DES­TI­NA­TION AUS­TRALIA Meet the lo­cals

Car­rie Hutchin­son sug­gests 10 chic city ho­tels that won’t blow the sum­mer hol­i­day bud­get

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

AJES­TIC Min­ima, Ade­laide: If size is not an is­sue, then the 46-room Min­ima should be on your South Aus­tralian itin­er­ary. Its web­site proudly boasts ‘‘ mini room, mini price’’, and that’s no joke. Each gue­stroom is just 14sq m but the am­bi­ence makes up for this re­stricted space. The rooms are sleek, min­i­mal­ist white with funky art­work above the bed and a graphic mo­saic bath­room. There’s also a small writ­ing desk and the slightly more ex­pen­sive rooms have a tiny bal­cony. Sav­ings are also made on ser­vice: there is self check-in and a vend­ing ma­chine in the foyer. This North Ade­laide ho­tel is a cut above your av­er­age mo­tor inn and not much more ex­pen­sive. Dou­bles from $99 a night; www.ma­jes­ti­cho­tels.com.au.

Ho­tel Altamont, Syd­ney: In its hey­day, this Ge­or­gian build­ing amid Dar­linghurst’s cafe so­ci­ety was an exclusive bou­tique ho­tel where Mick Jag­ger once laid his head. (Night­club afi­ciona­dos will also be aware the no­to­ri­ous Caul­dron night­club was once lo­cated here.) Al­though it may seem a lit­tle odd to name the ho­tel af­ter the Rolling Stones’ 1969 con­cert that ended in vi­o­lence, there is noth­ing par­tic­u­larly rock ’ n’ roll about the ho­tel now. The Altamont’s 14 rooms (book well in ad­vance) are sim­ple and serene, with tim­ber fur­ni­ture and ex­posed sand­stone, plus there’s a guest­sonly lounge, bar and rooftop ter­race. Par­tic­u­larly de­sir­able are those rooms that open on to small pri­vate court­yards. Dou­bles from $129 a night; www. altamont.com.au.

Ho­tel To­larno, Mel­bourne: Sit­u­ated in the heart of the action on St Kilda’s Fitzroy Street, the To­larno was built by a for­mer mayor as his res­i­dence in 1884 but has a long his­tory as a guest­house. Now, the 35 rooms are fit­ted out with a retro vibe — lots of colour­ful touches, 1950s-style fur­ni­ture and orig­i­nal art (mainly by stu­dents and lo­cal artists) — al­though it still feels as if you are stay­ing at a grand man­sion be­long­ing to a friend. The pub­lic ar­eas have their own artis­tic bent, with mu­rals by Mirka Mora, who ran the ho­tel in the ’ 60s, tak­ing pride of place in Guy Grossi’s restau­rant, Mirka at To­larno Ho­tel. The bar here, too, is a great find and pop­u­lar with the lo­cals. Dou­bles from $145 a night; www.hotel­to­larno.com.au.

Dia­mant, Can­berra: The na­tional cap­i­tal got its first stylish bou­tique digs when the Dia­mant opened mid­way through the year. Its 80 rooms are lo­cated in a ’ 20s her­itage art deco build­ing and the luxe look fea­tures graphic wall­pa­per on the ceil­ings of suites, orig­i­nal art­works and sculp­tures scat­tered through­out, plenty of whizbang gad­getry and mod­ernist fur­ni­ture giv­ing the in­te­ri­ors that ex­tra edge. The lo­ca­tion is first-class, too: near Lake Bur­ley Grif­fin, a 10-minute walk from the city, and within a new ur­ban vil­lage that in­cludes restau­rants, bars and the Soma Day Spa. Dou­bles from $150 a night; www.dia­mant.com.au.

Jasper Ho­tel, Mel­bourne: If you want to be just a skip from the city and the fab­u­lous Queen Vic­to­ria Mar­ket (a foodie’s dream come true), Jasper of­fers ex­cel­lent value. The build­ing was for­merly the Y ho­tel, but a $4.5 mil­lion up­grade by Jack­son Cle­ments Bur­rows Ar­chi­tects, un­veiled at the start of 2007, means it’s about as far away from the av­er­age YWCA ac­com­mo­da­tion as you can get (though the or­gan­i­sa­tion still owns the place). The 65 gue­strooms are dec­o­rated with min­i­mal­ist chic: check the white linens with ac­cents of chocolate and caramel. Ser­vice is ex­cel­lent; guests on a fit­ness regime will ap­pre­ci­ate the com­pli­men­tary ac­cess to nearby Mel­bourne City Baths. Dou­bles from $150 a night; www.jasper­ho­tel.com.au.

