Get us in your inbox

Street view of River Drive Motel.
Photograph: Moth Design

Six road trip-worthy motels in Victoria

Long live the motel revival! It’s time to get on board the thriftiest trend taking weekend getaways by storm

Written by
Carolyn Huane

Motels first arrived on Australian shores in the 1950s, making comfortable and stylish accommodation accessible to the average Aussie. Motels had it all: a gateway to sightseeing hotspots with an affordable price tag and state-of-the-art mod-cons. Then budget hotels came along and stole the show. But come 2024, Australians are looking to explore their own backyard and save a dime or two on digs, setting the stage for a motel renaissance – and we’re here for it.

Below, we’ve scoured the internet for the kookiest, most charming and unique motels in Victoria so you can secure your next weekend away in style. Get your Notes app ready!

No car? No problem: here are Victoria's top five carless day trips. Plus, these are the most quirky Airbnbs in Victoria.

Victoria's best motels

  • Hotels
  • Melbourne

A strong contender for best Australian motel and often cited as a must-see, Kyneton Springs Motel boasts a funky exterior and a nostalgic, boutique feel. You’ll have a good idea of what you’re in for as soon as you pull up to the custom retro-look signage out front. Each room is uniquely curated to fit the aesthetic brief (think groovy patterns, luxe finishes and kitsch wall art) and even if you haven’t posted on Insta since your last birthday, you’ll find it hard to resist snapping a few pics.

Kyneton Springs was taken under the wing of former restaurateur Catherine Foote in 2014, so safe to say that excellent food and drink is a major focus. Throw back a classic cocktail at in-house bar the Patio (Pink Elephant, anyone?) or have your brekky delivered directly to your room via your very own breakfast hatch. It doesn’t get better than that.

Tucked just off the Calder Highway, the motel is a great pit stop on your road trip to the glorious Macedon Ranges. You’ll also find a variety of walks (gentle or adventurous, depending on your appetite), vintage shopping and cellar door experiences in Kyneton town itself.

Looking for more to do in the area? Consult our travel guide to Castlemaine and Kyneton.

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels

The dynamic duo of Kate Hannaford and Dic Coates have lovingly restored the River Drive Motel in the Gippsland town of Andersons Inlet into a stylish sanctuary with five self-contained rooms, surrounded by an acre of communal gardens. Driving in, you’re met with a generous lawn and barbecue area with surprisingly charming touches: a swing hanging from a big shady oak tree, a large closet of classic games like Jenga and Finska, beach towels and sporting equipment, and a smattering of picnic tables and chairs. 

But it’s the Insta-worthy rooms that impress the most. They've taken inspiration from the surrounding landscape, using an earthy palette of eucalyptus greens, wattle golds and dusty pinks to give each space a natural feel. Artworks from upcoming Aussie – including young and First Nations – artists add a splash of colour to the walls, with each room showcasing its own unique collection. While polished chrome, corduroy and cork finishes appear decidedly modern, custom-designed Victorian hardwood furniture and joinery with a few vintage touches sprinkled here and there evoke country nostalgia. 

Everything you need is at your fingertips; the mini bar comes fully stocked with some of the region’s finest products, including rotating beers, gins from Loch Distillery and Brewery, Gurneys Cider and WaWa Chocolate. Hungry for something more substantial? The motel has also partnered with local caterer Acacia Edibles to offer all-day seasonal grazing boxes, and they're jam-packed with artisan cheese, free-range small goods and fresh produce. 

  • Hotels
  • Beechworth

Drive up to the striking facade of Beechworth’s Linaker Art Deco Motel and you’ll feel like you’re taking a leap back in time. The building is situated in the heritage-listed May Day Hills gardens surrounded by plush lawns and leafy greenery, some of which dates back to donations from the Royal Botanical gardens in the 1860s. Though the motel has retained its mid-century roots, rooms have been renovated for maximum comfort and cosiness.

