It used to be WHAT? 12 converted retreats

It used to be WHAT? 12 converted retreats

Fancy sleeping in digs with history? How about staying in a place that's lived two lives? Enter the converted stay. This style of property offers the best of both worlds: heritage charm with contemporary comforts, old-school style meets modern interiors. It's a combo we love, and we're pretty sure you will too. To turn you into a conversion convert, we found 12 stunning properties that have all have one thing in common: they used to be something else. From historic homesteads and farmers' cottages to an old water tank and even a shipping container, these retreats have all been converted, restored or refurbished. 

Coastal Pods Wynyard, Tasmania

Ever thought shipping containers were for dockyards or trendy burger restaurants? Coastal Pods Wynyard on the north-west coast of Tasmania proves that isn’t the case. These digs are a new take on luxury accommodation, and set the bar high when it comes to converted stays. The two pods – aptly named Starboard and Port – have been built from upcycled, decommissioned shipping containers. And the while the façades of both pods deliver on stellar first impressions, the interiors are more like something you’d see in a glossy design magazine. The pods are stylish, comfortable and self-contained. There are two bedrooms in each, plus a generous lounge, well-equipped kitchen and timber deck.

Rivendell, Victoria

You can take your pick between two converted pads at Rivendell in Tambo Upper. Up first is Bag End Cottage. The cottage’s bedroom used to be a water tank and now doubles as a temperature-controlled wine cellar. The cottage also has an open-plan lounge, tandoor oven (yes, really) and a shady verandah with hanging chairs. It can accommodation two and is ideal for couples. Looking for more space? Arkenstone was Rivendell’s old dairy and has been converted into a beautiful country house. With its three bedrooms, huge living areas and outdoor dining facilities, Arkenstone has room for the whole family – even your dogs and horses. If you did want it all to yourself, however, you’re in luck: Arkenstone can be hired on a room-by-room basis.

Jimmy Smith's Dairy, South Australia

Jimmy Smith’s Dairy has been restored from the remains of a colonial dairy and the result is a spectacular, contemporary stay. The old dairy’s original stonework has been kept and offers a beautiful contrast with the home’s contemporary features – head-turning light fixtures, bright colours, stylish fittings and custom-made furniture designed specifically for this retreat. If you happen to form an attachment to any of the bespoke pieces and want to take something home with you, just let the owners know and purchases can be arranged. Jimmy Smith’s Dairy has two bedrooms and can be configured to sleep either a couple or four guests. Al fresco dining here is a must, especially when you’ve picked up a swag of fresh local produce from the Port Elliot farmers' market.

Bencluna Byron Hinterland, New South Wales

Bencluna Byron Hinterland is located exactly where you might think – in the Byron Bay hinterland. It's a historic 1893 homestead hidden away on six acres of immaculate garden and native rainforest. The homestead was even built using timber felled on the property. Everything about Bencluna is on point, from the soaring ceilings and handcrafted staircase to the clean, crisp interiors and colour-pop artworks. With four fantastic bedrooms, plus a separate couple’s cabin in the garden, Bencluna can sleep up to 12 guests. It’s a good thing too, because this is the kind of place you’ll want to share with family and friends. One of the bedrooms has been designed with children in mind and comes stocked with toys and games. An outdoor tire swing will be a hit, both with the young and young at heart.

Alpha Loft, Victoria

Alpha Loft was formerly Alpha Hall, a famous old theatre in Daylesford that once screened silent movies and hosted dances and boxing matches. It’s now a gallery, coffee house and swanky crash pad. The dress circle was converted into Alpha Loft, a one-bedroom stay perfect for a romantic escape. The Loft has two mezzanines: one is a living, kitchen and dining area, and the other is the bedroom. Couples enter via a wooden staircase at the back of the building, and one of the first things you’ll notice is how much space there is – plenty to accommodate guests who swing by for an afternoon visit. Be sure to take them out on to the balcony to take in the view of Daylesford’s main street. When you’re ready to head out, the town’s top restaurants and pubs are only a short walk away.

The Church, Western Australia

For a unique sleep, look no further than the first church ever built in Boulder. That’s right, The Church dates back to 1867 and takes the gong for being the first building of its kind in the area. Accommodation at The Church is on a grand scale – think vaulted ceilings with gold trim. There are five bedrooms, including a loft with an ensuite, and the property can sleep up to eight guests. The living areas are just as generous. An enormous dining table could seat an entire congregation and an excellent kitchen has all the whizz-bang kit required to prepare a feast. Head outdoors to the gazebo and barbecue area if al fresco entertaining takes your fancy. When you're ready to explore further afield, Kalgoorlie is close by.

