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Hot on the heels of its Brisbane The Fantauzzo hotel launch, Accor this week opened the doors to its ninth Art Series hotel, The Adnate. But does its 27 story high rise feature mural stack up against the artist’s best? According to Accor, the new 250-room CBD Hay Street hotel promises to inspire guests with ‘the art of dreaming big’ with a main exterior façade spray-painted with a multicultural portraiture mega mural by world-renowned Australian…

The heart of Victoria’s High Country new boutique accommodation operator Big Sky Retreats has just launched a new premium home stay: Big Sky Ridgeview, located in the popular mountainous tourist town of Bright. Designed to encourage longer stays and a retreat to nature without sacrificing an inch of luxury, Big Sky Ridgeview, is one of a select new group of year-round Australian holiday stays that raise-the-bar in terms of features, quality and creative design. Set…

Finally this week, some good news from Hong Kong! Billed as the highest rooftop bar in the world, Ozone has just launched an epic new cocktail menu that draws inspiration from the five elements of nature — metal, wood, water, fire and earth. Promising a tasting experience that’s worth the journey to the top of Hong Kong’s tallest skyscraper, the International Commerce Centre building in Tsim Sha Tsui, these drinks coupled with sweeping views of…

At a time when uber cool black hotel interiors are the order of the day, Brisbane’s new Art Series Hotel – The Fantauzzo uses black in wonderful context. Some might consider it slightly mood zapping, but we think it’s black and charcoal colour scheme that you’ll love, accentuating the art and amplifying the raw story telling of Australian painter Vincent Fantauzzo. Tucked snugly underneath Brisbane’s Story Bridge and providing a powerful visual backdrop to the…

Essentials’ favourite High Country pub, the Harrietville Snowline Hotel, has recently boosted its appeal by hosting large group and corporate team-building events that leverage the pub’s unique contacts and knowledge of High Country adventure and lifestyle activities. Recent hosted weekend retreats, including one for Melbourne accounting firm Bluerock, have seen groups of up to 100 take to the nearby mountains and trails for challenges including skiing, cycling and rope activities; plus excursions to breweries and…

If you’re a lover of finely detailed and rather dramatic nineteenth century landscape art, like myself, then you might have, at one time or another appreciated the works of the Hudson River School art movement. Their aesthetic vision was influenced by Romanticism but also focused on three themes of the America in the nineteenth century: discovery, exploration, and settlement. Filled with power and energy, works like A View of the Two Lakes and Mountain House,…

Architect Edwin Mintoff has been awarded one of the world’s most prestigious design awards: The European Prix Versailles Special Prize for the design of the Cugó Gran Macina Grand Harbour in Senglea, Malta; in the category of Exterior Hotel Design. The Prix Versailles World Architecture and Design Awards are compiled at the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, and encompasses several categories, with the winners being selected by…

Rural retreat hunters are spoilt with a swag of stylish new properties away from the bright lights. Back roads are back, as slow travel establishes as one of today’s key travel trends in a world that never hits the off button. With plenty of sparse spaces across the country, Australia’s regions have responded to the demand for dalliance. Kimo Estate is set on a 2800 acre farm, looking out to the Murrambidgee River. Owners Emila…

Benalla Travel’s Fiona Stephens flight-tests Qatar Airways’ Business Class, stopping over in the culturally rich city of Doha, with its wealth of art museums, cultural sites and the unashamedly unique Mondrian Doha hotel. One has high expectations travelling on Qatar Airways’ multiple award winning ‘World’s Best Business Class’. With a focus on putting the passenger’s travel experience first, Qatar has certainly set the benchmark high, with its unparalleled level of service, spacious suites, and the…

An historic cattle station in rural NSW is probably not where you’d expect to find a trove of contemporary sculpture and art. But the 124-acre Mona Farm, first established in 1836, is an uncommon find. Situated an hour west of Canberra, the farm was the home of ship’s surgeon Thomas Braidwood Wilson, who lent his name to the town that would grow beside it. Walk through the elm forest and across swathes of lawn to…

