TARA GUEST HOUSE
Breakfast can stretch beyond two hours as guests chat over shared platters of frittatas, prosciutto and sweet corn fritters while hosts Brom and Julian Rapley rustle up coffees. The wonderful sense of community of inner-Sydney Enmore invades Tara, an 1886 two-storey property that languished as a boarding house before the Rapleys saved it. The hospitality begins with complimentary airport pick-up and plenty of tips on where to dine among the 400 nearby cafes and restaurants. Each of the art-filled rooms is different; the larger two at the front have sitting rooms, while another has a four-poster bed and another a marble bathroom. Soiree concerts with local musicians are held every three months.
Rooms from $175 a night. See taraguesthouse.com.au.
SIMPSONS OF POTTS POINT
This luxurious bed and breakfast in tree-lined Challis Avenue is a Sydney gem. A cosy haven metres from cafes and bars, its library-drawing room is warmed by an open fire and the sunlight-filled conservatory is the perfect breakfast spot. No two of the 12 rooms are the same, from the dormer rooms in the attic to the family suite with private courtyard and the lavish Cloud Suite with gilt mirrors, stained-glass windows and jacuzzi for two. Built in 1892 and tastefully restored, the B&B is undeniably elegant, but its homely atmosphere and personalised service are what keeps guests coming back.
Rooms from $235 a night, with minimum two-night stays during for weekends. See simpsonshotel.com.
BROOKLYN ARTS HOTEL
Musicians, painters, writers, philosophers and mere mortals mingle over a nightcap in the sitting room and linger over casual breakfast. Owner and artist Maggie Fooke has created something of a European salon in her 19th-century mansion. It has a touch of the makeshift and a good dash of the country cottage - and it all works perfectly in fashionable Fitzroy. The upstairs "green room" is the pick, furnished with antiques and with a private bathroom. There are seven rooms and six bathrooms. Silk robes are provided for guests who walk a few metres to the shared bathrooms. The courtyard-garden is ideal for reading the papers over a morning coffee. Rates from $135 (shared bathroom) and $195 (private bathroom). See brooklynartshotel.com.au.
GLENDALOUGH BED & BREAKFAST
This 1920s-style mansion in a quiet suburban street offers all the comforts of home. Owner Stan Turton has hospitality running through his veins, picking up guests from the airport (at a charge) and providing free city transport travel passes. Chandeliers, stained-glass windows and a grand piano give the lounge and dining areas a touch of history, while each of the four rooms has its unique style: the Heritage room has a calico-swathed four-poster bed and the Scroll room has an open fire and plump sofas. All rooms share bathrooms, which have claw-foot baths. Glendalough is five kilometres north of the city.
Rooms from $95 a night. See glendalough.net.au.
FIRE STATION INN
Waking up next to a big red fire engine is a little disconcerting, especially for fans of The Hangover movie trilogy. The vehicle, however, is not stolen but a fixture at the quirky-as-it-comes, fantastic Fire Engine Suite. One of three apartments in the 19th-century bluestone former fire station, the suite is dominated by the 1942 fire engine, complete with ladder, cartoonish headlights and a shiny horn. A metre away is a red fire pole, and fireman's memorabilia - for the kids, of course - fill the rooms. There's a queen bed and a sofa bed for the little ones. Breakfast is do-it-yourself from an abundance of locally grown and baked provisions.
Rates from $199 a night. See adelaideheritage.com.
WINDMILL HILL LODGE
Hikers ready to explore Cataract Gorge fuel up on host Steve's extraordinary breakfast fare. The table groans with home-made mueslis, organic jams and even his own honey, while the rice pudding and pikelets like mum used to make are irresistible. It's billed as a continental breakfast but it's more than even the heartiest eater could manage. Steve exceeds half of the bed-and-breakfast equation and serves it in a charming dining room overlooking a garden. The Victorian-era house and rooms are gracious rather than grand, although all have kitchenettes; they ooze charm, just like Launceston. On a hill with views over the Tamar, the lodge is an easy walk to town.
Rooms from $130 a night. See windmillhilllodge.com.au.