South Australia places to stay: Best weekends away

Cruise down the Murray by boat, head to the Hills for wines, then enjoy amazing Adelaide.


Lock 5 Rd, Paringa; 0427 899 102;

THE LOCATION The picturesque Murray River town of Renmark is home to paddle steamers and houseboats moored on its banks. A better option is to make the short drive to Paringa and hire your own houseboat for three days. 

THE PLACE Houseboats come in different sizes and levels of luxury, and have fully equipped kitchens and a laundry. The spacious decks have outdoor dining, a barbecue and lounge chairs. The more luxurious houseboats have spas on the top deck for those who don't fancy a dip in the river.

THE EXPERIENCE Take in the stunning natural scenery, marvel at the streaky skies at sunrise and sunset, or leap from the top deck into the Murray (just make sure it's deep enough). The more active can fish or paddle a kayak. This is a very peaceful holiday as the boat meanders along the river, which you'll largely have to yourself.

DON'T MISS Mooring your houseboat and enjoying lunch and a craft beer at the Wilkadene Woolshed brewery.

IDEAL FOR Couples and families keen for a holiday afloat.

FROM $2300 for a four-bedroom houseboat for three nights (excluding fuel). Anne Hyland


377 California Rd, Tatachilla; 0468 883 776;

Be sure to enjoy bubbles in the bath at Hotel California!

Hotel California. Photo: Heidi Linehan

THE LOCATION The property is an hour's drive from Adelaide Airport, in the heart of McLaren Vale.

THE PLACE Part micro-hotel, part cellar door and an exercise in sustainability, this off-grid citadel is fabricated from 20 shipping containers and painted in several shades of grey. Unusual? Certainly – but it's also striking and strangely at home atop its valley of vines. Inside, the 20 containers have been converted into a whole that is light, spacious and interesting.

THE EXPERIENCE Downstairs, guests are "self-containered" in three suites with a courtyard plus fire-pit. Elegant suite decor offers sleek contemporary fixtures against a white canvas, warmed with thick carpet and woven rugs. A handsome, stand-alone bath overlooking the valley entices you to sup and soak. Upstairs, vintners Irina Santiago-Brown and Dudley Brown host daytime tastings of their organic wines.

DON'T MISS A sunset fizz on the viewing deck before a four-kilometre walk (or Uber ride) to the nearest restaurant, the very fine Salopian Inn. After emptying the fridge of breakfast goodies, you can drive five minutes to beautiful Maslin Beach, or 10 minutes to the new D'Arenberg Cube – another chance to admire architectural chutzpah with a glass of vino.

IDEAL FOR Couples who appreciate their Grand Designs as much as their grand cru.

FROM $300 a night. Max Anderson


Cape Willoughby Lighthouse and Conservation Park, Kangaroo Island; (08) 8553 4410;

Seymour Cottage.

Cape Willoughby Lighthouse. Photo: Ben Goode

THE LOCATION On the eastern tip of rugged Kangaroo Island sits South Australia's oldest lighthouse, built in 1852. To find it, you must drive down a very long, tree-lined gravel road at the end of which, framed perfectly, is the sentinel-like lighthouse.

THE PLACE Huddled at the lighthouse base are three cottages, two of which are for rent. Seymour Cottage was built around 1930 and has a wide verandah that's perfect for watching the sunset as well as busy families of kangaroos. If you're lucky, you may also spy a passing whale. The interior is decorated with a nautical theme and with five bedrooms, it can sleep eight. The living area is spacious and comfortable, though there's only one bathroom and no washing machine.

THE EXPERIENCE The nearest grocery store is a half-hour drive away, so do bring your own food and beverages. The cottage is stocked with board games – just as well, as there is no TV or mobile phone reception.

DON'T MISS The lighthouse keeper's tour, or take an easy hike down to the water's edge, where you'll see the wreckage of many boats that failed to heed the lighthouse's warning.

IDEAL FOR Anyone looking for something out of the ordinary.

FROM $225 a night. Anne Hyland


45 King William St, Adelaide; (08) 8210 8888;

The Mayfair Hotel.

The Mayfair Hotel. Photo: Peter E. Barnes

THE LOCATION Inhabiting the 1934-built, former Colonial Mutual Life Assurance headquarters at the corner of King William and Hindley Streets, the Mayfair could not be more central to city life.

THE PLACE A $55-million makeover in 2015 turned what was once Adelaide's tallest building into a five-star boutique hotel. The 170-room property maintains the original heritage-listed facade and exudes a sense of luxury that is both nostalgic and very contemporary. The rooms are big, plush and well-appointed.

THE EXPERIENCE The Mayflower Restaurant and Bar is a favourite with locals, as is the Hennessy rooftop bar. Staff combine five-star service with Adelaide charm and the package is upscale rather than big scale.

DON'T MISS A lie-in on the Mayfair's award-winning beds, which, after research involving no less than 30 other beds, were specially designed by venerable Australian manufacturer A.H. Beard. All the room furniture is locally manufactured, but that signature bed makes Adelaide, an already great place to wake up in, even better.

IDEAL FOR Weary business travellers, festival-goers and micro-breakers.

FROM $200 a night. Brook Turner


2 Flinders St, Adelaide; (08) 8112 0000;

Adina Adelaide Treasury.

Adina Adelaide Treasury. Photo: Supplied

THE LOCATION This is a dress-circle seat at stalls prices. Housed in the former Treasury buildings on King William Street, centre of South Australia's administrative and governmental affairs for 120 years, the hotel is an easy walk to city highlights such as the Central Market, Rundle Street East and North Terrace.

THE PLACE The cluster of Victorian buildings that make up the Treasury site were built in boomtime Adelaide, when gold was flowing back from Victoria to fund the purchase of land. The hotel is clean, quiet and comfortable. What it has in spades is scale: the stairwells and landings are palatial, the rooms large (all with kitchen facilities) and many sport balconies over the courtyard.

THE EXPERIENCE The exterior may be imposing, but the hotel is more reminiscent of a big country pub. As a serviced-apartment establishment, you would hardly stay here for atmosphere or edge, but it's spacious, functional and central.

DON'T MISS In addition to free Wi-Fi and as many kitchen utensils as you could possibly need, there's a compact indoor pool that's equally suitable for kids, families and lap-swimmers.

IDEAL FOR Families and people on a budget.

FROM $139 a night. Brook Turner

​Looking for escapes further afield? We have you covered: VIC, NSW/ACT, QLD, TAS, WANT

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