February 25, 2022
17 mins Read
We’ve revealed our pick of 100 unique stays across Australia and below you’ll find the 13 unique stays in South Australia that made it into our coveted list. Head here to read the full list and start planning your next escape.
Being cossetted in absolute luxury and interacting with nature at its most elemental need not be mutually exclusive. Sequoia, the newly revealed luxury lodge sitting on the side of Mt Lofty, high above the Adelaide Hills, definitely proves that. While nothing has been overlooked in the creation of the property, the sophisticated interiors and attention to detail are a complement to the landscape that it is anchored in, and the experiences that its location affords. It’s an approach or philosophy that the brand describes as being “nurtured by nature”.
It is there in the way even the most indulgent aspects of the lodge, things like the deep soaking tubs and the day bed-dressed balconies of the guest suites, all look out to spectacular views to the Piccadilly Valley below. It encompasses the common areas that guests are invited to dwell in: the sunken lounges and expansive deck of the central lodge also look resolutely outwards. And it is intrinsic to the little things that make such a large statement about the property and its focus: the clear artesian spring water used to feed every tap on the property and in the bottled water throughout; the elevation of local produce in the menus created; and the South Australian wines, studiously curated by Sequoia’s sommelier, which are included on the wine list.
Location plays out in its most profound way in the experiences offered to guests as part of. Of course, the focus on nature and their residency. Soaking in artesian spring-fed hot pools, hiking (or opt for an electric bike instead) along the Heysen Trail on a guided walk, with incidental kangaroo, koala and wallaby sightings along the way (and light refreshments at the conclusion), joining a sunrise yoga class as the landscapes awakens, and staying up past bedtime to gaze at the stars through the property’s private telescope.
Guests are also given an insight into the history of the area through millennia, with Aboriginal elders sharing their stories and traditions, and explaining to those visiting for a fleeting moment the significance Mt Lofty holds to them. And, as with everything at Sequoia, nature and privileged access intersect in the more bespoke experiences as well, like hand-feeding cockatoos and learning about koala conservation on a pre-opening tour of Cleland Wildlife Park, or taking in South Australia’s rugged coastline and the ancient Onkaparinga Gorge on a 4WD tour of some of McLaren Vale’s boutique wineries.
If you’ve ever wanted to live like a rock star, Dune House – part of Kangaroo Island’s Hamilton & Dune – is the place to do it. The minute I check into this architecturally designed three-bedroom property overlooking Emu Bay and take in the sunken living room overlooking the sea, I begin to swagger like I’ve left my manager and crew outside. Helping my metamorphosis is the meticulous attention to the detail in every room; the fridge and minibar are stocked with boutique goodies, the bed sheets are Weft Textiles and sparkling mineral water pours from the kitchen tap. There’s nothing to complain about and my (imaginary) manager is thrilled. – Dilvin Yasa
I blame the last glass of opulent red drawn from the extensive on-site cellar. And maybe the cavalcade of elevated ‘Barossa comfort food’ that preceded it. Whatever it is, my aim is definitely awry as I watch another ball slide into the Kegelbahn gutter. The traditional German bowling alley is the most unusual aspect of the recent renovations to this stately sandstone manor, but it shows the locals have roots as deep as the vines for which the region is famous. And after a night in one of the elegant new suites dug into the hillside below the homestead, I’ll be ready to dive into the region’s wine, food and culture again tomorrow. –Alexis Buxton-Collins
As the first guest of The Coach House at Hillenvale, let me just say, it’s a miracle there have been subsequent guests. Not because of any problems. Oh no, quite the opposite. I had a good mind to lock the door and never leave. Brought to you by the team behind Hither & Yon wines, this one-bedroom stone cottage is an impeccable retreat, from the dreamy interior design (hat tip: Kate Harry, of Fabrikate) and considered floor plan right down to the gourmet provisions. Set on 40 hectares at the juncture of the Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale, you won’t run short of premium wine experiences. But a Hither & Yon grenache on The Coach House deck, with little more than birdsong to keep you company, and you too might find yourself protesting departure. – Kate Symons
Can you become a new person just by staying in an Airbnb? The question bubbles up as I open the screen door of this white weatherboard cottage on a quiet beachside street in Marion Bay, on the doorstep of Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park. A repressed part of me emerges. The part that revels in poring over vintage jigsaw puzzles and bathes outside. Who sips tea from handmade ceramics and reads Hemingway on a sun-dappled day bed. My Sister & The Sea has a quality that’s hard to define. On paper it’s a warm and whimsical three-bedroom family abode, but in real life it’s a sea-swept storybook come to life. – Celeste Mitchell
The biggest mistake you can make when visiting arguably Australia’s most elegant, quirky and second-most recognisable outback pub (behind the Birdsville Hotel), is to treat it as just a pit stop on a Flinders Ranges road trip. Since the 1990s, Prairie Hotel has cleverly cultivated a reputation for its playful yet surprisingly refined Feral Feast (including a mixed grill and antipasto platter featuring kangaroo, camel and emu) and use of bush foods. The wine and beer offerings are astonishing, given the hotel is 500 kilometres north of Adelaide, and there’s a new brewhouse opening in 2022. So make a weekend of it by booking into one of the Prairie’s cosy, modern Outback Lodge options. The Executive Lodge’s double spa is just another pleasant surprise in this outback oasis. – Steve Madgwick
After a two-hour drive from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island’s sheer limestone cliffs and sparkling beaches beckon in the distance. Closer at hand, lush green meadows curve downwards in a parabola towards the sapphire blue water at the southern tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Designed by architect Max Pritchard (Southern Ocean Lodge) and with an all-encompassing commitment to sustainability, Naiko Retreat is hidden in the shadow of those slopes but, even from here, its appeal is obvious.
