T+L Annual Report


Each year Travel + Leisure Australia + New Zealand's peripatetic editors, writers and photographers travel many thousands of kilometres around the world in search of the best travel experiences. To mark the third anniversary of the Australasian edition of T+L we present our opinionated, discursive choice of our best destinations, discoveries, moments and more from our own travels in the past year.


PLACES


[CLASSIC] Aspen, US
This year was the town's best snow season in three decades. But even without this abundance, the resort has endless options for all skiers on the pistes of Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, with an après-ski scene that's amongst the best in the world. aspensnowmass.com

[EXPLORE] Beirut, Lebanon
Still the Mediterranean's most dynamic and dysfunctional city, Beirut is full of boutique bars, cool galleries and polyglot architecture. And the food is sensational. Don't be afraid to talk politics with the locals – it's the air they breathe. Do check for up-to-the-minute news on Al Jazeera before you go. downtownbeirut.com

[DISCOVERY] Bhaktapur, Nepal
Ancient Bhaktapur is the yin to Kathmandu's yang. On the cobbled, vehicle-free streets of this town, about 30 minutes by taxi from the frenetic heart of the capital, Kathmandu, soak up the ceramic and wooden wares, squares, stupas and smiles. bhaktapuronline.com

[ADVENTURE] Bhutan
Bhutan is an exquisite mixture of the sublime, the sybaritic and the surreal. The world's most mountainous country and the only one with tantric Buddhism as its official religion, is a biodiversity hotspot sheltering the Himalayas' most exotic animals. kingdomofbhutan.com

[CULTURE] Bilbao, Spain
Frank Gehry's mesmerising Guggenheim turns 10 this year as Bilbao continues to transform itself from industrial wasteland to global design hub. The Ria 2000 committee is steadily recasting the city into an architectural wonderland with commissions by star-chitects Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid and Arata Isozaki. bilbao.net

[ADVENTURE] East Kimberley, WA
It's remote, it's spectacular, and now the East Kimberley is a movie star in Baz Luhrmann's much-hyped Australia. Kununurra is the gateway to the region's countless gorges and waterfalls, the Argyle Diamond mine and the ancient and mystical Bungle Bungles. westernaustralia.com

[DISCOVERY] Taipei
Asia's most underrated capital (but not by us), Taipei is about to be invaded, in the nicest possible way, by mainland Chinese tourists, following a thaw in relations between the two nations. So see this chilled, civilised and increasingly style-conscious city before it changes. taiwan.net.tw

[EXPLORE] Mumbai, India
It's India's booming international city. Take your pick of its pockets: the decadent, decaying districts of Fort and Churchgate, built to a Gothic colonial scale; Bandra, the hip hangout, with good coffee and tapas restaurants; or Chowpatty, where bhelpuri on the beach is still the best break from business meetings. mumbainet.com

[CLASSIC] Murray River, Australia
Stricken it may be, but this famed river still offers something for everyone: towns like Rutherglen and Mildura, with great food and wine, and stories of frontier Australia. Then there's the red cliffs of Mannum, which provide stunning backdrops for houseboat trips. southaustralia.com; visitvictoria.com


SITES


[CLASSIC] Eiffel Tower, Paris
This "disgusting column of bolted tin", as it was called by the Parisian art community in 1877, is winning new fans now that the great French chef Alain Ducasse has taken over the Jules Verne restaurant on the second level. Can there be a better spot for a "nought" birthday in all the world? restaurants-toureiffel.com

[NEW] Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar
Lured out of retirement by this irresistible commission from the Qatari Government, IM Pei (of the Paris Louvre Pyramid fame) has created a cubist citadel in stone beside Doha Bay that subtly evokes the desert fortresses of the Arabian Peninsula. Set to open in November, it will house Qatar's impressive collection of pan-Islamic art and antiquities. qatartourism.gov.qa

[CLASSIC] Philosopher's Walk, Kyoto
Twentieth-century philosopher Kitaro Nishida was a wise man, understanding that a stroll alongside a cherry-tree-shaded canal on the north-eastern fringe of Kyoto would deliver enlightenment – and tranquillity. His Philosopher's Walk, flanked by some of Kyoto's finest temples, remains a tranquil escape from the city's tourist frenzy. jnto.go.jp

