Park. Here you’ll find glamping on a grand scale, with raised safari tents of 50sqm with stunning linen, timber floorboards and a private veranda.
Darwin Boomerang Motel Caravan Park is located just 20 minutes south of Darwin’s CBD and close to many Darwin attractions. The air conditioned, fully self-contained ground floor units will make you feel like you’re at home.
If you’re after something a little more on the boutique side, Hidden Valley Holiday Park may just be the ticket. Only 10 minutes from Darwin CBD, the accommodation is set among lush tropical gardens and can cater for those with their own caravan, or without.
BIG4 Howard Springs Holiday Park is the pet-friendly option for Top End travellers. It’s also a gateway to Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks. You’re welcome to park your own caravan on a shady, grassed site or choose a more luxe style of cabin or villa. The choice is yours.
Just because Darwin is boutique in size, doesn’t mean boutique accommodation is non-existent in Darwin. More than a Room have access to all the upmarket, boutique and executive style accommodation. Their suite of apartment and cottage accommodation is the best in Darwin, but can come with inconvenient 3 and 4 night minimum stays.
Villa La Vue Holiday House is on Darwin’s Esplanade in the heart of the CBD and could challenge any posh hotel in the white bed linen, twin-set china reading lamps, wall-mounted flat-screens, spotless bathrooms, complimentary toiletries and fluffy white towel stakes – only in the comfort your own home. Why wait for the waiter to bring your eggs when you can cook them yourself in your own gourmet kitchen? Why listen to other people’s kids splashing and screaming in the pool when you can swim in privacy beneath shady palms in your own private garden, separated from the outside world by a classic white picket fence? Cleanliness, convenience, modern comforts; like the Ritz’s of this world, Villa La Vue has it all.
Mandalay Luxury Stay is a two-story colonial cottage overlooking Darwin’s natural harbour and esplanade sets the standard for holiday homes in the area, and will have you reaching for your Panama Hat and gin and tonic in no time. But with its fresh white exterior, wrap-around balconies, mahogany shuttered windows, cream furnishings, scattering of Asian antiques, tropical garden full of fuchsia frangipani and shady pool to escape the heat, Mandalay Luxury Stay is an indisputable picture of good taste. Located just a stone’s throw from the waterfront and minutes from the CBD, it’s the ideal base from which to enjoy NT’s multicultural capital in style.