Frequently Asked Questions about the best place to stay in McLaren Vale*
* according to Tripadvisor traveller ranking for the McLaren Vale wine region
Where is the best place to stay in the McLaren Vale Wine Region?
Good question … Karawatha Cottages, of course : )
Our self-catering luxury cottages have everything you could possibility want for the best stay in McLaren Vale – whether you are intending to visit for a retreat in the McLaren Vale wine region or plan to venture further out to explore the Fleurieu Peninsula.
We are immensely proud that we have been awarded with the Tripadvisor "Traveler's Choice Best of the Best" in the boutique accommodation category for Australia in 2021 and again in 2022 - the only South Australian property to be named in this Top 25 list.
What makes Karawatha Cottages different?
With our purpose designed and built cottages, we offer luxurious yet affordable accommodation for McLaren Vale, uniquely located for the region as we are within walking distance to several wineries and restaurants (for lunch)!
With each cottage offering stunning views across vineyards and native bushland to the Mount Lofty Ranges, you will feel like being a world away – but the townships of McLaren Vale (5km) and Willunga (10km) are within a short driving distance and even the glorious beaches of the Fleurieu Coast are only a 15 min drive away.
Each of our cottages – The Ponder, The Unwind and The Relish – is individually furnished, offering you plenty of space with an open-plan kitchen, dining and living area and separate bedroom/s.
We take great pride in our 5-star rating on TripAdvisor, Google and other review sites. Find out why we and our guests believe Karawatha Cottages is the best accommodation in McLaren Vale by reading our glowing reviews
What does Karawatha actually mean?
Karawatha means ‘place of pines’ in the local aboriginal language and as far as we could determine, the original farm property has always been named Karawatha. The original homestead, now the owner’s residence, together with approx. 2.5 acres has been subdivided from the surrounding vineyards before the 1980’s and includes part of the pine forest that is today the backdrop to the cottages.
What type of accommodation do you offer?
We offer three bespoke cottages, our 1-bedroom cottages Unwind and Ponder and our 2-bedroom cottage Relish (which can also be booked in a 1-bedroom configuration). Each cottage is positioned on the hillside on our 2.5-acre property, with a large private deck to benefit from the sublime views over vineyards and native bushland to the Mount Lofty Ranges.
What is included in the rate?
Luxurious Sheridan linen and towels, quality toiletries, a breakfast hamper with bacon, eggs & tomatoes, fresh loaf of bread, homemade granola and jam plus yoghurt, fresh milk, orange juice and butter. Each cottage also features T-bar teas (8 different types of tea), coffee pods, plus ground coffee for a French Press.
All guests receive a premium bottle of local wine on arrival. In cooler months (May to September), wood for the fire is also provided. Rates also includes a standard cleaning upon check out.
Do you have any special considerations covering Covid?
The entire team at Karawatha Cottages is fully vaccinated and the health and well-being of our guests is a top priority for us. Our cottages have always been 'deep-cleaned' after every stay and since the emergence of Covid-19, we have limited same day check-outs and check-ins to a maximum of one cottage - thus not only ensuring ample cleaning time (now with face masks) but also several hours to completely air the cottages prior to new guests arriving.
Our personal welcomes are strictly done outside of the cottage to avoid any further risks.
With the complete opening of the SA state borders, we now have removed our formal 'peace of mind' cancel policies but you have our commitment that we will look after your booking in the event of any future government imposed border closures or lockdowns (direct bookings only, with residential address provided at time of booking); if you are prevented from traveling, your booking will be fully refundable up to 14 days prior arrival and a full travel credit offered between 14 and 2 days prior arrival).
Please note this covers only government imposed border closures or lock-downs. Regular domestic travel insurance will cover you if your travel plans are interrupted due to sickness (and now include Covid-19).
We highly recommend to take out travel insurance appropriate to your personal circumstances.
Also, we will always refund your booking (minus a $ 50 admin charge) if we are able to re-sell your booking (see our terms and conditions for our full cancel policy)
Do I need to pay a security deposit?
No security deposit is required, but we reserve the right to charge additional cleaning fee, should the cottage be left in an unreasonable state and excess cleaning is needed (see our full terms and conditions for details)
Do you have any specials?
