Take a look at the best boutique hotels in Australia.
Jamala Wildlife Lodge offers the unique experience of sleeping just a (thick) glass wall away from lions, hyenas, bears, giraffes, and lemurs. This luxurious all-inclusive property is located inside Canberra’s National Zoo & Aquarium, and all but three of its 18 rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking animal enclosures. There is a lovely infinity pool exclusively for Ushaka Lodge guests, but it is barely used, as days are packed with activities, including exclusive zoo tours, afternoon tea, and one-on-one time with animals. Rooms are elegant and luxurious, with beautiful African-themed decor, four-poster beds, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. It is a fun educational experience for couples and families, but note that no kids under six are allowed on-site, and there are age restrictions in Cheetah, Lion, and Tiger Bungalows.
The Ovolo Woolloomooloo is a stylish luxury property set on a historic wharf over Woolloomooloo Bay, about a 10-minute drive from the center of Sydney. This is an exclusive area with fine-dining restaurants, yet the hotel's colorful decor has a fresh, youthful vibe. Breakfast, in-room minibar items, and evening happy hour are included with rates. The 100 guest rooms are bright with industrial-meets-artsy decor and feature Apple TVs, iPads, and electric blinds. The 24-hour Lo Lounge serves drinks and light snacks, and the indoor pool and gym were upgraded in 2015. Guests wanting to be closer to the Central Business District could also consider the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, a larger property in The Rocks with moderately higher rates.
The impressive Mai Tai Resort combines the personalized service of a boutique B&B with the comfort and atmosphere of an upscale resort, and is priced accordingly. The property's stunning views over the Port Douglas hinterlands are a major draw, but the four immaculate rooms are also enticing, with luxurious furnishings and plenty of modern amenities. There's also a two-bedroom self-catering villa that provides a private and luxurious alternative to the serviced rooms. Well-behaved pets are welcome, but children are not, so plan accordingly.
This small, independently-owned motel punches above its weight with clean, well-equipped rooms that come with kitchenettes and first-class service. Free Wi-Fi, daily housekeeping, a small saltwater swimming pool, and free bike rental are other amenities that make the Lazy Lizard Motor Inn excellent value. Those hoping to be in the heart of the action may be frustrated by its out-of-the-way location, but some might consider this a plus.
Located in the trendy, artsy Surry Hills neighborhood just south of Sydney's CBD, the ADGE Apartment Hotel offers colorful two-bedroom apartments with full kitchens, washer/dryers, and luxurious bathrooms (two per apartment). Unlike at many Sydney hotels, Wi-Fi here is free, but there are no other business facilities to speak of, and while the lobby has enough tables and chairs to make it a plausible venue for an informal meeting, some guests might find the gigantic multi-colored psychedelic mural of Mickey Mouse and company a little distracting. There's an on-site restaurant serving Italian food, tapas, and a selection of wines, and the hotel offers a unique type of room service: in-room hairstyling. On-site parking is available for a fee, and the location is reasonably close to attractions such as the Sydney Harbour and Bondi Beach for guests with a car.
The 57-room Beach Club is a luxury adult-only property situated on postcard-worthy Catseye Beach, on gorgeous Hamilton Island. Rooms are contemporary-chic and offer amenities like luxe bathrooms, turndown service, and Nespresso machines. They all have balconies or decks facing the sea, and those on the lower level have direct access to the lawn and beach. The infinity pool is stunning, as is the beach, and non-motorized water sports are free. Dining -- including a free a la carte breakfast -- gets good reviews, and the lobby lounge is a lovely space that feels like a well-off friend's beach house. The overall atmosphere is relaxed and romantic. Travelers looking for an even more decadent experience on Hamilton Island could check out the Qualia Resort, but rates there are much higher.
The 90-room Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour is a trendy boutique property in the heart of Sydney's Darling Harbour area. Rooms have a rustic-meets-industrial-chic vibe, with vibrant Pop Art murals on the walls in most (part of a 2015 renovation). All rooms come with iPads, big flat-screen TVs, and free phone calls throughout the country. Although there's no pool or gym, guests of the Ovolo 1888 get free access to the nearby Ian Thorpe Aquatic and Fitness Centre. On-site amenities include a restaurant and bar that serves breakfast and dinner (but no lunch), free Wi-Fi, a small business center, and a tiny meeting room suitable for small groups. Those in search of conference facilities may want to check out the nearby Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour, which lacks the funky charm of the Ovolo 1888 but has a lot more space for meeting and events.
