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THE BEST OF 2018


This year, our cities shot up with a legion of luxe hotels, while F+B spots gave us fresh takes on traditional cuisines, sustainable menus and craft drinks. Here are some of our favorite newcomers.

Published on Dec 17, 2018





High-end hotels bloomed in big cities this year, offering a variety of luxe options you’ll want to book for more than one night.

SHANGHAI
LUXUURIOUS NODS TO THE CITY’S HISTORY AND TRADITIONS WERE THE RUNNING THEME IN THIS YEAR’S HIGH-eEND HOTEL BLOOM IN THE PEARL OF THE ORIENT.

+ Opened in September, the latest project by American visionary and pioneer of boutique hotels Ian Schrager artfully fuses old-world grandeur with luxurious modernity at Edition Shanghai (editionhotels.com; doubles from RMB2,018). The Art Deco building is home to 145 guest rooms, each fitted with custom designed furniture, Anichini bed linens and thoughtfully curated textiles. The hotel boasts nine dining outlets and lounge bars, including two on the rooftop, offering some of the best panoramic views of Pudong’s futuristic skyline.

+ Located in the heart of busy Nanjing Road, the Sukhothai Shanghai (sukhothai.com; doubles from RMB2,080) is an urban oasis. The rooms are cozy and contemporary with custom furnishings and textured green clay walls— we were told the minerals help with air purification. Don’t miss the mesmerizing digital feature art piece in the lobby by Japanese studio teamLab—an illustrated village and rice field is broadcast in real time.


Contemporary furnishings deck the Sukhothai Shanghai.

+ The Middle House (themiddlehousehotel.com; doubles from RMB3,500) is Swire Hotels’ latest addition in Shanghai, featuring 111 rooms as well as 102 residences designed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni. From sexy Italian contemporary furniture and black-and-white styling to the fine details in lattice woodwork of traditional Chinese motifs, the hotel celebrates the best of old and new Shanghai. Guest rooms and the spacious residences are decorated with cheeky postmodern art works by William Furniss where objects sit by the stilllife photography of usually a bird cage or vase—it’s all in the little details here.


Monochrome style in The Middle House’s one-bedroom residence.

+ Part of the Suhe Creek waterfront project, the Bvlgari Hotel Shanghai (bulgarihotels.com; doubles from RMB3,800) opened in June, housed in the restored 1916 Chamber of Commerce building and connected to a modern sky tower. Surrounded by lush private gardens, with a rooftop for 180-degree views of The Bund and Pudong’s staggering cityscape, the Bvlgari Hotel Shanghai is a masterful blend of the brand’s Italian elegance blended with layers of rich Shanghai history. The sixth in the group’s collection, the hotel is also home to China’s first Bvlgari chocolate boutique. – JULIANA LOH

KUALA LUMPUR
ADDING EXTRA HEIGHT TO ITS SWEEPING SKY LINE, NEW FIVE-STAR RETREATS HAVE MADE THIS MORE THAN JUST A STOPOVER CITY.

+ Opened in June, the first Malaysian property from Banyan Tree (banyantree.com; doubles from RM910) is a resort haven in the CBD . Occupying the top seven floors of the Banyan Tree Signatures Pavilion building, the skyline views here are enviable. Floorto-ceiling windows light every room and even the signature spa, and Vertigo Bar on the 59th floor is where you should park yourself at sunset.

Across the road and managed by Banyan Tree, Pavilion Hotel (banyantree.com; doubles from RM498) opened this month atop the same-name mall. The 325-room hotel also has a rooftop infinity pool, contemporary Japanese restaurant Ebisu and intimate bar Whisky Cove.

+ Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur (fourseasons.com; doubles from RM893) opened in July, adding serious luxury to the KLCC. The opulent rooms come with full marble bathrooms, 180-degree views and plush king beds; dining options also spoil, with global buffet Curate, fine-dining dim sum at Yun House and creative craft cocktails at Bar Trigona.


Four Seasons’ cocktail den, Bar Trigona.

+ South of the CBD, Alila Bangsar (alilahotels.com; doubles from RM391) is set within the cultural center of Little India. Eco-focused rooms make use of timber and natural stone, while a three-level atrium at the lobby takes guests to a plant-lined pool, French restaurant Entier, and Pacific Standard bar.

