10 best: bolt-holes down under
Published 16/01/2010 | 05:00
From chic city hotels to remote tented camps, style gurus Mr & Mrs Smith reveal the most luxurious retreats in the Antipodes in their brand new guidebook
Southern Ocean Lodge
Kangaroo Island, Australia
Southern Ocean Lodge is a flat-roofed contemporary caterpillar of a resort, its airy suites arranged side by side on the cliff-top to present the ocean views in all their desolate glory.
Heal's-style furniture, plain fabrics and plenty of white give the suites a futuristic feel.
In the Great Room, window-side sofas put you front row before the ocean, cosseted by a long-chimneyed wood burner.
It's the perfect place to warm up after a blustery walk on the scrub-covered dunes.
It also houses the Lodge restaurant, where you can enjoy just-caught seafood or fish.
Huge beds, sunken lounges, contemporary art and rain showers are common to all.
The lodge has 21 suites, with five room grades from Flinders suites to the amazing Osprey.
Rates: From AU$1,800--AU$3,600pn (€1,147-€2,295), including all meals, drinks, activities, airport transfers and tax at 10pc.
Pretty Beach House
Central Coast, Australia
Nestled in a silvery wood high on the Bouddi Peninsula, Pretty Beach House is a seven-acre property with forest-framed sea views. A sense of privacy and exclusivity prevails.
When you have a heated plunge pool, hard-to-leave sun-loungers and seamless just-ask service, you could easily pass the day without venturing beyond your pavilion. But what a waste of captivating coastline that would be.
Instead, order a hamper and charter the guesthouse boat to take you to Maitland Bay for a people-free picnic on the gold-sand beach.
There are three one-bedroom pavilions -- two free-standing, one attached to the main house. The decor is a soothing mix of natural fabrics in coffee shades, recycled timbers and colonial-style furniture.
Rates: AU$2,500--AU$2,750pn (€1,593-€1,753), with tax and all meals, afternoon tea, snacks and drinks (including premium wines and Champagnes) thrown in, as well as guided bushwalks.
Gaia Retreat & Spa
Byron Bay, Australia
Leaving her cravings to 'Get Physical' far behind her, Olivia Newton-John invites you to get spiritual -- at her luxurious sanctuary, the Gaia Retreat & Spa, 30 minutes from Byron Bay.
Here, canopy-shaded paths lead to a mini-village of timbered buildings where Asian-inspired lamps and fabrics serve as pretty reminders of Gaia's holistic bent. The menu at the Amala Day Spa offers more than 40 revitalising treatments. You can chill out with yoga, meditation, tai chi, Qi Gong or sound healing; sweat it out with a personal trainer, or get creative with sculpture classes.
There are 18 rooms, including two suites; soothing earth tones, natural furnishings and quirky art are common to all.
Rates: AU$705-AU$1,140pn (€449-€727) including all meals and taxes, but no treatments. Gaia prefers to offer a range of two to seven-night full-board packages, including daily yoga and another activity, a spa gift on arrival and regional airport transfers.
The Bloomfield is a hotel of stylish contradictions, where peaceful suburbia meets sultry rock 'n' roll. Sandwiched between two parks in serene South Yarra, the Bloomfield is a vibrant masterclass in retro glamour inside. Boldly patterned fabrics set against pops of brilliant colour, and 60s-style furniture and artwork combine to create a fabulous pad on the fashionable side of kitsch.
You could take one of the hotel's chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royces into the city, or there are plenty of reasons to stay put. Start with a dip in the rooftop pool; pre-dinner, clink bellinis in the leather-boothed bar, then proceed to the bistro and linger over chef Anthony Siketa's modern French and Italian-style dishes -- all the ingredients you need for a rock-star weekend.
Has 32 rooms, including four suites.
Rates: AU$129--AU$400pn (€82-€255), including tax at 10pc. Breakfast from AU$6.50 (€4).
High on a ridge above the Tasmanian capital, the Regency exterior of the Islington Hotel belies the opulence and nostalgia within. An irreverent cocktail of antiques, animal prints and patterned furnishings is too consciously mismatched to come across as entirely traditional.
In the hotel's 11 rooms, the eccentricity is toned down with modern touches such as clean white bathrooms and khaki-cream walls. A stunning double-height conservatory serves as the glass church of a hotel restaurant, where gastronomes worship the Australian and European fusion menu. Head to Hobart for harbourside walks, markets and cafés.
There are 11 rooms -- five in the original house, the remaining six in a garden extension. King-size beds, heated bathroom floors, shoji screen walls, deep baths and overhead rain showers feature throughout.
Rates: AU$300--AU$550 (€191-€351), including breakfast, minibar soft drinks and tax at 10pc.
