Our 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years of Grantourismo are your all-time top 12 Australian hotel destinations – and the order of this list might surprise you. Aside from the best Sydney hotels with harbour views for watching the New Year’s Eve fireworks, the most-visited Australian accommodation posts were to outback and regional destination guides.
We’re continuing Grantourismo’s 12th birthday celebrations with our series of collections of our 12 most popular all-time posts of the last twelve years of the life of Grantourismo. We’ve been sharing compilations of posts in a number of the most popular categories, starting with recipes, some of our most popular posts on the site.
We kicked off with our top 12 most popular recipes of the last 12 years, then shared our 12 most popular Weekend Eggs recipes of the last 12 years from our breakfast eggs recipe series, on quintessential eggs dishes from around the world, which we launched with Grantourismo in 2010, to our 12 most popular Asian recipes of the last 12 years.
If you’re visiting for the first time, we’re celebrating 12 years since we launched Grantourismo in 2010 with a yearlong global grand tour, aimed at promoting slow, local and experiential travel. We settled in to places for two weeks at a time, staying in apartment rentals and holiday homes to get an insight into how locals lived their lives.
Today we’re moving on to our all-time top accommodation guides, which are some of the most-read posts on the site after our recipes, and we’ve divided them into Australia, Asia and the world.
We’re kicking off with your 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years of Grantourismo and your all-time top 12 Australian hotel destinations – and the order of this list might surprise you. Aside from the best Sydney hotels with harbour views for watching the New Year’s Eve fireworks, the most-visited Australian accommodation posts were to outback and regional destination guides rather than capital cities.
But before I share your 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years of our site, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve enjoyed our recipes or other content on the site, please consider supporting Grantourismo. You could buy us a coffee and we’ll use that donation to buy cooking ingredients for recipe testing or donate to our epic original Cambodian cuisine history and cookbook on Patreon.
Another option is to use our links to book accommodation, rent a car or campervan or motorhome, buy travel insurance, or book a tour on Klook or Get Your Guide. Or purchase something on Amazon, such as these James Beard award-winning cookbooks, cookbooks by Australian chefs, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, cookbooks for culinary travellers, travel books to inspire wanderlust, or gifts for Asian food lovers, picnic lovers and travellers who love photography. We may earn a small commission but you won’t pay extra.
You could also shop our Grantourismo store on Society6 for gifts for foodies, including fun reusable cloth face masks designed with Terence’s images. Now let’s tell you about your 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years of Grantourismo.
12 Best Places to Stay in Australia in 12 Years of Grantourismo – Your Top 12 Australian Hotel Destinations
Best Sydney Hotels for New Years Eve Fireworks 2021 – Hotels with Harbour Views
Our guide to the best Sydney hotels for New Years Eve fireworks, which are hotels with harbour views, topped your list of the 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years of Grantourismo. For many Sydneysiders, watching the spectacular Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks by the harbourside with loved-ones is an annual ritual.
I’m Sydney-born and bred and when we used to live in Sydney we’d make a beeline for the waterfront every year. As inner-city Sydney residents for many years, we used to think we were the luckiest people on earth come New Year’s Eve as we could simply stroll down to a city foreshore park to watch the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks for free.
For the 2021 New Year’s Eve, Sydneysiders had to get online to book ticketed viewing spots on the foreshore or waterfront parks and many of the best vantage points sold out early, so hotel rooms with harbour vistas were in great demand.
Where to Stay in Margaret River Wine Region from Glamping to Luxury Lodges
This guide to where to stay in the Western Australia’s Margaret River wine region was next on your list of the 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years of Grantourismo. Where you stay in the Margaret River region depends on what you’re there to do. Whether it’s wine-tasting, sampling local produce, surfing, hiking, or gallery-hopping, there’s no shortage of fab places to stay in Margaret River, from luxury lodges and beach resorts to sleek apartments, holiday houses, heritage hotels, and safari-style glamping in tented bungalows.
