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Lizard Island Resort

The ultra-exclusive Lizard Island Resort offers private villas, secluded beaches and unrivaled Great Barrier Reef views and prime access.

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large hotel room with two huge windows overlooking sydney opera house
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Park Hyatt Sydney

While the Park Hyatt has long been the undisputed top property in the city, it underwent a total overhaul in 2011 and reopened in the spring of 2012 with sexy new interiors and even more glass windows to take advantage of its spectacular harbor side perch. As soon as you enter the lobby, you are greeted with water views and a stunning angle on the famous Sydney Opera House. In true Australian fashion, there is a laid-back languor to the ambiance, so rather than a real lobby, there is a waterside living room where guests can gather or order light snacks. The long, low four-story building curves along the waterfront, and the Dining Room faces the boardwalk that runs along the harbor, giving diners the feeling of being in the midst of one of Sydney’s main leisure spots.

The 155 guest rooms have a sleek, urban aesthetic with floor-to-ceiling windows and residential touches like books and Australian artwork. Each is outfitted with the latest state-of-the art apartment wizardry, such as electronic blinds and sliding doors so the bathtubs can be open to the view or shut in for privacy. Of course, the best rooms have views of the harbor and/or the Opera House. Make sure to ask whether there will be any fireworks shows during your stay;

The rooftop has a small but attractive pool and its bar is a popular spot for a cocktail. As this is the city’s hands-down luxury property, it is where all of the celebrities and dignitaries stay when they are in town, so famous faces are frequently spotted here.

Tip: Ask whether there will be fireworks behind the Opera House during your stay. Many weekend nights and special occasions fireworks explode over the harbor and there are lots of good spots in the hotel from which to watch them.

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Park Lounge at Bells at Killcare, Australia

Bells at Killcare

This distinctive, adults-only boutique hotel is located 90 minutes outside of Sydney. Owing inspiration to the elegance of the Hamptons, Bells at Killcare offers a seaside retreat that blends luxury and sophistication with relaxation.

Its 25 suites and cottages are set among lush gardens, streams, lakes and ponds and feature a summer beach vibe, with driftwood walls, big comfortable chairs and a nautical palette. The cozy verandas are just as delightful as the interiors, with wide-striped awnings, wicker furniture and views overlooking the property grounds.

Manfredi at Bells, located at the heart of the property in the Manor House, is considered among the best restaurants in New South Wales. The menu features authentic, simple and seasonal dishes inspired by the produce grown on the property. The restaurant also offers locally harvested seafood and meat and other items from likeminded local farms.

The sanctuary-like Bells Day Spa offers treatments utilizing the highest quality products with indigenous Australian healing techniques. There are seven beaches for swimming or surfing and several walking trails nearby. Other activities, like whale watching, picnicking or croquet on the lawn, are also available to guests.

View from Bedroom - Capella Lodge, Australia

Capella Lodge

The only luxury option on the tiny Pacific island of Lord Howe, a two-hour flight from Sydney, Capella Lodge resembles a simple California beach house with a wing of understated guest rooms. The windows, though, offer fantasy tropical island views with volcanic peaks, brilliant blue seas and palm trees.

The nine contemporary suites echo the island’s natural environment, with spacious interiors featuring timber floors and custom furniture pieces, creating a genuine beachside living experience. Larger rooms offer outdoor terraces and the largest, the Lidgbird Pavilion, also has a plunge pool.

Meals are served in the beach-house styled Restaurant and Bar, which offers views of the lagoon and mountains, providing a perfect backdrop for dining, chatting with other guests or just relaxing and enjoying the view.

Activities include hikes, golf on a nine-hole course, tennis, fishing, surfing, diving and snorkeling. The atmosphere here could be described as Bora Bora meets Nantucket for its South Pacific splendor and low-key atmosphere. Children 10 years old and up are welcome at Capella Lodge (the age requirement for the Lidgbird Pavilion is 12), but visitors may apply for exceptions, which are dependent on age, season and booking requests.

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Dinning Room at Contemporary Hotels, Sydney, Australia

Contemporary Hotels apartments

Style setter Terry Kaljo – founder of the Medusa and The Kirketon Hotel, two of the city’s first boutique stays – has branched out into private apartment rentals with her Contemporary Hotels group, so travelers can get an authentic sense of Sydney living in some of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods. Choose from seven fully self-contained private pads (including one knockout Darlinghurst penthouse), each a spacious sanctuary featuring designer kitchens, plasma TVs, wireless technology and high-tech security systems, not to mention dazzling harbor and city views. Each apartment is fully serviced every three days.

