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Bubbletent, Capertee Valley
Photograph: Supplied/Destination NSW

The most unusual holiday accommodation you can rent in NSW

Why settle for ordinary when you can stay at one of these whimsical and quirky holiday lets?

By Time Out editors
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When it comes to tourist accommodation, NSW boasts a dizzying range of options. You can stay in boutique hotels and budget motels, beachside villas and winery thrillers, cute campgrounds and flashy glampgrounds, five-star resorts and places with tennis courts – what we’re trying to say is, you’re spoilt for choice. 

But what if you’re looking for a more out-of-the-ordinary place to lay your head? Here's a selection of the kookiest, coolest, most whimsically odd places you can stay in NSW, from a pimped-out treehouse to a bonafide movie set. So, where will you book first?

Ready to flash some cash on your next trip? Head to one of the most luxurious places to stay in NSW.

The most unusual places to stay

Wollemi Treehouse
Wollemi Treehouse
Photograph: Love Cabins

The Wollemi Wilderness Treehouse

Hotels

Tucked away in Bilpin in the Blue Mountains, this treehouse is a solid upgrade on that backyard shanty your dad built you. With huge, open windows, and a deck with expansive views out over Bowen’s Creek Gorge, Wollemi Cabins’ Treehouse is a little taste of luxury in the treetops. Designed to fit one couple, the treehouse has a kitchenette, one queen bed, a fireplace and a glass-roofed spa which looks out onto the stars above. You can also book a range of experiences to make your treehouse experience a truly indulgent one. Sink into a mud bath, or if you’re feeling adventurous, book in for an ethereal glow worm tour at twilight, or scale the mountain biking trails nearby. Book your stay online

Love Cabins Blue Mountains Enchanted Cave
Love Cabins Blue Mountains Enchanted Cave
Photograph: Love Cabins

Enchanted Cave, Wollemi National Park

Hotels

Enter into the earthen-walled Enchanted Cave for a truly unusual stay. Also situated in Wollemi National Park, this accommodation option is an immersive one, designed to take you back to the primordial days. Close your laptop lid and switch your phone onto aeroplane mode – screens just seem jarring against the brushed stone surfaces and expansive views of the Enchanted Cave. Your holiday digs are kitted out with a slow-combustion fireplace, a queen bed set into the bedrock of the stone structure, and an ensuite bathroom with an intricately carved sun basin and an external shower, so you can take in the majesty of the surrounding natural beauty of the area at every point of your day.

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The Priscilla Suite at the Palace Hotel
The Priscilla Suite at the Palace Hotel
Photograph: Destination NSW

The Priscilla Suite at the Palace Hotel

Hotels

It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to spend the night in an honest-to-goodness movie set. Unless of course, you live in Broken Hill. Immortalised in the 1994-released Aussie cinema classic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert, the aptly name Priscilla Suite at the Palace Hotel is available for paying guests. It's been painstakingly preserved so that it appears exactly as it does in the movie. Or at least the bedroom has. The kitsch-as-hell decor, including a very politically incorrect lamp, velour headboard and tacky bakelite vanity, is counterpointed by the fabulousness of the rest of the suite, which includes a luxurious, sparkly bathroom with a roll-top bath and crystal chandelier, an eye-popping multicoloured dressing room, and a disco ball in the room’s entrance hall. This may sound like a lot, but at the Palace Hotel, too much is never enough. The vivid murals of bucolic landscapes that cover the suite's bedroom walls, painted by a local First Nations artist Gordon Wayne, match similar landscapes, painted by both Wayne and the pub’s former owner Mario Celotto, which cover virtually every surface of the Palace's ornate interiors. Constructed in 1889 as a grand coffee salon during the height of Broken Hill’s mining boom, the Palace is today best known for its cinematic legacy and as the home of the annual Broken Heel Festival, a celebration of drag and queer culture that attracts LGBTQIA+ people from all over the country every September.