The Margaret River wine region is home to many of Australia’s finest wineries and gourmet producers, from olive growers to cheesemakers, and plays host to some of the country’s best food and wine festivals – from Margaret River Gourmet Escape to the Truffle Kerfuffle. It’s also your destination for many of Western Australia’s best beaches, which are some of Australia’s best beaches, along with towering forests, ancient caves, and breathtaking coastal hikes.
Distances are not short, however – it’s around 120 kilometres from Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse in the northernmost point to Cape Leeuwin on the southernmost tip – so it’s important to choose where to stay in Margaret River region carefully, based on how you plan to spend your time.
Driving from Perth to Margaret River, some 275kms away in southwest Western Australia, takes around three and a half hours. If you’re self-driving from Perth to the Margaret River wine region, see our guide to things to do along the way from meeting the adorable woylies, whale-watching and dolphin spotting, to swimming, surfing, diving, and even sky-diving. If you want to stop overnight on the way, that guide includes tips to where to stay in Bunbury and Busselton.
Where to Stay in Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park – From Desert Camp to a Luxury Lodge
Uluru was next on your 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years of the site. Where to stay in Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park is a case of budget, style of travel, and who and how many people you are travelling with. Our guide covers all the Uluru accommodation options from luxury lodges and hotels to apartments, hostels, and camping grounds.
Experiencing the UNESCO World Heritage listed Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park in the Red Centre, the spiritual heart of Australia, is an absolute must if you’re heading down under. A sacred site for the Anangu, the Aboriginal peoples who are the traditional owners of the land, it’s a magic place and is breathtakingly beautiful.
The southern hemisphere winter is the best time to visit Uluru and Australia’s Northern Territory, where the monumental red rock is located. While Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park is located in semi-arid desert of the Red Centre, the Top End of the ‘NT’, as locals call the state, is sub-tropical and tropical.
So while it might get chilly overnight, days are glorious and warm, averaging a lovely 20 degrees Celsius at Uluru and Alice Springs and 24 degrees Celsius in Darwin. That means winter is also the best time of year to explore the Top End, from Kakadu right across to the Kimberly.
If you’re one of the countless travellers who loathed the summer crowds and sweltering heat in Europe pre-pandemic, then consider Australia’s north – along with Southeast Asia – for the northern hemisphere summer. Here’s our guide to where to stay in Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park.
Best Northern Territory Glamping Experiences for Getting Back to Nature
Next on the list of the all-time 12 best places to stay in Australia in the life of Grantourismo was the Northern Territory and our guide to the best Northern Territory glamping experiences for getting back to nature, which covered everything from Bamurru Plains’ safari-style bungalows on lush floodplains with grazing wallabies and buffalo to the luxurious Longitude 131º tented pavilions with their views over red sand dunes and scrubby desert to majestic Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
While travellers on African safaris and hunting expeditions have stayed in tents decked out in rattan furniture, four poster beds and Persian carpets for well over a century, the term glamping, a portmanteau of ‘glamorous camping’, was only coined in 2005, although it took a couple of years before the glamping trend really took off.
Considered a passing fad by many at the time, glamping hasn’t gone away. In fact, glamping has flourished and looks set to boom post-pandemic. Why? Because there are few things as restorative as spending time in nature, yet not everyone wants to pitch their own tent. After spending much of 2020 and 2021 staying at home, air-conditioned hotel rooms have lost their appeal for many aspiring travellers.
Glamping accommodation, on the other hand, which offers comfort and luxury in the great outdoors, has never been more alluring than it has right now for so many of us who have been cooped up inside for much of the year. We all need that lift that getting back to nature can provide.
At their simplest, glamping lodgings could be as modest as an unadorned safari-style tent with a proper bed, table and deck chairs, and basic bathroom in a national park. At their most luxurious, that ‘tent’ might be a mini-villa with a canopied roof, decked out in antiques and bric-a-brac, with a writing desk, vintage suitcases strewn about, art and photography on the walls, and a private plunge pool or claw-foot bath on the balcony.