[CULTURE] Picasso Museum, Málaga, Spain
One of Andalucia's unsung cities, Málaga, is also home to one of its most impressive museums. The Museo Picasso is housed inside a tranquil 16th-century Andalucian palace (complete with Roman ruins on display in the basement), the 155-strong permanent collection includes many little-known works. museopicassomalaga.org

[NEW] St Pancras International, London
The unveiling of the lovingly restored, Victorian Gothic St Pancras Station as the new home to the high-speed Eurostar (London-Paris in two hours and 15 minutes) heralded a new golden age in rail travel. Check out the world's longest champagne bar or go for the oyster bar and proudly British grub at the open-all-day St Pancras Grand. stpancras.com

[NEW] Terminal 4, Madrid
It might seem strange to wax lyrical over an airport, but we're smitten with Madrid's state-of-the-art Terminal 4. Designed by star architect Richard Rogers in conjunction with Spanish design studio Lamela, the user-friendly space is flooded with natural light beneath an undulating bamboo roofline. It's almost a shame to have to board. spanish-airport-guide.com


PLACES


[CLASSIC] mollies, Auckland
Overlooking Auckland's harbour, Mollies is a class act. Built in 1880 as the residence for the first mayor of Auckland, the building later became a convent. The eclectic-but-stylish decor juxtaposes sleek contemporary furnishings with beautiful antiques. Owner Frances Wilson is an international opera coach and music and opera are recurring themes here. For those who like to tinkle the ivories there are grand pianos in several rooms. mollies.co.nz

[DISCOVERY] Tarangire Treetops, Tanzania
Twenty luxury rooms, each with a deck, are built on platforms amidst a cluster of baobab, mopani and wild fig trees. Go on a walking safari to look for elephants and lions and learn about this remarkable ecosystem. A percentage of the tariff goes towards village improvement schemes. elewana.com

[DISCOVERY] 1860, Beechworth, Victoria
Nestled behind the gaol that once held a young Ned Kelly in Beechworth, this retreat hits the perfect notes of historic and thoroughly luxurious. 1860 is a cabin hewn from mountain ash and dating from the eponymous year that has been painstakingly rebuilt by its owners Gina Bladon and Matt Pfahlert. 1860luxuryaccommodation.com

[DISCOVERY] Dulc, Grampians, Victoria
Finally the Grampians can claim noteworthy lodgings and restaurants to go with its natural charms. Dulc cabins, just outside Halls Gap, fuse rustic simplicity (open-plan living, natural materials like indigenous timber and polished concrete, cosy gas log fires) with urbane necessities such as espresso coffee machines, high thread-count linens and spa bathtubs, all in a peaceful bush setting. dulc.com.au

[DISCOVERY] Bulldog Club, London
This network of stately private homes offering B&B; accommodation is one of London's best-kept secrets, providing a rare entrée into the realms of the English upper-classes. There are eight London properties, ranging from a mews house in Belgravia to a chic warehouse conversion in the Docklands. All hosts possess impeccable local knowledge and Bulldog Club properties charge about $203 to $265 a night – a bargain for London. bulldogclub.com

[NEW] Limes Hotel, Brisbane, Qld
What the rooms lack in space at Brisbane's latest boutique hotel in happening Fortitude Valley is compensated by the little extras: free espresso, T2 teas, delectable Dello Mano brownies, L'Occitane toiletries, complimentary softies in the minibar, and, included-in-the-tariff breakfast, bircher or housemade muesli, pastries or croissants with organic jams, and juices and Voss mineral water. limeshotel.com.au

[DISCOVERY] Ambrose Hotel, Santa Monica, US
We love Santa Monica's Ambrose Hotel for many reasons but we especially adore its complimentary car service. A London cab is on standby to ferry guests ∫ around – a godsend in a town where it's near impossible to hail a taxi, and even harder to find a bus. ambrosehotel.com

[NEW] The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, North Island, New Zealand
In a country that has well and truly perfected the art of the luxury lodge, Cape Kidnappers, located in the Hawke's Bay wine-growing region, has set yet higher standards, what with its deluxe 26-room lodge and stunning, cliff-hugging golf course. capekidnappers.com

