Take a look at the best kid-friendly 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.
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.
With 25 floors, Xanadu Holiday Resort is a reasonably priced upper-middle-range property that towers over Main Beach, offering stunning Pacific Ocean views in most of its one- and two-bedroom apartments. Units have fully equipped kitchens, laundry rooms, living rooms, and balconies. The central location provides an easy walk to the beach and restaurants on Tedder Avenue. Communal areas -- a game room, barbecue areas, a library lounge, gym, tennis courts, hot tubs, and indoor/outdoor pools -- are clean and unfussy. The free in-room Wi-Fi is slow, so many pay for faster Internet service.
There are 98 rooms at this luxurious five-pearl hotel set in Sydney's trendy The Rocks neighborhood. It’s a great base for visitors to the city as there’s plenty to see and do all around, and the hotel has fabulous harbor views. Guest rooms are elegant and opulent, with free mineral water, Kuerig coffee makers, and iPod docks. They also feature large and lavish marble bathrooms. There are two excellent restaurants, a spa, pool, tennis court, and fitness center on site, plus free Wi-Fi. For a slightly different take on luxury, it's worth comparing with the nearby Shangri-La Hotel, which has stylish Asian-inspired interiors.
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.
Those looking for sophisticated self-catering lodging in Port Douglas may want to consider the Coconut Grove Apartments, a luxurious 33-room apartment hotel in a quiet complex close to the beach. The apartments feature generously sized outdoor areas (most with pools) and indoor comforts such as flat-screen TVs and high-end L'Occitane toiletries. The lack of resort-style features and the fees for housekeeping and Wi-Fi may be a turn-off for some, but independent travelers who like to cook for themselves will feel right at home.
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.
Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort is a sprawling resort that provides an affordable, all-in-one holiday destination for families, with a huge number of kids' amenities and some decent features for adults, too. There are two big outdoor pools and a water park that the kids will love, while adults might appreciate the fitness center and tennis court. A wide range of no-frills accommodation choices, from basic campsites to well-appointed villas, makes it easy to tailor a stay here to your specific needs and budget. However, those looking for urban thrills may wish they were closer to downtown Cairns.
As the name suggests, the mid-range Ashmore Palms Holiday Village is more like a village (or at least a small neighborhood) than a typical hotel, with 88 cabins and houses to choose from. All come with home-like amenities such as kitchens and living rooms, and many are designed with families in mind, offering bunk beds for kids. Facilities are aimed at those with children and include two small lagoon pools, two playgrounds, and regular kids' activities, often under the leadership of the hotel's costumed parrot mascot. Note that travelers should be ready to prepare their own meals, or drive to a nearby restaurant. Families who don't want to cook should consider Mantra on View Hotel instead, which has a cafeteria and is close to lots of restaurants.
One of Palm Cove’s chicest boutique properties, the upscale Alamanda offers 55 apartment-like suites within a private tropical enclave right on the beachfront. It’s also nestled just below the Esplanade’s strip of bars, restaurants, and cafes. All of the enormous suites feature open plan living and dining areas, furnished balconies, and gourmet Miele kitchens. With three gorgeous pools (one is adult- only), a topnotch spa with private plunge pool pavilions, a picturesque wedding chapel, and legendary beachfront restaurant, Alamanda packs in plenty to do for an otherwise intimate affair. Perks include free welcome drinks, an ever-so-helpful concierge, and a free tour booking service. This is an ideal choice for discerning families and couples seeking an upmarket yet unpretentious timeout. For travelers who prefer a traditional hotel room, try The Reef House Palm Cove.
The 50-room Alto Hotel on Bourke is a pleasant upper-middle-range property located in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, offering easy access to dining, shopping, attractions, and public transport. It offers a variety of room types, ranging from compact queen rooms with flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, kettles, and free Wi-Fi, to three-bedroom duplex apartments with full kitchens. Decor is simple and functional rather than sleek, but all rooms are comfortable, clean, and well-soundproofed. The lounge serves a tasty breakfast spread for a fee, while the library is a cozy spot with a fireplace, free coffee and candy, and comfy seating. There is little else in the way of amenities, but on-site parking is convenient, and electric cars can be charged for free. Business travelers may want to compare rates at the Pegasus Apart’hotel, which features a small gym, full restaurant, and rooftop terrace.
This upscale property offers well-appointed, competitively priced apartments that feel more like comfortable, stylish residences than hotel rooms. With modern kitchen and laundry appliances and welcoming decor, these self-catering apartments have generous space, daily housekeeping, and balconies. This apartment block is close to the action of Cairns -- but not too close -- and many apartments offer sea views. There are an outdoor pool and fitness center on-site.
The Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens is a simple, upscale hotel by a pretty public park in the northwestern corner of the Central Business District. Spacious rooms have understated modern decor and free Wi-Fi, but only Premium rooms and above come with French presses, iPod docks, and bathrobes. A well-regarded restaurant and decent fitness facilities add to the hotel's appeal. Its quiet location contributes to a peaceful atmosphere, although it is a bit removed from area attractions. Those who prefer to be more central may want to compare rates with Citadines on Bourke or the Rydges Melbourne.