Pool Lounge at Crown Towers, Melbourne, Australia

Crown Towers

Wonderfully over-the-top sums up this Melbourne landmark, from the lobby, with its glorious excess of marble and gilding, to the massive crystal chandeliers in the Crystal Club, a VIP lounge reserved for guests of the luxe penthouse villas. The suites are similarly all about excess: huge walk-in closets and lavish marble contribute to the high-life feeling. Most rooms have spectacular views of the city (others overlook the river or the bay), and there are plenty of other diversions outside of the room, including a lobby ringed with luxury designer stores; world-class restaurants, such as Nobu and Rockpool; and a luxurious and tranquil day spa.

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Aerial view of Elements Byron with pool and villas and trees surrounding the property and the ocean just to the left

Elements of Byron

An all-villa resort, Elements of Byron is a beachfront property on Byron Bay. The Central Lagoon Pool has private cabanas, hanging day beds and a heated spa, plus a cafe with poolside service.

Suite at Establishment Hotel, Sydney, Australia

Establishment Hotel

A financial-district favorite, the Establishment has all the amenities of a luxury hotel with the intimacy of a boutique inn. A short stroll from Sydney Harbour, the hotel offers a choice of décor in its guest rooms: a hip, Zen-inspired warehouse-like simplicity with black polished floorboards and a more traditional setting featuring autumnal tones and fresh flowers. (Both have marble-and-glass bathrooms that are fabulous and roomy.) The award-winning Est restaurant is presided over by one of Sydney’s best chefs, Peter Doyle. Hotel guests also get access to the elite Hemmesphere Bar, whose members include Sydney’s movers and shakers – and don’t miss the group’s new hotspots Mr. Wong, a Cantonese dining hotspot, and cocktail joint Gin Garden, both in the same Bridge Lane building.

Living Room at Four Seasons Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Four Seasons Sydney

With an envious location in Sydney’s Central Business District, the Four Seasons is set within walking distance to some of the city’s best sites and restaurants. Its setting in a high-rise building means that many of the rooms and suites offer great views over the harbor, the Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge.

With 531 guest rooms, the hotel feels large and is geared toward the corporate traveler and those who favor a view above all else. Contemporary in style with brown and blue color schemes, the hotel feels nautical in design but skews more towards a cruise ship in style than marine chic. The Full Harbor View rooms have sweeping panoramas over the water and the Opera House, while the larger suites offer full-frontal views over Sydney’s landmark bridge and the harbor beyond. The in-room décor is standardized and features cream, blue and brown palates and floor-to-ceiling windows with brown marble bathrooms with separate shower and bathtub. All of the rooms are well appointed and comfortable, but lack a distinct sense of place and style.

The property is fully equipped with a fitness facility, spa and small outdoor swimming pool outfitted with cabanas, chaise lounges and food and beverage service. The hotel’s main dining room, Pei Modern, offers daily breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves modern cuisine with a focus on fresh produce. Bar is a discreet lounge that serves craft beer, biodynamic wines and a variety of inventive cocktails.

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Lobby at Hotel Windsor, Melbourne, Australia

Hotel Windsor

The grande dame of Melbourne’s hotel scene is still going strong more than a century after opening its doors, thanks to impeccable white-glove service, beautiful (if a touch chintzy) rooms and an old-world, refined atmosphere that’s as far from minimal as you can get. Situated opposite Parliament House and the Treasury Gardens and a short stroll away from the theater district, the Windsor, designated as a heritage site, has hosted several prime ministers as well as entertainment industry luminaries from Lauren Bacall to Kylie Minogue. The famous Windsor afternoon teas, with butler-served British treats as scones with jam and cream, is not to be missed. A major restoration, which has been held up for several years, is expected to be completed by 2020.

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Jackalope Hotel

Located in Australia's charming Mornington Peninsula, the high-design Jackalope Hotel is the perfect escape for foodies and art lovers who want to experience an up-and-coming destination. 

Kimpton Margot Sydney

Inside a reinvented Art-Deco building in Sydney's Central Business District (CBD), the Kimpton Margot is right next to Hyde Park and offers rooms complete with at-home comforts, plush furnishings and botanical displays. Make sure to check out the rooftop bar and pool.

