Group Accommodation in the Adelaide Hills
The Great Adelaide Hills Accommodation Challenge! Never mind ‘the odd couple’ – we have to find accommodation for six different-sized groups, with six budgets and six sets of expectations. Can the Hills deliver?
Four couples want a weekend to help them wind down from a busy week. They’re all friends and while they’d like a change of scenery, they don’t want to be too far from their urban comforts. Think 48 hours filled with walking, reading and some long nights of wining and dining. One more thing: no driving!
The budget: Approx $850-900 per night, per couple
The solution: Two nights at Johnson Lodge in Balhannah
The vibe: With lush manicured gardens, endless views and a natural wonderland at your feet, this luxurious property is decked out with four beautiful bedrooms, three bathrooms, designer decor and sits just minutes from local cellar doors (just a short walk to Shaw + Smith, Nepenthe Wines and The Lane Vineyard) and shops and restaurants of Hahndorf.
This sprawling showpiece brings together a choice of rooms and spaces, with a gorgeous country kitchen and views from every window, you’ll enjoy the quiet chatter of birds and even resident kangaroos on a wander around the estate. Whether you’re cosying around the fire in the winter or dining outside on a balmy summer evening, this beauty is perfect for a special occasion, or just an excuse to get together and celebrate the finer things in life.
The highlights: Wine tasting at local cellar doors; long walks around the estate and ornamental pond; dining and shopping in Hahndorf - and a grand country getaway like no other!
A couple want to celebrate a significant birthday with a lively dinner for their eight closest friends – held at a stylish hotel. The group comprises four couples and two singles.
The budget: A total of around $1800 -- or around $300 per room for six rooms.
The solution: A night at The Crafers Hotel, Crafers
The vibe: An imposing staircase leads to the upstairs of this historic 1839 hotel, which has been converted to host seven elegant and lavishly appointed rooms. Three Deluxe Rooms have deep tubs, fireplaces, French balconies and king beds; four Standard Rooms are slightly smaller with twin beds (ideal for singles).
The highlights: Going downstairs for some pre-dinner drinks; choosing a ‘birth-year’ bottle from the spectacular cellar (one of the best collections in the southern hemisphere); and enjoying the French-inspired menu in the restaurant.
Four families are heading into the Hills to let their posse of eight kids explore and have fun. They’re looking for some big group family time during the day, with Hahndorf shopping and Cleland Wildlife Park in their sights. When with the dusk falls, it’s about those golden moments when the kids are allowed to safely go and do their thing – a taste of independence they’ll remember forever.
The budget: Around $200 per family (2+2) per night
The solution: As many nights as required at Hahndorf Resort in Hahndorf
The vibe: This big, friendly estate is set amidst rolling hills with substantial gum trees and a lake. As well as hosting caravanners and campers, it has a number of cottages, many of them with lake views. Cottages are appointed with full kitchen, all entertainment facilities, plus outdoor seating areas. The park also has plays spaces, a bouncy pillow a pool and its own restaurant.
The highlights: The morning walk into Hahndorf Main Street; the insane metre-long German hot dog at the Hahndorf Inn; shopping for silly souvenirs; a session in the resort's swimming pool and on the bouncing pillow (one of the greatest inventions of all time); a night when they’re all allowed to go off and explore; and a night when they’re curled up in one of the lounge rooms with bowls of chips and their fave movie playing on the TV – while the adults enjoy a well-earned bottle of Hills sparkling.
Five car enthusiasts have got together for a weekend of touring in the Adelaide Hills. The cars have a mix of occupants – singles, couples and a trio. The days will be spent enjoying the scenic drives, though everyone is particularly keen to explore the wine country with lunch stops. Each day’s drive will finish around 4pm – chance for a bit of de-stress before everyone gets together again for dinner and some extended R&R.
The budget: $170-$230 per car per night
The solution: At least one night at Longview Vineyard, Macclesfield
The vibe: Longview Vineyard near Macclesfield has three types of contemporary suites all smartly tailored with tones and soft furnishings. Each has a private balcony enjoying stunning views of the vines. There are also four apartments in the historic homestead which could accommodate most of the group and provide a communal dining area.
