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