[CLASSIC] Chedi, Phuket, Thailand
Yes there are younger, more glamorous resorts on Phuket, including the minimalist Amanpuri and the sexy Trisara, but The Chedi keeps us coming back for its lovely beachside huts, and the glorious Campari-coloured sunsets on its own private beach. ghmhotels.com

[CLASSIC] Cable Beach durack suite, Broome, WA
One of three homestead-like dwellings whose towering ceilings, exotic Asian furniture and art-strewn walls (in this case Elizabeth Durack originals) evoke the genteel tropics. The suite is palatial in a laid-back way – vast bedrooms, ornate opium beds and outsized decks from which to imbibe the frangipani aromas while looking out to sea. cablebeachclub.com.au

[HERITAGE] Flinders Ranges, South Australia
This spectacular region offers something unique for outback Australia: fabulous accommodation in old pubs and homesteads that a new generation of pioneers has respectfully restored. Places like the North Star Hotel, the Prairie Hotel, the Cradock Hotel, Arkaba Station and North Bundaleer allow you to explore the outback in style. southaustralia.com

[NEW] Palms Place, Las Vegas, US
A discreet distance from the strip, this 600-room "boutique" hotel eschews the usual Vegas marble-and-gold aesthetic. The 111-square-metre suite is all muted tones with abstract art and mid-century furniture. Highlights include a freestanding almond-shaped bath, a fully-fledged bar with four bar stools, stainless steel appliances and two balconies with neon-lit views. palmsplace.com

[DISCOVERY] Matemwe Retreat, Zanzibar
On Zanzibar's north-east coast, the Matemwe Retreat consists of just three white-washed stone and stucco villas overlooking a private beach and lagoon dotted with fishing dhows. Each villa opens onto a shaded veranda with chunky island furniture and colourful Zanzibarian fabrics. Upstairs a plunge pool glistens on a bougainvillea-dotted roof terrace. asilialodges.com

[NEW] Nimbo Fork Lodge, Tumut, NSW
In the Snowy Mountains foothills, this fly-fishing paradise features state-of-the-art ponds to perfect your casting technique, experienced guides to help you fish the crystal clear waters of the Tumut River, custom-built drift boats and supremely comfortable Nantucket beach house-style accommodation with fine food and wine to match. nimboforklodge.com.au

[CLASSIC] Old Leura Dairy, Blue Mountains, NSW
To stay here is to visit a shrine to recycling and the reuse of materials. A labour of love that began with the transformation of an old dairy workers' cottage in Leura has bloomed into another five self-contained lodgings, each one proudly 80 per cent recycled materials. oldleuradairy.com.au

[NEW] 6 Columbus, New York, US
Just one block from Central Park, 6 Columbus is described by its owners as a "midtown hotel with a downtown sensibility". Roughly translated that means mismatched 1960s furniture, eclectic art and pottery and not-your-typical-in-room snacks such as a bottle of sake and wasabi peas on arrival and bites from chic Soho deli Dean & Deluca. sixcolumbuscircle.com

[DISCOVERY] Roemahkoe, Solo, Indonesia
Touches of Holland, Java and Frank Lloyd Wright combine for a gorgeous architectural effect in this former merchants house dating from 1938. The Roemahkoe is set on the edge of an historic batik-producing area; open the back door and you can smell the hot wax and fabric dye. roemahkoe.info

[DISCOVERY] rough and tumble bush lodge, NZ
New Zealand's top lodges tend to be on the expensive side but the rustic Rough and Tumble Bush Lodge, located in the far north corner of the South Island's stunning West Coast combines a spectacular, remote location and friendly, ∫ knowledgeable hosts with refreshing affordability. roughandtumble.co.nz

[NEW] Claska, Tokyo
This contemporary hotel, which has just had a major makeover, was Tokyo's first true design hotel. The location is out of the way (the nearest station is a 10-minute walk), but extraordinarily charming and helpful staff, stylish tatami rooms and a hip bar make it one of Tokyo's best – and most affordable – homes-away-from-home. claska.com

