Stephanie Holmes stays at the Berkeley River Lodge,in the eastern Kimberley, Western Australia.
: Berkeley River Lodge is Australia's most remote luxury lodge, hence the only way in is by small plane or boat.
Check-in experience : We were the first guests of the season, so the staff were ready and waiting to welcome us. The lodge is closed over the wet season, reopening in early April. Arriving early in the morning, breakfast was laid out for us, which we enjoyed before heading out on our first tour of the day.
Price : A couple would pay $3000 per room, per night, which includes return flights from Darwin airport to Berkeley, all meals and beverages (top-shelf alcohol excluded), and all activities (excluding helicopter tours).
What's in the neighbourhood? A stunning stretch of coastline and the largest sand dune system in Western Australia. Unfortunately, you can't swim in the sea — unless you're happy to take on bull sharks, saltwater crocodiles and irukandji jellyfish. The views are spectacular. As its name suggests, the lodge is also on the mouth of the Berkeley River, named as such by early-European pioneer Charles Conigrave, the first white man to find the river and its tributaries. Come at the right time of year (April/May) and a cruise down the river will bring you up close to some stunning waterfalls, as well as the billion-year-old cliffs and sandstone rock formations the Kimberley is famous for.
Room : There are 20 rooms, all in individual villas with ocean views. I was in villa 20, the furthest from the main lodge. It only has a neighbouring villa on the right, so to the left is an unobstructed view of ocean, beach, sand dunes and Outback.
The bed : Twin beds joined together. There was a ridge in the middle, but either side was comfortable.
Bathroom : All villas have outdoor bathrooms. While I've experienced many an outdoor shower and bath before, this was the first time the toilet was open-air too. It was a new, and enjoyable, experience to do my business while looking out to the Outback, feeling the sun and breeze on my ... erm, face. Being Outback Australia, I was quite nervous about the prospect of killer spiders and snakes lurking in the loo, so I made sure to check under the seat and in the bowl before every use. But a starlight bath in the warm tropical night-time air was a true joy.
Toiletries : Australian sandalwood shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, hand and body wash, bath salts and soap. There was also insect repellent (spray, plug-in and coils), essential in this tropical coastal climate.
The view : Just beautiful, from every angle, from sunrise to sunset. Keep your blinds open so you can wake up with the sun as it creeps over the horizon. These are sunrises you won't want to miss.
Food and drink : Dinner was a standout — we had canapes and a high-quality, delicious three-course, wine-matched meal. The sunset cheese board with beers on the beach was a winner, too.
Tours : We took a boat cruise on the Berkeley River, where guide Bruce and skipper Rick took us to spots of exceptional beauty, including many waterfalls, some of which we could get underneath for the most refreshing natural shower. Lunch was provided on board — including fresh prawns and champagne — and Bruce filled us with information about the landscape and its history. He also guided us on a 4WD beach drive — which ended with the cheese board and beers — where he showed us tracks on the beach made by the local wildlife (flatback turtles, as well as those pesky dingoes and salties), and a collection of Aboriginal tools and artefacts he's collected as he explores the area.
Free Wi-Fi? In the main lodge, yes, but limited to 250Mb a day each, which is barely enough to post the Instabrag pics you'll be dying to show your followers.
Noise : The ocean, birds, dingoes, and the odd cow that has roamed on to the property from a cattle station somewhere relatively nearby.
Value for money : Depends how rich you are, I guess...
Exercise facilities : Go for a run on the beach. Run faster if you see a croc. Don't swim in the ocean — there's a pool at the main lodge for doing laps.
Contact : berkeleyriverlodge.com.au
Perfect for : An exclusive escape in a fantastically remote location; fresh air and some of the best coastal views you'll get in the Kimberley.