+ The quirky design of W Kuala Lumpur (marriott.com; doubles from RM829) takes inspiration from the city: a topographic view of KL covers the lobby floor; batik designs pattern feature walls; and jungle elements are symbolized in cushions. The Wet Deck pool bar provides the party, while the Away Spa offers a celeb-style detox.

+ The RuMa (theruma.com; doubles from RM848) opened last month, and its design honors Malaysian artisans with woven furnishings, copper ceilings and handcrafted bronze accents. Their “hostmanship” service means 24-hour check-in and checkout, all-day butler service and a free mini bar. – ELOISE BASUKI

SYDNEY
THE HARBOR CITY CONTINUES TO GROW WITH NEW BOUTIQUE ROOMS AND SEASIDE SANCTUARIES.

+ The opening of Paramount House Hotel (paramounthousehotel.com; doubles from A$240) in ever-hip Surry Hills was the last notch in the cultural rebirth of the 1940s Paramount building, which also houses Golden Age Cinema, Paramount Coffee Project and new arrival Poly restaurant. The 29-room boutique hotel offers a variety of layouts featuring big windows, terrazzo-tiled bathrooms and Japanese-style wooden tubs. Australian-sourced amenities celebrate local faves, with Aesop toiletries; mini-bar snacks by nearby barbecue joint LP’s Quality Meats; natural wines by Tom Shobbrook from the Barossa; and linens by Melbournebased Cultiver.

+ Over in Sydney’s more bohemian Inner West, The Collectionist Hotel (collectionisthotel.com.au; doubles from A$153) fits in with its individualist neighbors, calling itself: “no normal hotel.” Guests can choose-their-ownadventure at check-in, picking their favorite room from four types and 39 unique interiors: “Artisan” rooms flaunt handmade art pieces like colorful ceramics on forest-green walls; “Moonshine” rooms have painted murals (choose from rolling clouds or graffiti-style imagery) and full kitchens.


The Collectionist’s Pepo Melone room.

+ Sitting pretty between Darling Harbour and growing urban development project Barangaroo, West Hotel (westhotel.com.au; doubles from A$238) opened in January to add a dose of designer sophistication. The 182 premium rooms are complemented by Solander Dining and Bar’s modern Australian fare and botanicalinspired cocktails, best sipped in the festoon-lit garden atrium. – E.B.


West Hotel’s gleaming exterior.

 

 

EAT+DRINK
Old Bailey
Homegrown powerhouse JIA Group is behind new haute- Chinese restaurant Old Bailey, located in the brand-new cultural hub of Tai Kwun (see below). The understated, light-filled room is inspired by a Chinese scholar’s study, while the menu takes on Jiangnan cuisine—think dishes from Suzhou, Nanjing and Shanghai, such as mala xiaolongbao (Iberico-pork soup dumplings with Sichuan pepper) and pigeon smoked with Longjing tea. Tea is by local artisanal brand Plantation. oldbailey.hk; meal for two from HK$750.


New Chinese restaurant Old Bailey at dusk.

Sushi Saito
Tokyo’s Michelin-three-starred Sushi Saito opened its new branch outside of Japan, tucked away on the club floor of the Four Seasons Hong Kong. At the helm is Ikuya Kobayashi, who has been working with founder Takashi Saito for more than seven years. Ingredients are selected by chef Saito himself and flown in daily from Tokyo, for an experience that is as close as possible to eating in Japan. globallink.com.hk/sushisaito; set lunch HK$1,580 per person.


Chef Ikuya Kobayashi shows his knife skills at Sushi Saito.

Ichu
Peruvian food has risen to trendy heights in recent years, and pioneering Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez’s first outpost in Asia is inspired by the casual cevicherias of Peru. He and head chef Sang Jeong introduce Latin American flavors through dishes such as palta quemada, with grilled avocado; and pez Amazonia, sea bass infused with charred banana leaves. These flavorful plates match perfectly with the South American–forward cocktail menu. ichu.com.hk; mains from HK$260.


