Sitting adjacent to the hulking, gothic-style, protestant supporting Wesley Church on the fringes of Melbourne’s CBD is a charming little cottage. And inside that charming little cottage is an even charming-er little bar called Caretaker’s Cottage.
Originally the living abode of the church grounds caretaker, it has been there since 1858, but likely never served a Penicillin Milk punch (Johnny Walker black label, fresh ginger, lemon, salted bush honey, camomile, Talisker 10 year float) nor had cracking Guinness on tap, nor had The Avalanches spinning on vinyl.
The cottage was probably lit by candlelight and some stage, but it probably did not illuminate trendy 20, 30 and 40 somethings on date night whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears, which this intimate space seems to be perfect for.
It’s more than that though; outside, perched slightly above the rest of the Melbourne CBD, you are sandwiched between skyscrapers and elegant 19th century architecture –a contrast of new and old. It’s a space conducive to conversation.
In its first year of trading, Caretakers placed number 60 on the longlist of the Top 50 World’s Best Bars list, the only Australian bar to make the cut. This week, they went one better and placed 23rd in the 2023 list. Onwards and upwards.
We separate travel experiences by category on this website: do, stay, drink and eat. Level 8 probably ticks all four of these boxes, and then some.
It’s the new behemoth that has transformed downtown Los Angeles.
It’s sprawled across 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space on level 8 of the brand new Moxy Hotel and AC Downtown Hotel, right across the road from where the Lakers play.
It’s a labyrinth that includes a Japanese restaurant, a South American restaurant, burlesque, an opulent poolside party area that looks like a modern Great Gatsby scene, and a luxurious Mexican church-themed bar that includes a confessional booth, which you’ll surely need to visit more than once. There’s even a 24 hour supermarket downstairs.
The cool thing about Level 8 is that it’s everything you need in one – a night out from dinner to a raucous party, to a filthy club boogie and right through to kick ons – without ever leaving the building.
Exploration and surfing have always gone hand in hand.
Olotsara Retreat is a 65km adventure west of Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. We say adventure because getting there is no cruise down a highway – expect bumpy roads, rickety bridges and only one sign – ‘turn for Olotsara’.
Once there, you’ll be escorted to one of five rustic bungalows, all with epic beach views. This or a tent on the beach, if that’s more your vibe.
While most surf in the Solomons is in the Western Province, there are more and more waves being discovered in Guadalcanal, too. A stay at Olotsara is a hark back to the 1970s and 1980s, when surfing was still in its relative infancy in the western world, and brand new waves were being discovered every year.
For what it’s worth, there are two main breaks Panukurutu, a right-hander, is about a fifteen-minute boat drive north of Olotsara. Nughu Kiki Tiaro is a break for the goofy footers and is a more exposed break south of Olotsara that attracts more South swell. They also offer board hire, and transport to and from the breaks by boat.
A trip to Olotsara is a great weekend adventure or the perfect add on to an extended trip out to the other provinces. You can get a bus from Honiara that will cost you $60.00 SBD (around $10 AUD) or drive yourself, and there are plans afoot for a shuttle bus.
The Calile Hotel in inner-city Brisbane is like the best of both worlds: a stunning tropical paradise based in the midst of a rising urban metropolis.
It was recently ranked the 12th best hotel in the world by influential and respected World’s Best group, comprised of almost 600 independent industry leaders.
It’s got one of the most aesthetically pleasing swimming pools we’ve seen, set amongst bold architecture which works on every turn.
The colours are very ‘northern-cool’; a term we’re inventing to describe the palette of pastels that seem to work so well on a swathe of new Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast hotels. Palm trees are also very in at the moment, and The Calile has heaps of them.
As we continue uncontrollable runaway train which is the countdown to the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games, which is down to a mere nine years, it is places like The Calile Hotel which confirm the Brown Snake’s reputation as a city on the rise.
The brand new Anantara Koh Yao Yai Resort & Villas sits on a lush island in the middle of Phang Nga Bay, where limestone islets dot the horizon in every direction. Unfolding over a kilometre of golden beach, this is a luxury resort in every sense. But while the word ‘resort’ usually associates with sitting by a pool all day drinking cocktails (which you’re welcome to do, mind you) there is so much experiential goodness to soak up at Koh Yao Yai that you may not spend much time on the banana lounge.
Dive enthusiasts will love the abundance of underwater life. Venture off the beaten track to tranquil Hong Island to discover a small white sandy beach with a crystal-clear lagoon – our recommendation is to trek up 400 steps to a phenomenal 360-degree viewpoint.
Drift along mangrove canals in a kayak as eagles soar above. Take a boat out to a natural sand bank for a twilight candlelit dinner, or go for a vintage sidecar experience in a motorbike dashing through a rubber plantation.
There were already plenty of reasons to go to this part of the world; looks like there’s one more.
If you’ve ever wanted to live in a Wes Anderson dupe—this is the hotel for you.
Situated just outside of Durban, South Africa, The Oyster Box is 5-star luxury hotel with a famous cat, its own lighthouse and a host of cheeky local monkeys to keep the guests entertained.
Literally. Don’t leave your beachfront doors open unattended, they’ll raid your mini fridge.
The buffet breakfast on the pool patio is indulgent in all the best kinds of ways (oysters and Bloody Mary’s, anyone?); the day spa has its own hamam; and the variety of bars means even the booziest of us can stay entertained.
The only thing The Oyster Box is missing? Bill Murray.
Going underground is generally synonymous with fugitives on the run or sheltering from a bomb threat.
But here at Casa na Terra, it’s a place you go willingly. And you never want to leave.
The house blends naturally, almost seamlessly into the Portugese landscape. So seamlessly it’d be understandable if nearby animals and humans didn’t even know the place exists. Looking for privacy? This place is on another level.
This subterranean lair is definitely up there on the architectural genius scale, but the main brilliance of Casa na Terra is it’s total originality. It might just be the most beautiful bomb shelter ever made.
To stay at one of the many old school, but newly renovated, European castles on the market, you usually need to be prepared to leave with a wallet considerably lighter than the one you took in.
Not here though. Albergo Il Monastero is the achievable European castle stay; a former 16th century convent with room starting at just AU$215. Bargain.
Albergo is a restored stone beast perched high up on the Island of Ischia, just off the Italian south coast. From this vantage point you can sit on the castle’s terrace at night and admire the lights on the fishing boats as they bob gently up and down in the Gulf of Naples, catching fresh seafood for your next day’s dinner.
Across the way is the hullabaloo of Naples, but that’s well in the distance; here you’re ambling about with a vino from the on-site vineyard, at complete ease with the world. #CastleLyf is pretty sweet, if you can afford it.
Lombok, Innit? Sounds a little like a Londoner picking up a cabbage in China and asking the seller its name. BUT in great news for Indo-lovers, this is an epic stay in Ekas Bay, an idyllic stretch of Indonesian coastline.
There are only seven villas on this island resort, but they’re sleek, they’re made of bamboo and they’re hot damn beautiful. Everything you imagine a low-key trip to Indonesia to be.
Each villa has two levels, so you can move about the different areas as if you’re in your own house. That is if your own home also contained a stunning infinity pool looking out over the Indian Ocean. Paradise, innit?