Gazing majestically out to sea, the three-bedroom house is fronted by floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the Backstairs Passage and designed to resemble one of the waves tumbling into the private cove directly below. When I lie down in bed, the steep slope disappears and I feel as if I’m hovering directly over the water. In the other direction, a hiking path ascends a seemingly never-ending hill rent by steep gullies dotted with arum lilies. Dense stands of pink gum come alive with birdsong at my approach and an echidna curled up on the path is entirely oblivious to the glorious scenery around it. Mobs of roos keep a watchful eye on me and the skittishness of sheep grazing in the shadow of centuries-old yaccas indicates how rarely they encounter people – guests have the entire 800-hectare property to themselves.
My heart is racing from the walk, but I can feel my mind slowing down by the minute as a stiff sea breeze rushes over Naiko Retreat’s streamlined form and tousles my hair. Waves crash gently beneath the whistling wind and the solitude seems all-encompassing until I look up to see a wedge-tailed eagle circling overhead and remember that I’m far from alone in this rugged landscape that offers a welcome refuge for both wildlife and harried city dwellers. – Alexis Buxton-Collins
My favourite piece of the Eco Villas at Rawnsley Park Station took me by surprise. When I spotted the corrugated roof and verandah on two sides I was sure it would be sitting on the balcony watching the changing colours of the Elders Ranges and Wilpena Pound/Ikara as the sun set. A sight that ignites the same sense of wonder as the sunset on Uluru. It wasn’t.
Inside the Eco Villa, the bright airy space is a welcome luxury in the startlingly beautiful yet harsh Flinders Ranges landscape. The energy-neutral structures are a building wonder of sustainability and eco creds. The walls are formed from rendered straw bales. The shade provided by the extensive verandah and the high ceiling with an exhaust in the apex keeps the interior cool and reduces the need for air conditioning. And, when switched on, the energy is provided by the large array of solar panels discreetly tucked away on a corner of the property.
Making a welcome cup of afternoon tea after a long day’s walk and soaking in the tub within this sustainable gem of a villa could have been the moment… but it wasn’t. No, the magical experience of lying in bed and looking up into the sparkling night sky through thoughtfully placed sky lights was my favourite moment. It was camping under the stars if you can stretch ‘camp’ to a luxury one-bedroom villa.
By Quentin Long
From a cursory glance, there’s nothing extraordinary about Oceanview. Sure, the two villas are beautiful, exuding luxury in their minimalism and materials. And certainly, a palpable sense of Zen pervades. Lashings of natural light pools within each room. A bathtub sits below huge bifolds that spotlight nothing but golden pasture, tall eucalypts and navy sea. And cleverly positioned letterbox windows frame the landscape as if it were a living, breathing watercolour.
But don’t be fooled by the simplicity of it all. Owners Tim and Tamsin Wendt have dedicated five years to planning this Kangaroo Island venture, and every last intricacy has been considered. From the taupe bedroom carpets fashioned from recycled fishing nets; to the rainwater that’s harvested on property; the solar panels that power this off-grid property; and the glass that’s been expressly designed for the Aussie climate and installed in each room, helping keep the two-bedroom, two-bathroom villas cool in summer and warm in winter. Even Oceanview’s construction materials were hyper-locally sourced, with all bar one per cent from South Australia.
The pride that Tim and Tam feel for the island, and their passion for the venture, is tangible and contagious. It rubs off as we sip aperitifs – Kangaroo Island Spirits’ gin and tonics, garnished with sprigs of coastal daisybush, an aromatic native botanical that Tam plucked fresh from the cliffs that morning. And it radiates as we chat over the hand-delivered three-course dinner – Tam pointing across the horizon to the Spencer Gulf to show where the plump prawns on our plate came from.
All these small touches make a stay at Oceanview feel like an overdue catch-up with generous and thoughtful long-lost family friends: the kind that insist upon waving you goodbye as you drive off into the distance. With an easy and genuine warmth, Tim and Tam embody the word ‘hospitality’. And beyond the all-consuming commitment to sustainability, and the vast natural beauty present in this rural parcel of land, that’s what makes it a standout in my 10-year career of hotel hopping – not just in Australia, but on the planet. – Chloe Cann
Disembodied car headlights float through the cool night air like UFOs. They look like visitors from another world and from my vantage point in a commodious outdoor tub with room for two, they might as well be. Though it’s on the edge of McLaren Vale, CABN X feels surprisingly remote and with no wi-fi or TV the entertainment consists of making a bottle of sparkling wine disappear and listening to the sounds of the night.
