Luxury is not just about first-class service: these luxury destinations lead the pack with breathtaking scenery, exquisite design and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Hamilton Island, Qld
One of the ultimate luxury destinations in Australia is Hamilton Island. Year-round balmy weather, swaying palm trees and cerulean water, an unhurried but warm vibe – with golf buggies and boats the only form of transport – there’s nowhere quite like it.
Located at the centre of the Whitsundays, the experiences on the island are second-to-none such as helicopter flights over exquisite Heart Reef, private boat charters to the sugar-white sands of Whitehaven Beach (gourmet picnics included), and golf on neighbouring Dent Island, one of the country’s most scenic golf courses.
Its premier resort, qualia – at the northern tip of the island – is a completely private hideaway and the epitome of relaxed luxury, boasting views of the Coral Sea and private plunge pools in many of its exclusive pavilions.
Take advantage of the resort’s signature epicurean food experience ‘Talk and Taste’ which takes you on a culinary journey through Japan, sampling sake and sashimi; to France, exploring complementary flavours of Champagne and freshly-shucked oysters; and back to Australia to taste the country’s most celebrated (and elegant) cheese and wine pairings.
The Kimberley, WA
The Kimberley is a dream destination for the intrepid traveler with rugged ancient landscapes and remote adventures galore. But you don’t have to compromise on luxury by visiting.
Accommodation such as El Questro Homestead and Home Valley Station on the Gibb River Road, and East Kimberley’s Berkeley River Lodge – which can only be accessed by plane – are the stand-out luxury stays in the region, and provide one-of-a-kind experiences such as helicopter tours to hidden waterfalls and cruises to spectacular gorges.
Lord Howe Island, NSW
Described by David Attenborough as “so extraordinary, it’s almost unbelievable” UNESCO World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island is a true subtropical paradise. Home to the world’s southernmost coral reef, Kentia palm and Banyan tree forest, and the 875-metre Mount Gower, it’s a nature-lovers’ dream.
With just 400 visitors allowed at any one time, luxury destinations like this one are designed to be explored languidly by foot or bicycle. And its most coveted stay is Capella Lodge: an intimate property set above Lovers Bay and at the foot of the island’s twin mountain peaks.
Mornington Peninsula, Vic
The avant-garde design, award-winning restaurant and fascinating art collection of the Mornington Peninsula’s ultra-sleek hotel Jackalope deem it a destination in its own right.
But with the picturesque coast meeting rolling hinterland, this underrated region also offers a number of experiences to write home about, such as swimming with wild dolphins or seals, hunting for black truffles, or soaking in natural hot springs at Peninsula Hot Springs.
Barossa Valley, SA
Where else can you taste a 100-year-old Para Vintage Tawny at Seppeltsfield, enjoy a hot-air balloon ride over the vineyards followed by a Champagne breakfast, or take a private helicopter from St Hugo followed by an eight-course lunch?
The Barossa Valley is a must for oenophiles and gastronomes, who can retreat back to The Louise, a lauded stay nestled in vineyards, or Kingsford Homestead, a historic estate oozing traditional elegance.
Freycinet Peninsula, Tas
Freycinet Peninsula, on Tasmania’s east coast is known for its untouched beauty, dramatic granite peaks, pristine coast, tranquil bays, fresh seafood and cool-climate wines, as well as the luxurious Saffire Freycinet resort, which overlooks Great Oyster Bay.
As well as first-class accommodation, Saffire’s guests can enjoy unique experiences such as private Wineglass Bay cruises and tours of a working oyster farm. Across the bay, the more intimate Piermont Retreat is a family-owned property with 15 cottages complete with log fires, all centred around a 180-year-old homestead.
The spiritual heart of Australia is on many bucket lists, and it’s easy to understand why. Its most luxurious accommodation, Longitude 131, is a collection of pavilions that provide jaw-dropping views of the giant red monolith – including from bed.
Visitors can explore the rock in a multitude of ways. Take a helicopter flight over Uluru and neighbouring Kata Tjuta, circle the rock on the back of a Harley Davidson, ride a camel through red dune country as the sun rises or sets, or indulge in a four-course dinner under the stars listening to dreamtime fables from an Indigenous storyteller.
Blue Mountains, NSW
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains is home to the iconic Three Sisters, the eucalypt-laden Jamison Valley, thundering Wentworth Falls, the Jenolan Caves and a collection of quaint heritage towns.
There are many high-end stays where you can rest your head, including elegant Lilianfels Resort and Spa, home to historic hatted restaurant Darleys, and the iconic Hydro Majestic Blue Mountains, which teeters high on an escarpment above Megalong Valley. But for out-of-this-world luxury, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is set on a 2800-hectare nature reserve and has 40 villas each with their own swimming pool.
Margaret River, WA
Margaret River’s outstanding wineries and dining, including 11 hatted restaurants and luxury accommodation, such as elegant Cape Lodge, make for an indulgent getaway. But it’s also a playground for adventures: its turquoise coastline, hundred-plus caves and tall tree forests are perfect for caving, abseiling and surfing.
Hikers can join the four-day Margaret River ‘Cape to Cape Walk’ by Walk into Luxury tours, which traces the coastline and includes accommodation at clifftop Injidup Spa Retreat.
Flinders Ranges, SA
With just 10 guests sharing 24,000 hectares, Arkaba Conservancy is an ultra-exclusive stay in the vast Flinders Ranges. The homestead is an oasis with plush rooms and exceptional food and wine. But it’s the experiences that make this destination so unforgettable.
From safari drives to wildlife spotting, fossil hunting, dining on bush foods, scenic helicopter flights, Indigenous-led walks and excursions to the ethereal Wilpena Pound, there are very few who can say they’ve experienced the outback like this.