Ur­ban Bris­bane, Bris­bane: It took two years and about $10 mil­lion to up­grade one of Bris­bane’s most fa­mous ho­tels, the Gazebo (the 10th-floor restau­rant was the place to see and be seen back in the ’ 70s) but the doors re­opened in Oc­to­ber this year. As is the case with all the newer Ac­cor ho­tels, Ur­ban is mod­ern and ul­tra-comfortable (those Ur­ban Snorer beds are lux­ury with a com­forter on top); there are quirky and thought­ful ex­tras and ev­ery­thing busi­ness and leisure trav­ellers need, from panoramic con­fer­ence rooms to a 10m lap pool. Tra­di­tion­al­ists, re­lax: the Ga-

Lucky strike: Skyc­ity of­fers ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion at Dar­win’s casino com­plex zebo Restau­rant and Bar is still here, al­though you may be hard-pressed to find a prawn cock­tail. Dou­bles from $159 a night; www.ur­ban­bris­bane.com.au.

Zero Davey, Ho­bart: The south­ern­most cap­i­tal has some fine ex­am­ples of lux­ury bou­tique ac­com­mo­da­tion, but they gen­er­ally come at a price. Not at Zero Davey, a gem lo­cated on the water­front at his­toric Vic­to­ria Dock. The views are stun­ning, the apart­ments funky and, as an added bonus, each has a fully equipped kitch­enette. Guests are just a cou­ple of min­utes’ walk from Sala­manca Mar­ket and all the ex­cel­lent eat­ing venues on the docks. Just a hint: if you win Lotto while you’re here, up­grade to the stun­ning Hunter Pent­house, with grand pi­ano and pri­vate cin­ema, to feel like a to­tal rock star. Dou­bles from $159 a night; www.es­ca­pere­sorts.com.au.

Dive Ho­tel, Syd­ney: There is not much in the way of in­ex­pen­sive ac­com­mo­da­tion by the beach in Syd­ney, but Dive hits the mark for price and good looks. Lo­cated op­po­site Coogee Beach’s grand sweep of sand (much more lowkey than fa­mous Bondi), its 16 rooms are com­pact but stylish with bold splashes of colour, mo­saic bath­rooms, kitch­enettes and ca­ble tele­vi­sion. Rooms num­bered 1, 2 and 19 have ocean views, and the vibe is sea­side re­laxed. Break­fast is taken each morn­ing in the sunny court­yard, of­ten with the own­ers’ cute pooches as com­pan­ions. Dou­bles from $165 a night; www.di­ve­ho­tel.com.au.

Skyc­ity, Dar­win: If you want en­ter­tain­ment at your doorstep, this ho­tel, which is part of trop­i­cal Dar­win’s casino, is just the (lucky) ticket. The stan­dard rooms (as op­posed to the very grand and quite new suites), ar­ranged around an open atrium (per­fect for this part of the world), are sim­ple but comfortable, but it’s the lo­ca­tion, right on Mindil Beach, that stands out. There are sea views as you sun your­self be­side the pool, be­fore wan­der­ing down to en­joy the fa­mous Sun­set Mar­ket (held Thurs­days and Sun­days be­tween April and Oc­to­ber). There are nu­mer­ous bars, restau­rants and gam­ing rooms to keep guests busy, but luck­ily th­ese are far enough from the ho­tel to en­able weary heads to rest when nec­es­sary. It’s a great place to meet the lo­cals as they throng here, par­tic­u­larly on week­ends. Dou­bles from $177 a night; www.skyc­i­ty­dar­win.com.au.

Sebel Res­i­dence East Perth, Perth: Sports fans, re­joice. This bou­tique-style de­vel­op­ment of chic fully ser­viced apart­ments — com­plete with kitch­enettes, ca­ble tele­vi­sion and in-room broad­band — is within walk­ing dis­tance of the WACA. Even if AFL or cricket isn’t your thing, this is still a great place to stay. Lo­cated just out­side cen­tral Perth (there’s a free bus ser­vice that will take you to the CBD), the Sebel Res­i­dence and its con­tem­po­rary charms are right on the doorstep of the River­side re­de­vel­op­ment, so there are parks and pub­lic art spa­ces, restau­rants and en­ter­tain­ment nearby. That view of the Swan River is worth a mil­lion dol­lars even if you won’t pay nearly as much for one of the stu­dios here. Dou­bles from $185 a night; www.mir­va­cho­tels.com. Ho­tels are listed by as­cend­ing or­der of tar­iff, not in or­der of pref­er­en­tial rat­ing. Prices may vary ac­cord­ing to sea­son and avail­abil­ity.

Lit­tle gem: Zero Davey, Ho­bart

Retro vibe: Pri­mary colours and orig­i­nal art in gue­strooms at Ho­tel To­larno

City re­treat: Ho­tel Altamont in Syd­ney’s trendy Dar­linghurst

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