Elysian Retreat, Qld1/27
Sun, sand and sea combine to intoxicating effect at this premium eco-resort, set in a three-hectare private cove on the Whitsundays’ Long Island. Catering to a maximum of 20 guests and entirely solar-powered, Elysian Retreat tempts loved-up couples with tailor-made experiences that extend from the dining room and Jala, the Ayurveda-influenced spa, to the surrounding Great Barrier Reef. There’s also a magnesium mineral pool, daily yoga and meditation classes and glass-bottomed kayaks for turtle spotting on the reef.
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, NSW2/27
Wake up at One&Only Wolgan Valley and be greeted by the sweeping slopes of the World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains area – and a plethora of options. Your private pool beckons, as does a spot on the verandah of your modern-meets-rustic villa to soak up the stillness. Afterwards, explore the valley on horseback or spot wallabies as you tackle the wilderness on foot. The day ends at Wolgan Dining Room, where seasonal produce, such as Pan Seared Barramundi with Kaffir Lime Butter Sauce, is the hero.
Longitude 131°, NT3/27
How many ways can you see Australia’s mighty rock? At the ultra-luxe Longitude 131°, you can watch Uluru’s changing colours from the bed in your safari-style “tent” (with a bathroom and every amenity you can imagine), from your deck as you prepare to sleep in a swag, in the plunge pool or from Dune House, the main lodge. For a view of a different kind, indulge in a four-course dinner (with matching wines) under the stars at Longitude’s Table 131°, where chef Ryan Ward uses local bush ingredients, seasonal produce and traditional First Nations cooking techniques to create modern Australian fare.
Campbell Point House, Vic4/27
This elegant Bellarine Peninsula property on the shore of Lake Connewarre was inspired by the grandes maisons of France’s Loire Valley. The guests-only restaurant offers a five-course dégustation experience that reimagines French classics using peninsula produce all matched with local and French wines. Fine-tune your serve on the grass tennis court, wander the manicured parterre gardens, relax under a cabana by the infinity pool or indulge in an hour-long restorative aromatherapy massage at Spa Blanc. There’s also a sauna, billiards room, cigar lounge, private jetty and even a helipad if the hour’s drive from Melbourne doesn’t appeal.
Barrenjoey House, NSW5/27
This Palm Beach guesthouse impresses with seven light-filled ensuite rooms upstairs and a restaurant bedecked with palms, coral and seashell mirrors, all housed in a 1923 heritage-listed building that looks out to Pittwater. Unwind with complimentary champagne in the guest lounge or garden terrace then head downstairs to the restaurant for coastal staples such as kingfish ceviche or the extremely good beer-battered flathead with extra-thick chips. The property is airy and appealing, punctuated with pops of colour from the tropical prints adorning cushions and pendant lampshades. Afterwards, a walk along the beach is virtually compulsory.
Mount Mulligan Lodge, Qld6/27
This is the outback done right. Welcoming just 28 guests across four pavilions on a 28,000-hectare property, Mount Mulligan Lodge appeals to those seeking both indulgent luxury and off-grid isolation. Explore your surroundings in your own all-terrain vehicle, hike the southern face of Mount Mulligan itself or fish for fat barramundi in the weir. Atherton Tablelands produce is the star in the kitchen, which serves à la carte breakfasts, chef-prepared picnic lunches and dégustation dinners.
One Kangaroo Island, SA7/27
Just a few sandy footsteps from the water and a mere 25-minute flight from Adelaide, One Kangaroo Island showcases the best that South Australia has to offer. The retreat can host up to 10 guests but book the whole space and it transforms into the ultimate secluded escape. Soak in the outdoor bathtub and take in panoramic views of the beach (keep an eye out for dolphins), enjoy a wine tasting and light lunch at the nearby False Cape Wines cellar door and embark on a snorkelling adventure.
Jackson Ranch, NSW8/27
Dive into the wild at Jackson Ranch at Bawley Point on the NSW South Coast, where five cosy cabins overlook the pristine Lake Willinga and are surrounded by 15 hectares of untouched bush. Spend your morning exploring the grounds or swimming at nearby Bawley Beach before taking a 30-minute drive north to Mollymook and dining on local seafood at Rick Stein at Bannisters. Try the Oysters Charentaise, which marries freshly shucked oysters with spicy sausages and begs to be paired with a crisp riesling.
Image credit: Alan Jensen
Osborn House, NSW9/27
Surrounded by bushland in the heart of the Southern Highlands, Osborn House is a 22-room boutique hotel that offers beautiful suites, with a garden terrace overlooking Morton National Park, and three private cabins, complete with outdoor baths, scattered across the property. Hike up to the majestic 80-metre-high Fitzroy Falls in the national park and earn that glass of rose at nearby Cherry Tree Hill vineyard.
