In a move that looks a lot like it was cleverly timed to coincide with the release of Baz Luhrmann’s colossal geopic Australia, but was really just blind luck with bells on, we’re please to announce the addition of a host of Aussie hotels to Mr & Mrs Smith’s collection.
Until last week, we had just one hotel down under – the grand and glam Tower Lodge in the Hunter Valley – but now we’ve spread our net across the continent from the culinary capital Melbourne and the New World winelands beyond Sydney to the iconic Red Centre, tropical Top End, the Kimberley, Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef.
Our own wizard of Oz, Samantha, has been on the mother of all walkabouts to uncover the finest city-luxury boutique hotels, the most pampering Outback lodges, and the most gasp-inducing island escapes. Here are the edited highlights:
Bamurru Plains, Top End, Northern Territory
Best for… playing Crocodile Dundee on an Outback safari
In a wildlife-teeming area that’s home to the southern hemisphere’s highest concentration of saltwater crocodiles, Bamurru Plains is Australia’s back-to-nature equivalent of a super-luxe safari lodge – only here, the Big Five to spot are of the snapping, hopping and boxing variety… Pure animal magnetism.
From AU$1,860 (about £825), including all meals, drinks and scheduled activities
Villa Donati, Melbourne
Best for… decadent Moulin Rouge fantasies
A grand Victorian terrace with an imposing Italianate façade, this boutique B&B in Melbourne has to be one of south-eastern Australia’s most opulent stays. Set in the heart of the city’s design district, Villa Donati exudes style from its Parisian-feel breakfast room to its ornate marble-and-iron bedroom fireplaces. Filled with beautiful furniture, artwork and decorative items collected by the owners over many years of travelling, this intimate urban retreat is clearly a labour of love.
From AU$215 (about £95), including breakfast and taxes.
Wilson Island, Great Barrier Reef
Best for… Castaway chic
With just six luxury tents set beside the sea on a tiny tropical islet, Wilson Island by Voyages may just be the most romantic campsite on Earth. Perfect for a desert-island experience without having to compromise on comfort (or losing your volleyball), the tiny resort is a back-to-basics paradise for nature lovers, reef divers and beach layabouts alike.
From AU$1,050, (about £465) full board, including boat transfer to Heron Island and tax.
Wrotham Park Lodge, Queensland
Best for… being Hugh Jackman for the day
With a plunging escarpment down to the river on one side and a ruddy bushland plateau sprawling into the sun-hazed horizon on the other, Voyages Wrotham Park Lodge is a true wilderness escape. Deep in the Queensland Outback, the hotel’s 10 luxury cabins form the heart of a 1.5million-acre working cattle ranch – the perfect place to unleash your inner jack- or jillaroo.
From AU$1,500 (about £665), full-board, including a half-day cattle station tour.
There’s more where they came from – check out our all-singing, all-dancing, pointedly-not-cork-hat-wearing Australia Collection now.
P.S. Just so you don’t think we’ve been neglecting the rest of the world, we’ve also added a trio of boutique hotels in South Africa (including the indescribably gorgeous Tsala Treetop Lodge on the Garden Route – the ‘treetop’ bit’s not just a name, you know) and the super-sophisticated Thompson Beverly Hills in, er, Beverly Hills.