Queensland’s Whitsunday archipelago comprises 74 islands: here are three of its new and revitalised stars. Elysian Retreat A brand new build on Long Island, Elysian is just 1km off the Queensland coast, south of Shute Harbour: it’s reached only by helicopter from the airstrips at Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach. With a focus on wellness, daily yoga and organic spa treatments, there are only 20 guests on the secluded retreat at any time, and only…

The sun beats down on the banana trees, their sheet-like leaves dancing in the tropical breeze. The water in the pool sits somewhere between pleasantly warm and refreshingly cool. We swim to the bar at the end of the pool, sit on the submerged stools and order a drink with lots of ice and tropical fruit. We look out over a forest of steel and glass towers while several floors below office workers hit the…

Contemporary quality is the best way to describe this 5 star urban oasis, situated just a stone’s throw from the World Heritage listed Parramatta Park with its 85 hectares of grasslands, mature trees, gardens and river frontage. And though nearby prestigious Church Street offers a wealth of shopping experiences and cultural exchange of food offerings – an enticing mix of Egyptian, Italian, Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines, (inclusive of dozens of Halal options); no doubt…

Step into a life of grandeur at Beechworth’s award-winning Grand Dame. It’s the jewel of Beechworth – a former Oriental Bank, designed and built in the 1860s by architect Leonard Terry, whose other notable buildings include The Melbourne Club on Collins Street and Trinity Chapel at Melbourne University. After time as a convent, a bank and a private home, this grand red-brick lady was reborn as a luxury bed and breakfast – Freeman on Ford.…

Fresh off the QantasLink connection from Sydney, and upon arrival at Sails Resort Port Macquarie, the first thing that hits you is fresh salt sea air, carrying the soft calls of the gulls. With fishing boats tied to their moorings and with the sun slowly setting, there are few destination that match the harmony of this setting. Situated on a jutting bend of the Hastings River, with a small marina to one side, and an…

The early-morning light flows through the trees. It’s a still summer’s day and a cool pillow of wind bounces up from the Ovens River. Ripples appear on the far bank and a wet and leathery bill of a platypus emerges from the cool clear water. ‘He is one of our neighbours,’ says Samantha Pasquinelli. She and husband Marco used to live in the charismatic riverside house on the quiet side of the Ovens in the…

View From from the Hill: The city skyline view is sharply lit in the ice-chilled early winter morning sun. Directly below, from the third floor Apartment 30, cars whizz along Melbourne’s original northern arterial Bell Street; and just across the way, lines of terracotta rooftops sit among a mix of tree canopies – eucalypt ghost gums, pencil pine conifers, other deciduous trees; also the occasional date palm. I admire a towering Norfolk Island Pine; its crest…

Famous for its Gross National Happiness (GNH) – a philosophy that guides the government of Bhutan – Six Senses, one of the world’s leading operators of luxury hotels, resorts and spas, tomorrow (March 31, 2019) celebrates the opening of its first three lodges in the Himalayan Kingdom: Thimphu, Punakha and Paro. The lodges seamlessly combine the brand’s commitment to wellness, sustainability and out-of-the-ordinary experiences with the country’s rich culture, warm hospitality and omni-present spirituality. If…

The sun sets over Beechworth, flooding the old town with rich golden light. The hills above Beechworth, their rich red soil glowing red and magenta in the dying light of the day. This is the view from the first floor verandah of the newly-renovated Empire Hotel in the heart of Beechworth. It is mesmerising. The outdoor lounge, which is protected by blinds when more than breezy, is the perfect place to take in a Bridge…

Essentials checks into Saint Petersburg’s oldest restaurant, L’Europe at the Tsarist-era Grand Hotel Europe, to relive its golden heritage and sample some of the finest vodkas and caviar served today. Saint Petersburg’s oldest restaurant, L’Europe, opened in 1905 within the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe. The hotel today retains several unique historic suites that evoke classic turn-of-the-century Tsarist elegance and explain why the hotel once attracted Russia’s aristocracy and well-to-do, including the composer Tchaikovsky. When the…

