Hotel Review: The Playford MGallery hits all the right notes, refreshed from top to tippy toe and glowing brightly on Adelaide’s North Terrace.


The flamboyant Paris Metro style entrance that welcomes guests to The Playford, on Adelaide’s premier boulevard North Terrace, is one of the hotel’s original features, but it hints at what’s inside.

The Playford may have been entirely refreshed and refurbed, as they say in the biz, but that art nouveau style edges its way artfully into the hotel’s design. Most notable is the sculptural ‘chandelier’ that wends its way across the ceiling in Luma, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant and bar.  But more about Luma later!

The sculptural ‘chandelier’ casts its light across Luma

Boutique best

The welcome here is warm. Although strictly speaking not that small, The Playford feels genuinely boutique – stylish and individual, five-star, with bespoke service.

The lobby is filled with flowers by Adelaide Hills’ Botanic Poetry and welcoming desk staff magically remember your room number (because I do lose my key!).  There is always someone close by to greet you, open a door, offer a drink, suggest something to see and do in Adelaide. 

How suite it is

There are 182 chic rooms on seven levels – almost 40 per cent of those suites – and 29 über-spacious, split-level loft suites – if you feel like spreading your wings.

My suite on level six has a balcony, a view onto North Terrace, and its own mini kitchen – microwave, Vittoria espresso machine and excellent French tea – (but no cooking for me! I’m all about sampling the hotel’s chef’s-hatted restaurant).

Speaking of food, the mini bar showcases South Australia’s food and drink bounty– a flask of small-batch ‘Prohibition Gin’, SA’s classic Coopers Beer, Jim Barry Watervale Riesling from the beautiful Clare Valley, hand-crafted Barossa Valley chocolates and Baylie’s gourmet fig and caramel biscuits, made in the Adelaide Hills.  I’m soon mixing a G+T for a pre-dinner aperitif.

A palette of smoky greys and neutrals, and furniture that traces a line between art deco, art nouveau and contemporary Italian design, create a soothing mood.

The bed is huge and deeply comfortable. Chocolates on the pillow? Tick. Quality bathrobe? Tick. In fact, once in your bathrobe – monogrammed of course, sumptuous soft grey cotton, fully lined, with the cutest little white collar and cuffs – you will not want to take it off.

In the gleaming bathroom you’ll discover a spa bath and a raft of Apelles toiletries with their soulful, restorative herbal fragrances (­willow bark, sea buckthorn).  

Luma – let there be light

Luma really is a star attraction at The Playford. The name, Latin for ‘light’, is a nod to Adelaide’s famous first Surveyor-General, Colonel Light – but the design riffs on French art nouveau and sleekly modern Italian style.

At night the space glows softly gold.  By day, light floods in through the original arched windows, while handcrafted ironwork adds a flourish. Padded cognac leather seating, curved chairs and comfy booths offer restaurant seating options, while a super-long cocktail bar invites guests to watch the bartenders work their magic.

Luma is open all day, from a full buffet breakfast, a morning espresso and pastry, (if you fancy catching some fresh air, there are tables outside beneath sunshades) to an express lunch, later aperitivo hour and finally dinner.

Who doesn’t love a good buffet breakfast?

For dinner, hard to know what to suggest. I loved the ‘Snacks’ – salty fresh Coffin Bay Oysters, luscious mushroom parfait, and dreamy twice-baked mini cheese souffles.  Seafood tagliatelle – the pasta handmade – is peppered with crab and tiger prawns. The pan-fried gnocchi were heavenly little clouds of perfection in a blue cheese sauce. And for serious eaters – a seared South Beef fillet with charred onion and creamy mash.  And that’s just a sample.

Heads up? Leave room for a pudding because these are exceptional. The individual Bombe Alaska, laced with whiskey, studded with chocolate, topped with meringue peaks then flambéed, was a showstopper.

The Bombe Alaska IS the bomb!

Executive chef, Cameron Tabe, is all about local, seasonal, sustainable, direct from the farm. “We have a rooftop garden for herbs, and a direct line to some of Adelaide’s top farm suppliers and producers. We often go straight to them,” he explained.

Excellent wine list (you are in South Australian wine country after all!).

The extras

The well-equipped Fitness Centre includes Peloton bikes (this is serious exercise) and you can follow up with a spa or dip in the pool, all sensibly open 24/7.

Wifi is free throughout the hotel and there’s a Business Centre. 

Where it’s at

A leisurely walk leads to the city’s cultural highlights – the Festival Centre, Adelaide Museum, the Art Gallery of SA and the State Library (don’t miss the Harry Potter-style Mortlock Wing – it’s Insta perfect).

You’re a mere drop kick from Adelaide Oval and the Tennis Centre, or a stroll beside the Torrens River.  You’re close (maybe too close for credit-card comfort?) to loads of retail shopping, not to mention the lively bar scene in Leigh Street, which spans Japanese, Italian, Basque and more.

For public transport, trams whizz by the front door, and the railway station is across the road. Though you can always ask the hotel to organise a limo, if that’s more your mood.

And, of course, you’re only an hour or so from the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and other top destinations.

What we are addicted to

The excellent, friendly service. And the Bombe Alaska!

What we need to be more addicted

Possibly just me, but those pillows are quite high.  A softer spare pillow in the cupboard please.

The Playford Adelaide, MGallery, 120 North Terrace, Adelaide.

Margaret Barca was a guest of The Playford – MGallery.

Adelaide is on the traditional Country of the Kaurna people.

About the author

Margaret is a Melbourne-based slow traveller who loves exploring hotels from high end to quirky, cutting-edge design, quiet beaches and off-grid retreats. While she loves galleries, museums and the buzz of big cities, she is also often dreaming of Tulum or the Aeolian Islands. She packs light but always takes a book.


- Enter Your Location -
- or -