Working as a travel writer all last year, I was fortunate enough to visit a whole heap of hotels. And while I couldn’t tell you exactly how many, I’d say that after three international trips and who-knows-how-many domestic, the number 47 is probably a good estimate.
But the point is that when it comes to hotel recommendations, I have some names. Six to be exact. Because among the 47 places to stay, there are six that I still can’t stop talking about. And even better, one that will set you back just $26 a night.
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THE MED MOTEL, CRESCENT HEAD
I almost feel guilty putting The Med on this list. Because the motel in Crescent Head on the NSW Mid-North Coast is a total locals’ secret. Actually, Crescent Head itself is somewhat of a secret. Because compared to other surf towns like Noosa and Byron, this coastal village is far less known but is just as gorgeous.
Like its name suggests, The Med looks it was dropped straight in from the South of France. It’s got red roof tiles, white stucco archways and no shortage of palm trees.
Start your stay here with a swim in its pink and white pool. Then grab a bike and helmet, and cycle your way down to Crescent Head Point for sunset. Cap off your day with dinner and drinks at the motel’s indoor-outdoor restaurant CH Dining.
THE RILEY, CAIRNS
In case you missed it, Cairns has in recent years been stepping up its luxe game. While once just a haven for backpackers and a jumping off point for those looking to get to the Great Barrier Reef, today it’s attracting a crowd that’s far more, let’s just say, sophisticated. And five-star hotel The Riley, which opened in November 2018, has been a major player in that.
After check-in in its breezy lobby, cool off from the tropical heat in its lagoon pool before hopping out and heading for a massage at on-site spa Eleme. Afterwards, shower and dress for cocktails at rooftop bar Rocco. Finish the day with dinner at Esplanade-facing Asian restaurant Paper Crane.
THE ADNATE, PERTH
The newest on this list, The Adnate opened on Perth CBD’s Hay Street in October 2019. It’s the latest from the Art Series, a hotel group that works with Aussie artists to create namesake hotels that showcase their artwork.
The Adnate is the first to open on the West Coast and also the first to feature a street artist – Melbourne-based Matt Adnate. And though the hotel’s indoor artwork – mostly portraits of people he’s met throughout his travels – is impressive, it’s the 25-storey-high mural running outside it that really sets it apart. Made up of three portraits stacked one on top of the other, it’s the largest mural in the Southern Hemisphere. And a great photo opp at that.
SRI PANWA PHUKET, THAILAND
If you’ve been to Bali or Thailand, there’s a good chance you would have stayed in a private villa. And you probably thought it was a nice one. At least I had and I’d thought so. But then I visited Sri Panwa in Phuket, and everything I thought I knew about nice villas went out the (floor-to-ceiling) window.
Because, to put it in the words of my Instastory caption, ‘Holy crap’. The pool villas there are dotted in jungle and almost completely surrounded by infinity pools that spill out into the dazzling blue Andaman Sea. After a swim or lazy afternoon sleep, rinse off in the villa’s outdoor shower, soak in its hot tub or sweat out your holiday toxins in its personal steam room. For dinner, choose from no less six restaurants.
PUREPODS, NEW ZEALAND SOUTH COAST
Over the past year or so, tiny houses have taken the travel industry – and not to mention Instagram – by storm. Completely self-contained; always in remote locations; and generally just adorable – the attention they’ve been getting is clearly well-deserved.
But then the Kiwis had to go and take it up a notch, and introduce PurePods. Or, as I like to call them, tiny houses with a twist.
They’re homes made entirely of glass. Think glass ceilings for stargazing, glass walls for scenery-appreciating and glass floors because why not?
I stayed at one at the top of a hill in the countryside overlooking a unreal blue sea, and it was completely surreal to say the least.
KILLALEA STATE CAMPING, NEW SOUTH WALES
And finally, the spot you’ve probably been skimming this list to find out about. It’s camping at Reflections Killalea Reserve on the NSW South Coast – the accommodation that will set you back just $26 a night. I’ve been there now for New Years two years in a row and absolutely loved it both times.
Surf beach The Farm is right nearby so the camp site is popular among surfers, but with heaps of other beaches, hiking trails and forest lakes nearby too, not to mention cabins available for the less outdoorsy kind, it would suit pretty much anyone looking to get away on the cheap.
And if you’re wondering, yes, it’s that South Coast. The same South Coast plastered all over the news all around the world after tragically being hit by bushfires. The campsite itself isn’t currently being affected by the fires, but I’d recommend you hold off on visiting until they’ve subsided.
That being said, it’s not just this camp site that should be added to your 2020 travel list. There are campgrounds all around the country near or in bushfire-affected areas that will need your support when they’re back on their feet. Plus all the hotels, resorts and backpackers in those areas too.
Make a point of booking with them. And tell others to too. Let’s do everything we can to help.
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