The Henry Jones Art Hotel is a 56-room upscale property housed in a renovated jam factory dating back to 1804. Modern features blend with the building's historic stone walls and rough-hewn timber, though its the 500 pieces of original local art throughout that add the most personality. The hotel sits right on Hobart's beautiful waterfront, close to restaurants, shops, and attractions. All rooms combine historic character with modern conveniences and design. Some have special stainless steel and glass spa bathrooms, and some look directly out on the harbor. The signature restaurant serves fresh local fare, and the cafe and bar also focus on local products. Travelers looking for apartment-style accommodations in the area could check out the Salamanca Wharf Hotel, a sharp alternative with slightly lower rates.
Simpsons of Potts Point Hotel is a charming, old-fashioned boutique property in a quiet part of the leafy Potts Point neighborhood. The upper-middle-range hotel's 12 rooms have elegantly homey furnishings with modern touches, such as flat-screen TVs and bright, white-tiled bathrooms. The common areas are particularly atmospheric, including the lounge with a stained-glass picture window, plush armchairs, and lots of books for guests to read. Wi-Fi and breakfast are both free, though the breakfast -- while of good quality and greatly appreciated by guests -- lacks hot dishes.
Near Canberra's Parliamentary Triangle, the four-pearl East Hotel is a hip boutique property with a buzz. Upscale interiors include a cute bookstore cafe and an Italian eatery honoring the owners' heritage. A super-sleek design extends to the 140 large rooms, which have excellent kitchens, free Wi-Fi, and PlayStations. Leisure and family travelers join a corporate crowd here, for whom glass-bubble meeting rooms are useful. A modern gym is 24-hour, and while there's no pool on-site, guests can use Manuka Pool a seven-minute walk away for free. Set within zoo grounds, the Jamala Wildlife Lodge Hotel offers a similarly priced nature alternative, but it's less central.
This four-and-a-half pearl property is located on Flinders Lane, in the heart of Melbourne's CBD, making it popular with weekend and business travelers. Set apart by its contemporary design, it features candy-inspired decor throughout. All 34 modern rooms feature flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, and iPod docks, along with Lavazza coffeemakers, free candy, and free refreshments in the mini-fridges. There are two restaurants -- Ezard for fine dining, and Om Nom Dessert Kitchen and Bar for savory plates and sweet treats. There is also a glass-bottom rooftop pool with a summer lounge bar plus Mon Bijou cocktail bar. Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel, but breakfast comes at an additional fee. Travelers planning a longer trip should consider Citadines on Bourke, offering apartment-style rooms that are ideal for large groups or families.
This small, adult-only hotel wins points for its distinctive style, quirky touches, and gay-friendly ethos. The dozen rooms are packed with features like outdoor bathtubs and small kitchens, and each feels private and self-contained, thanks to the lush gardens on all sides. The slightly out-of-the-way location and lack of big-hotel amenities may be off-putting to some, but those looking for a boutique mid-range option in the Port Douglas area should be pleasantly surprised.
Dedicated to Australian contemporary artist David Larwill, this four-pearl hotel feels like modern art gallery. His original work adorns the walls and halls of this 96-room boutique hotel. Located in North Melbourne, it's not within easy walking distance to the CBD, though it's commutable by tram in 20 minutes. There's an attached Smith and Singleton restaurant serving international dishes, though breakfast comes at an additional fee. The hotel also has a spacious gym, conference venue, Smart Car and Lekker bicycle rental services, and free Wi-Fi. The rooms are bright and trendy, with flat-screen TVs, high-end coffeemakers, and air-conditioning. Travelers preferring to be more central should consider the Adelphi Hotel instead. It's boutique property with a similarly artsy vibe, but is located in the heart of Melbourne's CBD.
The 103-room Larmont Sydney by Lancemore is a stylish four-pearl hotel located near nightlife and dining in both Potts Point and Kings Cross. Rooms are chic and plush, with excellent bedding, open bathrooms with walk-in rainfall showers, and upscale amenities, including Apple TVs, Nespresso machines, and Bose SoundTouch speakers. Free Wi-Fi and two free minibar items per day are great perks, as is on-site parking (for a fee). The movement studio offers free yoga and Pilates classes, and guests get free access to the adjacent 24-hour fitness center. The Hyde is a cute, casual spot serving up tasty local cuisine all day, and room service is provided by a number of handpicked local eateries. On the downside, there are no bar, pool, or spa here. Travelers wanting to be closer to major sights in the CBD should consider .