South Australia

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Our Guru's recommendations for the best places to stay in South Australia range from chic city boutique hotels in Adelaide to rambling old farmsteads in South Australia's wine country.

Most of South Australia's life radiates gently from arty capital, Adelaide, dwindling as it hits the bone dry land beyond, where temperatures regularly hover around 48 degrees. Underneath this unforgiving, stoney land are mineral veins on which tiny townships suckle, and beyond that are the hazy colours of the Flinders Ranges. But around Adelaide the land is lush - perfect for wine growing, and beyond that the sea is packed with tuna and lobsters, creating the perfect conditions for a foodie heaven.

Once upon a time Adelaide's, main appeals were its graceful religious architecture and the fact that it was set up as a free colony, rather than a penal colony. But these days Adelaide is known for a lot more - the arts and festival scene is exuberant, the foodie scene thrives on its position - by the wine regions of the Clare Valley and McLaren Vale, and there's a multicultural wave gradually stretching the city's traditionally conservative nature.

Less than a quarter of an hours drive away on the freeway and you're in one of the rural towns of the Adelaide Hills or charming old Port Adelaide. Both these regions are worth exploring, as is Glenelg, the beachy bit.

But first you should explore the centre of town. Don't miss the Central Market, the Art Gallery, the South Australian Museum or the Botanic Gardens. And it's definitely worth visiting Adelaide during festival time - which is almost always - as the city really comes alive and venues pop up all over the place.

A little bit more driving and you'll hit McLaren Vale and the Clare and Barossa Valleys, home to some of Australia's best known wine brands, such as Penfolds, Peter Lehmann and Seppelt, as well as numerous tiny wineries. Most allow tastings and some have very decent restaurants as well.

These regions are famous for their big reds, especially Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignons, but they also grow Chardonnay and Semillion vines. The red vines especially are known for being some of the oldest in the world - they came as Rhone Valley cuttings and have now outlived their parent plants which were decimated by disease in the 19th Century.

After that most people drive on to the Limestone Coast, along the Murray River, and Kangaroo Island. The flat land of the Limestone Coast is backed by surf beaches and secret bays, and below the ground you'll find a strange warren of underground caves. Kangaroo Island is a wonderfully unspoiled place, rich with biodiversity, but of course especially rich in kangaroos.

If you drive north from Adelaide you'll hit the desert and the colourful town of Coober Pedy, arguably the world's opal capital, where miners built their houses, and other buildings, underground where it's cooler.

And then it's on to the Flinders Ranges, row upon row of jagged peaks rising up behind Port Augusta. These mountains change colour during the day, from a morning violet to an evening red ochre.

The Hotel Guru has sifted through all the best places in South Australia and come up with the following short list, which should have something for all tastes and budgets whether you're looking for an outback adventure or city luxe.

Best Places to Stay in South Australia

For Adelaide

  • The Clarion Hotel Soho is right in the centre of town, with all the mod. cons., chic design and a regularly changing art exhibition on display. As well as being close to everything the Clarion Hotel has a roof top pool with views over the skyline.
  • The Franklin is a quirky, seven room boutique hotel in the heart of the city. As well as being small and perfectly designed, The Franklin offers guests free use of its bicycles. And all for around £80 per night.
  • Thorngrove Manor Hotel in the Adelaide Hills, is a luxurious, five room hotel, perfect for romance and privacy. It's done up to look like and old castle with antiques and four poster beds and tapestries, and offers every luxury you can imagine you might need.

For Kangaroo Island

  • LIfetime Private Retreats offers four seaside luxury villas, with fully inclusive dining packages or self catering - you choose.
  • Southern Ocean Lodge is the ultimate get away from it all. Here you'll find stunning views of the wild southern ocean, complemented by all the luxuries you can imagine and delicious food.

For great value

  • The Wilpena Pound Resort is the perfect choice if you want to visit the Flinders Range. There is a wide range of accoommodation, plus pool and restaurant. Rooms start from just £100 room only, and self catering options are even less.

For Outback Luxury

  • Look no further than Arkaba Station, a vast sheep farm turned private wildlife sanctuary with five individually designed rooms, overlooking the Elder Ranges. There's no internet or phone signal, so it's the perfect place for total relaxation.

For the winelands

  • The Louise is situated in the heart of the Barossa Valley. Come here for luxury, glorious views and superb food - and of course the wine.
  • Kingsford Homestead, on the edge of the Barossa Valley, offers seven exquisite rooms, swimming pool and great food.

Still not sure which to book? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in South Australia, or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice.

