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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.