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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.

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.

Discovering Macedonia

Like its oft-disputed name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia defies simple definition but its rich diversity extends from the dinner table to the welcoming locals, writes Richard Cooke.

2017 Australian Hotel Awards: The Finalists

This year's finalists across 11 different categories include established and new hotels, all with particular areas of excellence. Stay tuned to find out which hotels will take the top spots when they're announced at a ceremony at QT Melbourne on Wednesday 24 May, and published in our 2017 Australian Hotel Guide, on sale Thursday 25 May.

Australia's best long-stay lodgings

Smiths Beach Resort, WA

Smiths Beach Resort, WA

Sometimes a hotel room just doesn't cut it. For extended stays away from home, you need all the mod cons and comforts of a serviced apartment. The benefits are obvious - no need to clean up after yourself, for starters, plus room service and, usually, a central city location.

The Art Series Hotel Group has tapped the trend with keenly priced weekly rates at their funky artist-led properties. Their newest long-stay proposition is The Watson, beside the River Torrens in suburban Walkerville, Adelaide. Named after, and decorated by, the famed Pitjantjatjara artist Tommy Watson, the 24-room hotel offers one- and two-bedroom apartments from $520 a week, with all hotel services on tap. Art Series offers similar deals at three of its Melbourne properties, including The Olsen, from $695 a week, and The Blackman, from $700 a week.

The new-ish Sebel Melbourne Docklands at NewQuay has 124 one- and two-bedroom apartments with balconies, water views and arty interiors. There's a gym, pool and business centre on-site, and the CBD is a brisk walk or tram ride away.

Meriton has form in the long-stay game, providing a crisp, corporate environment for living and working away from home. In Brisbane, the new Herschel Street property is a gleaming glass tower of 259 apartments sized from 41-square-metre "Cubes" to the 200-square-metre three-bedroom penthouse - all with kitchen, laundry and housekeeper.

The Sir Norman Foster-designed Fraser Suites in Sydney remains one of the most impressive places to park yourself in the harbour city. Residents have a 24-hour gym, heated lap pool and round-the-clock concierge at their service.

When the escape is for play rather than work, we like Smiths Beach Resort in south-western Western Australia for its proximity to Margaret River wineries, Indian Ocean breezes and the comfort of its 55 apartments that include shacks, villas and beach houses, accommodating between two and eight people. With a restaurant, bar, deli and bottle shop on site, there really isn't much reason to leave.

And on the Gold Coast, we still can't go past the sculptural twin towers of Peppers Broadbeach for high-spec, high-tech comforts and the sort of coastline views only possible when you're soaring 40-plus storeys above the sea. Each apartment has a kitchen, laundry, study and on-site facilities that range from resort pool to private cinema and a teppanyaki barbecue.

Related link: Australia's best lodges and resorts

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