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Australian Hotels

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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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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 a city never shy of flaunting her charms, new hotels flirt with the glittering waterscape through their views, art and locations. We step inside the hot new digs. West Hotel Barangaroo Skirting the fringe of Sydney’s waterfront Barangaroo precinct, the new West is your base for the city’s prestigious arts events: the hotel is within walking distance of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Theatre Company. The concrete jungle outside gives way to a…

It is a most beautiful and dramatic location for a hotel. Perched on the edge of Macquarie wharf in the heart of Hobart is the new MACq 01. Built on the footprint of a historic wharf shed, MACq 01 is sympathetic but not sycophantic in its tribute to the district’s maritime architecture. Formed concrete, bare wood and dark glass are the materials. The dark waters of Sullivans Cove are the foreground, the fishing boats moored…

Finally, a new Melbourne hotel, comfortable, clean and designed with jazz lovers in mind – it’s our kinda joint! Truly a much-needed addition to Melbourne’s ageing collection of poorly maintained mid-tier hotels, Jazz Corner Hotel’s rooms offer a timely breath of fresh air.  Fresh-faced young staff, all smiles in their cute red berets, manage the check-in counter of the hotel’s tiny foyer and eatery. Beer, Wine and Calzone is an Italian restaurant and bar serving…

Bethany Finn understands essence of fine dining hospitality like few others. Having crafted perhaps Australia’s finest classic British- and European-influenced dining menus for Adelaide’s 5-star Mayfair Hotel, she’s an executive chef with a rare talent. Her level of customer care and focus is a positive driving force; around her, the wait staff are elevated by her warmth, humour and focused leadership. She’s vivacious, sharp-witted, and her energy is infectious. As a diner in the hotel’s…

The drinks menu of Limes Hotel’s rooftop bar reads ‘Scandal on the 5th floor’ and features a collage of tongue-in-cheek images married with quirky cocktail names and vintage graphics. Here an intimate crowd of Brisvegas fashionistas are decked out to the nines in clean white slacks and Havanas (the boys) and one piece Deborah Harry-inspired jump suits for the ever-so-hip ladies – ultra glamorous when paired with some designer shades. Appealing on this hot summer’s…

QT Resort Falls Creek celebrates the ‘warmth of cool’, featuring a mixture of vintage and modern accents and a thoughtful new colour palette including smoky greys, silvers and neutrals that mimic the silvery stands of Alpine Ash and delicate mountain snowgum views. Spotted touches of colour add to the modernist fit out, notably in public spaces including the innovative Bazaar Marketplace restaurant and the ‘New-York-cool’ Stingray Lounge. Hotel rooms are kitted out with retro chairs…

Lolly Pop, Lolly Pop: It’s difficult to read that expression – is she lost in a sea of intoxication or is she working up to a siren-like hypnotic gaze of enticement? Either way, I think the eyes have it. She’s a pop art masterpiece with luscious red lips and skin painted with a confectionary of dripping colours by Melbourne’s Barry Drinan on commission for the Adelphi Hotel. Affectionately named Lucy by the hotel’s tight-knit and very…

Salvaged from a near death-by-doily demise, Victorian-era B&B Finches of Beechworth has recently been given a new lease on life – re-imagined, redesigned and fully renovated. Over a period of six months, new owners Margo Maller and Peter Brygel have together transformed the B&B into an artfully-cool luxurious six-room contemporary boutique gem. Exploring the now decadent and somewhat eccentric spaces within Finches is a pleasing experience. The reinvigorated modern-meets-baroque interiors feature grand 1800s French gilt…

At the unassumingly named ‘Number 5’ guests don’t have to work at finding the perfect view. On the contrary, they are forced to stop, kick back and relax as they fully enjoy the 270-degree view of Mount Buffalo in front, the Buckland Valley stretching out below and the peaceful forest behind this airy contemporary chalet. One wall of the living room is entirely taken up with panoramic sliding patio doors that invite the imposing surroundings…

Desperate for respite from city peak traffic and the concrete maze, I could not have been more excited checking in to the Panoramia Villas, the new project born of the success of Red Ramia Trading and Café Fez. Only four kilometres from the centre of Myrtleford in North East Victoria, these two villas feature, as I happily discovered, interiors exquisitely furnished down to the last plush detail with individual pieces selected by the Ramia family…