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The best hotels in South Australia

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  • Wilpena Pound Resort

    Flinders Range, South Australia

    Wide range of accommodation in the only resort in the Flinders Range, including well-equipped self-catering units, motel-style rooms and permanent powered and non-powered campsites. With a solar-heated swimming pool, convenience store and restaurant. Ideal for travellers with all budgets.

    60 rooms from $86
    Outstanding location  -  Only accomodation in Flingers Range National Park
    Swimming Pool  -  Solar heated outdoor pool
    Back to Nature
    Remote  -  Off the beaten track.
    Recommended by  -  Fodors
  • Clarion Hotel Soho

    Adelaide (CBD)

    This uber-chic hotel oozes style with top amenities. Regular changing art collections on display. Relax by the roof top pool whilst looking over the city skyline. Central location ensures the perfect base for sightseeing.

    30 rooms from $103
    Sights nearby  -  Ten minute walk to the Botanic Gardens, fifteen minute walk to Art Gallery of South Australia
    Spa  -  In-room treatments available
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith
  • The Franklin

    Adelaide (CBD)

    Quirky and charming boutique hotel in Adelaide's CBD offering seven tastefully decorated rooms with unique original artwork. Free bicycles on offer are a great way to see the city.

    7 rooms from $104
    Sights nearby  -  Central location in the CBD, within walking distance of main shopping district and Adelaide Zoo
    Full of character
  • Lifetime Private Retreats

    Kangaroo Island

    Four luxury private villas on Kangaroo Island by Snelling's Beach. Ensuite rooms, dining area, outdoor terrace, fully equipped kitchen and laundry facilities. Fully inclusive dining packages are available too. Perfect for a private getaway and families.

    from $270
    Views  -  Fantastic ocean views
    Private Hot Tub  -  The Cliff House has its own outdoor jacuzzi
    Back to Nature
    Great walks  -  Good for walkers.
  • The Louise

    South Australia

    Situated in the heart of the Barossa Valley, this luxury hotel offers large rooms with spa baths and outdoor rainshowers, plus glorious views over the surrounding vines. Appellation Restaurant is widely regarded as one of Australia's finest and the wine list is second to none!

    15 rooms from $364
    Wine tasting  -  In the heart of the Barossa Valley wine region
    Private Hot Tub  -  Plus outdoor rain showers
    Restrictions on children  -  Must be 12 or over
    Local markets  -  Good for local colour.
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith
  • Arkaba Station

    South Australia

    Luxury accommodation in 1850s homestay at Arkaba Creek. Five individual rooms with unique local furnishings, a swimming pool and open fire pit for after dark. Explore the 63 000 acre private wildlife sanctuary in style.

    5 rooms from $536
    Views  -  Wonderful views over Elder Range and Arkaba Creek
    Outstanding location  -  63 000 acres private wildlife conservancy
    Swimming Pool  -  Overlooking Arkaba Creek
    Restrictions on children  -  Must be aged 6 or over
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith
  • Kingsford Homestead

    South Australia

    This stunning 19th century homestead has been converted into a luxurious hotel with seven exquisite ensuite rooms on the edge of the Barossa Valley. Facilities include a swimming pool and restaurant specialising in local ingredients. Try the bush bath for the ultimate romantic experience.

    7 rooms from $583
    Sights nearby  -  Explore historic shearing sheds
    Restrictions on children  -  Must be 13 or over
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Local markets  -  Good for local colour.
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith
  • Thorngrove Manor Hotel

    Adelaide (Stirling)

    Set away from the city in the Adelaide Hills, this luxury small hotel has only five dreamy rooms. Privacy is of paramount importance, with the promise that you may not even see another guest. Perfect for a romantic getaway.

    5 rooms from $626
    Sights nearby  -  Adelaide CBD only 20 mins by car
    Outstanding location  -  In the Adelaide Hills
    Hideaway  -  Tranquil and intimate.
    Recommended by  -  Small Luxury Hotels, Fodors
  • Southern Ocean Lodge

    Kangaroo Island

    Stunning cliff top location on Kangaroo Island's south coast. Luxury detached accommodation, with floor to ceiling glass bathroom walls, limestone floors and some with private plunge pools. The ultimate combination of rugged wilderness and sumptuous creature comforts.

    21 rooms from $1439
    Views  -  Outstanding views over the Southern Ocean which are maximised by the floor to ceiling windows
    Designer  -  Many designer elements including sandblasted limestone floors and recycled spotted gum feature walls
    Swimming Pool  -  Some suites with private spa plunge pool
    Great walks  -  Guided excursions of island
    Recommended by  -  I Escape, Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet, Fodors
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