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Accommodation in Australia

Australia has a lot of different types of tourist accommodation to choose from. Here’s a quick summary and some more detailed editorial comments by us, which you might find useful when trying to interpret information you get from your travel agent or from other websites. We’ve also included a bit on other sources of information.

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Summary

Resort
A hotel, motel, or caravan park (often with spacious grounds) that provides all meals and some recreational facilities in addition to accommodation. More…

Hotel
Either a place that serves alcoholic drinks (also called a pub), or a place that provides accommodation to travellers, or both. More…

Motel
Mainly for motorists, motels have off-street parking, though not always near your room. Some have private cooking facilities. More…

Serviced Apartment
Fully self-contained apartment, with one or more bedrooms and a private kitchen. May have a private laundry. Daily cleaning is included in the price.

Holiday Unit
Fully self-contained apartment, without daily cleaning.

Studio
A serviced apartment or holiday unit without a separate bedroom.

Caravan Park
A place for caravans (mobile homes, trailers), recreational vehicles, and tent camping. Shared shower and toilet facilities; may have shared cooking facilities. May have on-site vans or cabins for rent; some of these have private shower and toilet. More…

Roadhouse
In areas away from cities and larger towns, a service station providing petrol and diesel fuel, food and drink, some general stores (milk, bread, and so on), telephone, and often shower facilities, camping space or accommodation units. More…

Hostel (including Youth and Backpackers)
Cheaper accommodation, usually in shared rooms; private rooms (single or double) may be available at higher cost. Shower and toilet facilities are often shared between rooms. Shared cooking facilities may be provided. More…

Bed and Breakfast (B&B)
May be a room (with or without private facilities) in a private home, or an annex to a private home. Prices vary from inexpensive to very expensive. More…

Farm Stay (also called Rural Stay or Outback Station)
A variation of B&B, at a rural property such as a sheep or cattle station. Guests are usually encouraged to take part in farm activities. All meals are provided. More…

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More details

Resort
A hotel, motel, or caravan park (often with spacious grounds) that provides all meals and some recreational facilities in addition to accommodation. The room price may include some or all meals and use of some or all recreational facilities, or these may be available at additional cost.

Some older places that call themselves resorts have fewer amenities and may not have an on-site restaurant if they are located near a range of restaurants and cafes.

Hotel
Either a place that serves alcoholic drinks (also called a pub), or a place that provides accommodation to travellers, or both.

In large cities, modern hotels provide accommodation, and are often part of a big chain like Four Seasons or Sheraton. Some old ciy hotels may not have rooms — or they may have only the old-style rooms with the amenities at the end of the hall. (Many older hotels have been turned into backpackers’ hostels; others are fairly rough and not the sort you’d want to take the kids to.)

Away from major cities, hotels are more likely to be pubs with rooms above or behind the drinking-and-eating area; many older ones have added a modern motel-style section at the back.

Hotels may or may not have car parking available. Many smaller city hotels do not, although some make arrangements for car parking at a nearby parking garage.

Meals may or may not be available in hotels. Large modern hotels may have a full food service, including room service; small older hotels may provide breakfast (either in your room or in a restaurant) or may have other meals available.

Older-style hotels may not have a telephone in your room. If you do have a telephone, you may need to ask the manager or switchboard to turn it on.

Motel
Most motel units are self-contained (that is, they have a private or “en suite” toilet and bath), although some older ones have a few units with shared (down the hall) facilities.

Motels usually have breakfast available, either in your room or in a restaurant.

A telephone is usually available in your room, but some (less expensive) motels do not have them. You may need to ask the manager or switchboard to turn on the telephone.

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Caravan Park
Caravan parks range from very basic places to park a van or set up a tent, with few or no facilities beyond toilets; to spacious, well-developed resorts with a swimming pool, other recreational facilities, motel-type units, a food store, a restaurant, and so on.

