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Thorngrove Manor, Adelaide Hills

Beautifully bizarre - accommodation with a twist

From the weird to the wonderful, discover some of South Australia’s most unique accommodation options.

Thorngrove Manor

Known for its charming country cottages and leafy lanes, the Adelaide Hills' Stirling is storybook-pretty escape from city life.

Pottering through the town’s backstreets, you may catch a glimpse of something unusual peeking over the treetops. No, your eyes are not deceiving you, those are are turrets. Huge, 16th century, Baroque-style turrets, to be specific, belonging to the ridiculously lavish and totally exclusive 1980s-built Thorngrove Manor.

Thorngrove is a Small Luxury Hotels of the World property and has recently been awarded Best Hosted Accommodation in Australia through the annual Star-ratings Australia Gold List. The property has been hailed “an engaging, magical and enchanting iconic five star work of architectural art”. Quite the mouthful, but with its impeccably-crafted stonework, teetering towers and sky-high turrets, we couldn’t agree more.

Take your pick from the King’s Chambers, Queen’s Chambers, Castle Chambers, Tower Room or Observatory. Entry is via your own private gated driveway. Once inside, admire your 1890s Scottish antique ecclesiastic stained-glass window, then have a tinker on your hundred year-old antique German piano.

As the day draws to a close, pack away your belongings in a French 1840s carved oak cupboard, blow out your 18th century Dutch candelabra and climb into the comfort of a four-poster English Elm bed, carved with heraldic lions and draped with GP&J Baker fabric, French Houlés tassels and French Bureau de Dame.

You’ll find Thorngrove Manor at 2 Glenside Lane, Stirling, Adelaide, South Australia.

For more information and to book, see the Thorngrove Manor website

Stirling's elaborate Thorngrove Manor.

Stirling's elaborate Thorngrove Manor.


Melrose North Star Hotel

Established in 1854, Melrose North Star is one of the oldest hotels in the Flinders Ranges and as the respected forefather of Flinders accommodation, it’s seen countless changes over the years.

Today, the main structure is comprised of boutique-style guest rooms complete with earthy décor and luxury fittings, but it’s what’s out the back that really has us intrigued.

Beyond the hotel, in an unassuming block, lie two dilapidated trucks – one faded red, the other faded green. Stacked on the trucks are two alpine bungalow-style cottages, complete with reverse cycle air conditioning, multiple bedrooms with en suites, lounges, kitchens and separate balconies. Take a moment to let that sink in.

My favourite is the red truck, which at appears to have gone rogue at some stage and rolled into a tree. “Guess this is where it’s going to stay,” seems to have been the general consensus, and to this day, right there it remains.

Melrose North Star Hotel can be found at 43 Nott St, Melrose, South Australia.

For more information and to book, see the Melrose North Star Hotel website.

Fire Station Inn

It’s a lazy Sunday morning. You wake up in your luxury spa suite, roll over in your supremely comfortable king size bed and slowly open your eyes. You pad across the warm floor (thanks, underground heating) to the window and draw the blinds. Morning sunlight spills into the room. You get dressed for the day, and on your way out pause for a second to admire the gigantic, blazing red 1942 International Fire Truck parked at the end of your bed. Smiling, you playfully don a fireman’s cap from the suite’s dress-up corner, before twirling once around a matching red fireman’s pole, then heading downstairs for breakfast. Just another morning in the Fire Station Inn’s Fire Engine Suite.

Established in 1866, North Adelaide’s world-famous Fire Station Inn was once Adelaide’s first fire station.

Today it’s home to three incredible suites: The Fire Engine Suite – complete with the aforementioned amenities; the Loggia Spa Suite – a private Romeo & Juliet style retreat with Italian accents and private Tuscan courtyard; and the Residency Penthouse Apartment – a five-star penthouse with its own seven metre sundeck, two master size bedrooms, Juliette balconies and West Australian Red Jarrah gourmet kitchen.

Need we say more?

The Fire Station Inn can be found at 80 Tynte St, North Adelaide, South Australia.

For more information and to book, see the North Adelaide Heritage website.

The Fire Station Inn's Fire Engine Suite, complete with 1940s truck and pole.

The Fire Station Inn's Fire Engine Suite, complete with 1940s truck and pole.


Ikara Safari Camp

Love the idea of camping, but hate the idea of roughing it? We get it. The hours spent setting-up tent, unpredictable heatwaves and/or downpours and friendly, yet not always welcome companions of the insect variety are not for everyone.

Introducing Ikara Safari Camp’s “glamping” experience. Sleep under the stars in the Flinders Ranges National Park without the fuss of a traditional (and far less glam) camping trip.  You’ll find all the amenities your heart could desire right at your manicured fingertips as you settle-down in a super luxe safari tent.

Premium tents come with king size beds, en suite bathrooms, power and air conditioning (a must in summer months). Just outside your sturdy canvas walls are river red gums, beautiful native pines and abundant wildlife.

Enjoy a hot breakfast each morning, keep connected with free WiFi, then set off for a day of exploration.

Take-in the sights of the rugged South Australian outback, knowing you’ll come back to a restaurant meal, comfy bed and all the creature comforts you could ask for.

Ikara Safari Camp can be found at Wilpena Road, via Hawker, South Australia.

For more information and to book, see the Ikara Safari Camp website.

The Lookout Cave Underground Motel

Descend deep underground into a luxury labyrinth at The Lookout Cave Motel in Coober Pedy.

Sleeping below the earth’s surface is a completely unique experience and at 25m below land, rooms at The Lookout Cave Underground Motel are well and truly out of sight.

Each room is carved out of the earth, with beautiful naturally-textured sandstone walls. Amenities are what you’d expect from a quality hotel with standard rooms, superior rooms, family rooms and apartments on-offer, as well as the charming budget dugout and miners dugout. Creature comforts are all included and rooms are regularly renovated.

The Lookout Cave Underground Motel can be found at Lot 1141 McKenzie Cl, Coober Pedy, South Australia.

For more information see The Lookout Cave Underground Motel website.

Art for all five senses in South Australia

Treat your eyes at the Art Gallery or join-in the celebrations at Adelaide Oval – host to a smorgasbord of world-famous musical and sporting acts.

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