Wilderness, wildlife and wine in South Australia's boutique luxury properties
South Australia's new breed of boutique luxury boltholes showcase the state's natural beauty and exquisite food and wine
A heady combination of wilderness, wildlife and wine makes travellers want to slow down and savour their stay in South Australia. Happily, a comprehensive network of unique boutique properties mean that you can help clients do so in the lap of luxury, mixing and matching a clutch of memorable hotels to tailor-make an itinerary that suits their interests.
Conveniently compact, Adelaide is an easy city to love, its street art-filled laneways packed with cool, speakeasy-style bars and informal yet gourmet restaurants. The arts scene is strong with fascinating choices including the Tandaya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute and JamFactory craft studios, where you can watch glass blowing. Send clients to the elegant Mayfair Hotel, a 1930s heritage building in the heart of the central business district. Or suggest the gleaming, curvaceous Eos by Skycity, a new hotel packed with local art and an outdoor pool deck, on the banks of the River Torrens.
Just 20 minutes from the city centre, clients will discover a bucolic idyll of vineyards and nature reserves, where the tranquillity is paired with fine wines, craft beer, artisan gin and world-class cuisine. An address worth knowing is Mount Lofty House, where sleek rooms in a grand country house, once home to South Australia’s equivalent of the Great Gatsby, enjoy panoramic views from the hilltop location. Sister property Sequoia opens next door this summer, with expansive suites, a Jurlique spa and a focus on local experiences.
This wildlife haven is steadily recovering from the bushfires that caused so much damage in January 2020. The vegetation has regrown, turning Australia’s third-largest island green once more, and visitors can spot koalas, kangaroos, penguins and sea lions at every turn. While legendary property Southern Ocean Lodge was badly damaged, it is being rebuilt, and in the meantime clients won’t be short of a luxury stay, with options including adult-only Sea Dragon Lodge, the new two-bedroom Oceanview Eco Villas, beachfront residences at One Kangaroo Island and Ecopia Retreat’s sustainable private villas.
The craggy, red-rock splendour of the Flinders Ranges is almost otherworldly, and this gateway to the South Australian outback is one for clients who like their skies wide and their scenery jaw-dropping. They’ll find wildlife from echidnas to emus, and rich Aboriginal culture tens of thousands of years old. Arkaba, a deluxe, all-inclusive homestead set within a private wildlife sanctuary, is a member of Tourism Australia’s Luxury Lodges of Australia, or for a taste of outback life, suggest a stay in the stylish eco villas at working sheep station Rawnsley Park Station.
Just an hour north of Adelaide, Australia’s oldest and finest wine region is particularly noted for its shiraz. It’s home to more than 150 wineries, including boutique producers and familiar names such as Penfolds and Wolf Blass. The region can be toured in a range of novel ways, from vintage cars to balloons, and stays are just as characterful. Sleek and contemporary, The Louise has its own award-winning in-house restaurant, and Barossa Shiraz Estate is home to a clutch of private cottages.
This up-and-coming region, where the tail end of Australia’s longest river flows through the lagoons of the Coorong National Park before emptying into the Southern Ocean, has a varied and striking landscape of limestone cliffs, dense bush and rolling white sand dunes. Visitors can explore ancient rock art, spot indigenous birds and enjoy fun on the water. The Frames are three architecturally stunning suites with private pools, overlooking the river.
Stay longer in South Australia
Travel Counsellors' Cheryl Harradine visited South Australia on a fam trip in 2019, and found there was more to the state than Kangaroo Island and the gateway to The Ghan.
"Staying in the city of Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills totally changed my view of the area. I'd never seen it as more than a one or two-night stop, but there are so many wonderful, 'slow travel' experiences to enjoy.
"Adelaide is such a pretty city with the streets laid out almost on a grid system, which makes it easy to navigate. The pace is very relaxed - there was no stress or rush. The nightlife is low-key but so trendy, and the Mayfair Hotel, where we stayed, had a gorgeous rooftop bar with views over the city.
"In the Adelaide Hills I loved the beautiful vineyards. The d'Arenberg Winery is an extraordinary glass cube building with incredible views.
"A stay at Mount Lofty House was a really peaceful experience. I'd put it at the end of a client's trip, to gave them time to relax after their adventures. I' d also steer clients towards three nights in Adelaide, one or two on Kangaroo Island and one in Adelaide Hills - there's so much here they shouldn't miss."