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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. 

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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 hotel spas

One&Only Hayman Island

One&Only Hayman Island

From metropolitan havens to island idylls, here's our list of Australia's best hotel spas.  

Last December, sybarites near and far welcomed the return of one of the country's favourite spas at The Langham Sydney (formerly The Observatory). The subterranean day spa has been freshened up but remains a softly lit sanctuary of Babor facials and pedicures, and Martinis beside the 20-metre pool with its signature star-studded ceiling.

Sydney's other spa headliners include the harbourside glamour of the Park Hyatt, with five treatment rooms and an extensive range of Dreamtime-inspired treatments to soothe the most frazzled high-flyers.

At the chic boutique QT Sydney, the basement SpaQ's focus is firmly on self-improvement. Skilled practitioners specialise in wet shaves, manicures, and new-age indulgence with caviar facials and signature aloe wraps.

Melbourne is home to one of the country's most glamorous urban spas at Crown Towers, gleaming and gorgeous after a recent $10 million renovation. For that money you get 19 treatment rooms, two suites for couples, a hammam and relaxation pool. La Prairie handles the skincare side of things. Next door, Isika Spa at Crown Metropol has dedicated spa suites for peaceniks and a glass-enclosed sky pool with commanding views over the metropolis.

In the tropical north, the pursuit of relaxation reaches new heights. At the five-star Qualia on Hamilton Island, guests surrender to Coral Sea breezes and Whitsunday views in its six treatment rooms. Indulgence-wise, the options seem endless - native quandong hair masks, hot-stone massages and the tempting prospect of a five-day detox in paradise.

At The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa in northern New South Wales, guests are encouraged to escape into the rainforest with a therapist for full-body massages with macadamia nut and rainforest oils, while Gwinganna's multiday retreats in the Gold Coast hinterland offer a unique combination of organic living, utopian views and a 33-room indoor-outdoor spa complex.

Spa guests at One&Only Hayman Island are guaranteed to get that floaty feeling thanks to 90-minute massages administered in the middle of the lagoon. Or they can choose to commune with nature from a cabana beneath the rainforest. Treatments, using organic Amala products, are tailored to suit couples, bridal parties, expecting mothers - and even run to kids' facials and "mini manis".

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