Australia operates a rating system of one to five stars. Five-star hotels include on-site dining options, concierge and valet services, a business center, and, of course, very luxurious rooms. Four stars denote an exceptional property that just doesn't have all the extras needed for five. Three stars means quality fittings and service. Always ask about additional costs when pricing your hotel room.
Apartment and House Rentals
Judging from the huge number of short-term rental properties in Australia, many locals prefer doing their own thing to being in a hotel. It's easy for you to do likewise. Serviced apartments and peer-to-peer accommodation options are plentiful in Australia for those who'd rather avoid the big hotel chains and live like the locals instead. Booking agency Move and Stay has an enormous range of properties, usually aimed at executives. Medina has top-end apartments and apart-hotels in all the big cities. Quest owns apartment complexes all around the country. Furnished Properties focuses on the Sydney area and has reasonable rates.
In beach areas, "units" are the thing: they're usually small detached houses or bungalows, often with a communal area with laundry facilities and a swimming pool. Maid service is usually optional here. In summer, units at popular beach resorts are often be booked months in advance, so make reservations in plenty of time by searching online for holiday rental agents in the area you plan to visit.
In line with international trends, community marketplace Airbnb has emerged as a popular new type of accommodation in Australia. Register with Airbnb online to browse a variety of rentable rooms, apartments, B&Bs, and holiday houses, often with a much more intimate feel and at significantly lower prices than traditional establishments. Here you'll also find properties off the beaten track, including farm stays, rain forest retreats, and houseboats. Stays usually involve some degree of interaction with hosts, however some lodgings have complete privacy.
Adina Apartment Hotels. 13–8642; www.adinahotels.com.au.
Furnished Properties. 02/9518–8828; www.furnishedproperties.com.au.
Move and Stay. www.moveandstay.com.
Quest Serviced Apartments. 03/9645–8357; 1800/334033; www.questapartments.com.au.
B&Bs are a big deal in Australia, and are popular in both urban and rural areas. The classic Aussie B&B is a family-run affair: expect clean, homey rooms, private bathrooms, and bountiful breakfasts, often showcasing local produce. A room for two usually ranges from A$80 to A$200 a night. The word "boutique" in conjunction with a B&B implies a higher level of luxury—decorative, gastronomic, or both—and facilities, but all at a higher price.
OzBedandBreakfast.com has comprehensive listings that include boutique properties. You'll also find locals offering the "B&B experience" in their homes through Airbnb.
Local tourist-information centers throughout Australia also have lists of B&Bs in their area.
Bed & Breakfast.com. 512/322–2710; www.bedandbreakfast.com.
Bed & Breakfast and Farmstay Association of NSW & ACT. 1300/888862; www.bbfaccommodation.com.au.
Hosted Accommodation Australia. 1300/664707; 03/9431–5417; www.australianbedandbreakfast.com.au.
Home and Farm Stays
Home and farm stays combine B&B-style accommodation with the chance to join in farm activities or explore the countryside. Some hosts run day trips, as well as horseback riding, hiking, and fishing trips. Accommodations vary from modest shearers' cabins to elegant homesteads; some include breakfast in the room price, others an evening meal. Families are usually welcomed. For two people the cost varies from A$100 to A$250 nightly.
Australian Farm Stays. This private company deals with luxury farm stays. 03/5824–3285; www.australianfarmstay.com.au.
With a direct home exchange, you stay in someone else's home while they stay in yours. Some outfits also deal with vacation homes, so you're not actually staying in someone's full-time residence, just their vacant weekend place.
Although home exchanges aren't a popular choice in Australia, there are still many options available, particularly on the east coast. Most organizations charge a small membership fee for use of their site.
HomeExchange.com. 800/877–8723; www.homeexchange.com.
HomeLink Australia. 1800/853535; 02/4947–9039; www.homelink.com.au.