The Miners Cottage, South Australia

The Miners Cottage in Cockatoo Valley is a beautiful restoration that perfectly balances modern comforts with original charm. The history of The Miners Cottage stretches back to the 1870s, and this escape has a beautiful feel. A cosy lounge is warmed by an open fire and the kitchenette is ideal for rustling up late breakfasts and assembling antipasti platters using goodies you’ve picked up from nearby Barossa Valley providores. Overindulgence can be worked off with a few laps in the pool or a walk around the manicured gardens. You might even be tempted to take a soak in the cottage’s claw-foot bathtub. The property is also home to two additional accommodations: the Barn and Cabin. These stays can only be booked in conjunction with The Miners Cottage, so could be used to sleep family and friends.

Coral Street Cottage and Silver Street Studio, Western Australia

Coral Street Cottage in Fremantle is one of three 1890s fisherman’s cottages. A recent restoration has transformed it into a stylish retreat, complete with an elegant queen bedroom, lounge with wood-burning fire, well-stocked kitchen and a leafy courtyard garden. The cottage is the perfect blend of heritage nods and comfortable living, and is so lovely you'll be reluctant to leave. Just around the corner from Coral Street Cottage is another converted stay. Silver Street Studio was originally an artist’s studio and has been decked out with recycled and repurposed materials, including old church limestone and wharf timbers. The Studio has open-plan living and dining, as well as a great kitchen, attic bedroom, meditation room and balcony with claw-foot bathtub.

Aquila Barn, Tasmania

Unsurprisingly, Aquila Barn is a beautifully refurbished old hay barn. It's perched on a hilltop in north-west Tasmania and has all the hallmarks you’d expect of a barn conversion: high ceilings, timber furnishings and rustic charm. The space is warm and inviting, thanks to a crackling fire. There is one bedroom (a mezzanine can double as a second bedroom), well-appointed kitchen and a large living area. A deck is dotted with chairs and is the perfect place to sip morning coffees, read a newspaper and take in the uninterrupted views of neighbouring properties. The farm Aquila Barn sits on has walking access to the sea. There are plenty of excursions to fill your days with – flower farms, walks along the Inglis River, visits to nearby Burnie – but if the thought of simply relaxing at the Barn sounds too tempting to pass up, that’s perfectly fine too.

The Shearing Shed, Victoria

There are no prizes for guessing where The Shearing Shed in Grantville gets its name. Yes, it was once a shearing shed, but the inside is nothing like you’d expect. This ironclad abode has had an extraordinary makeover. The outside has been gussied up to feature pretty gardens and private, sun-kissed decks. The interior has had an once-over too. A French-inspired country style is carried throughout the shed, so you can expect quirks like exposed roof trusses, timber slat walls, an excellent cook’s kitchen, plush furnishings, wood-burning fire and a claw-foot bathtub. The Shearing Shed is the perfect setting for a getaway a deux and the only things to disturb the romance will likely be the sounds of the Highland cattle in the neighbouring farmyard.

Savannah Breeze, Queensland

Savannah Breeze is one of the last original cane cutter’s cottages at Mission Beach. Its history alone makes it worth a visit, but it's the cottage’s comfort and style that will make you want to stick around. Truthfully, a trip to Savannah Breeze is more like a visit to your own exclusive resort than a stay at a holiday home. A relaxed beach aesthetic is carried throughout the cottage, with neutral hues, a free-flowing floor plan, and doors and windows that can be opened to welcome in the sea breeze. Outside, there is a fantastic wrap-around deck, tropical garden and swimming pool flanked by sunloungers and umbrellas. The main village green and specialty shops of Mission Beach are located only 50 metres from Savannah Breeze’s front door.

Rockridge, New South Wales

This 1940s villa in Sydney has been lovingly restored to become one of Palm Beach’s hottest pads. From the incredible marble kitchen and swimming pool to the aqua and white-on-white themes, Rockridge is the ultimate coastal retreat. Naturally, there are spectacular ocean views too. The best perch to enjoy this outlook has to be on the private back deck. A sundowner is optional, but recommended. Wander inside to find a mix of the exotic, bohemian and antique. Expect vintage furnishings, wood carvings, artworks, plush cushions and throws. To make the most of Rockridge’s style and serenity, you could curl up in the sunroom with a book, laze in a hammock or mosey down to the beach below.