This is a hip, everything-under-one-roof hotel housed within a complex called the Establishment, with a choice of three restaurants, four bars, a nightclub, oh, and 31 rooms, including two penthouse suites.
Its decor is modern and minimalist; its scale grand. Heavyweight stone and wood flooring, marble panels and simple dark-wood furniture stand the test of time and fashion like a Savile Row suit. Drink Champagne at the vast marble counter in the elegant Establishment Bar. On the fourth floor, Hemmesphere is a colourful cocktail lounge.
Establishment's restaurants are just as varied: Gin Garden for Thai and Indian food, or casual drinks; you can savour Australian fine dining at est., or try acclaimed Japanese fare at sushi e.
All that, and Sydney's world-class sights on your doorstep too -- the Establishment Hotel is one for the hedonist's address book.
Rates AU$350-AU$1,250pn (€223-€797).
Jamestown, South Australia
There's a quirky English feel to the almost plantation house-like North Bundaleer, set in 400 acres of bush and farmland near South Australia's Clare Valley wine region.
The four rooms, including one suite, are lavishly decorated in Victorian style, with patterned armchairs, ornate screens and sturdy antique furniture. But don't equate Victorian with stuffy -- the vibe here is casual and convivial.
In the evening, guests meet to enjoy a dinner party of modern Australian dishes. Bring some walking shoes for the climb up to Maslin's Lookout and for exploring the centuries-old pine North Bundaleer Forest across the road.
Rates: Doubles from AU$390 --AU$500pn (€249-€319), including breakfast and tax at 10pc. Two-night packages, including breakfast, dinner and an open bar, cost AU$1,080--AU$1,300 (€689-€830); three-nights, AU$1,470-- AU$1,800 (€938-€1,149), inc tax.
Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Lazing on a lounger in the shutter-dappled shade of your suite, the sound of the lapping waves lilting you towards sleep, you'd never know you were just 35 minutes from Auckland.
The Boatshed's simple-yet-stylish double suites mix wood and white for a sophisticated nautical feel, with quirky seaside accessories. Feast in the Boatshed's airy, relaxed dining room or opt for private all-day dining on your balcony, by the fire or al fresco.
The Boatshed's Wellbeing menu means you can book an in-room treatment, such as a Polynesian Floor Work massage.
Stretched and realigned, you'll be ready to discover the shops, cafés and galleries of nearby Oneroa village. Little Oneroa Beach below the hotel, and adjacent Oneroa Beach, are just three minutes' walk away.
There are five rooms, including three Boatshed suites.
Rates NZ$745-NZ$910pn (€381-€465), including 12.5pc tax, breakfast and on-island transfers.
Nr Queenstown, New Zealand
Azur Lodge may well boast the best views in Queenstown, but it doesn't allow its cinematic backdrop to do all the work -- its stone and silver beechwood lodges are equally impressive.
Offering uninterrupted views of Lake Wakatipu and the majestic Remarkables range wherever possible, each lodge features so many sliding doors, picture windows and skylights that the bedroom, sitting room and even the bathroom are flooded with light.
There's no restaurant, but the concierge can book you in to one of Queenstown's many foodie haunts. No need to justify the calories when you're in NZ's adrenaline capital: skydiving, bungee jumping, canyoning -- select your nerve-jangler of choice.
The nine lodges each come with a separate lounge area and en suite.
Rates: NZ$1,300pn (€664), December-April, including airport and town transfers, breakfast, mini-bar drinks, afternoon tea, pre-dinner drinks and canapés. Excludes taxes at 12.5pc.
Bay of Islands, New Zealand
It may sound like the command centre of a dastardly Bond villain, but Eagles Nest, on North Island's east coast, is far too good for baddies.
This luxurious estate sits atop a secluded outcrop overlooking the bay -- its sleek contemporary villas pitched for maximum privacy across 75 acres of subtropical bush, edged with secluded coves. With a breathtaking choice of activities -- golf, scuba, skydiving, kayaking, hiking and more -- you can do as much as you please. Then reward yourself with rock star-style relaxation: lazing on the deck with an occasional dip in your villa pool, while a personal chef whips up dinner.
The five villas are each decorated differently in neutral tones with glass and stainless-steel details and minimalist furniture.
Rates: NZ$1,013-NZ$19,995pn (€518-€10,215) a villa, including breakfast, Champagne, some mini-bar drinks and tax.
Mr & Mrs Smith Australia & New Zealand Hotel Collection — £19.95 (€22.13), Spy Publishing — is available from mrandmrssmith.com/shop. Irish Independent readers can avail of a £5 (€5.55) discount on the book by entering the promotional code IRIN10 when they purchase online.