Udaipur's fairytale Taj Lake Palace, that shimmering white mirage of a hotel that seems to float on India's Lake Pichola, has conjured a spa experience to win over even the most pamper-shy guests. The hotel's Spa Boat accommodates just one couple at a time and offers therapies and treatments first devised for the Rajput royals who once ruled the land. The post-spa glass of wine, taken on the deck with a picture-perfect view of Udaipur laid out before you, is pure bliss. Rooms from $847. Spa Boat treatments from $248.
Bar Lourinhã's Matt McConnell has always had a way with offal, a fact that is made abundantly clear by his crumbed lamb's brains. There are several secrets to its success. McConnell uses fresh brains rather than frozen, so the texture is buttery, not mushy. The crumbs are made with bread that's been mixed with garlic oil, thyme and smoked paprika, and the brains are topped with a salad of salted pig skin, watercress, vinegar-soaked raisins, pistachio and red onion. Crunch, tang, saltiness and a cloud-like smoothness make this a shoo-in for the best brains in town. Bar Lourinhã, 37 Little Collins St, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9663 7890
Spread over floors 79 to 93 of the Shanghai World Financial Centre, the Park Hyatt Shanghai's dizzying real estate ranks it as the highest hotel in the world - at least until the Ritz-Carlton opens on the 102nd floor of Hong Kong's new International Commerce Centre later this year. Lifts shoot guests straight to reception on the 87th floor where walls of glass provide the first glimpse of the city far, far below. Rooms, from $1052, are uniformly plush, with walk-in robes, espresso machines and, of course, million-dollar views.
After meticulous testing, David Coomer - a freshly minted Hispanophile following last year's opening of Pata Negra, the tapas-bar cousin to his Perth fine-diner Star Anise - is ready to hit Perth with his highly addictive house-made smoked chorizo. While mum's the word when it comes to the actual percentages of each ingredient, Señor Coomer says the sausages are simply pork, salt and paprika, hung for one to two weeks, then hot-smoked over oak. Expect to find the chorizo cooked with cider at Pata Negra and also making the occasional cameo at Star Anise. Pata Negra, 26 Stirling Hwy, Nedlands, WA, (08) 9389 5517; Star Anise, 225 Onslow Rd, Shenton Park, Perth, WA, (08) 9381 9811
Like José Ignacio in neighbouring Uruguay, Parati in Brazil is one of those hitherto unsung seaside towns that was discovered by the jet set and is now firmly on the high-end holiday circuit. Tom Cruise and Mick Jagger have both holidayed here and even the likes of Salman Rushdie and Julian Barnes have dropped in for the newly established Parati International Literary Festival. But celebrities are not the only attraction; Parati's old town, preserved and restored from its 18th-century heyday as a thriving gold port, is a national historic monument begging to be explored, and there are more than 40 beaches in the area. They're easily reached by hired dinghies, for when you need to escape the supermodel hordes.
American designer Tom Bihn has a habit of thinking outside the box - or the bag in this instance - and coming up with very smart alternatives to carbon-copy cases. His Tri-Star is a combination carry-on, backpack and shoulder bag that can handle both business and pleasure travel. A few highlights: three roomy internal compartments, including one large enough for a laptop, four external zippered pockets for essentials such as water bottles and boarding passes, and a lifetime warranty. Plus the Tri-Star comes in non-regulation colours such as indigo and crimson, for easy identification on the baggage carousel.
Since stepping out from the shadows as sous chef to take over the kitchen at Auge Ristorante a year ago, 26-year-old Thomas Robinson has shown great flair in respecting classic Italian cooking while adding a twist: chestnut gnocchi with spatchcock dumplings; a whole roasted poussin artfully presented like a mini Christmas platter. "I like adding a refined touch to rustic recipes," says Robinson, "but my style is still evolving. Three days after writing a new menu, I'm always thinking I could do things better." Still, his Italian accent must be just right, as nonnas keep asking for the chef to visit their table. "They certainly don't expect to see a young Aussie come out from behind the stoves." Auge Ristorante, 22 Grote St, Adelaide, SA, (08) 8410 9332