Cape Howe Cottages, Western Australia
What are they? Cape Howe Cottages are self-contained hideaways located, for the most part, on a self-declared nature reserve. There are five in all, ranging in suitability from the Kings Den, which has a spa bath and an outdoor shower in a private courtyard - ideal for couples seeking romantic seclusion - to the Keepers Lodge, which is set apart from the others on a hillside with sweeping views of a valley and surrounding wooded hills, and sleeps 10 - comfortable for an extended family.
Where are they? In the picturesque southwestern corner of Australia, off the Lower Denmark Road, the more scenic of the two thoroughfares that run between bohemian Denmark and historic Albany.
What do visitors need to bring? Apart from clothes and personal possessions, nothing. Each cottage comes with a fully equipped (including wok) kitchen, a barbecue, a television and DVD player, towels, toiletries, a high chair and baby cot, a washing machine and games, books and magazines. Even things you may not expect or use - such as an essential-oil burner, a picnic set and binoculars - are supplied.
What is there to do? Hiking - or strolling, if you are so inclined - is the obvious pastime in these parts. Several hundred metres past the cottages, the non-sealed road is bisected by the almost 1,000-kilometre Bibbulmun Track walking trail. A short amble farther along brings you to one of the many often-deserted (but often-windswept, too) beaches that line the coast of the Great Southern, as this part of the state is known. Owners Gaynor and David Clarke say the cottages are popular in the wildflower season: September to November. The region is home to a great number of wineries, which throw open their doors to visitors. A 20-minute drive away is Denmark, a riverside town with an impressive range of cafes, and 30 minutes in the other direction brings you to Albany, which boasts a number of museums, good (for this part of the world) shopping and the holiday-resort attractions of Middleton Beach.
Anything else? If you do not feel inclined to cook, Gaynor Clarke will whip you up a pizza or a curry and deliver it to your door. The Clarkes also offer the Life's Little Luxuries package - fluffy bathrobes, satin pillow cases, romantic-music CDs and aromatherapy bath oils, plus chocolates and flowers on arrival and a breakfast basket for two - and fishing rods. Guests staying in Keepers Lodge have the added attraction of seeing the horses and alpacas belonging to the farm next door strolling by beneath their patio, wild kangaroos hopping off into the distance at dusk and, if they are up early enough, rabbits and stalking foxes. The sound of kookaburras can be almost deafening at times.
What's the bottom line? The cheapest cottage is the two-bedroom Snug (above; A$160/HK$1,100 per night for two, plus A$20 per night for each extra person) while the most expensive is the luxurious, adults-only Kings Den (A$250 per night for two). The Keepers Lodge costs A$170 per night for two, plus A$20 per night per extra person.
Cape Howe Cottages are at 322 Tennessee Road South, Lowlands Beach, Albany, Western Australia, tel: 61 8 9845 1396; www.capehowe.com.au.