Australia operates a rating system of one to five stars. Five-star hotels include on-site dining options, concierge and valet services, a business center, and, of course, very luxurious rooms. Four stars denote an exceptional property that probably just doesn't have all the extras they need for five. Three stars means quality fittings and service. We list the best lodgings for each price category. The available facilities are specified, but we don't indicate whether they cost extra. Always ask about additional costs when pricing your hotel room.
Apartment and House Rentals
Judging from the huge number of short-term rental properties in Australia, locals prefer doing their own thing to being in a hotel. It's easy for you to do likewise. Serviced apartments are the norm in big cities, and you can often rent one for only a night or two. Booking agency Move and Stay has an enormous range of properties, usually aimed at executives. Medina has top-end apartments and apart-hotels in all the big cities. Quest owns apartment complexes all around the country. Furnished Properties focuses on the Sydney area, and have reasonable rates.
In beach areas "units" are the thing: they're usually small detached houses or bungalows, often with a communal area with laundry facilities and a swimming pool. Maid service is usually optional here. In summer, units at popular beach resorts will often be booked months in advance, so make reservations in plenty of time. To find beach units online, you usually need to search for agencies dealing with a specific area rather than a nationwide company.
Furnished Properties (61/2/9518–8828. www.furnishedproperties.com.au.)
Adina Apartment Hotels (1300/9356–5061. www.adinahotels.com.au.)
Move and Stay (www.moveandstay.com.)
Quest Serviced Apartments (61/3/9645–8357 or 1800/334033. www.questapartments.com.au.)
Villas & Apartments Abroad (212/213–6435. www.vaanyc.com.)
Villas International (415/499–9490 or 800/221–2260. www.villasintl.com.)
Bed and Breakfasts
B&Bs are a big deal in Australia, and are popular in both urban and rural areas. The classic Aussie B&B is a family-run affair: expect clean, homey rooms, private bathrooms, and bountiful breakfasts. A room for two usually ranges from A$80 to A$200 a night. The word "boutique" in conjunction with a B&B implies a higher level of luxury—decorative, gastronomic, or both—and facilities, but all at a higher price.
The Bed & Breakfast Book, Australia lists a number of excellent properties. OzBedandBreakfast.com has comprehensive listings that include boutique properties. Australian Bed and Breakfast has listings of B&Bs, farm stays, cottages, and more, all over the country.
Local tourist-information centers throughout Australia also have lists of B&Bs in their area.
Hosted Accommodation Australia (www.australianbedandbreakfast.com.au.)
The Australian Bed & Breakfast Book. This company publishes a yearly guide to Australian B&Bs and has online listings. www.bbbook.com.au.
Bed & Breakfast.com (512/322–2710 or 800/462–2632. www.bedandbreakfast.com.)
Bed & Breakfast and Farmstay Association of NSW & ACT (1300/888862 or 02/4367–5505. www.bedandbreakfast.org.au.)
Bed & Breakfast Inns Online (310/280–4363 or 800/215–7365. www.bbonline.com.)
Home and Farm Stays
Home and farm stays combine B&B-style accommodation with the chance to join in farm activities or explore the countryside. Some hosts run day trips, as well as horseback riding, hiking, and fishing trips. Accommodations vary from modest shearers' cabins to elegant homesteads; some include breakfast in the room price, others an evening meal. Families are usually welcomed. For two people the cost varies from A$100 to A$250 nightly.
Australian Farm Stays. This private company deals with luxury farm stays. 03/5824–3285. www.australianfarmstay.com.au.
With a direct home exchange you stay in someone else's home while they stay in yours. Some outfits also deal with vacation homes, so you're not actually staying in someone's full-time residence, just their vacant weekend place.
Although home exchanges aren't popular choice in Australia, there are still many options available, particularly on the east coast.
HomeExchange.com. This company charges $10.95 per month for a one-year online listing and use of the site. 800/877–8723. www.homeexchange.com.
HomeLink International. This company charges $89 for one-year full membership, and $25 for an additional listing for a second home. 800/638–3841. www.homelink.org.
Intervac U.S. For $99.99 you can have a Web-only membership at Intervac U.S. 800/756–4663. us.intervac-homeexchange.com.
Australian hostels are among the world's best. Often called "backpackers," hostels generally have a mix of dormitory and private accommodation, with well-equipped communal facilities, including a kitchen, laundry, and living area. In-house bars and travel agencies are popular, too. Owners and staff are often veteran Aussie backpackers who know from experience what budget travelers are looking for—they're lots of fun and full of useful advice. Guests are mostly globetrotters in their twenties and thirties, but families and older people are also common.
If you think "hostelling" is synonymous with "roughing it," think again. So-called luxury or boutique hostels and hostel resorts are a growing Australian trend, especially in tourist hot spots like Cairns. These mix high-quality dorms with floors of nicely furnished private rooms with en suite bathrooms. Prices are much lower than at hotels, and you still get the hostel vibe in the communal areas, which usually include a swimming pool.
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