The new summer holiday

Dig your swimmers out of your wardrobe and slip your feet into your thongs. Summer has arrived. But this year, why not do things a little differently for your warm-weather escape?


Let the sun shine

Summer is a lot of things. It’s Christmas, backyard barbecues and the Boxing Day test. It’s beach time and gingerly walking barefoot across hot bitumen. Perhaps best of all though, it is the summer holiday.

The summer getaway is a part of the Australian psyche. Often it's based on long-standing traditions, like heading down the coast to the beach house you’ve been visiting with your family for years. But if – as the saying goes – a change is as good as a holiday, then change AND a holiday must be really good. So how about mixing it up this year? Sure, we love a beach break as much as the next person, but what about a trip inland for a dose of restorative country air? Or getting back to nature at a remote villa in the wilderness?

No matter which version of a summer sojourn appeals to you most, one thing is certain: wading through the world of holiday accommodation can be an intimidating prospect. There are dates to deal with, destinations to narrow down and decisions about which bathers to pack. While we can’t help with your swimmers situation (hint: pack them all), we can help sort out where to stay.

In this guide, we've rounded up 20 boutique stays from across Australia with top-notch summer holiday credentials. You’ll find beach houses that are just a stone’s throw from the sand, secluded country cottages and private hinterland retreats. To make booking your escape even easier, some have also put forward exclusive special offers just for Beautiful Accommodation.

New South Wales

Calabash Bay Lodge, Berowra Waters

When a stay is accessible only by motor launch or seaplane, it immediately sets the tone for your not-so-average summer escape. Calabash Bay Lodge is one such getaway. Each of the four bedrooms has bay views, and the central areas boast top-level designer style by the bucketload. However, as comfortable as the interiors are, visiting the lodge in summer will tempt guests into spending most of their time outside. Dive into the water, cast a line off the jetty or take out the kayaks and motorised runabout to explore the surrounding waterways and secluded beaches. As the day begins to wind down, return to the deck for sundowners and wait for your private chef (an optional extra) to call for dinnertime.

Mudgee's Getaway Cottages, Mudgee

Round up the troops: everyone will want in on your summer escape to Mudgee's Getaway Cottages. Elington Manor, a 1920s Federation home, is the star of this collection and comes with all the bells and whistles. All six bedrooms have ensuites; an indoor-outdoor mezzanine gallery leads to a deck with garden views; a timber deck, sun umbrellas and a dining setting flank the sparkling heated swimming pool. The Manor sleeps 12, but if more of your nearest and dearest are keen to join in they can take up residence in one of the cottages (one- to four-bedroom options) dotted around the grounds. The riverfront estate also has parkland, manicured lawns, flower gardens, a sprinkling of picnic tables, a kitchen garden and two-acre golfing green.

The Springs on Swan Lake, Swanhaven

You’ve never had a summer escape like the one you’ll have at The Springs on Swan Lake. Imagine a lakeside setting, circa 1950s, that evokes a sense of bygone bliss. Six gelato-hued cottages are dotted around the village green, and stepping into one of these pads is perhaps as close as you'll get to time travel. Each dwelling has been refurbished with meticulous attention to detail, from the retro furnishings to the collection of old-school bric-a-brac. Five of the cottages have access to a private bathroom in a beautifully appointed central facility. There is a kitchenette and small outdoor area – be it an enclosed verandah or open-air deck – in every abode. The sandy shores of Swan Lake are a two-minute walk away, and further afield is the wider Shoalhaven region, one of New South Wales’ hottest summer destinations.


Eumarella Shores Noosa Lake Retreat, Weyba Downs

Famous for its beaches and year-round sunshine, Noosa is a no-brainer for summer lovers. If you turn your focus away from the foreshore and towards the lesser-known Lake Weyba, you’ll find Eumarella Shores Noosa Lake Retreat. There is no better stay than this eco-accredited retreat for when you’re not content with having just one body of water at your fingertips. Eumarella’s lakefront perch gives guests direct access to watery pursuits, including kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and boat cruises. Off the water, you’ll sleep and lounge in your pick of two-bedroom lakehouses and cottages (larger groups can snap up the luxury three-bedroom lakehouse). All options feature a full kitchen, living area and gorgeous lake views, though the best vistas can be had from the timber decks or verandahs.

