Perth’s accommodation options take in beachside self-catering flats, boutique hotels and budget boltholes in the capital’s arty Northbridge area, as well as historic stays in nearby Fremantle
Cashed-up since its mining boom, Perth has some of Australia’s priciest accommodation. However, these colonial cottages, sunny apartments, beachside bungalows, big pubs, and buzzy backpacker stopoffs prove there are affordable sleeps in the affluent Western Australia capital.
Turquoise sea, sandy beaches, tranquil coves and sociable quokkas (small marsupials) are to be found on traffic-free Rottnest Island, 19km off the coast, and a 25-minute ferry ride on the Rottnest Express (adult fares from A$16.50, £9.10) from Fremantle or 90-minutes along the Swan river from Perth’s central business district. Most travellers do “Rotto”, as locals call it, on a day trip, however, because of that steep ferry fare. There are lovely rooms at Hotel Rottnest and Rottnest Lodge but the unpretentious self-catering accommodation is more charming: basic cabins, popular with students and backpackers, weatherboard bungalows from the 1920s and sandstone heritage cottages, beloved by families, couples and groups of friends. Most are on the beach, a stroll from the sand, or boast ocean views from cliff-top locations. There’s superb swimming, snorkelling, diving, surfing, fishing, whale-watching (in season), and cycling and walking around rocky headlands.
• Rottnest Island, +61 8 9432 9111, rottnestisland.com. Six-bed dorm-style cabins from A$68 (£37.50). Four-bed heritage bungalows from A$76 (£41.80)
Fremantle Colonial Accommodation, Fremantle
Historic Fremantle may have been settled tens of thousands of years ago by the Noongar people (indigenous Australians) but it wasn’t until 1829 when Europeans arrived that handsome sandstone buildings, such as the Round House, Fremantle Arts Centre and Fremantle prison were built by convicts. You can soak up some of that early history at these atmospheric colonial properties, including three former prison cottages (once home to wardens, not inmates) on the grounds of the prison (don’t miss the fascinating tours: fremantleprison.com.au, from A$19/£10.50 adults, A$10/£5.50 kids) and cosy apartments in a quaint terrace house dating to 1897 near the old Town Hall. Restored to original condition in the mid-1990s, they’re furnished with antiques and feature shady verandas and balconies with wrought-iron lacework. One cottage is set up for travellers with disabilities.
• 215 High Street, Fremantle, +61 8 9430 6568, fremantlecolonialaccommodation.com.au. B&B apartments from A$150 (£82)
Number Six, Fremantle
While “Freo”, as Fremantle is fondly called by locals, is a city in its own right, it really just feels like a suburb of Perth. Easily reached from the city centre by train or ferry and boasting more affordable accommodation, it makes a fantastic base for exploring – especially if you settle into one of these sunny properties scattered around Freo, run by the friendly Osbourne family. The compact studios and apartments are superb value, with off-street parking, saving you fees if you’re hiring a car for day trips to wineries and the countryside. The heritage cottages and beach houses are only a short amble to the sand and seafront parks for afternoon barbecues, tempting you to stay close to “home”. The kitchens are all well-equipped so when you do force yourself to get away, you can bring back local produce to cook and luscious wines to sip while savouring the sunsets over the ocean.
• Various addresses in Fremantle, as well as other beach areas. +61 8 9252 1380, numbersix.com.au. Studios from A$75 (£41)
Hougoumont Hotel, Fremantle
When Fremantle boomed following the 1880s gold rush, successful merchants built their headquarters here in grand buildings, erecting big pubs such as the old Stanley Beer House, now a stylish new boutique hotel. Named after the last ship to transport convicts to Australia in 1852, this beautifully renovated property successfully melds old and modern, with exposed brick, timber floorboards, and polished concrete walls and floors. The Superior Cabin rooms are compact so if space is important, pay extra for the large “Staterooms”. Bannister Street is now the heart of the lively West End, a quarter brimming with boutiques, bookstores, cafes, galleries, and museums. While breakfast is available across the road at The Attic cafe, one of Freo’s best, the hotel serves complimentary wine and snacks in its stylish bar on weeknights. For lunch and dinner you can’t beat fish and chips at the nearby harbour or pizza and beers at Little Creatures Brewery nearby.
• 15 Bannister Street, Fremantle. +61 8 6160 6800, hougoumonthotel.com.au. Superior Cabin (doubles) B&B from A$183 (£100)
This grande dame of Perth’s pubs dominates the corner opposite the central train station and main bus terminus, metres from the central business district (CBD). The location is unbeatable if you’re focusing your sightseeing on the CBD – the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Western Australian Museum and Perth Mint are minutes away – yet it’s also convenient for the train to the beach, Fremantle, and the Swan valley wine region. It’s ideal if you’re a foodie because there are plenty of cheap eats nearby, including Malaysian food at D’Nyonya Penang (1019 Albany Highway), Nao Japanese (Perth’s best ramen at 117 Murray Street) and Perth’s Little Korea is a block away on Hay and Barrack Streets (try Took Bae Kee II). The best value rooms are without bathrooms, though shared facilities are clean. If you’re a light sleeper, you’ll need earplugs: noise can be a problem.
