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Finalists for Bar of the Year 2018
28.07.2017

Whether it's a late-night spot playing hip-hop at full volume, a throwback to the glamour of yesteryear or a bar-restaurant that slips the collar of definition, these three Bar of the Year finalists have all nailed one essential detail: good times.

Finalists for Regional Restaurant of the Year 2018
27.07.2017

These three restaurants - Fleet, Brae and Igni - might not be in capital cities, but the journey there is part of the unforgettable experience they offer.

Living off the land in winter
27.07.2017

The life of a farmer revolves around the seasons. Come winter, a certain thriftiness is needed in the kitchen to make the most of meagre produce, writes Paulette Whitney.

Why breakfast isn't the most important meal of the day in Italy
27.07.2017

Italy's claim to being the greatest of the world's cuisines has one key weakness: breakfast. But, argues John Irving, there's more to the story than first meets the eye.

Reasons to visit Los Angeles in 2017
27.07.2017

The hottest spots to eat, drink, play and stay on your next trip to LA, rounded up into one perfect day.

Reasons to visit Canberra in 2017
27.07.2017

Your guide to a perfect stay in Canberra, from where to sleep to the exhibitions you need to check out.

Restaurants with rooms
27.07.2017

Some of Australia's best dining destinations take the hassle out of a weekend stay by offering their own on-site digs where you can hit the hay in style after your meal.

Finalists for Maitre D' of the Year 2018
26.07.2017

The maitre d' is your first introduction to a restaurant - they do as much to create a sense of ambience as lighting, tableware and music. And these three professionals are top of the class.

Intercontinental Sydney Double Bay

More than a decade after Sydney's Ritz-Carlton closed its doors, the landmark harbour property has reopened as the Intercontinental Sydney Double Bay. Plenty of surprises await behind the revamped mock-Regency façade, including a bar dedicated to gin (be still our beating hearts), a courtyard club lounge and - the ultimate Sydney accessory - a rooftop pool and bar complete with billowing-curtained cabanas and millionaire views across the harbour.

The 140 rooms feature smart touches such as curtains that open automatically when guests enter, bijou balconies overlooking village or water, and fragrant lemon verbena bathroom amenities by Agraria of San Francisco. The Royal Suite, which hosted Bill Clinton, Madonna and Princess Diana in a former life, is now a staid, serene space with dining for eight, parquetry floors and a walk-in robe with shelving for 80 shoes.

Opened as the Ritz-Carlton in 1991, the hotel never quite recovered after INXS singer Michael Hutchence's death here in 1997. It closed in 2009 (it was rebranded as Stamford in 2001) and languished unloved until Intercontinental engaged Bates Smart to bring it back to life 12 months ago.

As well as a gym, bakery and health food store, the hotel houses a branch of Sean Presland's Japanese diner Saké, and the elegant first-floor Stockroom restaurant overseen by executive chef Julien Pouteau. His all-day dining menu will be a "testament to Australian produce, using what's in season and best in class", with plenty of on-trend pickling and fermenting. Pouteau also has a Japanese robata grill to play with - "Lots of charcoal and smokiness," he grins.

The seven-metre marble bar of the Stillery stocks a collection of rare and vintage gins and offers a daily High Martini session - a sort of high tea for the drinking classes. "We are aiming to have the biggest gin collection in Australia," says bar manager Aaron Gaulke. We'll drink to that.

Intercontinental Sydney Double Bay, 33 Cross St, Double Bay, NSW, (02) 8388 8388 or 138 388; rooms from $390 a night.

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