It will be a while before Australia opens its borders to the rest of the world (they know how to play it safe Down Under), but when the country comes back, it will be with gusto. We salute the hotels that opened this year under the shadow of the pandemic, as well as a few from late 2019 that never got a fair shot once they opened. When you do finally make it there, here are more than a few excuses to stay a while and explore its extremes.
Don't miss all our picks for the World's Best New Hotels in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. In the United States, we've broken down our favorite new hotels by region: the Northeast, the South, and the West.
Where: Adelaide, South Australia
Why We're Excited: Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, is a sleeper university town with outstanding art museums and galleries, a gorgeous botanical garden, pedestrian areas filled with cool bars, eateries, and shops, and parks and sports areas. The town is a great base for exploring SA’s innovative wineries, wide beaches, and Kangaroo Island, which was hit hard by the 2020 wildfires (remember those?) but recovering well. What Adelaide doesn’t have is a thriving boutique hotel scene. Add to the limited options Oval Hotel in the parklands overlooking Adelaide Oval, the sports center that’s home to cricket, rugby, soccer, and other sports, as well as giant stadium concerts. Four in-house restaurants specialize in regional wines, beers, and cuisine. Special packages that coincide with Oval sports and entertainment events are designed to make the guest experience extra seamless, from your room to your seat.
Where: Byron Bay, Gold Coast
Why We’re Excited: The hostel-meets-hotel in the heritage-listed Byron Council Chambers is tailor-made for Byron Bay’s hippie, surfy, foodie, beachy, sand-in-your-toes lifestyle and aesthetic. Book a private room with a balcony or bunk down with up to seven others. The look is laid-back — vintage posters, surf boards, picnic tables at the rooftop bar — and the vibe is communal (kitchen and laundry facilities, long dining room tables, those bunk beds). The WiFi is free, and so are the boogie boards.
Where: Stanley, Tasmania
Why We're Excited: If these walls could talk, they would tell tall tales of sailors and shipwrecks, of bar fights and love affairs. The historic structure built by the grandfather of a former prime minister in the North West port town in the late 1800s. A pub until 1972, the compound is now a beautiful inn outfitted with vintage pieces and organic textiles — and a yoga studio in the old stable. There are seven suites, many with water views, but if you believe walls can talk, check yourself into Roaring Tom's Apartment.
Feel-Good Factor: Much of the renovation was done using sustainable Tasmanian wood.
Where: Launceston, Tasmania
Why We're Excited: It's been a big year for renovations of historic 1800s building in Tasmania, in this case a former flour mill along the Tamar River. Already home to the famous Stillwater restaurant, they have since added seven rooms. Launnie (you know how the Aussies love their nicknames) is starting to rival Hobart as the coolest city in Tassie (there we go again...) for the food scene and MONA festivals.
Feel-Good Factor: Everything is local — the olive oil toiletries, the bespoke beds, the produce in the pantry, the small-batch gin in the honor bar.
Where: King Island, Tasmania
Why We're Excited: If Australia and Tasmania don't sound remote enough, then maybe an island between the two, where you'll stay in one of two adults-only lodges near 12,00-year-old sand dunes along your private coastline, will do the trick. Your days are spent getting to know your neighbors (red-necked wallabies and wild peacocks) and exploring the surroundings (stunning Fitzmaurice Bay and bird-rich Melaleuca Forest).
Feel-Good Factor: The lodge are eco certified and completely off grid, solar passive, with almost at zero plastic waste.
Where: Noosa, Queensland
Why We’re Excited: The six eco-luxe yurts located along the Sunshine Coast on 100 acres in Noosa's biosphere have names that set the tone (Elysian, Hygge, and Wanderlust) and the settings (Mountain View and Beauty Spot). Guests (no more than 12 ever) spend days hiking or biking trails in Tuchekoi National Park and Mount Cooroora, birdwatching (Noosa’s great for birding), watching wildlife (koalas, wallabies, bandicoots), and taking outdoor yoga. Great beaches are a short drive away.
Feel-Good Factor: Noosa, a 90-minute drive north of Brisbane, is a pristine nature paradise, honored as an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a World Surfing Reserve (one of ten), one of only two everglades systems in the world. The yurts were built in natural clearings largely using sustainably sourced or repurposed building materials from nearby. The retreat is a safe release site for rescued native wildlife.
Where: Noosa, Queensland
Why We’re Excited: Another eco offering in Noosa, this one a single, adults-only glamping tent high in the hinterlands that comes with a deep free-standing bathtub, a fire pit, and relaxing views of nine surrounding mountains.