Saffire Freycinet, Tas10/27
Whether you opt for a signature suite or a spacious pavilion at Saffire Freycinet, striking views of the pink-hued Hazards Mountains are guaranteed from every window. Nestled on the Freycinet Peninsula, this chic retreat is the ideal gateway for experiencing the best of Tasmania’s east coast. Pluck and shuck oysters straight from the water, encounter the iconic Tassie devil and dive into the picture-perfect Wineglass Bay.
Image credit: Sharyn Cairns
InterContinental Hayman Island Resort, Qld11/27
This fabled private-island resort offers guests a choice of 166 poolside and lagoon rooms and waterfront villas and suites spread over three wings, including the ultra-luxe Beach House. Snorkel or scuba among giant Maori wrasse fish and abundant coral at Blue Pearl Bay on the north-western side of the island, search for a sandy cove to call your own or explore the dramatic rainforest.
Sequoia Lodge, SA12/27
Perched above the Piccadilly Valley in the Adelaide Hills, the adults-only Sequoia Lodge is a decadent escape just a 20-minute drive from Adelaide. Rejuvenate your body in an artesian spring-fed hot pool before discovering the nearby wineries. Don’t miss dining at the hatted Hardy’s Verandah restaurant, where you’ll feast on a seasonal menu using locally sourced produce, such as 17 hour braised lamb shoulder with pumpkin puree.
Injidup Spa Retreat, WA13/27
Take relaxation to the next level at Injidup Spa Retreat in the heart of the Margaret River wine region. Each of the 10 adults-only luxury villas features its own private plunge pool, sweeping vistas of the ocean and a fireplace for cooler evenings. No stay would be complete without a visit to Bodhi Wellness Spa Retreat, where the Warm Bamboo massage and Hydrate Renewal facial will have you floating back to your room.
Sal Salis, WA14/27
The limestone ridges of the Cape Range National Park, on the western side of Exmouth, form a dramatic backdrop to the 16 luxurious safari tents that make up Sal Salis. With front-row seats to the coral Ningaloo Reef, each secluded tent is positioned to give guests their own private slice of heaven (and beach) during their stay. Time your visit to go swimming with whale sharks (April to July) or humpback whales (June to November) or simply lounge in the hammock and watch the sunset.
Crystalbrook Riley, Qld15/27
With its hourglass profile, 1000-square-metre network of pools and 311 rooms and suites, Crystalbrook Riley is a landmark addition to Cairns. Snack on shucked oysters and clink cocktails while drinking in the 270-degree views at rooftop bar Rocco. Pale wood, natural linen and cane impart a coastal vibe in the guest lounge and all rooms have touch-controlled blackout blinds in case last night drifted into the wee hours.. Book one of the Panoramic Sea rooms for floor-to-ceiling water views.
Nimbo Fork Lodge, NSW16/27
On a hill overlooking the juncture of the Tumut River and Nimbo Creek – equidistant from Tumut and Gundagai – this property comprises six weatherboard cottages, each with a river-view ensuite bathroom and rear terrace, as well as four rooms with ensuites in the main lodge. The in-house restaurant’s farm-to-table ethos, under the eye of the Three Blue Ducks team, makes much of Riverina and Snowy Valley produce. Follow the river on foot, borrow a bike and map the wider landscape or go horseriding in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains.
Satellite Island, Tas17/27
An hour-and-a-half south of Hobart, Satellite Island is a remote haven that you’ll have entirely to yourself. Keep your eyes peeled for deer and native birds as you approach the top of the island, where you’ll be greeted by 360-degree views of Bruny Island, the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and Mt Hartz National Park. You’ll also have access to three different accommodation options – a boathouse on the water, a well-appointed bell tent and a cosy summer house – so you can discover a new side of the island each night.
Kings Canyon Resort, NT18/27
Wake to the chirp of crested bellbirds when you stay in one of the homestead-style tents at Kings Canyon Resort and tacke the six-kilometre Kings Canyon Rim Walk, which takes in the pillars and outcrops of the Lost City and the Garden of Eden waterhole – sacred to the region’s traditional owners, the Martutjarra Luritja people. A five-course dégustation of upscale tucker tempts with tastes including Territory barra with roasted beets and a dill and roquette creme fraiche. Book a heli-tour of Kings Canyon, Carmichaels Crag and George Gill Range for bubble-window views of this geological wonderland.