Indagare member Molly V.W. recommends a stay here, noting the great service, tasty breakfast dishes and walkable location: "We had a one-bedroom suite with a large bedroom and large living area (with a queen rollaway) and one full bath and one half-bath. The service was great. We ate at the restaurant for breakfast, which was very good. It's a very nice walk through Hyde Park and into the Botanical Gardens; this is also where the art museums are and a beautiful 50-meter outdoor public pool. It's one block from the tram that takes you to the harbor if you don’t want to walk (which takes about 20 minutes). We preferred staying here and not at the harbor because the harbor is a major tourist area, and the CBD was closer to the neighborhoods we wanted to check out—like Paddington, Surrey Hills and Bondi, which all have great restaurants."

Full Indagare review coming soon.

Lobby at Langham Hotel, Melbourne, Australia

Langham Hotel

Aficionados of five-star properties will love the Langham, with its riverfront location and air of quiet luxury. Set beside the Yarra River on the famous Southbank Promenade, the Langham is a quick walk from the designer shops on Collins Street. All 388 guest rooms have views, the best of which are of the river (“Southbank View” rooms), some with balconies or terraces. Accommodations feature handmade furnishings and marble bathrooms with whirlpool baths. The hotel’s Asian-inspired Chuan Spa is a holistic wellness sanctuary and there is a 49-foot pool, fully equipped fitness center and health club on site.

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Exterior View :  Longitude 131°, Australia

Longitude 131°

Rising from the red earth and spinifex grass that surrounds Uluru, Longitude 131° immerses visitors in the stillness and beauty of the Australian outback. With 15 luxury white safari tents, all offering prime views of the spectacular red sandstone rock formation, the UNESCO World Heritage Site feels miles removed from civilization. Each individually decorated tent has a king-size bed, climate control and daily housekeeping service.

But given the glorious setting, few visitors spend time inside. Guided excursions to Kantu Gorger and Uluru allow guests to learn the history and mythology of the site (note that Uluru holds great spiritual significance for the local Anangu people and therefore climbing the rock is discouraged. Helicopter tours may also be taken to Kata Tjuta, a nearby range of large domes that covers 8,649 acres of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Adventurous types can opt to skydive above the park. In addition, the lodge offers biking, camel riding and Harley Davidson tours of the area. All meals, showcasing contemporary Australian cuisine, are served in the Dune House, which also accommodates an extensive library for those who wish to learn more about this fascinating area’s history and ecology.

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Exterior View - Lyall Hotel, Melbourne, Australia

Lyall Hotel

This favorite of fashionable types set in leafy South Yarra combines genteel and hip styles in a delightful way. Offering grand services on a personal scale, the Lyall is both cozy and cosmopolitan. Furnishings are muted and tasteful, from the warm, forest green library off the reception area, with its gas fireplace and air of a gentleman’s club, to the spacious suites—there are 40—all of which have terraces (some look out at the street’s fairy light-sprinkled trees). Bathrooms feature bathtubs that are modern and capacious, with lots of intriguing but unexplained buttons. The staff here is discreet and wonderfully helpful.

Exterior - Emirates Wolgan Valley Lodge, Australia

One&Only Wolgan Valley

This luxury eco-resort in the Blue Mountains feels like an Australian version of a high-end dude ranch. The resort sits in a valley of the Greater Blue Mountains that is surrounded on both sides by national parks. The region is rich in wildlife and home to about 120 species of vertebrates, including kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and wombats as well close to 100 varieties of birds plus many rare plants and trees.

Each of the 40 rooms is a true sanctuary, offering stunning views of the Wolgan Valley landscape. Living and bedrooms are split by double-sided fireplaces and have private pools and decks. The spa further enhances the experience, offering pampering, holistic treatments designed to restore and revive.

Because of its natural bounty, the true focus of the resort is on environmental exploration and appreciation. Adventure options include golf, nocturnal wildlife experiences, photography expeditions and canyoning. For kids there is archery, stunt kite flying and “bushcraft” (wilderness survival lessons). Horseback riding is a great way to get out and see the area surrounding the lodge, and everyone from beginners to advanced riders can enjoy leisurely trail walks and rides through the stunning scenery. (Note: horseback riding is only offered on certain days, although private outings can be arranged on any day of the week. Advanced bookings are required.) The lodge also offers incredible nature walks, which are led by expert field guides who offer insight into the history of the region and the native flora and fauna. A thrilling but challenging trek, the glow-worm tunnel hike takes guests to an abandoned railway tunnel that is alight thanks to hundreds of the bioluminescent larvae.