The highlights: Complimentary breakfast is enjoyed as the sun rises on the Longview trellises; then it’s out for whatever the drive has in store. On their return, everyone gets to relax on their verandahs, enjoying a complimentary Longview bottle as the last of the sun sets on the Shiraz and Pinot vines. Dinner can be made from gourmet provisions they’ve collected over the day – or enjoyed at the nearby Three Brother’s Arms.
An Under-16s sports team (17 kids plus their adult coach, team manager and trainer) wants a weekend of bonding and team talks. The idea is to get them doing a hike and adventure activities, before heading back to base camp for some hearty food, camp fire tales and a few strategies to improve their standing for next year’s season.
The budget: $2,000 – or $100 each – for two nights
Our solution: Two nights at Hooper’s Bunkhouse at the Woodhouse Adventure Park in Piccadilly which offers a variety of experience-based group accommodation, from camping sites and bunkhouses to rustic cottages and the two storey heritage-listed Old Woodhouse Manor
The vibe: The bunkhouse is rustic but comfortable and has a huge dining room, fully equipped kitchen and multiple showers - surrounded by 54 hectares of bushland just 25 minutes from Adelaide city. The team will take over the whole bunkhouse – and their $2,000 will allow them to accommodate five more players for free if they wish. If they can hustle up a further $50 per head per day, they’ll get fully catered with three meals plus morning and afternoon tea!
The highlights: A day of Woodhouse’s wild onsite activities, including time trials on the Challenge Hill obstacle course; a morning hike around nearby Mount Lofty Summit or Mount Lofty Botanic Garden; an afternoon of Woodhouse’s Disc Golf; team-talks (and marshmallows) around the fire pits.
Two families with late teens are looking to retreat into a far-flung country estate and self-cater. They want to feel away from it all, enjoy some country activities – horse riding would be nice – and explore some local wineries. The teens are pretty independent and the days of kids and parents sharing rooms are long gone.
The budget: $350 per family per night
Our solution: Two nights at Templewood House, Inglewood
The vibe: This beautiful 1901 country lodge enjoys stellar views of steep wooded hills and is close to the wineries of Gumeracha and Lenswood. It has four double bedrooms, all with ensuites, ensuring privacy for everyone, with an additional trundle bed if required. The magnificent lounge with its open fire evokes ‘country squiredom’ and the commercial-style kitchen makes self-catering easy (though catering can also be arranged).
The highlights: Morning coffee on the semi-enclosed veranda with the kookaburras – and evening chardonnay in the gazebo watching the kangaroos; long hikes around the property; a lazy lunch at Mt Bera Vineyards in Gumeracha; and the teenagers heading next door to Templewood Horse Riding Centre for a combined lesson and trail ride with the Templewood owners.
Morialta Barns (eight guests across three buildings), Norton Summit
Luxury Private Farm Escape (eight guests, three rooms), Bridgewater
Blakiston Creamery (eight guests in four bedrooms), Blakiston
Vineyard Cottage B’n’B (eight guests in four bedrooms), Gumeracha (Mt Bera Vineyard)
Simon Tolley Lodge (ten guests in five bedrooms), Woodside (Simon Tolley Wines)
And finally, some inspiration for smaller groups:
Mount Lofty YHA at Crafers (within Cleland Conservation Park) with two double rooms and a bunk room sleeping six (total 10)
Barristers Block Vignerons Villa, Woodside (three bedrooms, up to six people)
Bella Vista, Mount Torrens (three bedrooms, up to six people)
Lenswood Cottage, Lenswood (three bedrooms up to eight people)
Cladich Pavilions, Aldgate (three separate pavilions ideal for one couple each)
Sticky Rice Villas, Stirling (three separate villas ideal for one couple each) - book a cooking class at the Sticky Rice Coocking School next door
Adelaide Hills Retreats, Balhannah for two separate and adjoining luxurious properties - Villa Lemoni with two bedrooms and The Next with a studio bedroom perfect for one couple (three couples combined)