Those in the know about some of Beechworth’s more hair-raising history will recognise the location as that of the decommissioned Beechworth Asylum - the Linaker rooms being the former nurse’s quarters. Take a walk through history in a daytime tour of the grounds, or steel yourself for a chilling Asylum Ghost Tour at night.

If ghost stories aren’t your thing, fear not. The motel is a mere 12-minute walk from Beechworth town centre, or two minutes by car, where delights culinary and otherwise await. The region is renowned for its condiments (did someone say Beechworth honey?), wines, cheeses and more - so come with an empty stomach.

Spending more time in High Country? Check out our guide to Beechworth, Bright and beyond.

  • Hotels
  • Ashburton

Oval Motel’s trump card is its prime location in the heart of Bendigo. You can’t miss the distinctive red and green retro-inspired signage en route to any of the city’s most-loved sightseeing spots. Nestled in amongst Bendigo’s central precinct, Oval Motel is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the train station, cathedral, Capital Theatre and Rosalind Park. This is your hub for exploring everything Victoria’s gold rush capital has to offer.

You’ll be greeted by superstar hosts and local legends Carolyn and Gary before heading to one of their mood-lifting, colour-themed abodes. The couple took over the motel in 2016 and have since painstakingly refurbished the joint, from the aforementioned colour co-ordinated décor to Smart TVs, new beds and a delightful guest patio where you can enjoy your hot or continental breakfast.

Top off your visit with a short stroll to Harvest. Whether you’re taking your coffee to go or settling in for a leisurely brunch, this place is known by locals for its mouthwatering menu and house-baked goods.

Looking for more to do in the area? Consult our guide to spending the weekend in Bendigo and its surrounds.

  • Hotels

Down an unassuming road just three kilometres from the Twelve Apostles, you’ll find Twelve Apostles Motel & Country Retreat. A unique blend of motel and B&B, this place offers the closest access to the natural grandeur of the Twelve Apostles of any accommodation. Although there are fewer than twelve of the famous rock formations still standing (eight, last we heard), they’re still a breathtaking sight to behold.

The venue itself was once a dairy farm, and there’s a certain ‘little house on the prairie’ ambience to Twelve Apostles Motel. Surrounded by fields of grazing wildlife, it’s a prime location for sighting quintessential Aussie fauna like koalas, kangaroos and echidnas. Better yet, you’ll be sleeping soundly on a cloud of luxurious Hilton pillows and bedding while you get closer to nature. 

Alongside rustic yet comfortable lodgings, this motel also houses an authentic Chinese kitchen serving up Haidilao-style hot pot, fried rice and a variety of dumplings in generous portion sizes - delicious. Whether you’re staying for just one night for its proximity to the apostles or more to make the most of the motel’s environs, you can rest easy knowing a tasty, hot meal is close at hand.

While you're at it, explore our guide to things you can only do along the Great Ocean Road.

  • Hotels
  • Ashburton

“The Warby” (est. 1966) has a reputation as one of Australia’s coolest motels - complete with nostalgic furnishings, eco-friendly accoutrements and a fridge stocked with micro-brewery beers. Owners Simone and Richard took charge of Warburton Motel in 2017 and renovated with the utmost care, using the question “would we be happy to stay here?” as a yardstick for whether each room was up to scratch. The dedication to quality, ease and an undeniably hip vibe has paid off in spades.

An excellent base camp for Yarra Valley escapades, Warburton Motel has an exhaustive supply of bike and hike gear available for hire. Make use of complementary hybrid bike use for motel guests with a ride down to the Warburton Rail Trail, or rent a river tube on a balmy day and go bob down the Yarra River - it’s Mother Nature’s theme park.

All rooms in Warburton Motel feature stunning views of surrounding mountains and redwood forest, but for a truly unforgettable vista be sure to book a Tree Tops Suite. Take in panoramic views of centuries-old trees and foliage, looking beyond to Mount Donna Buang and the Victorian Alps.

After more to do in the area? Drive towards the Rainforest Gallery and wander through native forests and burbling stream.

    You may also like
    You may also like