For those really looking to get off the beaten path, the Emirates  offers Polaris and 4WD adventure tours. Both types of vehicles can get guests to areas otherwise inaccessible by car, and provide excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Guests can search for ancient fossils or pan for gold and then enjoy a leisurely picnic lunch.

Please note that as of June 9, 2023, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley has temporarily closed, due to accessibility issues caused by a landslide in November 2022. A reopening date has not yet been announced.

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This property was formerly a Taj and a W Hotel, which explains the groovy design and young vibe. (Its original incarnation was actually a wool and cargo warehouse, hence the industrial bones.) Ovolo is located on the wharf at Wolloomoolloo, in the same converted warehouse building where Russell Crowe has an apartment and where the uber-cool Otto’s restaurant is, so there is always a hip and happening crowd around. The location is away from the business area or the main tourist sites near the Rocks, but it is closer to the eastern suburbs and beaches like Bondi. Since its central WaterBar draws a lot of party folks, if you want a quiet room, it is best to request one as far from the central atrium as possible. The best rooms are the 36 Loft Suites, which are duplexes.

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Paramount House Hotel

Sydney's 29-room Paramount House Hotel is located in the Surry Hills neighborhood and has a hipster vibe with amenities like a speakeasy-style bar, Art Deco movie theater and fitness center with daily workout classes.
Pool at Pretty Beach House, Australia

Pretty Beach House

Set on a hilltop above the town of Pretty Beach on Bouddi Peninsula, Pretty Beach House was closed for more than two years after a fire destroyed the property in 2012. Now fully restored—the property reopened in 2015—this sophisticated and luxurious guesthouse is a destination difficult to leave.

Built in collaboration with local artisans and craftspeople, Pretty Beach House feels intimate and authentic, constructed with a mix of new and repurposed brass, stone, timber and travertine, and exudes character and charm. The design is sensitive to the environment, with interiors and furnishings taking inspiration from the colors and textures of the surrounding landscape. There are four private pavilions, each named after its best feature—bayview, treetops, hideaway and the retreat—that surround the main house. The seven-and-a-half acre property can accommodate eight people at a time. Each pavilion has views through gum trees down to the waters of Pretty Beach.

The main house offers a collection of shared facilities, including an open kitchen, guest lounge, an intimate dining space, wine cellar, an infinity pool and poolside pizza oven in an al-fresco dining area. Stefano Manfredi, one of Australia’s most influential chefs, heads the kitchen and creates a simple yet superb dining experience for guests.

Activities include indigenous dance and didgeridoo smoking ceremonies around a fire, guided bush walks and boat charters. The Bouddi Spa allows guests to relax with treatments designed to bring physical, spiritual and environmental aspects into balance.

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QT Bondi

The only upscale hotel in Sydney's Bondi Beach, QT Bondi is two blocks from the waterfront and the perfect base for low-key travelers who value a Bondi Beach location.
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Nestled on the northernmost (and most distant) tip of Hamilton Island, Qualia offers world-class pampering amidst a lavish tropical hideaway.

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Lounge at  Southern Ocean Lodge, Australia

Southern Ocean Lodge

Nearly four years after devastating bushfires ravaged the island and razed the Indagare-adored Southern Ocean Lodge to the ground, the property is reopening on December 6, 2023 after a 50-million-dollar restoration. Some exciting additions will define this next generation, while preserving the original footprint and magic of the property. The layout of the new Southern Ocean Lodge, fondly known as “SOL 2.0,” is true to the first, thanks to the involvement of the original architects, Max Pritchard and Andrew Gunner—but the 25 sandstone, local wood and glass-lined suites have been reoriented to give even better panoramic views of the windswept coast and the ocean. The sprawling new Ocean Pavilion suite offers maximum privacy in a removed location, with two living rooms with fireplaces, four king bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms (each with a bathtub and rain shower), and an outdoor terrace with an infinity pool and a plunge pool. The property’s iconic Great Room and its oft-photographed hanging fireplace have not changed, but a private dining space and wet-edge pool have been added, as well as a brand-new spa with three treatment rooms, a fitness center, sauna and plunge pools—and the pool has been expanded. Returning guests will be pleased to discover that “Sunshine,” the property’s beloved kangaroo sculpture by local artist Indiana James, has been restored and reinstated to his original post in the reception—where he is ready to welcome you back.