Glass on Glasshouse, Glasshouse Mountains

Glass on Glasshouse is made up of three stunning self-contained cottages set in the Sunshine Coast’s scenic hinterland. The glass pavilion pads are the perfect size for a pair and feature a king bedroom, open-plan lounge, stylish kitchen and bathroom with freestanding double spa bath. When you’re not soaking up the mountain views from a perch on your balcony, the surrounding Glasshouse Mountains area is brimming with sights and activities to fill the hours. A parade of wildlife – kangaroos, wallabies, black cockatoos – are regular visitors to the property but if you’re keen for more, the world-renowned Australia Zoo is 10 minutes’ drive away. Head north towards Montville and Maleny to check out these charming villages, or drive east for an hour to arrive at the stunning Bribie Island.

Noosa Lake House, Weyba Downs

The Lake Weyba area is a tucked-away pocket of Noosa, known only to a select few, and it’s where couples will find Noosa Lake House. This is an exclusive experience for two wanting to escape the summer crowds. The house offers a cool respite from the Queensland heat and features an open-plan design, marble bathroom and queen bedroom. Outside, couples have the run of the bushland property, which includes a tennis court and ozone spa. Kayaks are provided for those keen to paddle out on the water, or you might prefer to relax with a picnic on one of the secluded beaches. If it’s not too steamy, walks and bike rides around the lake are a must.

Wallaby Ridge Retreat, Wonglepong

Prepare for busy days at Wallaby Ridge Retreat. This hinterland escape is set in the foothills of Tamborine Mountain behind the buzzing Gold Coast, and all accommodation options are blessed with gorgeous valley views. The three suites and two separate cottages are self-contained, and an al fresco dining area comes with a wood-fire pizza oven and barbecue. A trio of national parks – Tamborine, Binna Burra and Lamington – are located nearby and offer bushwalking, lookout points, picnic perches and horse riding trails. To soothe exploration-weary muscles at the end of the day, make a beeline towards the Retreat’s hilltop heated spa and settle in for a relaxing soak. A saltwater pool is perfect for refreshing paddles.

The White House Holiday Apartments, Port Douglas

Don’t know what people mean when they use the term ‘classic Queenslander’? One look at The White House Holiday Apartments in Port Douglas and you’ll quickly catch on. The White House couldn’t be anything but a tropical Queensland escape. Guests will find all the trademarks of Port Douglas accommodation: breezy balconies, a curved saltwater swimming pool, tropical gardens and grassy barbecue area. Only nine apartments (in one-, two- or three-bedroom configurations) make up The White House, and all are bright and airy with self-catering facilities. As an added bonus, one of Port Douglas’ most famous draws, Four Mile Beach, is just around the corner. Beat the Queensland heat by taking morning walks along the sand and spending the rest of your day poolside or browsing Port Douglas' air-conditioned collection of boutiques and cafés.

South Australia

Amelia’s at Moonta Bay, Moonta Bay

With more than 700 kilometres of coastline, it's little wonder the Yorke Peninsula is one of South Australia’s most popular summer holiday destinations. Amelia’s at Moonta Bay is the Peninsula’s red-carpet stay, but rather than Hollywood A-listers or rock stars, the crimson calling card hails from the flooring in the bedrooms and formal lounge. A meticulous balance of period touches and modern comforts can be seen with spa ensuites, piped music to every room and an excellent open-plan lounge and dining room. You’d be forgiven for not using the indoor dining table at all, however; an undercover outdoor entertaining space will hog all your attention. Since it comes with its own kitchen, barbecue and views of the formal garden, there’s very little reason to eat elsewhere.