[DISCOVERY] Takatu Lodge and Vineyard, Matakana, NZ
New and stylish, this lodge is the creation of Heather and John Forsman. Set on their Matakana vineyard, it is comfortable with fabulous views, and the region's food and wines are reason to visit. takatulodge.co.nz

[DISCOVERY] Riad Meriem, Marrakech, Morocco
New York designer Thomas Hays has married traditional Moroccan sensibilities with a sexy colour scheme (aubergine, charcoal) in this intimate five-suite riad in the heart of the medina. Over cocktails on the roof terrace, its hosts, English expats, Cyrus and Madeline, share their secrets on bargaining and befriending locals. riadmeriem.com

[DISCOVERY] Riverside Lodge 4, Hawkes Bay, NZ
Located in the TukiTuki Valley near Hawkes Bay's vineyards, Riverside Lodge 4 is a luxuriously appointed house suitable for three couples, with plump leather couches, well-stocked kitchen, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, a lap pool and – best of all – an unobstructed view of the majestic Te Mata Peak. blackbarn.com

[NEW] Peninsula, Tokyo
Brilliantly located in the chic Ginza district this is our new favourite Tokyo hotel – and the favourite of a whole lot of other discerning visitors to the Japanese capital. And you don't need to work for NASA to operate the features in the hi-tech rooms (love those valet boxes). tokyo.peninsula.com

[NEW] Qualia, Hamilton Island, QLD
Qualia on Hamilton Island's northern headland is the resort we had to have. Australian to its bootstraps with the best of everything that this land has to offer: views, wine (there's a 1000-bottle cellar), food – and, of course, the reef. Here you are soothed by water. qualia.com.au

[DISCOVERY] @VDL, Stanley, Tasmania
A gorgeous old bluestone building – the former Van Diemen's Land Company store – has been re-imagined, with historic and contemporary sensibilities, as a boutique hotel in Tasmania's oft overlooked north-west corner. atvdlstanley.com.au

[NEW] Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, SA
Proof you don't just need Baz to create a buzz about Australian travel, this new deluxe lodge, inspired by the best of the New Zealand equivalents, is setting new standards in Australian luxe accommodation. southernoceanlodge.com.au


TASTES


[RESTAURANT] Cha Cha Moon, London, UK
London goes crunchtastic, as Alan Yau, the man who brought Wagamama to the world, does a lean, mean, designer-scene of a pan-Chinese noodle bar in Soho, where every dish is priced at about $7.50. That's $7.50 for the Zhajiang minced pork noodles, beef hor fun, XO rice noodle rolls or wonton noodle soup. 15-21 Ganton St, Soho, London; +44 20 7297 9800.

[DRINK] Dal Zotto Wines, Whitfield, Victoria
Dal Zotto boasts a wonderfully dry sparkling white that has the distinction of being the only prosecco produced in Australia. Michael Dal Zotto's grandfather grew grapes in Valdobbiadene, Veneto, an area known for the variety. So popular is the drop that orders are limited to six. If you miss out console yourself with Dal Zotto's sangiovese or barbera. dalzotto.com.au

[BREAKFAST] Hotel Cour des Loges, Lyon, France
Only the naïve would rave about the hotel breakfast buffet, right? Right, until you stay at Lyon's stone-walled, Hotel Cour des Loges, where the $40 breakfast involves taking a knife to the entire leg of Bayonne ham, boiling your own farm egg, nibbling a freshly baked madeleine. It is all so marvellously, meticulously French, how could any other meal come close? courdesloges.eu

[RESTAURANT] Food Farmacy, Dunsborough, WA
Get past the charmless shopping arcade surrounds. Forgive the test tube condiment holders. The experimental creativity underpinning Simon Beaton's chocolate-hued, Melbournesque diner isn't even its biggest draw. It's that he cooks so well: melt-in-your- mouth beef cheek, light-as-air gnocchi, and quirks like Tapas of Chocolate and Rabbit Five Ways. Shop 9, 32 Dunn Bay Road, Dunsborough; 08 9759 1877.