Room 309
The latest from Antonio Lai, Hong Kong’s prolific mixologist responsible for Quinary and Origin, is a speakeasy disguised as a hotel room. Check in at The Envoy, Lai’s other bar next door, to receive a door key to access Room 309. The Pottinger Hotel, where the bar is located, doesn’t have a guest room by that number, so in the spirit of “invisible” things, Lai offers a menu of transparent cocktails. Despite being as clear as water, the drinks are surprisingly full-bodied and indulgent, like the Crystal Old Fashioned, with flavors of peanut butter, smoked wood, and banana. room309.hk; drinks from HK$128.


The clear peanut butter and banana flavored Crystal Old Fashioned from Room 309.

STAY
The Murray
A night in a government office may sound like the premise of a bad horror movie, but The Murray is no ordinary office block. Designed by Ron Phillips in the 1960s, it’s one of Hong Kong’s most iconic examples of Modernist architecture, and Niccolo Hotels has transformed it into a refined 336-room pad. The original deep window recesses frame unique views across the city as well as plenty of natural sunlight. New additions like rooftop bar Popinjays and an indoor pool bring a sense of modern luxury. niccolohotels.com; doubles from HK$7,000.


A Grand Deluxe room at The Murray.


SEE
Tai Kwun
With its commanding presence on Hollywood Road, Central Police Station has always been an integral part of Hong Kong. In use from the late 1800s to the early 2000s, it was once the headquarters of the Hong Kong Police and housed the Victoria Prison. Refurbished as arts and culture hub Tai Kwun, the old colloquial name for the police station, it now hosts historical exhibitions, art galleries and cultural activities, plus a slew of new restaurants and bars. taikwun.hk. – JANICE LEUNG HAYES


Heritage spaces at Tai Kwun.

 




The Philippine capital is swapping global chains and casual diners for more curated places to eat and drink. This year we fell for the city’s more intimate spaces and Filipino-focused menus.

Savage
Talented young chef Josh Boutwood has a preference for grilling and roasting, and dishes here are layered with flavor: deviled eggs with smoked salt, or grilled tuna jaw with yeast and miso. The smoky depth is balanced by his penchant for pickling and zingy sauces. Set in a simple but festive space, it’s great for groups, but for a more formal experience, try his omakase-style 10-seater next door, Helm. fb.com/savagemnl; mains from P490.

Stvdio Lab
Chef Chele Gonzalez is back with a distinct mission—to highlight underrated Filipino ingredients and take them to a global standard. The 12-seater space adjacent to his newly re-opened Gallery by Chele, is contemporary and airy but rooted in nature with warm wood and cool stone. Meals are paired with wines picked by sommelier Pierre Addison. stvdiolab.com; mains from P2,900.

Agimat Foraging Bar & Kitchen
Named after the local amulet used to charm unsuspecting victims, Agimat is a place to be enchanted. Set in an old house in hip Poblacion, guests sit under a mystical balete canopy, and choose from a menu that explores Philippine provinces; the Bantangas menu features duck confit with pianggang essence, adlai cassoulet and Ilocos heirloom tomatoes. The inspired cocktail menu uses foraged ingredients. fb.com/agimatbar; mains from P750; drinks from P300.

The Back Room
Hidden in Shangri-La at the Fort in Bonifacio Global City, Bootleggers, Rumrunners and Babes welcome you at this Prohibition era–inspired speakeasy. Glamorous interiors with beautiful Art-Deco touches house a selection of unique cocktails using craft liquors—the bar even distills its own gin, Bee’s Knees. shangri-la.com; drinks from P750.

78-45-33
With an impressive library ofvinyl, a state-of-the-art fully restored vintage sound system, luxe leather chairs and handcrafted classic cocktails, this homey Salcedo Village jazz bar is also the spot to live out your Mad Men fantasies. fb.com/784533SalcedoVillage; drinks from P500.

Xylo at The Palace
The era of the superclub is back with a full renovation and rebranding of the legendary Valkyrie. Glitzier and edgier than its predecessor, with geometric and gold accents, plush leather booths and a massive dance floor, the Taguig nightclub is the best party zone with their stellar local and international DJ line-up. fb.com/xyloatthepalace; drinks from P500; weekend tables from P25,000 for 10 people. – STEPHANIE ZUBIRI


Xylo at the Palace is the city’s newest place to dance in the dark.