But great glamping is about more than the accommodation, it’s about the whole glamping experience and a little barefoot luxury in the outback – like being welcomed with fragrant face towels and a refreshing drink after a dusty drive, enjoying afternoon tea on an air-boat on a crocodile-filled river, or sipping sparkling wine and nibbling on canapés as you watch the sun set go down before sitting down to a gastronomic degustation menu in the swanky lodge.
These are our picks of the best Northern Territory glamping experiences for getting back to nature.
Most Beautiful Blue Mountains Accommodation from Grand Hotels to Luxury Lodges
Blue Mountains accommodation was next on your list of the all-time 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years of Grantourismo. Our picks of the most beautiful Blue Mountains accommodation included grand Art Deco hotels on clifftop escarpments overlooking vast valleys, remote eco-friendly lodges serving Australian cuisine from fresh local produce and garden cottages on sprawling estates.
Encompassing a whopping 11,400 km² of native Australian bushland, rocky escarpments, dramatic rock formations, stupendous valleys, pockets of rainforest, spectacular caves, and quaint towns and villages, the Blue Mountains west of Sydney in New South Wales is one of Australia’s main tourist destinations. And it’s a magic part of the country.
While Sydneysiders see the Blue Mountains as a year-round escape, typically for weekends, but also retreating for longer stays for gourmet getaways, hiking trips, family holidays, and honeymoons, foreign visitors can spend as little as a day and night at the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park, despite the fact that it’s a must-do for most travellers.
It’s a shame, as the pristine Blue Mountains are home to lodgings of the kind you want to settle into for a while, offering wonderful food and wine from the region, magnificent gardens, gob-smacking views, and a sense of history. The most beautiful Blue Mountains accommodation ranges from everything from eco-friendly luxury lodges in wildlife reserves to grand hotels perched on the edge of cliffs with breathtaking valley views.
These are our picks of the most beautiful Blue Mountains accommodation:
Best Perth Boutique Hotels from the Casual Glamour of Perth QT to Design Hotel Tribe
After Sydney, Perth’s boutique hotels topped your list of the all-time 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years of Grantourismo. The best Perth boutique hotels range from the jaw-droppingly gorgeous QT Perth with its whimsical glamour to the luxurious minimalism of COMO Treasury, along with a clutch of contemporary design driven hotels that are stylish, yet cosy and welcoming.
I had to pinch myself while writing this post a few years ago, because it wasn’t all that long ago when you’d be hard pressed to find a stylish hotel with personality at all in Western Australia’s capital, and there I was compiling a guide to the best Perth boutique hotels.
Now, WA’s long sunny but increasingly sexy capital city boasts a whole new breed of boutique hotel, from intimate properties such as the Alex Hotel that have worked hard to create a hotel that truly feels like a home away from home, to functional, design-driven hotels like Tribe Perth. These are our picks of the best boutique hotels in Perth.
Best Sydney Boutique Hotels in the City Centre and Inner City for a Sydney Staycation
Next on your list was Sydney again, and this time our guide to the best Sydney boutique hotels in the Sydney city centre and inner city for a Sydney staycation. Sydney’s best boutique hotels have loads of personality and ooze history, from glamorous QT Sydney in the old State Theatre and Gowings Department Store to the casual retro style of The Old Clare Hotel in the former Carlton and United Breweries.
A decade ago we would have been too embarrassed to attempt to create a list of the best Sydney boutique hotels for exploring Sydney’s city centre and inner city suburbs, such was the dearth of decent designer digs in our home town. Even five years ago, we would have struggled to cobble together a Sydney boutique hotel guide.
Today, however, Sydney boasts some of the most stylish boutique hotels in Australia, ranging in size, location and levels of funkiness, from petite properties such as the 18-room Medusa, quite possibly Sydney’s first boutique hotel, to grand, glamorous lodgings such as QT Sydney, which has 200 suites but still feels warm and intimate.