[RESTAURANT] Ciya, Istanbul, TURKEY
Anatolia owes chef Musa Dagdeviren big time. He trawls the region for home-style recipes in danger of extinction, then gives them new life in his three restaurants on the Asian side of Istanbul. The result is some of the city's most interesting food: sour cherry kebabs from Gaziantep and yoghurt, wild mint and wheat berry soup from Van. ciya.com.tr

[RESTAURANT] Li Qun, Beijing, China
As Beijing tarts up almost beyond recognition, it's comforting to know there are still places like this (rough around the edges, hard to find). Family-run Li Qun is all about Beijing Duck – roasted over sweet fruit wood with perfectly burnished, crisp skin, the meat is unforgettably juicy and flavoursome. 11 Beixianfeng, Zhengyi Lu, Beijing, +86 10 670 5578.

[TEA] Burnett House, Darwin, NT
Some visit Burnett House at Darwin's Myilly Point for its tropical architecture pioneered in the 1930s by Beni Burnett, all airy spaces and breeze-friendly louvres. But stay your hand until Sunday to have afternoon tea in the garden as grandma would have made it: fluffy scones with dollops of cream, lemon and lime curd tartlets and mix-and-match ribbon sandwiches with a hot cuppa. 4 Burnett Place, Myilly Point, Darwin; 08 8981 2848.

[RESTAURANT] Cloud Nine, Aspen, US
The Rockies' best European grub is served at high altitude at Cloud Nine, Aspen. Ski in, ski out, or (fake) fur up and catch a snowcat for dinner. The food exhibits the miraculous richness and lightness of taste characteristic of great French cuisine. Buy the Old World wines to complement, then point downhill. aspensnowmass.com

[DRINK] Trailer Park Lounge & Grill, New York
Opposite the storied Chelsea hotel on West 23rd Street, this bar is so full of trailer-trash kitsch that its walls seem to groan under the strain. There's even an actual trailer, cut down the middle, mounted on the wall and populated with mannequins in shell suits. Homey food (turkey chilli and tater tots), killer $5 margaritas and funky staff can turn a quick drink into a night to remember. trailerparklounge.com

[COFFEE] Alta Moda, Milan
Coffee at Alta Moda in Milan is beyond good. The secret? A mixture of cane sugar and espresso mulched together into a heavenly syrup, stored in a silver lidded cup with spoon attached to the side. When placed into the coffee, its positively explosive. Via Ponte Vetero 14, Milan.

[RESTAURANT] Royale Nam Tok, Phuket
Packing up their Michelin-starred restaurant, De DeTafeljoncker in Antwerp, Cory Ringoet and Marc De Schrijver courageously moved it to a backwater village in Phuket for a change of pace. It's great news for travellers to the resort isle, who can now dine at a top classical French restaurant serving dishes such as sliced lobster on carpaccio of foie gras with white asparagus. royalenamtok.com

[BAKERY] Berry Bakery, Berry, NSW
Sometimes it pays to have children who wake you at dawn. That way, if you're holidaying on the NSW South Coast near Berry, you can hot foot it to the Berry Wood-fired Sourdough Bakery (just off the main drag) to be first in the queue for crusty loaves, buttery croissants and light-as-air brioche, still warm from the oven. 23 Prince Alfred Street, Berry; 02 4464 1617.

[BAR] Rusty Knot, New York
It's been described as a dive bar for hipsters, and it's true there is nothing downmarket about the crowd at Rusty Knot. But with its faux-nautical interior it still feels more small-town America than Manhattan's West Village. Drink the inventive cocktails from Tiki glasses and sample a bar menu that includes pickled eggs, meat pies and pretzel dogs. 425 West Street (at 11th Street), New York; +1 212 645 5668.

[RESTAURANT] Troyes, France
The andouillette sausage is an acquired taste, being made of pig's intestines and smelling to high heaven, but having acquired it, one must make a pilgrimage to its origin, the beautifully preserved medieval city of Troyes. Stop at the Aux Crieurs de Vin wine bar for the seminal experience. tourisme-champagne-ardenne.com


For the full list of 100 discoveries of the year see the latest edition of Travel + Leisure.

RECENT ISSUES

ARCHIVE

Read featured stories from past issues.