EAT + DRINK
Ijen, Potato Head Bali 
Its zero-waste ethos is reason to come here in itself—banana leaves replace plastic, glasses are made from used beer bottles, and the kitchen cooks with wood fire—but the Indosourced, sustainable menu is the real draw, with a kitchen headed up by Nusa Penida–born chef Kresna Yasa. Try Bedugul tamarillo and smoked mackerel; wood-fired cauliflower with kluwak-nut tahini; and red dragonfruit sorbet for a refreshing dessert. The surf views from famed Potato Head beach club are a bonus. ptthead.com; mains from Rp250,000.


Spicy grilled clams at Ijen, the new restaurant at Potato Head Bali.

Roosevelt, Jakarta
Brought to you by De La House, the same crew behind sophisticated spaces like Leon, Twenty Fifth and Parc 19, Roosevelt is a refined steakhouse, marrying woodfired meats with craft cocktails atop the new eightfloor Goodrich Suites in South Jakarta. Steaks come dryaged from Australia and Japan; there’s a refreshing starter menu—“seacuterie” includes miso-cured salmon, Provençal hamachi and yuzu tuna; plus smart cocktails to boot. rooseveltjakarta.com; mains from Rp120,000.


Elegant interiors at Jakarta steakhouse Roosevelt.


STAY
Capella Ubud
Set within a jungle-clad valley, this Bill Bensley–designed tented camp stands out from the crowd in luxury-laced Bali with its über-glam canvas “tents,” fitted with Balinese hand-carved wooden doors and private saltwater pools. The 23 sumptuous retreats are each inspired by early European settlers from the 1800s, individually styled to represent, say, a Naturalist’s or a Cartographer’s tent, or one in tune with the on-site temple. capellahotels.com; doubles from Rp11,732,000.


Checkmate on the deck of Capella Ubud’s Keliki Valley tent.


Como Uma Canggu
The opening of this super sleek resort means the black volcanic sands of southwest Bali are now home to more than mere surfer digs: the jet set have arrived. The upscalefactor is amped with the resort’s 119 stylish rooms designed by Japanese-born Koichiro Ikebuchi. Learn to surf at one of the nearby breaks, have recovery drinks at the Como Beach Club, or detoxify at the on-site Como Shambhala Spa. comohotels.com; doubles from Rp3,040,127.


Como Uma Canggu has its own beach club.

Six Senses Uluwatu
Hugging the soaring limestone cliffs of southern Uluwatu, this new wellness-focused resort delivers on scenic drama as well as the brand’s signature barefoot-style luxury. Home to a Six Senses Spa, as well as high-end dining options all coming with a side of Indian Ocean views, you could settle in here happily for days. sixsenses.com; doubles from Rp6,000,000.


Six Senses Uluwatu is a clifftop sanctuary.

Hotel Monopoli, Jakarta
This 60-room South Jakarta hotel is a refreshing dose of quirky contemporary. Set in buzzing Kemang, the feel-good boutique reimagines and updates Indonesian style for 2018; it’s less about batik and Rijsttafel, more about rattan and smoothie bowls. The 68 rooms have a funky, new-retro design—we love the palm tree–stamped bed heads. Skip Jakarta’s infamous traffic by hanging out at the rooftop pool by day, or in the basement club by night. hotelmonopolijakarta.com; doubles from Rp720,000. – HOLLY MCDONALD





This year saw Bali flush with places to party, and with these multitasking clubs, the Indonesian resort island has got layered leisure down to a fine art.


The Ulu Cliffhouse ocean deck leads to its own lagoon.


The island paradise has long held currency as a party playground, but this year a new generation of design-led spaces stepped up the sophistication, breathing life into Bali’s beach-club scene. Combining cutting-edge fit-outs with sweeping views, world-class cuisine, cliff-dangling infinity pools and big name DJs, these day-to-night venues are destinations in themselves. 

