SONEVA SECRET

When the legends at Soneva sound the conch horn to announce they’ve built another stay, you listen.

The luxury chain makes accommodation so damn dreamy you’ll think it’s been dreamt up by AI. But it’s not. This place is real. Soneva Secret is the incredible, not-so-secret collection of 14 beach and over-water villas located in Haa Dhaalu Atoll, the Maldives’ most remote atoll.

The resort’s star attraction? Probably the Castaway Villa, the Maldives’ first floating villa. Floating on water, not a euphemism, this incredible master suite even boasts a roof that slides open to reveal star-strewn skies.

Transport around the resort is also done in style; going for a swim? Take the water slide. Heading to dinner? Enjoy the zipline.

Soneva opens January 10, 2024. Your move, AI.

From AU$HEAPS per person, per night

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CABN

Kangaroo Island is continuing its stirring comeback after being razed by the 2020 fires. And one of the best things travellers can do to help is visit, stay and contribute to the local economy.

CABN is one of the best places you can stay on the island. Making their name as specialists in off-grid sustainable accommodation, CABN at Cape St Albans, is a simple but striking black box set on a 162-hectare private property (which should be enough, you’d imagine).

This might just be the ideal place for an outdoor bathtub. After you’ve gone and gotten sweaty on a hike or a surf, fill the tub (perched on your private balcony) and take in the surrounding wilderness, ocean and kangaroos. Preferably with a beverage in hand.

There’s a king-size bed and other luxuries inside, but it’s really the extraordinary location you come for. Well, that and the tub.

From AU$695 per night

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SUN RANCH

The perspicuously named Sun Ranch, in Byron Bay’s hinterland, is 55 acres of California meets Australia. 1970s meets today.

Retro furnishings seemingly taken from the Californian ranch homes of 1970s movie stars sit inside plush wood panelled rooms. There’s record players, tiger-print wraparound sofas. And probably a martini making station, we bet.

There are also massages and yoga, kayaking and Zooz e-bikes. Oh, and horse riding. There’s a pool overlooking the famed hinterland, and a restaurant boasting ridiculously succulent open-fire meals from famed chef, Pip Sumbak. Parts of the ranch are totally off-grid, but the whole ranch is pretty light on when it comes to eco footprint. This really is the best of both worlds.

From AU$1,700 for two nights

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GAL OYA LODGE

This national park isn’t like all the other national parks.

Why? Because you can find elephants swimming the waters here. Then there’s the local Vedda community, the earliest known inhabitants of Sri Lanka, who still stroll the forests as they have for thousands of years, climbing trees for food and living in harmony with crocodiles, turtles, monkeys and other animals.

There’s only nine humble bungalows at Gal Oya, so you’re not jostling with hordes of tourists in an attempt to get ‘the shot’.

Wildlife geeks will rejoice at the wildlife research centre on-site, and people who eat food will rejoice at the local dishes served up on banana leaves every day. Living.

From AU$410 per night

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THE TWELVE APOSTLES HOTEL AND SPA

Between us, the get lost team has stayed at a lot of hotels. Like, a lot.

But you know what The Twelve Apostles has going for it (besides its ridiculous sea view terrace, swimming pool, fine dining and pillow menu)? Arguably, the world’s best hotel robe. Gosh, it was luxe. Heavy and comforting, the perfect lounge robe.

The Apostles is the very definition of 5-star luxury. Perched above the Atlantic Ocean and with a backdrop to Table Mountain, this boutique hotel offers up breathtaking sunsets, access to incredible cape beaches and an award-winning spa.

Not to mention you can choose your soap/ skincare. We went with rooibos, hbu?

From AU$340 per night.

Click and say AMEN TO THAT

SALT OF PALMAR

It’s time to put Mauritius on your travel radar.

Honestly, this place is heaven. In fact, all of Mauritius is heaven, but SALT of Palmar is the cherry on top. Why? Firstly, look at it. It’s a colourful pastel wonderland, an aesthetic feast for the eyes. It’s also adults-only, now don’t get us wrong we love kids and babies and small humans, but trying to relax by the resort pool while there’s a game of Marco Polo in progress isn’t… well… relaxing.

At SALT, it’s grown-up time, all the time. Whether you’re doing sundowners on the resort rooftop, laying by the private beach, getting a (literal) salt treatment at the spa or eating your way through their locally-sourced menu.

The ethos here is all about creating a sustainable, welcoming vibe for their guests and they’ve nailed it. On a recent stay, we were invited into the kitchen to learn how to make Mauritian curry—now if that’s not bloody welcoming, what is? The curry was perfection, FYI. We ate two servings and rolled into our ocean-side bed slightly sunburnt and satisfied.

From AU$183 per night

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GLAMPROOK HOTEL

Glamprook Hotel is a strange patchwork of things that shouldn’t really work together and yet inexplicably absolutely do.

Take the glamping domes for example, where ‘camping’ is made to feel super luxurious thanks to some incredibly comfy beds and armchairs made for kicking back and gazing at the starry night skies next to a roaring (if fake) fire.

get lost has never had access to an onsen while camping before, but we’re going to demand it from now on. Soaking, completely starkers, with people you’ve never met before, is a lot more relaxing than it sounds.

Then there’s the 10-course dinner, which is actually quite a tidy menu length for Japan. We’re not sure what cuisine to call this: traditional sashimi matched with pasta matched with an outrageous sorbet-honeycomb-brownie thing for dessert. The only common thread between the dishes is that they’re all super colourful, in complete contrast to the snow that falls here in the winter. None of this should work, but it does.

From AU$300 per person, per night

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MANNA HOTEL

When you think of Greece, it’s usually the white of Santorini and the blue of the ocean. You think of destroying gyros after gyros, day after day. You think of paying five euro to sit in a beach lounge on Ios because your hangover cannot deal with the blazing Greek sun.

But the home of the Olympics is actually quite a mountainous place too; 80% of it in fact, is considered mountainous, with the famed Mount Olympus, in the country’s far north. Down the other end is Manna, nestled above the village of Arcadia.

This is a hotel which was once a sanatorium for people with chronic illness. It’s now a luxury mountain sanctuary, but it’s easy to see why this was considered a good place to heal what ails ya. Really, really old trees surround you at all times, whether you’re chowing down gourmet gyros or taking a bath. Maybe you’re doing both at the same time. There’s no room to be bored: hike, ski, cycle, hunt for mushrooms in the forest, hunt for gyros in the forest, or just chill with a gyros.

From AU$400 per night

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HOTEL JEŠTĚD

Ještěd Tower is probably the most impressive TV antenna in the world.

It’s a 94-metre behemoth perched on top of Mount Ještěd, which is already at an altitude of about 1,000 metres. When lit up at night this colossal bit of construction gives the impression of a UFO perching precariously on the mountain top.

And if you’re an alien popping in from another galaxy (which apparently is commonplace nowadays), we can absolutely see why you’d land here—the vantage point offers extraordinary views of Bohemia. Both Poland and Germany are visible from Hotel Ještěd, which is in the cone-shaped building beneath the tower itself. Open since 1973, the once-futuristic and now retro-feeling aesthetic is unique: we’re calling it E.T. chic.

It’s affordable too: staying in a UFO with some of the best views in Europe for less than 50 Aussie bucks a night sounds pretty good to us.

From AU$191 per night.

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Surfs up in the Solomons

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.