75 miles southwest of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island has a dramatic rocky landscape that’s teeming with Down Under wildlife including wallabies, sea lions, kangaroos and some of the world’s smallest penguins. Like its dramatic location, Southern Ocean Lodge provides a unique and remarkable experience—one that is not likely to be easily forgotten. 25 luxurious rooms offer guests dramatic views both inside and out, from the jaw-dropping landscape surrounding the property to the impressive rooms that include features such as sunken lounges, glass-walled baths and outdoor terraces.

The lodge’s activity program offers guests a complete Kangaroo Island experience. In-house guides and naturalists lead tours to attractions like Seal Bay Conservation Park, where seals sunbathe along the shore, and the Remarkable Rocks, a collection of gigantic, jagged rocks in Flinders Chase National Park. As befits a place as pristine as Kangaroo Island, where over 30 percent of the land falls into one of several conservation parks, Southern Ocean Lodge is an impressive example of sustainable architecture. The property is rainwater and solar reliant, boasts breezeway ventilation and runs local environmental projects.

Southern Ocean Lodge provides guests with a dynamic and delightful gastronomic adventure that embraces a produce-to-plate approach, offering a daily changing menu that honors the area’s ingredients and flavors. There is also a wide selection of Kangaroo Island and South Australian wines and beers that complement the sophisticated yet paired down menus.

Southern Ocean Lodge is one of the jewels of the Baillie Lodges portfolio, which was founded in 2003 by James and Hayley Baillie and includes Longitude 131° at Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island, Silky Oaks Lodge at the Daintree Rainforest and The Louise in the Barossa Valley, as well as Huka Lodge in New Zealand and Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge on Vancouver Island.

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The Beach Club

The adults-only Beach Club Hamilton Island scores points as the sole resort backing onto Catseye Beach, its exclusive five-star restaurant and luxurious rooms.

The Observatory Suite at The Langham, Sydney, Australia

The Langham Sydney

When the Langham reopened its doors in 2014 after a $30 million renovation, it was nearly unrecognizable. The boutique downtown property emerged as fresh and stylish as ever, sending Sydney hotel goers into a frenzy of excitement and affirming its status as the only competitor to Sydney’s ultra-sleek Park Hyatt.

Located in the Rocks historic area, the otherwise discreet Langham is given away by the light pink, vintage London taxi parked outside its door (and available for guest use). The stylish marble foyer features an atrium, several fireplaces and polished metal chandeliers along with chic touches like teal-upholstered chairs, patterned throw pillows and abundant floral bouquets.

Hand-selected fixtures and adornments are mismatched in perfect proportions, allowing the Langham to feel more like a stylish residence than a city hotel. As part of the revamp, the hotel acquired an impressive collection of paintings by some of Australia’s big name artists. (It now has the largest private collection of Sydney Nolan pieces.) Just off the lobby is Palm Court, which serves as the hotel’s tearoom during the day and transforms into a smart cocktail bar at night, the perfect genteel setting for a nightcap with friends.

This sophisticated yet whimsical aesthetic carries through to the hotel’s 98 rooms and suites, which are decorated in a cream palette, with studded headboards and colorful photographs. The most coveted accommodations are the Terrace Rooms, named for their spacious patios overlooking Darling Harbour and the cable-stayed Anzac Bridge. The most thoughtfully designed accommodation though, is the Observatory Suite, flooded with natural light through triple floor-to-ceiling windows. Though it does not offer water views, it’s replete with transitional furniture, eclectic pieces and a stately fireplace–not edited, but not fussy–and boasts the hotel’s only white marble bathroom.

Atypical of boutique properties, the Lanham offers a spa and health club, access to private tennis courts and an indoor swimming pool with a frescoed ceiling depicting the starry night sky.

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Corner Suite bed at The Prince, Melbourne, Australia

The Prince

The luster still hasn’t worn off the hippest of Melbourne’s boutique hotels—stylish touches abound in this acclaimed hotel in the heart of St. Kilda. Each of the 39 rooms is unique and sleek, featuring natural timber and a neutral palette. Some accommodations have balconies overlooking the bay. The hotel’s much-feted restaurant, Circa, is a fine-dining experience par excellence. The Aurora Spa has a wellness-focused approach, with treatments that draw on decades of heritage and innovation.

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