Laid back Bukit Peninsula got a little livelier with two new clubs in Uluwatu. Ulu Cliffhouse (ulucliffhouse.com; drinks from US$8) was the first to turn up the tempo, with a luxe club reminiscent of 1960s Palm Springs. The cliffside complex includes an infinity pool, Med-inspired restaurant, music studio, art space and line-up of international DJs. Vegas export Omnia Dayclub (omniaclubs.com; drinks from US$8) shimmied into the same area next. Hovering 100 meters above the Indian Ocean, its swim-up bar and galactic-like centerpiece syncs with the sky, glowing burnt orange as the sun dips into the ocean, then midnight blue as night falls. More draws: the private VIP bungalows, and Japanese eatery Sake No Hana.

Up-and-coming Canggu saw the opening of graphic, 80s-style Tropicola (tropicola.info; drinks from US$6), sister of Seminyak’s buzzy Motel Mexicola. A hotel and rooftop bar will eventually complete the concept, until then, kick back with jackfruit coladas and lively beats. Further up the coast in Echo Beach, Como Beach Club (comohotels.com; drinks from US$8) marries the new hotel’s minimalist aesthetic with the area’s boho surf roots. The raw-timber deck, also home to a surf school, is strung with swinging daybeds that are coveted spots come sunset. The kitchen serves a health-conscious menu that is delightfully crave-inducing.

Further south, the sleek interiors at Hotel Indigo’s new shoreside SugarSand (seminyak.hotelindigo.com; drinks from US$8) on Seminyak Beach are inspired by the Indonesian jukung fishing boats and pop with bright orange and turquoise hues. There’s a rooftop bar, partially submerged daybeds, Japanese-Peruvian bites and magical mirrored sunsets reflecting from the pool. Meanwhile, the tranquil resort hub of Nusa Dua has welcomed Manarai Beach House (fb.com/manaraibeachhouse; drinks from US$9), with chef Stefan Poyet dishing up Jimbaran-style whole red snapper, Balinese jamu and alco-popsicles. Set on a white-sand beach, the venue weaves together traditional Balinese design accents of draped sarongs and artisanal tiles with daybeds, two pools and an outdoor lounge. – JENNY HEWETT 




EAT + DRINK
Esora
Hidden along a row of period shophouses on Mohamed Sultan Road, Esora is a meditative culinary experience. Taking his cue from Japanese kappo cooking, head chef Shigeru Koizumi calmly channels his obsession with micro-seasonal ingredients such as white maitake mushrooms, conger eel, aged akazu vinegar and Hokkaido corn. The dishes are as beautifully austere as the interiors designed by local studio Takenouchi Webb with blonde timber, washi paper, and diffused light. restaurantesora.com; dinner menu S$188.


Enter through the shophouse doors at Esora.

The MO Bar
With the opening of the soigné MO Bar, the Mandarin Oriental has finally closed the gap in its otherwise formidable resumé. Lined with thick tapestries and tessellated metal panels inspired by Polynesian tattoos, the bar is at its best at night when the skyscrapers along Marina Bay are lit up like the Fourth of July. The top-notch drinks menu features 14 lethal mixes laced with imaginative blends like black-ink coriander soju, Indonesian pandan rum, fermented mangosteen and carbonated Scotch tea. mandarinoriental.com; drinks from S$24.


The pineapple tepache and vermouth jelly Roaring City cocktail at The MO
Bar.


STAY
The Capitol Kempinski Hotel
Three years after it was meant to open as a Patina hotel, the Kempinski now headlines the Richard Meier–designed Capitol. One of designer Jaya Ibrahim’s last projects, the 157-room hotel straddles two grand heritage piles—the Capitol, built in 1933, and Stamford House from 1903—which explains the eclectic mix of Art Deco and colonial grandeur in the public spaces. Framed by a green wall, the bijou rooftop saltwater pool is easily one of the prettiest in town. kempinski.com; doubles from S$568.


The regal exterior of The Capitol Kempinski Hotel.

Six Senses Duxton
For the debut of its first urban hotel, the Six Senses group could not have picked a more charming spot: a beautifully restored row of late 19th century shophouses in a leafy stretch of Chinatown. Inside the 49-room property, interior designer Anouska Hempel has indulged her penchant for dramatic stage-sets to create intimate nooks charged with imperial yellow, vibrant reds and lacquered blacks. A Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner is also on hand to temper jet lag. sixsenses.com; doubles from S$390.

