Adelaide, South Australia's elegantly arranged capital, has been said by some (usually those from the busier, brasher cities to the east) to be 'little more than a large town'. That, of course, is its charm. Designed from the start to have a compact CBD, wide spacious avenues, and plenty of room for its delightful parks, Adelaide has a relaxed, easy-going feel about it, which makes it perfect for those looking for a slowdown from the frenetic pace that some other cities set.
Add to all this its intriguing history, wildlife hotspots, a wonderful Mediterranean climate, those famed Adelaide wines—plus some great beaches—and you have all the ingredients for a wonderful stay-over. Which brings us to the other big positive for Adelaide—its relatively low-cost hotels. Let's take a look at which hotel districts will work best for you, on your chilled Adelaide getaway.
Unlike other cities, Adelaide's CBD is a relatively restrained affair, especially when it comes to overbearing corporate headquarters. Instead of ranks of sky-scraping towers, you'll find renowned cultural attractions, art facilities, plenty of great shopping and whole streets given over to a diverse bunch of restaurants. And it's all ringed by band of ranging park-lands. Naturally enough, hotels have made a bee-line for this stylish square-mile of CBD.
Generally modern, elegant and unassuming, the hotels here range from the exquisite (without the expense) to solidly serviced business and family hotels—and on to low-cost lodges and motels, out on the periphery of the CBD. But they all have great location, being close to the central attractions, the fine-dining and the fresh air of Adelaide's 30 central parks.
North of the CBD, across the Torrens River, is the well-designed district of North Adelaide. This area has a truly historic feel, with some wonderful late 19th and early 20th-century architecture. It also has a thriving cafe-and-cuisine culture. The hotels here are on a different scale, being generally small and classy, and often housed in historic buildings. With class comes cost—some of the more characterful hotels here charge some of the highest rates in town.
Both these districts are conveniently close to the airport. But if you want to spread your wings, and find hotels that are great for exploring the wider region, try looking to the Adelaide Hills. This rural district of villages, farms and vineyards stretches south-east of the capital. Its hills provide some stunning views back over Adelaide. The hotels here tend to be little lodges, cottages and apartment complexes. There is a strong arts community here, and some of these hotels offer studio opportunities.
Finally, what about Adelaide's beaches? Well, you're probably best off in the seaside town of Glenelg, just 10 km south-west of the capital. Facing onto the Gulf St Vincent, its golden sandy beaches are popular with sun-bathers and water-sports enthusiasts alike. Many of its hotels face the beach, some being high-rise luxury towers, while others are part of low-rise apartment resorts.
There are also a few cheaper motel inns. But the common factor is room rates that are surprisingly reasonable. Adelaide's quest to keep its city and suburbs balanced and measured means property prices—and accommodation rates—that are low compared to other Aussie cities. With plenty of charm, and room to breathe, that surely makes Adelaide a winning deal.