We don’t run specials as such but do offer reduced rates for Sunday to Thursday stays outside of school holidays. Please see our rates and availability page for our most current offers.
What is the check-in procedure?
We love our personal meet & greet, giving us the opportunity to share details about our property, provide you with personal recommendations on cellar doors & restaurants to visit – but you can also choose to completely self-check-in.
We live on the property and can always answer your questions also at a later stage.
Approximately one week prior your stay, you will get a pre-arrival e-mail, providing you with all details again of your booking with us, as well giving you the code for the key safe of your cottage.
On the day of arrival and as soon as your cottage is ready for check-in, you will receive a SMS text message, providing you again with your cottage details and the access code.
Check-in is from 3pm, check-out at 10am. If you have booked directly with us on our website or by calling us, you benefit from a late check out at 11am.
What is the check-out procedure?
We hate to see you leave … but obviously there is always a time to depart.
Check-out is as easy as checking in: we just kindly ask you to leave the cottage in a clean and tidy condition, with all dishes washed and stowed away.
No need to take the rubbish along (there is a recycle bin at each cottage) or to strip down the beds – we look after that.
Simply lock the door and put the key back into the key safe.
Do you accept 1-night bookings?
We know, sometimes it feels like it is just the one night that you can get away – but it doesn’t do the McLaren Vale region justice, there is so much to see and do here and after all, it is just a 45 min drive from Adelaide and you can even return to the city to go straight back to work.
All our cottages have a two-night minimum, with 3-night minimums on select public holidays weekends.
Can I invite friends/others to the accommodation?
For the comfort and security of our guests, as well as for us to comply with our license and insurance obligations, there are strictly no visitors allowed on the property at any time.
Only the guests booked (including children and infants) and confirmed on your reservation may stay at the cottages. A change of guests during your stay is not possible (i.e. it is not possible to have different guests staying at different nights throughout your stay).
The Unwind and the Ponder Cottage can accommodate a maximum of 2 guests (plus 1 infant), the Relish Cottage a maximum of 4 guests plus 1 infant (provided it has been booked for 4 guests)
Any vendors visiting the property such as caterers, make-up artists, hairdressers etc. must be listed in writing to the manager prior to check in.
How long will it take to travel to Karawatha Cottages?
From Adelaide airport or CBD allow approx. 45 min to get to Karawatha Cottages; Cape Jervis and the Kangaroo Island ferry terminal are approx. 1hr 10 min from us and the township of McLaren Vale is a short 5 min drive.
Detailed directions are available from our contact page.
Can I purchase a gift certificate or voucher?
Absolutely – there is nothing better to give than the gift of travel. Please see our gift voucher page to purchase online, with vouchers issued instantly for those last-minute gifts. Or contact us if you want to set up a gift registry in your name.
How I can redeem my gift voucher / certificate?
It's easy to redeem your gift voucher and book your stay in McLaren Vale at Karawatha Cottages; best is to first check for availability on our rates & availability page and then e-mail or better even call us (unfortunately our system doesn't allow an online redemption for gift vouchers yet) with your dates and the details of your gift voucher.
Is there WIFI?
We have complimentary internet access, but please bear in mind that we are in a rural location and our fixed wireless NBN access tends to fluctuate.
Why don’t you use the time at Karawatha Cottage to digitally detox and enjoy the good things in life!
Is the accommodation non-smoking?
There is absolutely no smoking permitted inside the cottages, but you may smoke on your private cottage deck.
Do you accommodate children?
We absolutely welcome children of all ages, with infants of 2 years and younger staying free of charge. All children (above 2 years) need to be part of your booking and are included in the maximum number of guests we can accommodate in the cottage. Given the rural nature of our property, please note that children must be supervised at all times.
We can provide a cot free of charge, subject to booking in advance and availability (please include as a special request in your booking).
We can also recommend you wineries to visit that cater to families travelling with children.
Can we bring our pets?
No, we unfortunately cannot accommodate your pets.
Can I book in-room dining?
All of our cottages have a fully equipped kitchen, perfect for your personal use.
