Forget cookie-cutter accommodation, and throw same-same stays out the window – it’s time to spice things up. Booking a place that's heavy on the unique feels gives you the opportunity to explore a whole new level of boutique accommodation, whether it's somewhere with an interesting history, a property in an amazing location or a home with eclectic interiors and design. You just need to know where to look, and luckily, we do. We've rounded up 10 of our favourites, each with their own quirks and unique offerings. From an elevated treehouse to revamped shipping containers and a coastal camp, there's something for everyone in this collection.
Jamala Wildlife Lodge, Australian Capital Territory
An experience worthy of a National Geographic documentary awaits at Jamala Wildlife Lodge in Canberra. This five-star retreat is in the heart of the National Zoo and Aquarium, and gives you the chance to get up close and personal with animals you’d normally have to travel abroad to see. And the ‘up close’ is no exaggeration. Think soaking in a bathtub with bears just beyond a pane of glass, dining alongside lions or reading a book in bed while Bengal tigers look on. Oh yes, the David Attenborough vibe is strong. Take your pick from one of three accommodation ‘hubs’, with each offering a different experience. The elevated Giraffe Treehouses have balconies where you can sip champagne and lock eyes with long-legged neighbours. The Jungle Bungalows wind through habitats of lions, cheetahs and brown bears, and the uShaka Lodge has rooms where you’ll sleep next to hyenas, lemurs and even sharks.
Kimberley Coastal Camp, Western Australia
Few experiences compare to the one you'll enjoy at Kimberley Coastal Camp. First, there's the location – it's on the eastern side of Admiralty Gulf, and to get here you'll need to catch a light plane to Mitchell Falls, followed by another helicopter trip. There's no other way in, and that means total privacy. The beach huts are dotted along the foreshore, and come with Sheridan linen, shell floors, ocean views and an outdoor bathroom. An open-air guest lodge houses a lounge and dining area, and the camp also has a pool flanked by sunloungers. Another perk that sets the camp apart is the selection of excursions on offer. There are both heart-pumping pursuits and slower-paced activities available, ranging from rock art tours and guided fishing trips to wildlife walks and expeditions to nearby deserted islands.
Rawnsley Park Station Eco Villas, South Australia
Imagine sprawling out on a plush bed and looking up at the star-dotted sky above. Sounds incredible, right? But you don’t need to pitch a tent and stoke the campfire to experience it. Instead, you just need to make for the eco villas at Rawnsley Park Station. These self-contained accommodations boast bedrooms with over-bed skylights and retractable ceilings, so you don’t even have to put on slippers to admire the night skies. The villas have been constructed to complement the spectacular natural environment, are energy-neutral and come complete with a smattering of sustainable design features, including rendered straw-bale walls. Works by local artists adorn the walls, and the wide verandahs are the ideal perch to watch sunsets and take in the stunning landscape.
Lost in Leela, Queensland
Lost in Leela is a place that literally takes you to higher ground. The house is made up of two dodecahedrons (twelve-sided spheres) and nestled among the treetops in a valley near Maleny. The first sphere is where you’ll likely spend the bulk of your time. It holds a sunken conversation pit with wood fire, as well as another lounge, dining area and fully equipped kitchen. The second sphere has four generous bedrooms and two shared ensuite bathrooms. A wrap-around verandah encases both spheres and looks out to panoramic views of the valley. When you’re tempted to take your head out of the clouds and make your way back down to ground level, you’ll have plenty to do with a swimming pool and six-hole bush golf course available to guests.
The Shearing Shed, Victoria
The ironclad shearing shed is an Australian icon, and thanks to this property in Gippsland, you now have the chance to call one home (temporarily). The Shearing Shed is brimming with surprises, from the gorgeous ensuite bathroom and the private decks to the cook’s kitchen and its shaggy horned neighbours. All the hallmarks of the classic shed are here – exposed roof trusses, corrugated iron and timber slat walls – but the interior has a French country feel. The space is a beautiful balance of rustic heritage and modern comfort. There's also enough quirk to make it unlike any other stay you’ve experienced before. It makes a spectacular romantic retreat for two, and days can be spent sunning on the deck (be sure to say hello to the Highland cattle in the adjoining paddocks) or venturing to the nearby beaches.
Coastal Pods Wynyard, Tasmania
For a new take on accommodation, seek out Coastal Pods Wynyard in Tasmania. This boutique stay proves that shipping containers don’t just belong in dockyards, and the owners have upcycled two decommissioned containers to create this unique property. While the façades of the pods – aptly named Starboard and Port – are industrial-chic, the interiors are all contemporary living. Expect modern kitchens, plush furnishings, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and timber decks leading to a small garden area. It’s more like a visit to an insanely stylish friend’s house than a holiday escape – and that’s exactly why you’ll love it. You’ll instantly feel at home, and chances are photos on your Facebook feed will quickly follow.
The Kirche at Charles Melton, South Australia
You’ll be giving thanks for the opportunity to stay at The Kirche at Charles Melton from the moment the front door swings open. A recent revamp has seen the pews in this former Lutheran Church swapped for leather lounges, and a vestry replaced with a gourmet kitchen. The church sits on the grounds of Charles Melton in the Barossa Valley and can comfortably accommodate four – take the stairs up to the once heavenly attic to find the first plush bedroom, with a second bedroom on the ground floor. It’s an easy stroll to the cellar door and a long lunch on the verandah is a lovely way to sample estate wines. Wander back to your accommodation and gather around the warming fire in the cosy lounge. You could continue working your way through a bottle or two of the Valley’s most famous drops, or retreat to the glorious soaking tub.
Coco Loco, Queensland
You don’t have to make for a far-flung tropical island to enjoy your own Castaway-inspired accommodation, especially not when you book a stay at Coco Loco. There’s no missing this scarlet-red getaway, which has an absolute beachfront position at Brooks Beach in Queensland. The private retreat is ideal for a romantic retreat with your significant other or simply as a break from the everyday hustle and bustle. Coco Loco is made up of two separate buildings. One houses the bedroom and ensuite, and the other boasts a living area, kitchen and second bathroom. Make sure to throw open the tropical-style French doors in the bedroom and lounge to welcome in the sea breeze and ocean soundtrack.
43 Degrees Bruny Island, Tasmania
The first thing you’ll notice about 43 Degrees Bruny Island is its semi-circular design, which gives these digs a cool, hangar-inspired vibe. There are places at both ends of Adventure Bay and you can take your pick depending on what suits your style of getaway. The luxe two-bedroom apartments sit on the south end of the island and are ideal for groups, while the studio apartments are suited to more intimate escapes. Both options are just as impressive as the other, thanks to stone-walled bathrooms and private balconies. There are kitted-out kitchens in the two-bedroom apartments, and the studios have large spa baths and kitchenettes. The apartments make an ideal base for exploring Adventure Bay. There are pristine beaches and walking tracks for nature lovers or, if your fancies are food-inclined, the chocolate factory, smokehouse and berry farm will be right up your street.