SHOP
Stolen
In 2007, Elyn Wong turned her back on a highflying career in advertising for a second wind as a fashion designer. In that short time, she has built a loyal following for her trademark backless numbers and flattering sculptural cuts. This popularity accounts for the procession of stylish mavens who stream through the lobby of Straits Clan, a members’ club in Chinatown, and up to her pop-up studio and atelier for a private consultation or a nose through her tightly edited collection. stolenstolen.com.


Dramatic drapery from Stolen.

The Moon
In an age where media pundits regularly predict the demise of print, The Moon defiantly celebrates the joy of the physical book. Set in a three story Chinatown shophouse, this hippy-chic indie bookstore features an eclectic haul of obscure but interesting titles, the curation including an admirable sweep of ethnic and women writers. A café stocked with cakes and nibbles on ground level, and a top-floor reading room strewn with lowslung sofas complete this bibliophile’s dream hangout. themoon.com.sg. – DAVEN WU


The Moon bookshop celebrates the printed page.




EAT + DRINK
Bao Wow, Hanoi
First piloted as a pop-up at festivals and markets around Hanoi, Bao Wow is prospering at its permanent new digs on up-and-coming Dang Thai Mai near the city’s West Lake. The venue, which is overseen by chef Phan Nhu Long and his partner and co-owner Katie Taylor, specializes in delicious Taiwanese-style baos. While inspiration comes from Taipei, the menu brings fusion concoctions, like the pulled pork bao with Asian slaw, house pickles and peanuts, and ingredients sourced from North Vietnam. fb.com/baowowhanoi; bao from VND40,000.


Bao Wow’s fried chicken bao.

Union Jacks, Saigon
Delivering all the hits from a typical British fish and chip shop, plus quite a bit more, their battered fish, beef and ale stew, and bangers and mash are present and correct. They even cater to homesick Scots with a deep-fried Mars Bar. Premium ingredients are used while effort has been
taken to ensure that only sustainable varieties of fish are thrown in the fryer. A great selection of local craft brews ups the ante even further. union-jacks.co; mains from VND150,000.

Quince, Saigon
A shortfall of Saigon’s otherwise stellar food scene has been its lack of sleek, yet casual, contemporary bistros. Stepping into the breach was Quince, the graceful sister of the acclaimed same-name eatery in Bangkok. The venue screams class and restraint in everything from the renovated space inside a colonial-era building to a concise singlepage menu showcasing seasonal plates and nibbles. fb.com/quincesaigon; mains from VND470,000.


Contemporary fare at pared-back Quince Saigon.

Rabbit Hole, Saigon
While its owners have proclaimed Rabbit Hole as an avant-garde venture, their Saigon baby is less edgy than the billing might suggest. Sure, the bartenders are not averse to putting their own spin on cocktail classics—a Manhattan comes tweaked with sarsaparilla wood for extra smokiness. These questing aspects though are balanced out by a cozy Art Deco–inspired interior and a low jazz soundtrack. fb.com/rabbitholebarhcm; drinks from VND300,000.


A classic negroni at Rabbit Hole.

STAY
Legacy Yen Tu
A sacred mountain is the site of designer Bill Bensley’s newest flight of fancy in Vietnam. Located about an hour north of Ha Long Bay, Yen Tu Mountain is regarded as the birthplace of Vietnamese Buddhism and remains a popular place of pilgrimage. Unsurprisingly, this sense of spiritualism is reflected in the resort, with rooms evoking local heritage as well as the natural surroundings. sofitel. accorhotels.com; rooms from VND3,000,000.


Vietnamese heritage is embodied in the rooms at Legacy Yen Tu.

Intercontinental Phu
Quoc Long Beach Resort Phu Quoc has come a long way in the last few years, with new air routes and infrastructure propelling it eons from its castaway roots. Rapid development on the island though is mitigated by the introduction of outstanding resorts such as this fresh space. With 459 keys, the grand scope of the project offers plenty of room for highlights such as wellness by Thai spa masters Harnn and Ink360—the highest sky bar on the island—to co-exist harmoniously. ihg.com; rooms from VND4,000,000. – DUNCAN FORGAN


The scenic Vista Pool at Intercontinental.