Down an intentionally unmarked dirt track, which is shaded by tightly interlocking trees, the sleek off-grid cabin is flanked by biodynamic vineyards on several sides. And although its sister cabin is only 50 metres away and I see no sign of the other occupants, I’m far from alone. In addition to the sheep grazing between the vines, a quartet of ancient red gums overlooking the cabins serve as apartment blocks for microbats, possums and countless birds. So I’m surprised when I’m able to sleep in the next morning, but as soon as I open the door that doubles as a floor-to-ceiling window I’m struck by the melodious warbling of magpies, cackling kookaburras and chirping rosellas that flit about in a blur of crimson and royal blue.
Proximity to nature is a chief part of the appeal of CABN’s Insta-friendly tiny houses, but their latest addition adds a little swag to the minimalist vibe. Despite the name, there’s nothing rustic about CABN X, which has a comfortable king bed with 1200 thread count sheets and a velvet bedhead, indoor and outdoor baths and a full kitchen. The furthest of the three rooms contains a wood-fired cedar sauna, and light streams in through a giant window that takes up the entire wall. Just like the outdoor tub, the sky window above the bed and even the bathroom windows that unfrost at the touch of a button, it’s designed to bring a touch of luxury to the off-grid cabin while still directing my attention to the surroundings that are the real highlight of a stay. With its focus on regenerative tourism, so too is knowing that CABN will donate a portion of each stay to its conservation fund as well as plant a native tree on guests’ behalf. – Alexis Buxton-Collins
A fair-dinkum, true-blue, bonza piece of Australiana, Home Among the Gumtrees quite probably lives rent free in your memory bank. Without doubt, the classic John Williamson tune is an earworm. It would also make for an ideal soundtrack if you ever find yourself bedding down at Bellwether Wines. Set against a backdrop of 500-plus-year-old red gums, Bellwether campground puts guests in the thick of the Australian country landscape. Even better, it puts guests adjacent to exceptional wine. Bellwether is home to one of the region’s most impressive cellar doors, a refurbished 1868 Glen Roy Shearing Shed, packed with charm and not short of a robust Coonawarra red. Meanwhile the site’s six bell tents make for a tranquil stay, where reconnection awaits. – Kate Symons
An international brand with a local neighbourhood focus, Hotel Indigo properties are designed to reflect the personality, history and unique drawcards of the localities they exist in. In the case of its first Australian property, the 145-room Hotel Indigo Adelaide Markets, the theme plays out in everything from the produce used in its restaurant (much of it is sourced from the nearby markets) to the rather unusual colour of its carpets. Here, the elements that make Hotel Indigo Adelaide Markets (pictured in the first image of this article) so distinctive.
Spending time at the property offers up a wealth of Easter egg design treats hiding in plain sight, all referencing the colourful history of the city and neighbourhood. In the lobby and cafe, red-brick arches reference the historic facade of the nearby Adelaide Central Market while a feature wall has certain bricks etched with clues to memorable events from the past. Meanwhile, carpets in the rooms take their geometric design cues from the tessellated tile patterns found in Adelaide’s heritage 19th century homes, and hand-crafted copper elements pay homage to South Australia’s proud mining heritage.
The property gets exuberant punches of colour from the murals featured throughout, including works by Australian contemporary artists Luke Day, Nick Dahlen, Matthew Fortress and Tristan Kerr. In the rooms, feature walls are collaged with authentic Adelaide Festival poster artwork stretching back over 60 years of this iconic cultural celebration.
The signature colour of the hotel is perhaps pink, found in plentiful supply in the carpet and funky banquettes in Market & Meander restaurant. The colour is a considered inclusion, influenced by South Australia’s former premier, Don Dunstan. The politician had a big personality to match his forward-thinking vision for the state, including championing social equality. He famously wore a pair of (short) pink shorts to parliament in 1972 to encourage diversity.
Is there anything more Australian than a hotel built into a sporting ground? And not just any sporting ground, but the revered Adelaide Oval, home of the Adelaide Crows and the venue for test cricket since way back in 1884. But if you are picturing a space filled with sports-themed memorabilia and giant flat-screens playing endless loops of AFL games, you are way off the mark (sports pun completely intended). The boutique hotel of 138 rooms, which opened its doors in September 2020, is unashamedly luxe in its approach.
The exterior has been designed to meld seamlessly into the outer shell of the Oval, allowing for the full impact of its sophisticated styling to be revealed upon crossing the threshold, with clean lines and a restive colour palette of neutrals and muted greys utilised throughout, and light drenching the rooms, suites and public areas via floor-to-ceiling walls of windows. The hotel’s uniquely South Australian identity plays out in everything from the local amenities in the sleek en suite bathrooms to the artworks on the walls to the produce and wines featured on the menus of its Five Regions Restaurant and Bespoke Wine Bar & Kitchen.
While there are no windows overlooking the grounds, as the hotel looks resolutely towards the city it is anchored in, come game day the roar of the crowd will let you know how the home team is doing while you relax in altogether more salubrious surrounds.
Read all 100 unique stays around Australia here.
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