T+L Annual Report 2009

Not only could Travel + Leisure not fit all its discoveries into the magazine this year, even the T+L Annual Report had a surplus of great travel finds. Here are some of the hot tips that did not make it into our October issue.

Whether uber-chef Neil Perry is standing in front of the jumping flames of the grill at his impressive new Rockpool Bar & Grill in Sydney, or tossing heaven-facing chillies over fresh fish in the new Spice Temple in the basement below, he must be finding it hard to keep his customary cool. It might be the magnificent heritage-listed art deco décor that takes your breath away upstairs, but downstairs it’s the fiery regional cuisines of Sichuan, Yunnan, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangxi and Xinjiang. Perry has cornered the market in dried, fresh, salted, pickled, brined and fermented chillies, and knows just how best to use them. rockpool.com

The triumph of intimacy over flashiness. We’ve noticed this in everything from restaurants – the trend for smaller, more rustic places – to boutique cruise lines (like Orion) to hotels. Some of the best hotels in the world right now have less than 50 rooms.

If you have given up on the Italian Riviera and Amalfi coast, consider Pescara, a hard-working coastal city on the Adriatic coast. It has 16 kilometres of sandy beaches lined with colourful beach umbrellas, sun lounges, bars, cafes, pizzerie and nightclubs. The local seafood and game are justifiably famous, and the regions’ Trebbiano and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo are very drinkable. It can be reached from Rome, or via a short flight from London on Ryanair. And because it is not on the Riviera or the Amalfi coast, you can even afford it.

Thank a clutch of coffee-savvy Antipodeans for rescuing London from the blight of cafe chains. They’re still everywhere, but palatable coffee is also possible at selected independent cafes from Soho to Shoreditch. Reconnect with the simple pleasure of a flat white at dose-espresso.com; tasteofbitterlove.com; nudeespresso.com; lantanacafe.co.uk

It can get rather overrun with the pesky public, but if it’s twilight and there’s a thunderstorm rolling in (no lightning, obviously), there’s probably no more dramatic a spot to be than the rooftop pool at the UK’s only natural spa. Make like an ancient Roman in the thermal, jet-assisted water while looking out over Bath’s grandly turreted skyline. thermaebathspa.com

This whitewashed gem of a hotel sits at the base of the ancient Gennargentù mountains amid wildflowers, vineyards and tumbling valleys. It is not easy to get to, tucked away in the towering peaks of Sardinia’s north-east, and, once arrived, it is not easy to leave either. The vibe is cosmopolitan country house – a terracotta tiled estate of 60 rooms and 8 suites surrounded by gorgeous rambling gardens and birdsong. The design is rustic luxe – exposed juniper beams, hand-painted tiles and engaging local arts and crafts. The main drawcard here, apart from the setting, the springwater swimming pool, and the glorious isolation, is the dining room. The most sought-after seats are on the bougainvillea-fringed terrace overlooking the pool and rolling farmlands, but the classic Sardinian fare tastes amazing wherever you’re seated. sugologone.it

[BARGAIN] Dolphin House, London
Spacious, non-musty and affordable, the newly renovated wing of this pre-World War II apartment complex makes the perfect base for your next trip to the British capital. Located in Pimlico, Dolphin House is close to the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Tate Britain. A selection of studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments is available. All are tastefully decorated with modern bathrooms and galley kitchens. Tariffs start at $236 a night. The complex – once the largest of its type in Europe – includes a fitness centre (with lap pool), a bar-restaurant, private gardens and shopping arcade. Underground parking is available for an extra fee. dolphinsquare.co.uk.

Apartment 401, Melbourneisan Art Deco gem wedged in the middle of the Melbourne CBD’s Flinders Lane. The Majorca building, with its burnished bronze lift and foyer area, is home to this little-known short or medium stay bolthole, owned by the charming folk at Villa Donati in Richmond. Take earplugs or stay out all night, and get the buzziest feel possible for Marvellous Melbourne. apartment401.com.au.

We still love Queenstown but for authentic Kiwi ski break choose Wanaka every time. Set on an expansive lake surrounded by mountains 100 kilometres from Queenstown, Wanaka has two fields within 20 minutes drive of the township. The après-ski scene here is relaxed; turn up to a bar in your snowsuit and order a glass of fortifying Central Otago pinot noir in front of an open fire.

[EXPLORE] Bruny Island, Tasmania
With a permanent population of just 600, Bruny Island (actually two islands joined by an isthmus) is a wild, unspoilt refuge from the modern world. The island, south of Hobart, is accessible by car ferry. A three-hour trip along the pristine southeast coastline with Bruny Island Charters (October to May) is the highlight of any visit – you’ll see seals, penguins, muttonbirds and maybe a whale or three – but it’s worth coming just for the serenity and a trip to the Bruny Island Cheese Company, where cheesemaker Nick Haddow is making some of Australia’s finest artisan cheeses. Accommodation is limited, but there’s plenty of camping, forest walks and remote surf beaches to explore. brunycharters.com.au; brunyislandcheese.com.au.

Looking for a bit of old-world skiing? Try the French Alps – to rediscover the charm of fur coats, small dogs in restaurants and real raclette fondue. It’s the choice that hits you here – a myriad of interconnecting ski fields, all within half an hours drive. Megeve remains the favourite – the best lunch on the snow, and the deepest suntans.



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