Basic parks are often run by the local government and may not even have an on-site manager; in most cases you need to pay a small fee. Parks with more facilities are usually privately-owned and operated, have an on-site manager and other staff, and cost more.

Most, but not all, caravan parks have spaces for permanent residents or people who leave a van there permanently but use it only during holiday (vacation) times.

Renting a cabin at a caravan park can be a less-expensive alternative to staying in a motel, but not necessarily with inferior facilities. Most cabins do not have telephones, but neither do less-expensive motels in many areas.

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Roadhouse
In remote areas, roadhouses (typically located at intervals of 100km or more) are the only form of accommodation available, but you shouldn’t count on finding one. Either book ahead, or be prepared with a tent and bedding. Most roadhouses allow camping and parking of caravans and motorhomes, usually for a small fee. You may be asked to pay extra to use hot water for a shower.

Roadhouses usually have some form of food service (sometimes small and limited in range, but often very good) and basic foods for sale, as well as petrol, diesel, oil, and other supplies.

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Hostel (including Youth and Backpackers)
Cheaper accommodation, usually in shared rooms; private rooms (single or double) may be available at higher cost. Shower and toilet facilities are often shared between rooms. Shared cooking facilities may be provided.

As in other parts of the world, youth hostels usually are not restricted to young people; in fact, they are quite popular with senior citizens travelling on a budget. They may have curfews (mainly for security reasons), may require guests to assist with cleaning, and may require you to show a membership card (usually easy and cheap to obtain). See http://www.yha.org.au/ for information about the Australian Youth Hostel Association.

Backpackers’ hostels may be older hotels or motels, quite clean and comfortable but lacking in modern amenities such as televisions or telephones in the rooms; or they may be purpose-built facilities. Like youth hostels, they are most popular with the under-30 crowd, but many older people stay in them too.

Hostels are a great place to meet people from all over the world, share tips on places to see or avoid, and make contacts for sharing rides. Numerous websites cater for backpackers. We have listed a few in our newsletter.

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Bed and Breakfast (B&B)
Traditionally a “bed and breakfast” place is in a private home, and many of them are around. Some are quite luxurious; others are more basic. The term is also applied to a variety of older hotel-type accommodation and small guesthouses, which include breakfast in the cost of a room.

Some B&Bs even provide private cabins.

Here’s an example of an upmarket B&B establishment: Hillcrest Mountain View Retreat in the Northern Rivers district of NSW, 10 minutes from Murwillumbah.

Several websites provide listings of bed and breakfast places in Australia. Here are a few:
Bed & Breakfast and Farmstay Australia (links to listings for each state)
BABS – Bed and Breakfast Site
North Queensland B&B – includes a lot of listings that I didn’t see on the other sites
Bed and Breakfast Planner

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Farmstay
A variation of B&B, at a rural property such as a sheep or cattle station. All meals are provided. Guests are usually encouraged to take part in farm activities, such as milking cows, riding horses, feeding pigs, and so on. Farm stays are popular with city families wishing to expand their children’s experience, but can be fun and informative for anyone of any age.

See some of the B&B websites (given above) for farmstay listings.

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Other sources of information

The NRMA (a national automobile club based in New South Wales) publishes two very useful guides, which are available at low cost to members of NRMA and other automobile clubs and the general public. The RACQ (the Queensland automobile club) provides the same guides under a different cover logo.

  • Accommodation guide – the most complete listing of resorts, hotels, motels, and serviced apartments that I’ve seen, but it certainly doesn’t include every place in Australia. Includes ratings (up to 5 stars) and details on costs and facilities at each place listed.
  • Tourist Parks guide – a similar listing of caravans parks around Australia.

See http://www.nrma.com.au for more on the NRMA. If you’re planning a drive-yourself visit to Australia, it’s well worth joining the NRMA or at least collecting some of their guidebooks and maps.

Other accommodation and camping guides are available from other sources. We’ll collect and publish a list of them when we can.


Page last updated 26 October 2007