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Hotel of the Year

When the Langham Group took over Sydney's landmark Observatory Hotel in 2012, and then closed it for a major makeover midway through last year, no one knew quite what to expect. Now we do. Langham took a $30 million wrecking ball to the Observatory's 21-year-old interiors to create a precious gem of a hotel that is remarkable for the imagination behind its transformation, the precision of its finishes, the attentiveness of staff, and the effortless comfort of guestrooms and public areas. This is a hotel with real personality, too, from its inner harbour views to the bold Australian art adorning its walls (including no fewer than seven Sidney Nolans). The Observatory is dead. Long live the Langham


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2015 GT Australian Hotel Guide Awards

Our handpicked band of hotel aficionados has checked out beds across the land for our annual GT Australian Hotel Guide supported by Nespresso. Here, Kendall Hill reveals the award winners.

Welcome to the 2015 Gourmet Traveller Australian Hotel Awards, a celebration of the best in our annual audit of the country's most desirable accommodation for our Australian Hotel Guide.

And it has thrown up some gems this year, thanks in large part to all the new openings countrywide.

We pillow-tested the cream of the new crop and ended up with a dozen new entries from Brisbane to Adelaide. We didn't include any of them simply for novelty's sake. Each, in its own characteristic way, extends and enhances the appeal of the Australian accommodation scene.

Every address in this year's guide is there because we think it's special, and because we think you should know about it. This is our gift to our readers - a little black book of the best beds in the business.

Alongside hotels we also reveal our favourite lodges and resorts, the most luxurious spa experiences, and our pick of the country's unique places to stay. If you need somewhere to bed down for an extended period, we've got you covered. And if you're on a budget, we can help you there, too.

Our tireless band of hotel inspectors has worked hard on your behalf, checking in around the country to determine our top 50 addresses. For us, a great hotel experience offers full-service accommodation with exceptional facilities, notable food, defined service, a covetable location and, of course, a great night's sleep.

The fruits of their labours are contained within the guide's 124 pages. Our very favourite experiences are listed here. Make a mental note of the winners to call on when you plan your next getaway. Pick up the June issue of Gourmet Traveller, on sale now, for your copy of the 2015 Australian Hotel Guide.

Healthy Eating

We're championing fresh food that packs a flavour punch, from salads and vegetable-packed bowls to grains and light desserts.

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Aløft

There's nothing new about Nordic interiors - blond timbers, concrete surfaces, warm, mid-century charm without the twee - and thank heavens for that. It's a style that augments the beauty of everything around it, in this case, gorgeous Hobart harbour, which makes up one whole wall. What is new here, however, is the food - by veterans of Garagistes, which once dazzled diners down the road, Vue de Monde in Melbourne and Gordon Ramsay worldwide. There's a strong Asian bent, but with Tasmanian ingredients. In fact, the kitchen's love of the local verges on obsessive - coconut milk in an aromatic fish curry is replaced with Tasmanian-grown fig leaf simmered in cream to mimic the flavour. Other standouts include a gutsy red-braised lamb with gai lan and chewy cassia spaetzle, pigs' ears zingy with Sichuan pepper and a fresh, springy berry dessert. While the food is sourced locally, the generous wine list spans the planet. 

Secret Tuscany

A far cry from Tuscany’s familiar gently rolling hills, Monte Argentario’s appealing mix of mountain, ocean, island and lagoon makes it one of Italy’s hidden treasures, writes Emiko Davies.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

Farro recipes

Farro can be used in almost any dish, from a robust salad to accompany hearty beer-glazed beef short ribs to a new take on risotto with mushrooms, leek and parmesan. Here are 14 ways with this versatile grain.

Brae

Prepare to enter a picture of the countryside framed by note-perfect Australiana but painted in bold, elegant and unsentimental strokes. Over 10 or more courses, Dan Hunter celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring (Crunchy prawn heads! Creamy oyster soft-serve! Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding!), yet rich in flavour and substance. The menu could benefit from an edit, but the plates are tightly composed - and what could you cut? Certainly not the limpid broth bathing fronds of abalone and calamari, nor the clever arrangement of lobster played off against charred waxy fingerlings under a swatch of milk skin. The adventure is significantly the richer for the cool gloss of the dining room, some of the most engaging service in the nation and wine pairings that roam with an easy-going confidence. Maturing and relaxing without surrendering a drop of its ambition, Brae is more compelling than ever.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

Grilled apricot salad with jamon and Manchego

Here we've scorched apricots on the grill and served them with torn jamon, shaved Manchego and peppery rocket leaves. Think of it as a twist on the good old melon-prosciutto routine. The mixture would also be great served on charred sourdough.

Lemon dream

"This cake is the new religion at Flour and Stone, and never fails to send those worshipping it into a dream of billowy clouds," says Ingram. "It has come to many parties, including one where its name was changed to reflect the euphoric place it transports you to."

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