The Best Hotels in the Northern Territory

From outback opulence to Aboriginal accents to waterfront enjoyment, accommodation in the Northern Territory is as diverse as the people and landscapes. If there’s one thing most all have in common, it’s the incredible natural settings and the opportunity to connect with land and culture.

Mary River Floodplai, Kakadu NT 0836, Australia
A short distance from Kakadu, a three-hour drive east of Darwin, 10 airy bungalows on stilts have en suite showers and views of the wildlife-filled Mary River floodplains.
Kings Creek Station, Red Centre Way, Watarrka National Park NT 0872, Australia
My idea of a good time is getting lost in the woods all so I can spend a few days finding my way home, but I can’t deny the allure of glamping – especially when it comes packaged up in the form of the Kings Canyon Wilderness Lodge, the Northern Territory’s answer to rustic chic. The luxury eco-cabins – fully heated and air conditioned – are wonderful, but there’s little reason to tuck yourself away inside when you can sip Aussie wine by the fire, or enjoy a gourmet meal under starry skies (or in the lodge restaurant on chilly winter nights). The last thing I expected to tuck into in the Outback was a spicy prawn curry, but I shouldn’t have been surprised – the Northern Territory has plenty of tricks up her sleeve.
Katherine NT 0850, Australia
Cicada Lodge is run by the native Jawoyn people and is the only luxury accommodation in Australia’s awe-inspiring Nitmiluk National Park, roughly four and a half hours from Darwin. The word Nitmiluk (pronounced nit-me-look) means “cicada place” and refers to an Aboriginal creation myth where a Jawoyn man hears the sound of cicadas from deep within a gorge. That’s only the beginning of the indigenous influence here. Aboriginal dot paintings hang on bedroom walls; unheard-of ingredients flavor the foods; and indigenous stories and traditions enliven tours that local guides lead throughout the park’s 13 gorges. The wood-paneled restaurant and pool deck, connected by glass doors, form the centerpiece of the lodge. They serve as the communal gathering place for meals, sunset drinks, and leisurely downtime. In 2014, the lodge won the prestigious Gold Plate award for its modern twist on “bush tucker” (indigenous food).
Point Stuart Rd, Arnhem NT 0801, Australia
What started as an outback resort known as Wrotham Park Station in far north Queensland was bought by Indigenous Business Australia, dismantled, and loaded on 18 triple road trains (each roughly the length of three semi trucks) for the journey 1,740 miles across rain forest and desert to the Northern Territory’s Mary River Wetlands, about an hour and a half from Darwin, adjacent to Kakadu National Park. Safari tents from Kenya were added to the modern “Habitats” and restaurant and bar to complete the immersive Australian wilderness retreat. Like the world’s best safari camps, Wildman Wilderness Lodge has a spacious wooden deck with an infinity pool and daybed-style lounge chairs that encircle a fire pit. This is the place to watch the sun set and look for the area’s wallabies, dingoes, water buffalo, wild pigs, native birds, and two resident saltwater crocodiles known as Big Arse and Fat Arse.

The Mary River Wetlands are known for having the highest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the world, and the lily-studded floodplains are prime habitat for barramundi, which the restaurant often cooks for dinner. Open March through November, the lodge treads lightly on the landscape and is culturally connected to the native Limilngan, Unwynmil, and Wulna people, who have lived in the area for thousands of years.
Baines NT 0852, Australia
After exploring tropical Darwin, Shelby’s Wildlife Walkabout itinerary continues with several nights at the exclusive Bullo River Station. There are only 12 guest rooms at the station, yet some 500,000 acres of land near the border with the state of Western Australia. The area’s wildlife includes wallabies and crocodiles, as well as countless bird species. The Bullo River Station offers a number of activities: organized walks, horseback rides, fishing, and cattle mustering among them. Helicopter tours can also be arranged for an additional fee. A full itinerary for Shelby’s Wildlife Walkabout trip as well as other trips to Australia can be found at AFAR Journeys.
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AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
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