• 531 Wellington Street, corner William Street, +61 8 9338 5100, royalhotelperth.com.au. Shared Facility Rooms from A$74 (£40)
The Melbourne Hotel
The Melbourne is another big heritage-listed, Federation-era corner pub with an elegant wrought-iron balcony and a hint of bygone days in its afternoon High Tea (Sat-Sun 1pm-4pm). Sadly, the old-world charm ends there. The spacious rooms, while perfectly comfortable, have been modernised, along with the public spaces, including a bar and cafe that get busy with local workers. While the more-expensive Deluxe and Superior rooms are snazzy, the cheaper Standard and Loft rooms are frumpy. However, if you book 30 days in advance, you can get the fancier rooms for close to the same rate as the budget sleeps. Note: while the Superior Balcony rooms have access to that wonderful veranda, and this is the quieter end of town, it can still get noisy. There’s an abundance of affordable places to eat in the area, including the city’s best Vietnamese: Mama Tran, and plenty of bars and pubs, especially on and around Shafto Lane,.
• 942 Hay Street, corner Milligan Street, +61 8 9320 3333, melbournehotel.com.au. Standard rooms from A$133 (£70)
Hotel Northbridge, Northbridge
If consuming some art and culture, as well as food and drink, are priorities then make Northbridge your base. Just over the railway line, north of Perth’s CBD, it’s the city’s arts and entertainment district, with a lively museum precinct, myriad galleries, theatres, art-house cinemas, and vintage clothes shops, along with countless restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs and live music venues. William Street, its main drag, has long been Perth’s Little Asia, and is lined with Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean restaurants, takeaways, teahouses, and supermarkets. Hotel Northbridge, a heritage-listed pub, is a few blocks from William Street, handy for culinary exploration, yet far enough from the bars and clubs at the other end of Lake Street so it doesn’t get the noise. Leafy Hyde Park with its duck ponds is also close by when you need to escape. Budget rooms have the same facilities but share bathrooms.
• 210 Lake Street, Northbridge. +61 8 9328 5254, hotelnorthbridge.com.au. Budget double/twin from A$65 (£35)
Old Fire Station Backpackers, Fremantle
Perth has no shortage of backpacker accommodation in the city, especially in Northbridge and Fremantle. While CBD hostels lack character they are convenient if you’re passing through, are short on time, and are primarily sightseeing. Northbridge is perfect if you’re here to eat, drink and party; Fremantle is best if you’re after a bit of both worlds and thinking about staying on a while. Set in the historic firehouse, a short walk from the train station and ferry terminal for the CBD and Rottnest Island, this sprawling hostel has a huge common area, outdoor cinema, a decent kitchen and an on-site restaurant-bar. There are loads of activities and events on offer, from ping-pong tournaments and football matches to bands and themed parties. The clean colourful rooms have been decorated by local artists with murals on the walls. There is a dedicated girl’s dorm, along with mixed dorms and doubles.
• 18 Phillimore Street, Fremantle. +61 8 9430 5454, old-firestation.net. Four to 12-bed dorms from A$28 (£16-£19), doubles from A$75 (£40)
In the low-key residential suburb of south Perth, a quiet street, grassy park and sandy beach are all that separate these self-contained serviced apartments from the lake-like expanse of the Swan river and CBD. The Perth skyline views make this riverside spot a prime viewing area for summer fireworks and air-shows when locals gather for picnics on the lawn and sand to soak up the vistas. There are few better vantage points than the balconies at these comfortable apartments, most of which have dining tables and chairs. Ideal for families, they have well-equipped kitchens with big fridges, toasters and microwaves (although there are lots of superb cafes, restaurants and pubs nearby), along with laundry facilities and free parking. There are lots of parks nearby and the excellent Perth Zoo (adults A$24.50/£13.40, kids A$12.30/£6.75) is within walking distance.
• 53 South Perth Esplanade, +61 8 9368 6688, thepeninsula.net. Standard Suites from A$179 (£98), Balcony Suites from A$200 (£109), River View Suites from A$220 (£120)
Pension of Perth, Northbridge
On the other side of Hyde Park, behind a picket fence and rose garden, the intimate, three-room Pension of Perth is an option for travellers who want charm and character. In a historic Federation-era house dating to 1897, this delightful bed and breakfast overlooking the park is filled with antiques and collectables. There are gilt-edged mirrors, elegant chaise lounges, oriental carpets, open fireplaces, and bay windows. There is also attention to detail, from the aromatic essential oils that waft through the house to quiet touchpad keyless entry if you’re arriving late. The owners live on the premises and are attentive hosts, providing personal service you’d be hard-pressed to find in some of Perth’s best hotels. While Northbridge’s eat street is still close by, two more dining and drinking hubs – Beaufort Street in Mount Lawley and Newcastle and Oxford Streets in Leederville – are within walking distance.
• 3 Throssell Street, north Perth; +61 8 9228 9049, pensionperth.com.au. Doubles from A$165 (£90) B&B