Australia’s Best Destination Hotels

Updated 4 months ago


Some hotels aren’t just accommodation, they’re the destination. Extracted from Broadsheet's latest book Travels, we've discovered those which are atmospheric, beautifully designed and exceptionally serviced, but offer us something singular and memorable in their own right – without leaving the property.

Here are the finest examples from right across Australia, including a rainforest eco lodge, an inner-city resort, an avant-garde winery stay and three all-inclusive outback retreats. Australia’s Best Destination Hotels is one of 11 special features in Travels, with others rounding up the country’s top wine regions, oyster farm gates, cottages and cabins, arts festivals and more.

The rest of the book is divided into seven chapters, each covering a specific state or territory and collecting our favourite locations and experiences to be found there – 60 all up. Some are quick and easy, like visiting a standout fish’n’chip shop or country pub. Others cover entire regions, such as Margaret River or Arnhem Land, and contain enough suggestions to plan an entire week around.

  • Legend has it that Salvador Dalí designed this intimate whitewashed hotel’s tropical garden and free-form pool. After a superlative 2017 refresh led by interior designer Tamsin Johnson, it’s emerged better than ever, with a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant that’s a destination in its own right.

  • Halfway between the Gold Coast and Byron Bay, this ’60s surf motel turned boutique hotel is ideally positioned for exploring in both directions. But you might not want to leave. The in-house restaurant, Paper Daisy, is widely acclaimed and the fresh blue-and-white interiors encourage all-day lazing.

  • Located in the Bay hinterland, this boutique, adults-only hotel combines brutalist urban design with high-end hospitality. Stay in one of three striking villas and make the most of luxe features, including private chefs, an infrared sauna and magnesium infinity pool.

  • Situated in the centre of Brisbane’s sophisticated James Street precinct, this brutalist, open-air hotel functions more like an inner-city resort. There’s a superb on-site Greek restaurant, shopping galore and plenty of people watching – especially on weekends.

  • Located six hours’ west of Townsville on a seventh-generation cattle station, this luxury all-inclusive retreat only hosts two guests at a time – you and your plus one. There’s no phone, no television, no internet. A stay here instead means exploring old gold fields, four-wheel-driving the 36,000-hectare station, and learning about the local Yanga culture and history.

  • There’s no more luxurious place from which to experience spectacular Lord Howe Island. The architecture channels the carefree spirit of the Australian beach house, while a high cantilevered roof and floor-to-ceiling windows welcome the outside in. Nine suites offer a relaxed, barefoot vibe that reflect the island’s pristine natural environment.

  • Twenty minutes south of Tamworth, this historic cattle station hosts guests at seven charming red-brick cottages with luxurious amenities including heated floors. With a tennis court, heated swimming pool and an excellent on-site restaurant open from breakfast through dinner, there’s no pressure to go anywhere.

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  • Bundanon art museum’s on-site hotel is truly one of a kind. The soaring, 160-metre-long blackbutt timber structure connects two gentle hilltops and resembles an old-timey elevated railway. Stay to gain an unparalleled insight into the life and works of the property’s original owner, painter Arthur Boyd.

  • Set under the shadow of Ngarrabullgan, an enormous rock monolith 10 times the size of Uluru, this luxury stay (on a working cattle station) hosts just 20 guests at a time. Sip champagne in the infinity pool, do yoga, fish for barramundi or take part in the cattle muster – the choice is yours.

  • This private island, 90 minutes out of Hobart, is exclusively yours for each stay, with sleeping room for up to eight. There’s full access to a veggie patch and orchard, an abundant egg supply from resident free-range chickens and wild oysters straight off the rocks. You can even hire a local high-profile chef to cook for your group.

  • A former sheep station surrounded by spectacular nature in the Flinders Ranges. Stay in the rambling 1851 homestead, sip South Australian wines on the wraparound verandah and spot local wildlife on a countryside safari.

  • Set on a lonely jetty projecting 250 metres into the centre of Australia’s deepest lake, Pumphouse Point is like no other hotel in the country. Spend the days fishing, biking, rowing, getting massages and hiking the endless tracks around the lake to spot wombats and platypuses.

  • This one-million-acre cattle station is the first or last stop on the 660-kilometre Gibb River Road and presents a generous sample of the Kimberley in one compact package. Choose a luxurious room by the river, a tented cabin nestled in the wilderness or a night under canvas.

  • Jackalope, named after a mythical jackrabbit with antelope horns, is a testament to the eccentric taste of young owner Louis Li. On site there are 45 glamorous rooms, a 30-metre infinity pool, countless surreal artworks and a destination fine dining restaurant named Doot Doot Doot, one of the best in the state. And the vineyard is still going strong. This is a rabbit hole you’ll want to fall down.

  • This family-owned resort, 600 kilometres north of Cairns, is accessible only by chartered plane and boat. This isolation comes at a steep price, but the experience is singular. Open-air, thatched roof villas have uninterrupted views of crystalline lagoon waters. Fresh-caught fish and lobster are cooked over an open fire, and produce comes from the island’s orchard.

  • Located at the northernmost tip of Hamilton Island, Qualia has long enjoyed a reputation as one of Australia’s premier resorts. Guests stay in individual pavilions and get around in their own golf buggies. There are two restaurants on-site, an 18-hole championship golf course, boat cruises and plenty more beach fun to be had.

  • This isolated 15-tent eco-resort is a unique base from which to explore Australia’s other great reef and, at the right time of year, swim with its famous whale sharks. At night, share communal dinners under the stars and get to know your fellow guests.

  • A maximum of 28 guests share this luxury getaway north of Townsville. Snorkel luminescent reefs, picnic on secluded beaches and explore giant-clam gardens. All food, drinks and activities are included, making this the ultimate set-and-forget escape.

  • Enjoy four sublime courses under the stars, and wake up each morning with Uluru visible just past your feet. That’s how it goes at this luxurious, all-inclusive 15-tent glamping resort, where every single bed and private balcony has a view of the famous icon.

  • Located in the heart of the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, this unique hotel is the ideal base from which to explore the region. Its 15 bayans – or treehouses – sit at canopy level or on the forest floor, with floor-to-ceiling screened windows that ensure the ancient rainforest is never out of sight.