CIRCA HOTEL & CASINO

Circa Hotel & Casino is a new behemoth property in Sin City, geared entirely towards rabid American sports fans.

The first new casino-resort to open in downtown Vegas since 1980, Circa now sits head and shoulders above its ageing predecessors — both physically and metaphorically — boasting an amphitheatre-style pool dubbed ‘Stadium Swim’, an enormous sports bar (which is, in fact, Nevada’s largest indoor bar spanning 50 metres) and a three-story indoor betting stadium (yes, you read that correctly). This is the hottest ticket in town for America’s sun-seekers and sports lovers. Just be sure to bring a fat wallet for the booze and betting tables.

From AU$225 per night

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THE SHENANDOAH CHURCH HOUSE

YouTube superstar couple, Johnny and Iz Harris are no strangers to visiting unique properties around the world, so when given the opportunity to renovate and design their own forest retreat just outside their home in Washington DC they grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

Taking a historic and dilapidated church from the late 1800s, the couple completely transformed the former place of worship into the ultimate entertaining pad with enough room for an entire family. Some properties are just built to be most enjoyed during winter and the Shenandoah Church House is one of those, with its roaring indoor fireplace and outdoor seven-seater hot tub.

From AU$438 per night.

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SHELLBACK

At the very southern tip of mainland Australia is both a landscape and promontory so magical they belie the true nature of the destination.

Wilsons Promontory in Victoria is one of Australia’s most breathtaking national parks, laced with white sandy beaches, wombats, endless walking trails and ancient bushland. Shellback in nearby Cape Liptrap offers unbelievable views over ‘The Prom’, a laidback farm-style stay with modern touches in an open plan kitchen and living room. Life doesn’t get much better than sitting on the deck with a craft-beer from nearby Burra Brewing in Korumburra, and farmland lapping at the edge of this timeless property.

From AU$450 per night

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A BY ADINA

New hotels come and go in big cities, but when they make an effort to truly redefine the guest experience from the minute those lift doors open, you know it’s a keeper.

The studio rooms and apartments at A by Adina in Sydney are completely surrounded by office buildings and sandstone Victorian architecture in the city’s CBD skyline, but not imposingly so. Instead the rooms here feel cradled and secure, like a jewel in the casing of a necklace. The modern fit-out of the two-bedroom apartments, including the fully automated blinds on the floor-to-ceiling windows, are certainly chic, but not overstated. But please do yourselves a favour and hire a babysitter so you can saunter upstairs to Dean & Nancys on 22, a swanky new speakeasy featuring some of the most Instagram worthy cocktails in the city.

From AU$399 per night.

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SKINOPI LODGE

At first glance, Skinopi Lodge could be a mirage. A blip on the horizon of an ancient, rocky landscape with the crystal blue waters of the Aegean in the distance.

Built into the slope above a tiny fishing village on Milos, this is quickly emerging as one of the most exotic and extraordinary islands in all of the Cyclades. The volcanic rocks used to construct the Skinopi turn this place into a modest, unassuming retreat offering absolute privacy and unparalleled cliff-edge tranquillity. Milos is a Greek Island slowly gaining global attention, with its protected archaeological heritage and local coastal settlements of Klima and Mandrakia, where there are unbeatable (and undiscovered) local seafood and restaurants.

From AU$361 per night.

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Party Time at Avani Chaweng Samui Hotel & Beach Club

When a press release comes our way saying a new property is a “hedonistic bolt-hole” well, we sit up and take notice!

There’s a new player in town at Koh Samui’s party central Chaweng Beach and this player oozes glamorous 50’s swagger and style. Imagine a Palm Springs, South Beach Miami vibe with a Thai twist and it is party time at Avani Chaweng Samui Hotel & Beach Club

Sitting just a few steps away from a sumptuous stretch of silky white sand, you’ll enjoy access to the best sunsets, dining, entertainment and people-watching on Samui. SEEN Beach Club Samui, the hard-hitting party central next door, throws epic pool parties with top DJs and world-class entertainment on tap. The resort’s social swimming pool feels like a hopping bar, with snug cabanas and a mixology station that moonlights as a check-in area.

This place will be the coolest joint on Samui.

HIRADO CASTLE

Live like a Japanese samurai warrior for one night in this newly converted private guest room at Hirado Castle on Hirado Island in Nagasaki Prefecture.

The contemporary golden interior design of the private quarters are juxtaposed against the rough, ancient exterior of what was once a very regal and traditional Japanese castle. Once home to the famous Matsura clan, the castle was first constructed in the 16th century. The bathroom has sweeping views over the Sea of Japan and the Hirado bridge below. Open to just a pair of guests each night, you’ll also get a kagura show and tea ceremony on arrival. But it’s definitely a very pricey cuppa.

From AU$11,700 per night.

Hotel Schwarzschmied

Just when you think Italy can’t get any better, they come along and build somewhere like this.

This is a country that gave has given us so much: pizza, pasta, Ferraris, Andrea Pirlo, the piano, the Amalfi Coast and more – they’ve now given us the Hotel Schwarzschmied. Built in 1981, the Schwarzmied (owing its name to a proximity to the Swiss border) has recently been updated so that it is a match for the stunning location it finds itself in.

Surrounded by a winery, and more broadly by mountains, gorges and hiking spots, some of the hotel itself has been kept from the 1980s, and looks from a distance like a cheap, mildly unattractive hotel that you might find on the outskirts of a city transposed into paradise.

It’s only once you get a bit closer that you reveal the beautiful interiors, the 29-meter outdoor pool, various spas and a Finnish outdoor sauna that you realise this place is pretty special. Its as if the hotel isn’t playing all its cards up front, and there’s an edifying satisfaction in unravelling all this grandeur a little slower.

Which is what the place is all about, really; taking it slow, and easy.

The House on the Very, Very Large Slope

When it comes to titles that don’t quite tell the full story, ‘The House on the Slope’ might just be the biggest undersell in history.

First of all, the ‘slope’ is actually a 7000ft mountain in the Himalayas. Bit of a decent slope, if you ask me.

Secondly, the term ‘house’ is understating things as well. The accommodation is not only homely and has a roof, which you would expect of a ‘house’, but also allows the things that makes it special to shine. This is, of course, mainly it’s location.

Camouflaged amidst a virgin pine, oak and rhododendron forest, the house is made almost entirely of stone bricks that have been hand-carved from local stone. The structure stretches across multiple terraced fields, giving a unique kind of layered look. An all-glass skylight runs through the roof and transitions into the front wall of the house, where you get breath-taking views of snow-capped Himalayan peaks such as Trishul and Nanda Devi. Not a bad thing to wake up to in the morning.

Imagine enjoying an altitude-filled brekky in the morning on the terrace in the morning, drinking coffee in the mountains, in the freshest of air. It doesn’t get much better than this.

FREYCINET LODGE

When get lost stayed at Freycinet Lodge, we got a knock on the door at 5pm on our first night for housekeeping. The ‘housekeeping’ turned out to be a complimentary shot of local whiskey, and some chocolate. We knew we were in our place.

This touch is one of several small details that takes Freycinet beyond any average nature lodge.

From the balcony of a gorgeous array of secluded rooms, you can see Freycinet’s jagged peaks, called The Hazards, and Richardson’s Beach, a quiet bay which backs onto the Tasman Sea that never seems to have more than about 10 people on it at one time.

You’re surrounded by gumtrees and the call of kookaburras, and the luxuriously-sized bath that backs onto a floor to roof window allows you to bask in all of that while completely starkers.

freycinetlodge.com.au