Adelaide may not necessarily be known as a city of firsts within Australia - but it is. The first state to give women the vote is also home to Australia's first official nude beach (Maslins) and the first to decriminalise homosexuality. Now, it is also home to Australia's first Hotel Indigo, the boutique arm of the InterContinental Hotels Group.
Don Dunstan instigated a lot of change in SA throughout the 1970s. The pioneering former premier was fond of the arts and wearing pink shorts, this bright, modern and colourful hotel pays homage to him, his favourite colour and the 'festival state' with large posters of past fringes and festivals adorning corridor and room walls. A striking foyer, restaurant and bar opening onto the street welcomes passers-by for coffee and drinks, as well as guests, who will also no doubt be lured to its kaleidescopic rooftop bar, the city's highest.
As has happened with Peel and Leigh Streets, Hotel Indigo puts the CBD's Market Street, a tiny side street off Gouger Street, on the map. It's a few minutes' away from the Central Markets and the city's increasingly buzzy Chinatown, which reliably stays open through public holidays in a city that can be notoriously quiet.
The rooms are compact, but space is well utilised. Corner rooms have floor to ceiling windows which look over Adelaide city down to its beaches. It's a grand place to take in sunrise or sunsets, particularly from its plush maroon velvet daybed. A copper ensemble serves as desk, hanging and storage space. It's completely open, saving guests from hunting around wardrobes or potentially leaving items behind. The bedhead is a festival poster; light switches are easy to flick from mood to reading to night. The bathroom is contained behind frosted glass, with copper fittings, fluffy towels, Biology toiletries and large shower.
The Market and Meander restaurant attracts non-guests as well as guests, utilising local produce form the Central Markets. With a variety of influences, the menu includes burrata and high-piled prosciutto, smokey Spencer Gulf prawns and a cheesecake made from Adelaide Hills Distillery gin. Breakfast can be ordered a la carte or guests can opt to have "Breakfast in Bed" delivering a generous tray of toast, fruit, yoghurt, coffee and juice. The stunning rooftop bar shouldn't be missed - it's fun, colourful and has great views and a raw bar. The cocktails use premium South Aussie distillers and of course, there's the ever-increasing array of local wines to choose from.
Central Markets are an obvious choice and visitors can tour them with Food Tours Australia (ausfoodtours.com). The precincts of Leigh and Peel Street, around a 10-minute walk (or hire one of the city's scooters), are where some of the best restaurants and bars await. There's also new Aurora on Light Square (auroraadl.com.au), helmed by the former chef at d"Arenburg and Fishbank (Fishbankadel.com.au), a high end seafood restaurant housed in a former bank. Day trips to Adelaide Hills and beyond can be arranged with MC Wine Tours (mcwinetours.com.au).
With Eos and Mayfair, Adelaide is really starting to step up its hotel offerings and IHG choosing Adelaide as its first foray into the Australian market is an exciting choice. This is a modern and inexpensive option in the heart of the city that includes a decent restaurant, pool and rooftop bar. It will be hard to beat.
Rooms start at a very reasonable $177 per night.
Address: 23-29 Market Street, Adelaide; email@example.com; 08 8472 2400
Taking in the sunset after a perfect sunny Adelaide day and watching it dip into the ocean from the 11th floor (the bar was unfortunately closed on Easter Monday)
It would be good if the rooftop bar was open every night of the week - at least when it's warm enough - to give hotel guests somewhere to go during quieter nights and public holidays.
The writer was a guest of South Australia Tourism Commission