A suite at Taronga Zoo's new Wildlife Retreat
A suite at Taronga Zoo's new Wildlife Retreat
Photograph: Supplied

Taronga Zoo Wildlife Retreat

Hotels Luxury hotels Mosman

In 2019, Taronga Zoo took bold strides into the luxury accommodation market with its purpose-built 62-room Retreat. This complex of sleek, timber-clad lodges encircling a private bushland garden is a remarkably successful fusion of elegant sophistication and sustainable design, where wildlife and the high-life exist side by side. As soon as you enter the beautifully appointed reception lounge in the N’gurra Lodge, the uncompromising quality guests can expect is clear. After being greeted by friendly reception staff, there’s a chance to enjoy the stunning Sydney panorama on the terrace while you sip on a complimentary glass of rosehip ice tea. As your luggage is spirited away to your room, a member of the concierge team talks you through your overnight stay, which includes access to the zoo, privately guided animal tours, sunset cocktails and dinner at the Retreat’s exclusive fine-dining restaurant, Me-gal. Every room overlooks a purpose-built habitat full of native fauna and plants. This sanctuary for indigenous species – including bettongs, potoroos, wallabies, echidnas and that most recognisable of Australian critters, the koala – has been developed in collaboration with Cammeraygal elders, the traditional custodians of the land on which Taronga sits. This carefully landscaped bush scene, complete with babbling stream and waterfall, is solely for guests of the Retreat to enjoy, making it by far the most impressive amenity on offer here, and arguably, at any hotel in the city.

 

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People sitting in a bed inside a cabin drinking coffee Unyoked
People sitting in a bed inside a cabin drinking coffee Unyoked
Photograph: Supplied

Unyoked

Travel Short getaways

Tiny homes have caused something of a revolution in Instagram travel porn. Cosy yet wild, compact but open to the elements, each small cabin in the countryside sparks a sense of adventure with just enough comfort for your average Joe City Mouse – and hundreds of people are booking into the remote getaways, like this Unyoked cabin, across the country. Coralie, the name of this weatherboard cabin in the Kangaroo Valley region, is rated ‘mild level of spice’ on the Unyoked website – a grading system that cofounders Cam and Chris Grant use to prepare their guests for the level of adventure they will encounter during their stay: dirt roads, possible wildlife sightings, distance from the nearest town, for example. Once you’re settled down, there really is no need to leave. Sure, you could venture out to find the hidden creek, or climb the nearest mountain after sunrise, but a stay is just was well spent simply crawling out from under the blanket on the bed to watch noisy rosellas swooping between the trees, or the early morning fog roll over the hills.

Bath and tent with deck at Bubble Tent Blue Mountains
Bath and tent with deck at Bubble Tent Blue Mountains
Photograph: Supplied

Bubbletent Australia

Travel Short getaways

Australia’s first bubble tent – aptly named Bubbletent Australia – is a chance to be up close and personal with nature while still retaining a fair few creature comforts. There are three tents to choose from, each overlooking a different aspect of the Capertee Valley, the largest valley in the world. All three offer total seclusion, which is not only pleasant but needed, since the central chamber of each one has a 360-degree view out, and in. Thanks to its high altitude and low light pollution, Capertee, two hours and 45 minutes west of Sydney, has some of the best stargazing near the city, so guests can lay back in their transparent hideaway and behold the cosmic wonders you can only really appreciate in such a remote area. If you’ve been dreaming of a night under the stars, but you’re the kind of royal baby who needs high-quality linens to function, this is the answer. A full-blown nature experience, without ever having to leave your bubble.

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Zoofari Lodge Dubbo
Zoofari Lodge Dubbo
Photograph: Supplied

Zoofari Lodge

Hotels

It’s time to get wild! Nestled in the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, the Zoofari Lodge is a wildlife-adjacent oasis set on a savannah where roaming rhinos, zebras, giraffes and antelope might just saunter past your window. Here, you’re booking an experience rather than just a room. As well as accommodation in a lodge, your stay comes with dinner, breakfast, an exclusive tour of the wilderness surrounds, and a two-day zoo entry pass. Choose from an Animal View Lodge, which fits up to four people and comes with a private viewing balcony for the majestic creatures, or a Bushland Lodge, which houses up to six and is located just a little walk away from where the wild things roam. Packages start from $1336.

Cloud Runner The World Is Round room at The Collectionist Hotel
Cloud Runner The World Is Round room at The Collectionist Hotel
Photograph: Supplied/Terence Chin

The Collectionist

Hotels Boutique hotels Camperdown

Close to the action of King Street, Newtown, the Collectionist is an art gallery of hotel rooms, with each individual suite designed and decorated by an Aussie artist or designer. The best part? You get to choose which one you like the look of best. The 39 rooms are the brainchildren of seven designers from four design firms, and each features its own furniture, finishings and decoration. The check-in process involves discovering which rooms in your price range are available (that is, their doors are still open), and then perusing them before committing to your digs for the night. Art lovers will get an especially big kick out of staying here, and with its location in the heart of one of the city's trendiest 'hoods, it's also a great base for taking advantage of the local nightlife. 

Shhh it's a secret

Wattamolla Beach from above
Wattamolla Beach from above
Photograph: National Parks NSW

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