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Travel - Hot List 2012 (Part 2)

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Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, Shanghai

Description: Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, Shanghai

Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, Shanghai

Looking to the future rather than feeling nostalgic for the past. Shanghai is luxury hotels tend towards sky tower modernism, but Asia’s first Wladorf Astoria adroitly rewinds the stylistic clock. The setting is pure theatre: a colonnaded 1911 mansion on the Huangpu River, which once housed the exclusive Shanghai Club, bathed in cream marble and embellished with neoclassical columns, crystal chandeliers and polished wood furnishings. Added to this, in the manner of its New York cousin, is a new tower. The two building are connected by Peacock Alley, a tea lounge dressed with high- backed leather armchairs and banquettes, overlooking the sunken Grand Brasserie. The Bund- front heritage building has 20 suites designed like traditional Shanghainese residences with low ceiling and patterned rugs, but equipped with plasma TVs with internet interface, a 24- hour personal concierge service, touchpad room controls and Hermes bath products. There are photogenic skyline views from the 237 tower rooms and suites. The ancient- contemporary ambience is exemplified by the Club’s recreated Long Bar with its 112ft counter, Jacobean- style wood- paneling and oyster bar, and the Salon de Ville, an afternoon tea lounge draped in courtly burgundy satin. The calming ambience would suit any urban centre, but INS rocket- fuelled Shanghai, the Waldorf Astoria’s evocation of a gentler era has added allure.

Description: Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, Shanghai

When to go

Grey cloud is Shanghai’s climatic plague, but spring (April- early June) and autumn (September- mid- November) offer the best chance of blue skies.

Room to book

A 24th- floor suite for superlative skyline views; a Club Suite for a taste of old Shanghai with a 21st- century upgrade.

00 86 21 6322 9988; www.waldorfastoriashanghai.com. Double from $762

Australia – MONA Pavilions – Tasmania

Description: MONA Pavilions, Tasmania, Australia

MONA, an acronym for Museum of Ola and New Art, is one- stop destination for audacious art, edgy architecture, fine food and a king- size bed in a cubist suite. First came the subterranean art gallery built on four levels in an old sandstone quarry. Its $107- million collection was said by the Financial Times to include ‘some of the most provocative and striking artworks of the 21st century’. Next, its founder, the maverick gambling millionaire David Walsh, built four accommodation pavilions and named them after four famous Australian artists, followed by another four dedicated to leading 20st- century architects, all filled with min- collections by artists including Brett Whiteley, Sidney Nolan, Damien Hirst and Jean- Michel Basquiat. Three of the four ‘Architect’ pavilions are glass cubes sheathed in steel; the fourth (Roy, after Roy Grounds) looks like a sculpted shipping container, but has three levels and two bedrooms with unsuited bathrooms. The four ‘Artist’ pavilions, made of wood and steel and with Japanese- style interiors, have cantilevered decks over the river. All eight have fully equipped kitchens. As for the furniture and fittings, the world’s leading contemporary designers are represented aplenty, including Philipe Strarck, Ron Arad and Fillippo Dell’Orto. MONA’s source Restaurant, one of Tasmania’s best, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Wine tastings are available at the Moorilla Winery Cellar Door and beer from the micro- brewery can be enjoined at the café/ bar.

Description: MONA, an acronym for Museum of Ola and New Art

MONA, an acronym for Museum of Ola and New Art

When to go

For warmer weather and longer days, visit between late October and March.

Room to book

One of the Architect pavilions, such as Walter or Roy, for admirers of cutting- edge modernism; the Artist suites have calmer, softer interiors.

00 61 3 6277 9900; www.mona.net.au. Pavilions from $503

Australia – the Dariling – Sydney

Description: The-Darling-hotel-sydney-Australia

The-Darling-hotel-Sydney-Australia

The Darling carries the unmistakable stamp of a metropolitan art gallery: suspended above the Entrance is a giant sculpture of a gliding swallow; behind the reception desk is an installation of bronze leaves on a vivid red panel; two enormous Akira Isogawa rugs create intimate spaces within the cathedral- sized lobby. Housed in a 16- story glass tower, the Darling is attached to The Star casino, a glitzy complex recently renovated at a cost of $899 million. Views from its 171 rooms are of the historic port and city- centre skyline with the famous Harbour Bridge in the middle distance; they are best enjoyed from the Adored, Jewel and Stellar suites on the upper floors. Entry- level Darling rooms are decorated in masculine shades of flax, latte and grey with plum accents on the handmade Venetian glasses, bathrobes, towels, bed linen and cushions, the pillow menu has no fewer than 12 options; there are Delonghi Nespresso machines and IPod docking stations. The spa- Sydney’s largest- has 16 treatment rooms and two hammers in a labyrinthine complex of subtly lit corridors adorned with candlelit black granite bowls and heavy bronze sculptures. The hotel’s Skyo restaurant serves A- grade Japanese cuisine from a Nobu- trained chef, and there are also 20 new restaurants, bars and cafes in the casino complex.

Description: THE CASINO AT THE STAR

The casino at the Star

When to go

January for summer and the Sydney Festival; May and June for cooler, drier weather.

Room to book

Splash out on a Jewel or Adored suite on the harbour side.

00 61 2 9777 9888; www.thedarling.com.au. Doubles from $411

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