The best family hotels in New South Wales, Australia

Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley - one of the best family hotels in New South Wales
Highlights at luxury retreat Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley include getting up close to horses and other exciting animal activities such as wildlife safaris

Australia’s east coast is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches – from family-centric swimming areas to enclosed ocean rock pools – but we all know it takes (a little) more than a bucket and spade to have a harmonious family holiday. The following properties range from ‘fair dinkum’ outback destinations for little adventurers who aren’t afraid to get their feet dirty, to high-end retreats for those with once-in-a-lifetime budgets.

There are junior rangers programmes featuring archery, fossil hunting and bush survival courses, and behind-the-scenes tours at regional zoos. For the less adventurous, there are secluded beaches for long lazy days swimming and exploring rockpools (and the crawly creatures that hide within them), and resorts with toddler pools, choo choo trains, and fish and chips and ice cream for every meal. Here's our pick of the best family-friendly hotels in New South Wales.

How we review

Every hotel in this curated list has been visited by one of our expert reviewers, who are usually hosted on a complimentary basis. They stay for a minimum of one night, test at least one meal and trial other experiences that the hotel might have to offer.

At a glance, the best family hotels in New South Wales


Byron Bay’s premier family destination has private access to one of Australia’s most renowned beaches, a Parkour-inspired all-natural playground within a rainforest, and an outdoor games area. A solar-powered heritage train chugs into the centre of town, providing respite from the notorious Byron Bay traffic and the hunt for the elusive beachfront parking spot. The resort’s lagoon pool precinct is a dedicated area for toddlers and babies to enjoy safe water play, while older children have free reign of the large pool and the pods that surround it. The two-bedroom villas sleep up to four people; families of five will need to opt for the superior or deluxe villas.

An insider guide to Sydney

Children lucky enough to visit this conservation-based resort, in bushland between Wollemi and Stone National Parks, will be treated to a whole range of activities. Not only are there mountain bikes outside every cabin, hosted wildlife safaris, and stargazing tours, the junior rangers programme features archery, fossil hunting and bush survival. You can also hop on the Sundowner Tour for a two-hour bus ride through the property to see the many kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos and wombats. Each villa has an indoor plunge pool, and a separate living room. Dining is a treat, featuring delicate and artfully presented dishes – plus a children’s menu.

• The best boutique hotels in Sydney

This glamping retreat is an ideal solution for families who want to experience the Australian bush but don’t actually enjoy camping. The 12 self-contained tents have been erected on top of small pavilions, with wraparound terraces complete with outdoor furniture, screens for protection against bugs and private outdoor bathrooms. Inside, the king-sized beds are dressed in luxe linens and surrounded by mosquito nets; it’s the most comfortable night’s sleep you can ask for in a “tent”. Children over six years of age are welcome and will love the mountain bikes, a creek with a rope for Tarzan and Jane-style adventuring, kayaking and swimming. Dinner at The Gunya overlooking the grounds, where fairy lights dot the trees and a campfire flickers, is a treat for both young and old.

• The best things to do in Sydney

Pastel-coloured doors and polka-dot carpets echo Bondi’s carefree, frisky tone and give this beach-side property a sense of fun. The hotel is just across the road from the world-famous beach, where generations of Aussie children have grown up surfing, boogie-boarding, making sand castles, and exploring the rockpools. The large rooms — choose an Atrium or Gould suite for the extra space — have fold-out couches and roomy living spaces. Bicycles, buggies and surfboards are available free-of-charge for all guests. While there is no restaurant at the hotel, Bondi has no shortage of knockout eateries: head to Hall Street for Bill Granger’s famed ricotta hotcakes at breakfast, and to D’Orazio for pizza and pasta at dinnertime, alongside every other family in Bondi.

• The best budget hotels in Sydney

One for the history and nature-loving families. The Old Quarantine Station is 10 miles (17 km) from the city centre and is located within the Sydney Harbour National Park, a secluded spot on the very edge of the harbour. The Quarantine Station was used from the 1830s to house people who arrived in Australia and were suspected of carrying contagious diseases such as Spanish Influenza, Smallpox or Bubonic Plague. Many of the original buildings (including the extremely creepy shower stalls) have been preserved as museums. The history tours are excellent for children; and older children will enjoy the candle-lit ghost tours that explore the area’s darker history. Only service vehicles are allowed entry making cycling and scooting on the property safe and fun. The property also has its own private beach; snorkelling gear, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards can be hired from the visitor centre.

• The best restaurants in Sydney

Family comes first at this Blue Mountains retreat, and they really pack the facilities in. The ‘kidzone’, located discreetly on the lowest floor, has a bowling alley, video arcade, two massive climbing gyms and a mirror maze, among many other activities. Bumper cars operate outside, and the Fairmont Express – a small steam train – leaves twice daily for a 20-minute journey around the property. The hotel prides itself on being a cross-generational happy place for families and many of the dishes on offer at the five in-house restaurants are a nod to cooking styles of generations past. Choose from family suites and spacious, interconnecting guest rooms — all have a quaint, log cabin-cosiness.

• The best luxury hotels in Sydney

Situated in the heart of Circular Quay, Sydney’s tourist precinct, the Shangri-La is adjacent to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and an easy walk to The Sydney Opera House, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, making sightseeing with little ones as easy as it gets. Rooms above level 30 come with the best views, and access to the Horizon Club, with private check-in service, light breakfast and dining, snacks throughout the day and evening cocktails. A 25-metre heated indoor pool will keep children happy as will the warm welcome: complimentary amenities might include a small plush Australian animal, or star-shaped chocolate lollipop.

• The best bars in Sydney

For foodie families, Bannister’s is the go-to destination. With Rick Stein at the helm, it’s not hard to see why gourmands continue to flock to this seaside bolthole. Children will love the beachfront access and the activities “the dolphin capital of Australia” is famous for. A typical day out in Port Stephens could include whale watching, camel rides, frolicking with dolphins, hiking, kayaking or riding the white dunes in sand buggies. And there’s a dedicated children’s menu that includes Stein’s fish and chips, linguini with tomato sauce, and minute steaks. Ice cream to follow, of course.

• The best hotels in New South Wales

Zoofari Lodge, located just behind the African Savannah at Dubbo Western Plains Zoo, is the ideal family adventure that doesn’t scrimp on comfort. The behind-the-scenes tours, led by an entertaining and informative guide, both delight and captivate children. Highlights include feeding the giraffes and getting up close to the lions — all before breakfast. The guesthouse has a communal dining room where guests share breakfast and dinner, and a games room centred around a large, stone fireplace with a chessboard and library. Visitors are also given a two-day admission pass to Taronga Western Plains Zoo, which can be explored on foot, bike or buggy.

• The best beaches in Sydney

While Watsons Bay is a remote location for those travelling by car, it’s a picturesque and quick 25-minute ferry trip to Circular Quay. Families will love the seaside location where kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, frolicking in the water and windswept cliff-top walks are just out the backdoor. The lobby, dining room and beach club are decorated in Hamptons-style chic; think white-washed furniture, dip-dyed soft furnishings, fishing nets, and sailboats. Dinner at the beach club includes some excellent options for children, and adults will appreciate being able to sit back with a glass of wine while the children paddle in the shallows. Opt for a room that doesn’t overlook the beach club— it can get noisy at night.