Retro motels, city escapes, glamping, luxury accommodation on a wagyu cattle farm…Queensland always has something for everyone.
The Mysa Motel
1100 Gold Coast Hwy, Palm Beach; 0407 467 976; themysamotel.com
THE LOCATION You'll find it just off the highway in the southern Gold Coast suburb of Palm Beach, seven minutes' drive north of Gold Coast Airport. Surfers Paradise is 30 minutes north.
THE PLACE Local 30-somethings Jason and Eliza Raine have transformed a run-down motel into somewhere you might've stayed at in Palm Springs in the 1950s. Each room (there's seven) has a unique layout, with walls painted lavender, peach, carnation pink and mint. The low ceilings have been vaulted, private courtyards added, and the crowning glory is a kidney-shaped magnesium pool encircled by pink sun loungers.
Inside the Mysa Motel. Photo: Supplied
THE EXPERIENCE The antithesis of the clichéd Gold Coast holiday, staying here takes you back to a time before skyscrapers. It might look like you're sleeping in another era, but the amenities are very 2021 (silent fridges, fancy welcome snacks, filtered-water taps, enormous showers). You'll love being 100 metres from one of the quietest stretches of beach on the coast, and smack-bang in the suburb that epitomises the new Gold Coast.
DON'T MISS Palm Beach is fast becoming the southern Gold Coast's trendiest bar and restaurant precinct. Eat the best Italian on the coast at Balboa, then catch live music in the whisky bar, Scottish Prince, across the road.
FROM $220 a night. – Craig Tansley
Hotel X in Fortitude Valley. Photo: Markus Ravik
458 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley; (07) 3519 1000; hotelx.com.au
THE LOCATION Look for the white geometric facade (at night, it lights up like a Christmas tree), a new landmark in inner Brisbane's most fashionable suburb, Fortitude Valley.
THE PLACE Brisbane's newest five-star hotel and the world's first to carry the International Hotel Group's new brand, Hotel X manages to exude the fashionista vibe you'd expect of the Valley, with custom furnishings, artwork by Brisbane-based photographer Justin Nicholas, and Karl Lagerfeld bathroom amenities. Larger suites literally have the X-factor, in balconies or terraces overlooking the city, Story Bridge and the Brisbane River. Even entry-level rooms have a hell of a view of the concrete jungle below.
THE EXPERIENCE Your room's just the beginning. There's the French bistro and bar in the lobby, Bisou Bisou, with its Michelin-trained head chef. Then there's the rooftop pool, restaurant and bar, Iris – no better sunset location in the city. When you're ready to leave, the trendy boutiques of the James Street precinct are 300 metres away, while the nightlife of the Howard Smith Wharves is 500 metres in the opposite direction.
DON'T MISS If you're up and about, walk further down Brunswick Street to New Farm Park in time for the Saturday morning market beside the Brisbane River.
FROM $249 a night. – Craig Tansley
Multi-tasking Hazelwood Estate in Beechmont. Photo: Supplied
422 Binna Burra Rd, Beechmont, (07) 5602 9710; hazelwoodestate.com.au
THE LOCATION In a valley of green pastures, fringed by forest in the Gold Coast hinterland, Hazelwood Estate is an hour's drive from Gold Coast Airport.
THE PLACE This estate has long been a multi-tasker, with its wagyu cattle farm that hosts a polo club and tournament field. Now it's added destination dining and luxury stays to its repertoire. The ponies may attract polo enthusiasts to their paddock, but the Paddock restaurant, set in an enormous central building with vaulted ceilings and windows affording views of fields and kangaroos, attracts foodies from near and far. Hazelwood's accommodation comprises three Luxury Pavilions and 17 King Farm Cabins that look out across the property through floor-to-ceiling windows. Rooms are farm-style, with warm, natural wood furnishings, an open fireplace and a private outdoor deck with a mighty comfy couch.
Inside Hazelwood Estate. Photo: Supplied
THE EXPERIENCE This is a food-centric stay: your tariff covers your room, plus three-course dinners and hearty breakfasts. Chef-in-residence Cameron Matthews is one of regional Australia's most awarded chefs – and has been Spicer Retreats' executive chef for 12 years. He's built his menu around the best local produce (as you might expect, the coal-grilled beef is a must-pick menu item), and you'll find him outside most afternoons foraging in his garden.
DON'T MISS Binna Burra – one of the most picturesque sections of World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park – is seven kilometres down the road.
FROM $649 a night. – Craig Tansley
Starry Nights Luxury Camping in West Woombye, an hour north of Brisbane Airport. Photo: Supplied
Starry Nights Luxury Camping
36 Carruthers Rd, West Woombye; 0435 825 999; starrynightsluxurycamping.com.au
THE LOCATION This property is only an hour north of Brisbane Airport, but feels a world away. It's a 20-minute drive to the beach at Mooloolaba and 10 minutes to the town of Montville.
THE PLACE Owners Shane and Nicole Nelson took three years to find the right property, and two years building the pair of glamping tents they felt best suited it. They didn't mess around. Each measures 75 square metres and features recycled barn floorboards, a hand-carved stone basin, rotating fireplace, hot shower, flushing toilet and claw-foot bath. All that comfort – and you're surrounded entirely by rainforest.
THE EXPERIENCE Kookaburras start up at dawn, followed by yellow-tailed black cockatoos and whipbirds. This is the only wildlife corridor between the national park next door and Petrie Creek a few hundred metres away (which has great swimming holes), so there's wildlife aplenty, including kangaroos feeding outside your tent. Make use of the guest lounge with infra-red sauna, pool tables, games, books, a selection of organic beverages and an espresso machine. Hampers, laden with food grown on the property or sourced locally, can be delivered for you to cook on your barbecue.
DON'T MISS While Montville is a Sunshine Coast hinterland hotspot, the lesser-known Woombye is even closer (five minutes). Check out the great cafes in a village so pretty, it looks like a year-round flower show.
FROM $355 a night; two-night minimum stay, three nights across public holidays. – Craig Tansley