By Hannah Lott-Schwartz
May 30, 2019
Luke Hanson/Courtesy of Arkaba Conservancy

Wine, wildlife, and natural wonders — the state of South Australia has it all, and in abundance. The Wine State, as it’s often called, boasts no fewer than 18 wine regions, including the world-renowned Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Dramatic landscapes in the state’s Flinders Ranges outback and on Kangaroo Island (a short flight or ferry ride from the mainland) are vast safari lands with geology and native animals that reach back hundreds of millions of years in time.

Sitting inside the St. Vincent Gulf, Adelaide is both the state’s capital and its most populous city, and if construction plans here are any indication of statewide trend, South Australia is preparing for a big boost in visitors. Hotels from multiple big-name and boutique brands — QT, Sofitel, Crowne Plaza, and Langham among them — have all announced plans to open in 2020, with more on the way across the state.

The result? You get to kick back on a private terrace or chic rooftop bar and enjoy the spoils of stiffening competition. Here are nine of South Australia’s best hotels to do just that.

CABN, Adelaide Hills

Isaac Freeman

Tucked into some 150 acres in the Adelaide Hills, two pod-style cabins supply simple luxury less than an hour from Adelaide CBD. The remote, off-the-grid cabins feature natural timber, Scandinavian vibes, and huge windows prime for spotting kangaroos, bandicoots, and kookaburras passing by. Spend days wine tasting in famed McLaren Vale or bush walking in the Kuitpo Forest (both nearby), returning to your cabin for optional add-on delights like a fire pack for keeping toasty and local wine and cheese.

From $190 AUD per night.

Mayfair Hotel, Adelaide

Located in the heart of the CBD (or central business district, the Australian equivalent of a downtown area), the Mayfair has transformed the historic Colonial Mutual Life building. When the heritage structure was originally built in 1934, it was the city’s tallest building — and stayed that way for more than three decades. Slip up to the 13th floor for an alfresco cocktail at Hennessy, the posh rooftop bar, where you can cozy up in myriad nooks or sit on the Romanesque balcony. At breakfast, look for a table of honey choices, all collected from the rooftop apiary — and all the sweeter for it.

From $199 AUD per night.

The Vineyard McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills

Live among the vines at one of The Vineyard’s five guest houses, ranging from elegant studio suite to modern two-bedroom cottage, each stocked with a complimentary mini bar and locally sourced goodies to enjoy on your private deck. Take advantage of the concierge service by booking a custom tour — how does morning at Onkaparinga Gorge followed by an 11-course lunch at the lauded d’Arenberg Cube sound? — or explore the region and its cellar doors independently. As sunset approaches, make your way to the Jacuzzi, perhaps with some bubbly in hand.

From $395 per night.

Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges National Park

The only accommodation in Ikara–Flinders Ranges National Park, Wilpena Pound is owned and operated by the Adnyamathanha people, who are the traditional owners of this dramatic 800-million-year-old land. Guests are privy to enriching opportunities like Aboriginal cultural walks led by a Yura guide, exploring ancient rock art sites, and fossil hunting in nearby canyons, as well as 4-wheel-drive tours and scenic flights over Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre, a massive salt lake that glimmers in the sun. Though there are typical resort rooms and simple campsites available, opt for the low-key glamping tents at the property’s Ikara Safari Camp for sublime views of the outback from the comfort of your own porch.

From $320 AUD per night.

Ecopia Retreat, Kangaroo Island

An idyllic off-the-grid getaway at the center of Kangaroo Island, Ecopia Retreat has a light touch when it comes to the environment but a heavy hand on comfort. The site’s two villas feature rammed-earth walls and minimalist, natural accents with floor-to-ceiling windows to achieve the height of indoor/outdoor flow. Everything here is DIY, from check-in to meals, meaning you can make the experience your own with a quick visit to the local market and a stop at Kangaroo Island Spirits to select a bottle of award-winning gin to sip on the porch as kangas hop by.

From $450 per night.

The Louise, Barossa Valley

A food and wine venture in one of the most prestigious vineyard regions in the world, the Louise and its acclaimed onsite restaurant, Appellation, play to your every sense while doubling down on pleasure. Guests are tempted out of their suites — 15 in total, each with its own private terrace and most with outdoor rainshowers — by a 24-hour cedar sauna, an infinity pool overlooking the vines and olive groves, and an unparalleled dining experience. A member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux fellowship, Appellation is known for its outstanding wine list and a menu that features seasonal produce from the kitchen gardens and local purveyors.

From $585 per night.

Sequoia at Mount Lofty House, Adelaide Hills

A six-star property within a property, Sequoia is scheduled to open this autumn at the luxuriant Mount Lofty House, a designer boutique hotel that recently completed a year-long, $6-million refurbishment. Each of the 14 eco-villas at Sequoia — named for the three California Redwoods planted when the historic Adelaide Hills estate was originally constructed in 1852 — are the height of indulgent luxury, perched on the rim of the Piccadilly Valley with sweeping views throughout the suite, even from the comfort of the bubble-filled stand-alone bathtub.

Enquire for rates.

Arkaba Conservancy, Flinders Ranges

Sixty thousand acres shared by a maximum of 10 guests at a luxury homestead: Arkaba Conservancy is nothing short of transformational, particularly in terms of environmental impact. The private conservancy, which was founded as a sheep station in 1851, has worked diligently for a decade to restore the wild bush to its pre-livestock state, spearheading rewilding efforts that have benefited some 5.5 million native animals in the process. Between lush meals, guests are encouraged to take advantage of immersive guided activities like safaris and bush walks, and even have the opportunity to participate in conservation efforts by tracking feral cats or accompanying a biologist on land surveys.

From $1,070 AUD per person per night, all inclusive.

Cambourne, Barossa Valley

Situated on a 25-acre Shiraz vineyard on the western ridge of the acclaimed Barossa Valley, the exclusive-use Cambourne cottage is the ultimate in intimate, with three bedrooms making it ideal for a multi-gen getaway. Every stay comes with a kitchen full of local eats — including a bottle of wine produced by Andrew Quin, the award-winning winemaker and Hentley Farm chef who owns the property with his wife, Skye — and access to the property’s original underground cellar, full of vintages available on the honor system. Between visits to the valley’s award-winning cellar doors, take a 10-minute stroll down the road to explore JamFactory, a nonprofit design hub for contemporary craft and creativity that hosts exhibitions and workshops and sells artist-made furniture, jewelry, home accessories, and more.

From $1,200 per night.

Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island

Courtesy of Southern Ocean Lodge

Perched on a seaside cliff that has claimed the bows of many a ship, Southern Ocean Lodge puts its stunning landscape at center. There are floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, and rooms line up down one long hallway so that each faces the sea, creating optimally private and intimate quarters. Let the attentive staff fix you a drink with local spirits or wine from the impressively stocked open bar, or take cocktail hour and canapes to a historic homestead nearby for kangaroo sightings at sunset. Since everything is included at this property, which is part of the prized Luxury Lodges of Australia portfolio, the only expense you’ll have to spring for is the Ligurian Honey and Almond Wrap treatment — featuring the famed, rare honey — at the spa.

From $1,250 AUD per person per night.

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