Quay Perth, WA19/27
Situated on the Esplanade, Quay Perth looks out over the waterfront precinct of Elizabeth Quay. The 80 rooms are sleek and minimalist, decorated in a neutral palette of blond wood and pale-grey slate with black accents. Best for couples are the Elizabeth Quay Luxury Studios on the upper levels, with window-seat views of the Quay and Swan River. Rooftop HQ Bar + Kitchen goes mod on traditional Chinese cuisine in an industrial-chic setting that mixes exposed brick with reclaimed wood and tan-leather seating. Glide down the Swan on a gondola cruise, which departs only a short walk from the hotel.
Bannisters Port Stephens, NSW20/27
Following on from the success of Bannisters in Mollymook, Rick Stein’s northern NSW eat-and-stay venture occupies a refurbished late-’60s motel at Soldiers Point. The 80-room waterside retreat includes four suites with separate living areas and a penthouse with an enormous terrace that affords millionaire views of Salamander Bay. Rick Stein restaurant serves up oysters harvested from just a kilometre away and rock lobster from neighbouring Nelson Bay; the casual Terrace Bar and The Tavern complete the food offering. Book a couple’s room in the day spa, doze by the infinity pool, swim with bottlenose dolphins or charter a yacht for a sunset cruise.
The Provincial Hotel, Vic21/27
In a 1909 heritage-listed building in the centre of Ballarat, this handsomely renovated hotel manages to be both ultra-smart and serene. There are 23 rooms, suites and apartments offering a contemporary take on traditional country hospitality. Graphic textiles and wooden antiques entice the eye in a palette of blues, browns, pinks and greens set against white walls and plantation shutters. The hotel’s eatery, Lola, is named after saucy Irish dancer Lola Montez, who performed her scandalous Spider Dance in Ballarat to great acclaim in 1856, with hearty dishes around local heroes such as Western Plains pork and Goldfields cheese.
Spicers Guesthouse, NSW22/27
Warm and welcoming with a low-key luxe aesthetic, this Hunter Valley stalwart has 45 rooms (plus a self-contained four-bedroom cottage) decorated in neutral tones, each featuring a king-sized bed and ensuite with rainfall shower. Opt for the Avido (Italian for “greedy”) menu at in-house restaurant Éremo and let executive chef Cameron Matthews spoil you with an always-changing selection of modern Italian dishes, from fresh spaghetti to minestrone. As you would expect from a property in the middle of Australia’s oldest continuous wine region, there’s a wall of the valley’s finest drops for you to work through while relaxing in the guest lounge, too.
Ocean Grove Chalet, Vic23/27
A mere 120 metres from the surf beach in Ocean Grove, which sits between Barwon Heads and Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula, this boutique hotel’s 15 rooms include five suites with king-sized beds, spa baths and walk-in showers and two penthouses with large spa baths and balconies that look out to sea. Linger over an all-day breakfast at up-the-road The Driftwood Café, play a round of golf at 13th Beach Golf Links, sample the topnotch shiraz and sauvignon blanc at nearby winery Oakdene or book a culinary adventure at Napona, two streets away. Post-dinner, stroll back to the Chalet and unwind in the heated pool.
The Continental Sorrento, Vic24/27
Magnesium spa baths, an Amalfi-style pool and a contemporary Australian restaurant – The Continental Sorrento has it all. A two-hour drive south of Melbourne, on the Mornington Peninsula, this grande dame was given a $120-million revamp in 2022. Indulge in a detoxifying body wrap at the Aurora Spa & Bathhouse before visiting the hotel’s signature restaurant, Audrey’s, where award-winning chef Scott Pickett’s 13-course seafood-centric dégustation includes a spanner crab crumpet and barbecued abalone topped with bonito flakes.
Silky Oaks Lodge, Qld25/27
Sitting by the glimmering Mossman River and ensconced in the ancient Daintree Rainforest, Silky Oaks is a different kind of Queensland getaway. There are 40 treehouse-style suites and an ultra-luxe two-bedroom pavilion on offer and each residence comes with its own private deck and hammock. Some even feature an outdoor bathtub – ideal for unwinding and soaking up the sounds of the wild. If you can tear yourself away from your room, explore the splendour of the oldest rainforest in the world on foot or go for a swim in a freshwater billabong.
The Louise, SA26/27
Fresh from a multi-million-dollar renovation, The Louise in the Barossa Valley’s Marananga takes the idea of a wine weekend to a whole new level. Start the day with breakfast in Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park, where you’ll get up close with local kangaroos. Then be ready to tour the region’s best wineries on a bespoke tour. Finish up with dinner at the lodge’s signature three-hatted Appellation restaurant, where modern Australian dishes utilise produce plucked from the on-site garden and throughout the region – book for sunset to turn up the romance.