About the Hotel
The town of Coober Pedy in South Australia may be world famous for its opals, but that’s not the only gem it’s hiding. Amidst the sprawling desert views and pervading sense of tranquility, Coober Pedy holds a secret. And you need to go below ground to discover what it is. The name of the town, however, which translates roughly into “White man in a hole”, should be enough of a hint. Yes, we’re talking about underground dwellings, hundreds of them. Initially constructed as a means to escape the sweltering daytime heat, these underground homes, or “dugouts” as they’re locally called, have become part of the cultural identity of Coober Pedy. Local businesses have also gotten in on the trend, and there are several underground hotels in the area now. But not many of them can hold a candle to the splendor of the Radeka Downunder Underground Motel.
The history of this place is quite fascinating. It didn’t start off as a motel. In the 1960’s, it was actually an opal mine and operations went on until the mid-1980’s, when the entire place was converted into a motel. The underground accommodations and rooms were all tunneled out of sandstone material, which the surrounding environment has aplenty. As Coober Pedy rose in prominence
As Coober Pedy rose in prominence as a major tourist destination, the Radeka Underground Motel updated itself to stay relevant and attractive. The management makes sure that guests have access to the best amenities and comfort possible. After all, it’s not easy being the best in town! In the process, this has become a must-visit place for any couples, families, and backpackers who come to Coober Pedy. All are welcome to explore what an underground motel feels like. After all, it’s an experience in itself and should not be missed. Let’s take a look at what’s in store when you book a room at the Radeka Downunder Underground Motel.
When booking a place to stay, what’s the first thing that draws you in? The way the outside of the building looks, right? Well, in this case, first impressions shouldn’t count as the exterior of the motel is highly unassuming. Well, there is a pretty garden for guests to relax and a sun roof to soak in some rays, but that’s about the extent of it. Nothing jaw-dropping! It’s only when you head underground that the magic is revealed to you. From the start it becomes evident that all of the interiors are made out of natural rock and stone. In theory, this might seem crude and unsophisticated, but when you look at it, it’s actually quite fascinating and definitely adds to the mystique of the place.
The entire motel is comprised of 10 regular rooms, 12 budget rooms, and 12 different dormitories. Out of the 10 regular ones, eight of them are constructed almost 3.5 meters under a sandstone ridge, and you’ve got to enter through the ground level. They’re incredible to behold, and that’s probably the reason why these rooms get booked very fast. The remaining two regular rooms are built above ground, and have windows. They are a thoughtful addition for people who feel claustrophobic below ground. To access the dorm area and the budget section of the motel, one needs to go further below. A flight of 34 steps guides your way to these rooms, which are built 6.5 meters underground.
All the regular rooms in this place come with private en suite bathrooms. However, guests who opt for shared dorms or private budget rooms will need to use shared facilities.
Just because it’s an underground motel doesn’t mean that you won’t have access to the usual amenities. Some interesting facilities present within the motel include an on-site bar, a fully-stocked communal kitchen, and a coin-operated laundromat. So, management has got you pretty much covered!
People who can’t go a day without their morning/evening tea and coffee, you’re in luck! Both these beverages are served at the motel. The private suites even come equipped with their own bar sized refrigerator. There’s a television in every room that will allow the guests to pass the time. The management has also wisely decided to install air conditioning units in the above-ground rooms, so that guests don’t face problems because of the heat.
There’s no need for budget room users to despair; they have other amenities to look forward to. Beds are made up and they’ll be supplied with fresh, clean towels. If you’ve booked a dorm room, you’ll be provided a bottom sheet, pillows, and a pillow case. Of course, they’ll have to use their own sleeping bag or blanket – that’s the only drawback. Showers and toilets must be shared. There’s also a fully-equipped and well-stocked communal kitchen for guests to use in case they feel peckish in the middle of the night. There’s a residential licensed bar awaiting guests who want to grab a cool drink to beat the heat.
Location plays a big part in the success of any establishment, and this motel is no different. Centrally located in Coober Pedy, guests can spot it instantly on the town’s main street. Run as an independent, family style business, operations in the motel are brisk and efficient. Guests won’t have to travel far for a spot of shopping and a good meal. Most restaurants and shops are fairly close; within five minutes of walking distance from the motel.
The motel runs various daily tours where guests can visit some of the major local attractions. These tours last half a day, and they are a great way to get a taste of the local scenery and pass the time. So take your pick and get ready to enjoy some amazing sights and sounds. Of course, all of these tours and their respective itineraries are subject to weather and road conditions. The safety of the guests is paramount to the staff, and they never take risks.
The tours begin at different time slots. While the longer tours begin before daybreak, others begin in the mornings and afternoons. You get to see some of the most famous attractions of the land, such as the opal fields, the Dog Fence and the Moon Fence Desert, the Breakaways, the underground church, the local golf course, Crocodile Harry’s Underground Home/Museum. On some of these trips, usually the ones that last for more than a couple hours, you even get complimentary nibbles and beer/wine. Some of these attractions are not to be missed, and they are sure to leave a lasting impression.
It’s possible that you might not like any of the tours planned by the motel. In that case you can talk to them and plan your own personalized tour that meets your requirements. Tour guides can be hired to provide commentary on private coaches. This provides you with a lot of flexibility, and adds a personal dimension to the proceedings, making it well-worth your time.
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Here is some additional information to help you plan well.
- Though the reception desk at the motel stays in operation from 8 am to 10 pm daily, guests coming in late won’t have to worry.
- There’s a night bell at the front door that intimates the management about late arrivals.
- Guests should keep in mind that no pets are allowed inside the motel.
- The hotel staff is familiar with different languages, so that guests feel more uncomfortable.
- The check-in time at the motel is 11 am while the checkout time is 10 am.
- However, for guests who arrive early from Adelaide after taking the Greyhound bus, they can check-in immediately and head to their dorm beds to get some rest.
- Guests at the motel can enjoy secure on-site parking for their bicycles and motor bikes.
- The parking spot is in a shaded area, so the vehicles won’t sustain any weather damage.
- The motel provides courtesy pick-up and drop-off via bus at the Coober Pedy Airport or the local bus station.
South Australia is known for its extreme temperatures. That’s probably one of the reasons why you should pick an underground hotel in the first place. In Coober Pedy, 60 percent of the town residents live below ground to avoid the summer heat. For instance, if it’s 113 F outside, underground it will be 78 F to 82 F. The temperature in winter nights almost touches 32 F, which is freezing. However, the temperature in the underground hotel is a lot more comfortable, in the 68 F to 72 F mark. Keep this in mind when you’re packing for the trip.