For a city so compelling, vibrant and fun, staying at one of the big, bland chain hotels used to put a damper on our experience of the city. So it was with much relief that we could finally write this guide to the best Sydney boutique hotels. It’s an eclectic list of hotels, too, and their locations in the city centre or CBD (central business district) and inner-city precincts are in neighbourhoods we love to stay in when we return home.
Best Brisbane Boutique Hotels for a Retro-Glam BrisVegas Style Staycation
This Brisbane accommodation guide was next on your list of the all-time 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years of Grantourismo, which certainly came as a surprise. I expected to see Melbourne featuring high on this list.
The best Brisbane boutique hotels to check into for a glamorous BrisVegas style staycation include everything from the quirky Ovolo The Valley with its retro-glam Rockstar Suites inspired by David Bowie, The Calile Hotel with its Fifties ice-cream coloured palette and sublime swimming pool, and the luxurious Emporium with its Belle Epoque cafe-bar and sumptuous river-view suites.
Brisbane, the capital of Australia’s northeastern state, Queensland, is on my list in the post-pandemic future – along with Townsville, partly to visit family. But the Northern Queensland city has all kinds of cool things to do, from checking into a retro-chic seafront resort, and diving into the new Museum of Underwater Art with ocean-floor installations, to following a cool street art walking trail, and sampling an emerging craft beer scene.
But back to Brisbane… each time we’ve returned to the sub-tropical city since Brisbane-born Terence and I left the Sunshine Coast just north of Brisbane way back in the mid-Eighties, to move to my hometown Sydney, and later abroad, we’ve increasingly been wowed.
Brisbane has slowly but surely grown into the city that once upon a time we dreamt it would become. Although I have to confess that Brisbane’s retro-glam boutique hotels make us a tad nostalgic for twentieth century style – which should work in their favour in a post-pandemic world when we’ll all be yearning for a return to simpler times.
Where to Stay in Melbourne – Best Melbourne Boutique Hotels and Stylish Pubs
And here we are: Melbourne wasn’t that far down your list of the all-time 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years of the site. The best Melbourne boutique hotels and pubs include everything from stylish art hotels themed around great Australian painters to renovated heritage pubs with chic contemporary rooms and buzzy bars and restaurants downstairs.
Where to stay in Melbourne depends on how you’re planning to spend your time, whether you’re going to base yourself in the heart of the city, the inner-city or by the beach. But wherever you stay, make sure it’s one of these stylish boutique hotels. Melbourne.
While we like a big luxury hotel occasionally, our preference for a stay of a couple of nights will always be a boutique hotel because of its individuality of style, its intimacy, the personal service, and the location, which tend to lean toward interesting inner-city suburbs and beachside spots like St. Kilda, rather than the city centre.
Where to stay in Melbourne should be based on what you’re planning to do. If museums, galleries and shopping are high on your agenda, then opt for one of the Art Series hotels, our favourite of which is Art Series The Olsen. Keen to be by the beach with good restaurants, cafes and bars on your doorstep? Then The Prince in St. Kilda is for you. Want easy access to the city as well as Melbourne’s interesting inner-city suburbs? Then check into the Middle Park Hotel. Here are our picks of the very best Melbourne boutique hotels.
Living like Locals in Darwin – How to Settle Into the Top End’s Sultry Tropical Capital
It’s no wonder this post was another of our top all-time accommodation guides and one of our 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years of the site. Living like locals in Darwin, Australia’s Northern Territory capital, is the best way to appreciate this sultry tropical city’s laidback vibe, rich indigenous culture, ethnic diversity, multicultural neighbourhood markets, and gobsmacking sunsets.
