Since 1915 Coober Pedy has lured those who seek the elusive opal which is found in this vast Outback semi-desert area. Many of the locals live in dugouts (underground homes) where the earth gives natural temperature control. Visitors have always been fascinated by this underground way of living.
In 1981 Umberto Coro began to realise a dream of sharing the extraordinary experience of underground living with visitors to the town. He had been associated with the town's mining and hospitality industry for more than 26 years. He understood what visitors wanted. Umberto Coro never saw his dream become a reality. Sadly, he was killed in a road accident in 1986. His son Robert, the hotel's General Manager, and the rest of the family continued the work to make sure that the Desert Cave Hotel would be completed. Construction began in 1984 and the Desert Cave Hotel was officially opened in 1988.
Opal mining machinery was brought to town from the opal fields to gouge through the sandstone of a hillside near the main street. Extreme heat, severe dust storms and mini-cyclones made work extremely difficult. Almost all the building materials had to be transported from Adelaide, some 850km south. Local rock gathered from the Moon Plain, 25km north, was used for the feature stonework on the front of the buildings. Visitors are amazed at the beauty of the underground walls. Furnishings have been selected to reflect the light and colour of the Outback.
Visitors can stay underground, or if they prefer, above ground rooms are also available. Sleeping underground is a unique experience. Quiet, cool, dark and airy - the rooms are spacious with high ceilings. Most visitors say that sleeping underground gives them the best night's sleep they have ever had. It is an experience not to miss. The Desert Cave Hotel also has underground shops, a cafe, an opal interpretive centre, and an underground bar and gaming room. The hotel offers visitors the best opportunity to experience Coober Pedy 'dugout' living.
In 1989, the Desert Cave Hotel won both the South Australian and National Tourism Awards for Tourism Development. The Desert Cave Hotel again won the South Australian Tourism Award for national standard accommodation in 1990 and 1991.
The Desert Cave Hotel remains owned and operated by the Coro family.