We do not provide an in-house dining menu, but your room rate includes a breakfast hamper with provisions, which you will find in your cottage on arrival (and we will re-stock for longer stays) – or you can order a cheese platter or a picnic basket when booking your room.
You can stock up on more supplies at our local McLaren Vale supermarkets (Foodland and Coles) in the McLaren Vale Central shopping complex, where you will also find the local butcher (renowned Ellis Butcher), a bakery and a pharmacy. If you are staying on a Saturday morning, we highly recommend a visit to the Willunga Farmers Market.
Alternatively, you can also make use of the food delivery straight to your cottage from some of our outstanding local restaurants – or pick up a pizza or more from others. You can find details on our restaurant page
At what time is breakfast served?
We are not a hosted Bed & Breakfast, but provide you with a sumptuous breakfast hamper for your stay, allowing you to cook your breakfast in your fully equipped kitchen at your preferred time.
What can I do for food, if I arrive late to Karawatha Cottages?
If you are just looking for something light to eat on your arrival, you can simply order a cheese platter with us (minimum of 48-hour notice); for something more substantial, you can order meals through one of our restaurants (see our restaurant page) and pick them up on your way to your McLaren Vale accommodation.
Can I have a wedding or hen/stag or other party at Karawatha Cottages?
No – we do not cater for parties or events of any kind.
Can I use a cottage to get ready for my wedding and for the bridal party?
We cannot accommodate traditional wedding parties with bridesmaids or grooms men, in order to ensure all our guests can enjoy the serenity of surroundings at all times. But if it is just you and your future spouse planning to get ready and stay at Karawatha Cottages, we can make that happen for you (our Ponder Cottage is best for this). A mandatory wedding package will apply – please contact us prior to booking to determine if we can accommodate your booking.
Can I walk to wineries, cellar doors or restaurants?
Yes, you can!
We actually see this as one of our key differentiators, as we always struggled on our frequent visits (before moving here) to find McLaren Vale accommodation that was in walking distance to cellar doors and restaurants and was amongst the vines.
With Geddes Wines, Beresford Wines and the Woodstock Wine Estate, we have 3 cellar doors within 500 m from your cottage, with Beresford also offering light lunch and the Woodstock Wine Estate featuring the Coterie Restaurant.
Within approx. 1km you will find a brewery & restaurant (Vale Brewing Taphouse) and our favourite, the one-hatted restaurant The Currant Shed.
Or, a favourite experience of our guests, simply follow our self-guided ‘Karawatha Cottages Flat Mates Wine Walking Trail’: a leisurely 5km walk that combines up to 6 cellar doors, a brewery and the restaurants above.
See our Wine Trails, Walk & Cycle McLaren Vale and Restaurant pages for more details
Are there any laundry facilities at Karawatha Cottages?
No, there aren't. As a boutique short-term accommodation provider (rather than a holiday rental), we were actually expressly forbidden as part of our development approval to offer any guest laundry facilities.
But, there are public laundromats close by at the Seaford Shopping Centre (approx. 14km) or at the Aldinga Shopping Centre (approx. 20km).
Do I need a car when staying at Karawatha Cottages?
Not necessarily – a car certainly makes it a lot easier to get to us and to get around, but having said that, you can certainly spend a few days here without having to have a car. Uber is servicing the area, giving you a very cost-efficient way to get around (it just takes a bit longer than in the city for them to arrive) and once here, you can walk to wineries, hire bikes or book a wine tour.
Do you provide bike hire?
Bikes are a great way of exploring the McLaren Vale wine region - with the "Flat to the Vale Trail" starting just 2km from Karawatha Cottages and leading you to McLaren Vale and the Shiraz Trail. Plus, we have a range of bike trail routes (all starting at Karawatha Cottages) mapped out for you, to discover some wonderful cellar doors and restaurants. Check out our Walk & Cycle McLaren Vale page for details.
We don't however have bikes available for hire - but head over to our friends at SA eBikes and they will deliver (and pick-up again) a perfectly maintained and serviced e-bike straight to your cottage.
We do have safe, undercover bike storage for you.