Dragonfly Lodge, Rocky Hills

Walk into Dragonfly Lodge in Rocky Hills and your eyes will immediately be drawn to one thing: that view. The Lodge’s rear wall is all floor-to-ceiling windows and gives guests an uninterrupted panorama of the Freycinet Peninsula. You’ll be thankful for the perch offered by the lounger-dotted deck, because there’s every chance the vista will knock you for six. Dragonfly Lodge’s location is a dream for holidaymakers seeking a coastal break without inching closer to the equator. Guests have the perks of being by the beach, without having to contend with too many crowds. Of course, the location isn’t the only advantage. The lodge’s facilities are just as superb, with three resplendent bedrooms, ensuites with underfloor heating, a chef’s kitchen and dining table begging for a local crayfish feast.

Topiary Haven, Launceston

Topiary Haven in Launceston is a private paradise that proves you don’t need hair-raising humidity or palm-lined beaches to have a spectacular summer escape. With room for two, Topiary Haven makes a romantic retreat where couples feel hidden from the buzzing city outside. The spacious apartment has everything a couple needs, including a cool, lush garden. Take advantage of the al fresco dining space by cooking most evening meals on the barbecue (nothing says summer more than the sizzle of hot plates) and washing them down with a bottle of local Tamar Valley wine. If the need to get your feet sandy does strike, head north along River Tamar for a day trip to one of the beaches lining the North West Coast.


Amanti, Daylesford

Amanti in Daylesford has been perfectly designed for guests to savour the charms of spa country. This contemporary, split-level building is located on a quiet lane but is conveniently close to some of Daylesford’s favourite haunts. Amanti offers four bedrooms, open-plan living and a wonderful deck blessed with town and forest views. The design of the dining spaces is particularly clever, and linking the indoor and outdoor areas is as simple as sliding back the set of doors and waiting for the summer breeze to float through the house. Amanti gives its guests plenty of reasons to hole up in its stylish spaces, but it would be a shame not to explore Daylesford’s main strip when it is only a 15-minute walk away.

Argus Views, Daylesford

On the surface, Argus Views in Daylesford looks like a sweet, picture-perfect country cottage. It’s all picket fences, manicured lawns and red brick chimneys. Inside however, Argus Views is kitted out with designer wares and quirky features that give a distinctly cosmopolitan feel. Three bedrooms brandish geometric-printed quilts, and the country kitchen and dining is great for groups gathering in the morning over hearty cooked breakfasts. If you have more leisurely meals in mind, look no further than the pavilion-shaded dining setting outside. This spectacular setting is where you’ll partake in long lunches, indulgent afternoon teas and dinners that carry on into the wee hours. Any produce or gourmet extras needed to take mealtime up a level can be picked up with a quick five-minute stroll into town.

Botanica Editions, Yarra Valley

The Yarra Valley boasts a bounty of delights in summer – live music events, local festivals and bustling markets – so rather than cramming everything into a rushed day trip, take your time by booking a stay at Botanica Editions. The Willow and Habitat House are a dynamic duo, which sit within verdant landscaped gardens. Green thumbs and foodies will love the kitchen plot that is teeming with veggies and herbs; guests are invited to pick what they need to create their own patch-to-plate feast. Interiors boasts an eclectic mix of contemporary design and repurposed furnishings, and both houses have bedrooms, a stylish kitchen, indoor and outdoor dining areas and a deck that’s made for kicking back with a glossy magazine or jug of Pimms.

Cameron Lodge, Mt Macedon

Summer stays aren’t all coastal apartments and beach shacks. Sometimes, the best summer getaway is a heritage cottage that exemplifies country style – exactly like the one you’ll find at Cameron Lodge in Mt Macedon. This beautiful retreat is fit for families and groups, with four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a slew of comfortable nooks. While you might not use the wood-burning fire, you’ll definitely take meandering strolls and lazy picnics in the private 10-acre garden. You’ll likely have a hit on the tennis court too, and the barbecue area is sure to get a good workout. The Mt Macedon township is just down the road when you’re ready to get out and about, and there's a selection of bushwalks, picnic spots and walking trails in the area.

Lochiel, Olinda

Looking to escape the summer heat? The cool climate of the Dandenong Ranges’ lush rainforest awaits guests who snap up a stay at Lochiel in Olinda. Perched on two hectares of fern gullies and towering trees, Lochiel features three tri-level, one-bedroom cottages that all come with a king bed, spa ensuite and neutral-hued lounges. Holidaying couples could snag a cottage each and take turns hosting afternoon drinks on their balconies. If your group wants to stick together, the four-bedroom house will keep the good times rolling thanks to a huge outdoor spa and deck. Olinda’s cafés and shops are a short walk away when you decide it’s time to stretch your legs, and it's just a quick drive to Sassafras and Mount Dandenong.

Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld

Summer is the season for indulgence, and gourmet extravagance has no better home than the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld. In the foothills of the Grampians, the Royal Mail Hotel is the embodiment of destination dining and its hatted restaurant has inspired many cross-state trips by gourmands. To add to its credentials, the hotel features a collection of beautifully appointed suites and apartments, botanic-like native gardens and chef-led tours of the cellar and one-and-a-half-acre kitchen garden. Summers in the Grampians are warm and dry, so time between restaurant reservations can be spent paddling in the pool, reclining on a sun-shaded lounge, hitting bush tracks or hiking to the Mount Sturgeon summit.

Twilight Cottage, Olinda

Twilight Cottage in Olinda near the Dandenong Ranges is an escape that manages to be cosy yet cool and comfortable but stylish. It’s this masterful balance that makes Twilight Cottage a rare find that couples will be clamouring to experience. Everything about the cottage has been designed for a twosome. The petite lounge and kitchen have all you need, and the king bedroom comes with a corner spa bath – look up through the glass ceiling to admire the clouds or stars above. With the Ranges’ perfectly mild climate, you’ll immediately be drawn to the idyllic courtyard. A stream tinkles in the background, and a two-person setting invites you to while away lazy afternoons.

Verandah Retreat, Phillip Island

Only a two-hour drive from Melbourne, Phillip Island is home to beautiful sunsets, family-approved beaches and a roaring summer holiday scene. Verandah Retreat in Cowes is the home-away-from-home that's sure to set the bar for all your future breaks. The breezy four-bedroom home has a colonial vibe, thanks to plantation shutters, hardwood floors and restored finishings. Every area is immaculately presented and the retreat’s knack for creating indoor-outdoor spaces – all with the simple slide of a stacking door – is a particular highlight for summer guests. Leave the doors open to usher in ocean breezes and enjoy your breakfast and morning cuppa outside at the dining setting. Follow the trail dubbed Lovers Walk to The Esplanade and Cowes’ main beach.

York House, Daylesford

There’s no bad time of year to visit Daylesford, especially when you’re headed for York House. This original miner’s cottage occupies almost an acre of prime spa-country real estate and puts its guests in the heart of the Daylesford action. York House comes well equipped to handle both swift summer visits and long-haul stays, with the goods to sleep up to 12 holidaymakers in six stunning bedrooms. A private garden with barbecue and dining setting is more than just a place to eat al fresco. It will become the go-to perch for savouring the morning’s first cup of coffee, getting lost in the pages of your new book and toasting with your group to another perfect summer's day in Daylesford.

Summer. Is. Here. The Australian summer is a bit of an icon, up there with the likes of Sydney Harbour Bridge, Great Barrier Reef and the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Counting down the days until summer often starts from the moment winter rears its head, and sun-seekers wait with anticipation until they can shed their heavy coats in favour of sandals and SPF 30+.

No matter if your favourite thing about summer is balmy evenings or chilled bottles of rosè, there is one certainty: everybody loves a summer holiday. Your take on a summer getaway could be hitting the coast at the beach house you’ve been staying at since childhood, or you might choose to head inland to a romantic cottage for two.

Before getting carried away weighing up the pros and cons of underwater cameras, however, remember that other holidaymakers are likely eyeing off a summer break too. Throw in the peak Christmas and New Year travel periods, and holiday hotspots tend to be snapped up faster than the first sausage sandwich at a barbecue.

Hope isn’t lost though, because this guide is here to save your haven’t-booked-my-summer-holiday bacon. The guide is a collection of 20 boutique stays that practically scream Best. Summer. Break. Ever. Some digs are perched close to the beach, and others sit on secluded hinterland acreage. There are even properties with availability during the peak travel periods. Think it can’t get better? Some stays have also put forward exclusive offers (as if you needed another reason to book a summer break). Happy holidays!

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