Sustainable design, restored historical accommodation, and a secluded oasis in the Northern Territory – go forth!
12 Canal Rocks Rd, Yallingup; (08) 9755 2548; barnhives.com.au
THE LOCATION Five minutes south of Yallingup, 260 kilometres south of Perth, Barn Hives ticks the three famous Margaret River region boxes: wine, food and natural landscape.
THE PLACE Just off the winding country road leading to Canal Rocks, six dramatic two-storey cubes – modelled on beehives – accommodate visitors among the vineyards, beehives and a flock of opinionated ducks. The emphasis throughout is on sustainable design, natural materials and low-key luxury. There's an on-site restaurant, Barnyard 1978, that is open for lunch and does triple time as a cellar door for the property's wine and honey offerings, and a providore selling homemade pasta and pickles.
THE EXPERIENCE Downstairs in your cube, the compact stainless-steel kitchen includes beautiful ceramics, herbal teas, and a little gift of honey and local wine. The vines-facing deck has deeply cushioned chairs in which to relax and catch the afternoon sun, and an outdoor grill for sunset barbecues. Upstairs, the bedroom is simple and elegant, with a wide wooden window seat and a supremely comfortable bed. Barn Hives is perfectly positioned for accessing the pure white sand of Smith's Beach, the drama of Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, and the famous Yallingup vineyards (such as Cape Naturaliste) and restaurants (try Bunker's Beach House).
DON'T MISS Time a walk to watch the sun sink into the Indian Ocean at Yallingup beach.
FROM $295 a night. – Amanda Hooton
Mansfield Cottage, in the wheat-belt town of York. Photo: Supplied
9 Mansfield St, York; 0451 110 667; wheatbeltluxuryescapes.com.au
THE LOCATION An hour-and-a-half's drive east of Perth lies the wheat-belt town of York, set on the bucolic Avon River, dotted with historic buildings and host to multiple festivals throughout the year.
THE PLACE Natasha Atkinson and Joe Dwyer bought a small farm in York five years ago and fell in love with the place and the people. In late 2020, the Perth husband-and-wife team purchased an early-1900s Federation-style cottage and Atkinson has used her design and decoration skills to transform the property while highlighting its natural features.
THE EXPERIENCE The house is a delightful marriage of spacious country cottage and warm, earth-toned Scandinavian design. It retains the original fireplaces and Metters wood stove, along with a century-old vine in the back yard, while the exposed-brick interiors in the inviting open-plan rear of the property, the striking chef's kitchen and the large picture windows with views of Mount Bakewell make it a hard place to leave and explore the town. Thoughtful touches include an outdoor fire pit and deckchairs for sundown drinks, and a telescope for stargazing on those clear country nights.
DON'T MISS York explodes with natural colour – in August and September the canola fields are a carpet of dizzying yellow, and along the Avon River and throughout the valley, wildflowers greet you at every turn in sprays of yellow, white and purple.
FROM $350 a night; two-night minimum stay. – Barry Divola
Warders Hotel in Fremantle. Photo: Dion Robeson
19-29 Henderson St, Fremantle; (08) 9239 3300; wardershotel.com.au
THE LOCATION Though only 30 minutes' drive from the gleaming towers of central Perth, Fremantle feels a world apart. A busy port since the West Australian gold rush of the late 19th century, it has undergone gentrification without entirely losing its raffish working-class flavour.
THE PLACE This boutique hotel occupies a row of old limestone cottages. Once home to the warders of Fremantle Prison, the rough-hewn cottages have been fitted with marble bathrooms and other luxuries – coffee machines, sparkling water on tap – beyond the wildest dreams of the original residents. The six rooms on the upper level overlook the street. At ground level are five suites, each of which includes a dining space with kitchenette and twin fold-out bunks.
THE EXPERIENCE Warders offers total immersion in Freo's heritage-meets-hip atmosphere. The hotel is right next door to Fremantle Markets, in the town's historic heart. Its 450-seater restaurant and bar, Emily Taylor, built into the rear courtyard, is where a relaxed crowd gathers under floral parasols on sunny weekends. (There's also another small cafe and bar, Gimlet, built into a corner cottage ground floor.) The surrounding streets are best explored on foot, taking in the late Victorian architecture, cafes and second-hand bookstores.
DON'T MISS Steel yourself to visit sombre and formidable Fremantle Prison, built in the 1850s by, and for, convicts.
FROM $299 a night. – Jane Cadzow
The newly restored Farmers' Home Hotel in Northam. Photo: Supplied
Farmers' Home Hotel
112 Fitzgerald St, Northam; (08) 6500 3920; farmershomehotel.com
THE LOCATION Northam, 100 kilometres north-east of Perth, is an excellent base for exploring the Avon Valley, a district rich in history and architectural charm.
THE PLACE The Farmers' Home Hotel was opened in 1866 by George Throssell, who went on to become the state's second premier. A clever restoration, completed in 2020, has made the place feel fresh and up-to-date without compromising its venerability. The wrap-around verandah and stained-glass windows are splendid, but so is the fact that the 16 guest rooms have wireless Bang & Olufsen sound systems and king-sized beds with heavy cotton sheets. The bar downstairs serves a selection of local wines, craft beers and spirits, including Tiger Snake Whiskey from Porongurup.
THE EXPERIENCE The provision in each room of a 100-page book outlining nine recommended road trips around the region is a stroke of genius. Produced specifically for guests, it is handsomely illustrated with maps and photographs, and crammed with information about places to visit, from the grand monastery at New Norcia to the humble cottage in Wickepin that was once home to Albert Facey, author of A Fortunate Life. It makes you want to leap into your car and set off.
DON'T MISS Take an elevated morning walk in Northam itself: the Avon River is spanned by the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the country.
FROM $250 a night. – Jane Cadzow
Hideaway Litchfield in Rakula, the north-western fringe of Litchfield National Park. Photo: Supplied
49 Marindja Rd, Rakula; (08) 8937 6992; hideawaylitchfield.com
THE LOCATION Roger and Vivian Latham's secluded oasis, on the north-western fringe of Litchfield National Park, is 70 kilometres south-west of Darwin. It's a picturesque, 90-minute drive.
THE PLACE Designed and built by Roger and Vivian's son Simeon, with welding assistance from his brother Jordan, Cabin Three is the newest addition to what is now a trio of eco-cabins. Repurposed shipping containers form the basic structure of this luxurious, solar-powered two-storey cabin. The bedroom and elegantly appointed bathroom are on the second level, accessible by an external timber staircase. The fully equipped kitchen and spacious lounge area are accessed via the cabin's timber deck, which has outdoor seating and a barbecue.
THE EXPERIENCE Surrounded by bushland, this is the ideal place to stop, breathe and relax. Bacon, eggs, ground coffee, milk and locally made chocolates and ice-cream are in the fridge. At nightfall, the surrounding bushland comes alive with birdsong and kangaroos. The bedroom is east-facing, so you wake to a beautiful sunrise through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
DON'T MISS Litchfield National Park is on the doorstep, and a refreshing dip in The Cascades is three kilometres away.
FROM $325 a night. – Geoffrey Williams