New Australian hotel group Veriu is carving out a fine niche in the boutique accommodation market. We check in, to check out, the ‘millennial modern meets 1920s Hollywood’ gentrification of Sydney’s Wentworth House, reimagined as Veriu Central. With Australia’s increasing demand in smaller-scale boutique hotel experiences comes a gentrification of inner urban historic properties; and with this we should be thankful. These previously forgotten gems of our cities are often well positioned, offering great convenience…

As Australian travellers return from their European summer sojourns, it’s a sure bet that Italy’s Lake Como is trending on Instagram feeds. A snap from Laglio, where George Clooney keeps a 30-room villa, another of the gold-garnished saffron risotto in the Grand Hotel Tremezzo (above), a third photo of licking gelato while wandering the botanic gardens of Bellagio’s neo-classical Villa Melzi (below). ‘When you look at the sky over Lake Como, it’s clear that God…

Since the tender age of 19, Francesca Webster has been building a career in the luxury service industry. From early beginnings at Sydney’s Park Hyatt to Relationships & Lifestyle Manager of Halcyon House, she today continues to build a respected name for herself in the hotel industry. Last year Francesca was appointed General Manager at Byron Bay’s illustrious Raes on Wategos boutique hotel; Essentials spoke to her about her hospitality passions and love of the…

In a world that’s always interruptive Elysian offers that rare chance let go of life’s pressures and relax: to simply slow down immersed in a natural idyllic island setting like no other. If you’re looking to escape the crowds this summer, then you could do no better than focus your mind, body and spirit towards the upcoming launch of Elysian, a new Whitsundays retreat located at Paradise Bay on the southern tip of Long Island.…

Checking in to Little Albion: More than a decade ago, during the launch years of Essentials, we were mightily impressed by the creative fit out, friendly service and bountiful amenities that encompassed Canberra’s then new Diamant Hotel, a class offering designed by Paul Fischmann’s 8HOTELS Group. Ahead of his time, Fischmann had unwittingly championed the beginning of a luxury small-hotels movement that today sees every man, woman, chairperson and international entrepreneur chomping at the bit…

It’s Brisbane’s time for a turn in the spotlight, with a welter of stylish new hotel openings that play with Queensland’s past and deliver a gentle dig in BrisVegas’ ribs – all in the best taste. W Brisbane BrisVegas is bling, and bling is good. Upmarket, free-spirited hotel brand W returns to Australia with a bang, on the banks of the Brisbane River. The river lent its indigenous story to the design, with Brisbane’s river…

In Singapore, conservation goes two ways. One, you get the heritage geeks who insist on salvaging every last crumbling brick, decorative tile and rusty wrought iron railing to preserve the look and feel of a bygone era. Then you have the cool cats who see a historic building, absorb its spirit and are able to recreate it in modern, hip surroundings. The Warehouse Hotel is blessed with owners in the latter category who ensured that…

Design Hotels represents and markets a hand-selected collection of privately owned and operated hotels in hundreds of destinations around the globe. Each is a wholly unique creative expression crafted by individual teams of experienced hoteliers, architects and interior designers. We’ve been seriously impressed by what we’ve seen and experienced while visiting Design Hotels’ many properties locally and around the world, including: Mira Moon Hotel Hong Kong, Limes Hotel Brisbane and Hotel Omm, Barcelona. The Cugó…

In a classic role reversal, an Indian fortress built to guard against threats from outside now welcomes travellers from faraway lands to experience Rajasthan’s hospitality, cuisine and traditions. Words & Additional Photography by Belinda Jackson. Hotel Photography Courtesy of  Alila Hotels & Resorts It’s 500 steps to the Kalka Mata temple in the foothills of the Aravalli Hills, which swing in a wide arc across India’s most colourful state, Rajasthan. ‘Mother give us strength. Mother…

With sparkling, turquoise waters and white-sand beaches, Malolo Island is the classic daydream holiday. The Mamanuca archipelago has long been a sunny playground for winter-white Australians. Its newest, most hotly anticipated opening is Six Senses Fiji, which pulled open the timber doors on its 24 thatched-roof villas in April this year. The hotel group has resorts and spas in far-flung locations such as Portugal’s Douro Valley and the Maldives. This is its first foray into…