EAT + DRINK
Quay, Sydney
Heads spun this year as chef Peter Gilmore revealed the new version of his harbor side fine-dining icon. Gone were the white tablecloths (gasp!), replaced with a more organic design—timber ceilings, volcanic stone details, earthy leather chairs—and Gilmore controversially retired his beloved snow egg dessert. New dishes shout out Aussie producers: South Australian razor clams, Tasmanian uni and an exclusively grown red speckled pea are just a few. The A$4 million facelift helped Quay 2.0 scoop the country’s top 2019 food awards, including Gourmet Traveller’s Best Restaurant. quay.com.au; six-course menu A$210.


White coral is Quay’s new dessert.

Sunda, Melbourne
While contemporary takes on Southeast Asian cuisine abound Down Under, this new laneway restaurant—named after the Indo-Malay archipelago—has a decidedly more creative take, with a jus-tenough-Aussie twist. Signatures include their veg curry, served with roti and Vegemite; the delicately plated otak-otak, made with a coconut-curried spanner crab and served with finger lime; and larb-style cured kangaroo with nahm jim. Head chef Khanh Nguyen is an alumni of Red Lantern, Mr Wong and Noma’s Sydney pop-up. sunda.com.au; mains from A$24.


Sunda’s Southeast-Asian bites.

Faro, Hobart
MONA, Tassie’s avant-garde, cooler-than-cool modern art museum, opened their second restaurant, Faro, in the new Pharos wing. Not just an eatery, the dining space is part of the art, engaging guests in two in-house installations by light-artist James Turrell: Unseen Seen, a giant orb that projects a kaleidoscopic trip of lights to those inside; and the opposing Weight of Darkness, a pitch-black maze. The European menu dishes out plates like pan-roasted quail and char-grilled Berkshire pork. To drink, order the freaky black margarita. mona.net.au; mains from A$28; art viewings are an extra A$25, book ahead.


Faro’s artistic take on dining.

Malt & Juniper, Adelaide
A new neighbor on Adelaide’s Peel Street small-bar hub, this dim-lit, retro-fitted drinking hole focuses, as its name suggests, on all things whisky and gin. The mature design fixates on dark green, which colors the marble bar and leather booths. The back bar holds an impressive line-up of 260 bottles, while the G+T list reads like a tour of South Australia’s best gin-makers, including Kangaroo Island’s KIS gin served with orange and pepper, or Ambleside gin from Hahndorf served with basil and olives. fb.com/maltandjuniper; drinks from A$14.



STAY
The Calile Hotel, Brisbane
A resort oasis in the middle of the city, this boutique beauty in trendy Fortitude Valley is just what Brisbane—and, the country—was missing.Located in the James Street Precinct, tropical vibes ring through the chic design, with rooms featuring crafted oak furnishings, brass and marble finishes, and private terraces. Cabanas and sun-loungers hem the glimmering turquoise pool and Greek restaurant Hellenika offers alfresco dining. thecalilehotel.com; doubles from A$207.


Star anise smoke finishes Malt & Juniper’s espresso martini.

W Brisbane
Adding a more spirited dose of high-end opulence to the city was the opening of the W, a 312-room hotel hyped as the first five-star accommodation to open in Brisbane in 20 years. Presenting views that stretch across the Brisbane River to Queensland Museum, GOMA and the mountains beyond, the property’s quirky design is inspired by the Australian outback and rooms take on the look of typical Queenslander homes, including a reimagined 10-gallon-drum tub for a bath. Byron restaurant Three Blue Ducks has opened inside, and an Away spa and Edwards and Co hair salon extends the indulgence. wbrisbane.com; doubles from A$350. – E.B.


A spa with a view at W Brisbane.