For many travellers to Australia, Darwin is little more than the launching pad for more epic adventures east, south (to Alice Springs and Uluru) or west (to the Kimberley). But Darwin itself is an engaging city. Having weathered air raids and bombings during WWII and a devastating cyclone, Darwin is a city that takes things – especially the often-stifling humidity – in its slow stride.
Rent a Darwin holiday apartment – serviced apartment, aparthotel, holiday apartment – book a hire car for pick-up at the airport, and settle in for a while to shop the markets, graze on street food, absorb indigenous art, stroll the parks, savour the sunsets, and, naturally, down some refreshing ales in the sultry Top End capital.
On our last trip, immediately after arriving at our sleek one-bedroom apartment at the central Oaks Elan Darwin, we made a beeline for the nearest supermarket to fill our enormous fridge with Aussie wines and snacks. The next morning we hit the morning markets and packed it even more with local specialties, including the leftovers of our colossal bowls of Parap Village Market’s legendary laksa.
Things to Do in Daylesford, Victoria – Where to Stay, Cook, Shop, Stroll, Sip and Eat
Our guide to things to do in Daylesford, which included our guide to where to stay in Daylesford, was next on your list of the all-time 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years of Grantourismo.
Just over a hundred kilometres northwest of Melbourne, the capital of Australia’s southeastern state of Victoria, you’ll find darling Daylesford, with its renovated weatherboard miner’s cottages with well-tended gardens and grand old pubs with intricate wrought iron balconies, set amidst gentle forested hills.
Daylesford is close enough for an easy getaway for a couple of days, yet with its crisp mountain air, enchanting botanic gardens, and location in the Macedon Ranges at the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, it feels blissfully far from any cities.
One of the first things to do in Daylesford is to check yourself into some stylish lodgings and Hotel Frangos is in the heart of historic Daylesford on Vincent Street, the town’s main drag, lined with restaurants, cafés, bakeries, boutiques, and galleries.
Located in a handsome 19th century building, the chic boutique hotel has just fifteen plush rooms with high ceilings and balconies with French doors opening to reveal the kind of town and bush views that prompt sighs. Each of the cosy, welcoming rooms is individually styled in bright, bold colours, with quirky touches, and contemporary art enlivening the walls.
The hotel is also home to a buzzy bar, restaurant and café, decorated with murals by local artist David Bromley, which dish up modern Australian food, including wonderful pizzas (order the potato pizza with field mushrooms, gruyere and truffle oil) and local wines and craft brews.
Things to Do in Echuca, Victoria – Where to Stay, Cruise, Eat and Explore
Our post on things to do in Echuca, which included our guide to where to stay in Echuca was next on your list of the all-time 12 best places to stay in Australia in 12 years of Grantourismo.
Things to do in Echuca on the Murray River in Australia’s southern state of Victoria, include taking a cruise on a paddle steamer, learning about the trading history of the once-bustling river, and sampling fresh local produce at providores, farm gates, farmers markets, wineries, and distilleries.
But one of the first things to do in Echuca is to check into some convenient lodgings in the centre or on the riverside. There are plenty of motels in Echuca and across the Victoria-New South Wales border in Moama. However, in a town with so much history, we recommend one of the historic Echuca hotels.
The four-star CocknBull Boutique Hotel has rather stylish suites and apartments in a heritage house on the riverside with a swimming pool and wine bar. Each room is individually designed – one has a vintage style, another is glam etc – and the apartments have superb kitchens if you pick up some wine and local produce and feel like cooking and dining in.
The three-star Steampacket Inn is centrally located with charmingly old-fashioned rooms furnished with antiques and bric a brac in a two-storey inn built in the 1870s.
For something more modern, The Quest Echuca is hard to beat and is perhaps the most comfortable accommodation in Echuca with spacious rooms and apartments with plush furnishings, carpets and cosy throws on the beds (Echuca gets cold in autumn and winter), and brilliant kitchens that will inspire you to cook.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you’ve stayed in any of our top 12 Australian hotel destinations as we’d love to hear about your experience.