Yes, this is Cambodia. This sparkling private-island paradise is the new home to Six Senses Krabey Island (sixsenses.com; doubles from US$715), which opened this month. Located just five kilometers off Ream National Park in southern Cambodia, the forest-immersed resort houses 40 freestanding private villas, each with their own infinity plunge pools and rain showers. Coastal boardwalks connect the villas to two produce-driven Khmer and Southeast Asian restaurants, as well as a sunset bar and an ice-cream parlor. And once you’ve tired from all the snorkeling, fishing, cooking classes, stargazing and pool-lazing you can handle, the Six Senses Spa has rejuvenation programs inspired by the sacred Khmer Kbal Spean River, and features crystal water baths and a meditation cave. Sustainability efforts ensure a minimal footprint is left on the untouched haven, with green living roofs on all villas, in-house glass water bottling, a 40,000 square-meter organic market farm, coral propagation program, and introduction of sustainable practices within the local Khmer communities. Castaway life has never looked better. – E.B.





EAT
Sorn Fine Southern Cuisine, Bangkok
One of the hardest tables to snag right now is Sorn, a spicy, smoky, layered trip through the Thai south. Each dish has a story, like the Kobe-soft skewers made of dry-aged beef from six-year-old cows that’s marinated in milk and grilled in a date-curry sauce. You begin with a parade of small plates, but the climax is a table full of shared dishes—curries, grilled meat, soup and seafoods—offering the double benefit of re-grounding you in Thailand and allowing your party to take a breather from the wait staff and discuss what you actually think about the meal. Then sit back and look at each other in appreciative awe. instagram.com/sornfinesouthern; tasting menu Bt2,700.



The lobster-claw jor-rang at Sorn.


Saawaan, Bangkok
Rice paddy crabs are super cute. But chef Aom Pongmorn shows no mercy. She rips them apart, renders their fat with Thai herbs, returns the mix to their shells and roasts it on the grill for a complex, creamy dip for your sticky-rice balls. Don’t look for any fluff, foam or barely there bites at Saawaan. This is substantial fare for a set 10 courses, any five of which would satisfy your hunger but why stop when grilled, tender Iberico Secreto awaits as the savory denouement? saawaan.com; tasting menu Bt1,950.


The “son-in-law egg” amuse bouche at Saawaan.


Karmakamet Conveyance, Bangkok
Go back in time at riverside restoration project Lhong 1919, and across Asia via this fine-dining memory tour from chef Som Theantae. Her take on Hainanese chicken rice is a salve for the soul, a rich broth that will cure any hangover— which, if you opt for the smart wine pairing, would be useful the day after. Theantae even finds tasty inspiration in some foods she didn’t like in their original form, making for truly impressive kitchen acrobatics. karmakametconveyance.com; tasting menu Bt2,500.


Thai fragrance store Karmakamet’s new fine-dining space.


Funky Lam Kitchen, Bangkok
Really want to fawn over fish cakes? Funky Lam’s trout with pounded prawns will dance through your dreams. You also need their clam soup with meatballs, charred tomatoes and lemongrass in your life. A highlands-food passion project from two Laotian princes, the place flirts with its motorcycle theme and playful menu: the house-made Isan sausage comes with a doll-sized minicleaver. fb.com/funkylam kitchen; mains from Bt350.

STAY
Waldorf Astoria Bangkok
Towering over the bustle of the Siam shopping district and the serenity of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, Andre Fu’s interiors are graceful and inviting. On the ground is the hotel’s gunning-for-Michelin Front Room; up top find a scrumptious steakhouse, a pure-romance champagne lounge, and lofty cocktail bar whose westward windows captivate at hot-pink sunset hour. waldorfastoria.hilton.com; doubles from Bt13,000.


Admire Bangkok’s skyline from Waldorf Astoria’s pool.

Cape Fahn Hotel, Koh Samui
What’s better than a private island? Two private islands, obviously. Just off the north coast of Koh Samui is all-pool villa boutique Cape Fahn. It’s a 300-meter boat-ride from shore, but at low tide you can walk it, redefining the phrase barefoot luxury. Fahn Island has 21 villas, two restaurants, and the spa; for total escape book the two-bedroom pool villa on bitty Fahn Noi next door. Or charter their private yacht. capefahnhotel.com; doubles from Bt14,153. – jeninne lee-st. john


Private-island Cape Fahn sits just off Koh Samui.



 

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