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On the road out of Vegas – 5 hot spots within two hours

By Las Vegas / United States /

The glitzy strip and bright lights of Vegas are like magnets for all of America’s fast cars and even faster women and men, but if you can look away and beyond there are some great short trips just around the corner. Here are five within an hour once you jump in that car rental and hit the open road.

Valley of Fire (pictured)

Meander through the mesmerising Valley Of Fire, Nevada’s oldest state park, with countless moments of nature’s beauty smacking you in the senses. The park earnt its name from its fiery red sandstone, formed from fossilised sand dunes more than 150 million years ago by a shift in the Earth’s crust, faulting and wind and water erosion. Today, only wild animals dwell within Valley of Fire year-round. Rattlesnakes, kangaroo rats, kit foxes, coyotes, bighorn sheep and the white-tailed antelope ground squirrels are just a few. Oh, and cougars, of course, “but only at night”, as my highly entertaining guide Mike Franklin pointed out, “as opposed to the Strip – these particular cougars are hard to spot given they’re minus the bright red lipstick and high heels.”

Lake Mead and Callville Bay Resort & Marina

Monster-sized man-made Lake Mead is a major recreation area in addition to being a major water artery for the region, originally formed by the building of Hoover Dam on the Colorado River in 1935. Callville Bay Resort and Marina hums with houseboats, jet skis, and speed boats. The big drawcard is the ultimate houseboat adventures on offer providing a visual feast of desert/water contrasts, mountains and canyons. All Forever Houseboat rentals include a waterside, barbecue, kitchen and a top deck with canopy; deluxe widescreen TVs and stainless steel kitchens. Wildlife comes out to play up around the banks and I was lucky to get close to a coyote, eagles, mallards, grebes and hummingbirds. If you’re lucky, a bighorn sheep may wander down for a drink.

Red Rock Canyon

Conditions are hot and dry in summer so load up on bottles of water. The fast pace of the Strip quickly subsides once out on the highway as scenery smacks you in the senses. Copper-coloured mountains leap out from the desert floor highlighted by Red Rock Canyon’s bluffs, cliffs and petrified sandstone boulders. Time really does stand still out here. These mountains were formed by geological forces including fractured faults where the earth’s crust collided over millions of years and fossilised sand dunes. Some cliffs reach a kilometre high. It really is breathtaking. The 20km round-trip tourist route at the actual site is a must-do.

Hoover Dam

Let’s see, we’re back in 1929 in a harsh climate, remote location and facing solid rock. So why not build a massive arch-gravity dam? Something with 2.4 million cubic metres of concrete, spillways, the lot? Crazy but brilliant, and also serving the dual purpose of being a film set for great flicks such as Transformers and more recently San Andreas. The sheer size of this man-made but essential engineering masterpiece really is hard to put into words, so taking a guided tour of the powerplant and passageways within Hoover Dam itself is highly recommended to gain an understanding of the purpose this mighty Nevada icon serves.

Boulder Brewing Co

Let’s face it. Any drive in the desert is thirsty work, so this is a must stop-off point. The small township of Boulder is where the craft beers are cold and tasty and the atmosphere warm and addictive. Practically a museum in itself, Boulder Dam Brewing Co is a few minutes down the road on the return to Vegas. Mementos such as axes, picks and gauges used in the construction of the dam adorn the inside walls and in the beer garden. Owner Lisa explains the brewpub is Boulder City’s hot spot for music which can be “anything from bluegrass to rock ’n’ roll and old-fashioned country”. Get stuck into the food menu, too, which is a mix of naughty but nice treats including battered pickles and cheese-loaded pretzels, burgers, salads and pub fare. The beers, of course, are the focal point. Boulder Dam Brewing Co brews everything from European pilsners to happy pale ales to rich, creamy stouts.




Five things to do in upstate New York

By New York / United States /

New York is one of the world’s most famous cities. Millions from around the globe travel there every single year to experience the hustle and bustle of the city, its skyscrapers, shopping malls and historic attractions. But how many actually travel outside the city and head north?

There are many beautiful landscapes and cities to be seen. Pick up rental car at New York Airport and make your way to Upstate New York.

Here are five things to see and do while you’re there.
Tour Strawberry Fields
The gorgeous, small town of Skaneateles is a four and a half hour drive north of New York City. Surrounding the area are dozens of berry farms, where you can pick your own. Take along your biggest basket and head out with the family to spend hours picking the sweetest looking strawberries. Most of the farms open in June, when the strawberries begin to ripen.

Thousand Islands
Just over six hours north west of New York City sit the beautiful natural phenomenon known as the Thousand Islands. Take a guided diving tour to explore the underwater depths of the area or go kayaking on the water. There are also may historic sites to visit,, such as Boldt Castle. There are even quaint restaurants where you can dine in style and boutique shops at villages scattered throughout the region.

Hike the Adirondack Mountains (pictured)
These mountains are often described as an “outdoor paradise” with more than 2,000 miles of hiking trails and more than 3,000 lakes and ponds.  With a seemingly endless view of surrounding mountains, there are more than 40 with summits above 4,000 feet above sea level. The highest and one of the most distinctive is Mount Marcy, at 5,344 feet. Here you’ll also find the state’s highest lake, called Lake Tear, which flows into the Hudson River.
Finger Lakes Wine tour
With nearly 10,000 acres of vineyards on sloping hillsides at more than 120 different wineries, it’s no wonder thousands of visitors choose to flock to the Finger Lakes region. The area’s specialties include sparkling wines, pinot noir and Riesling. There are many great wine trails to choose from, including the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail or the historic Keuka Lake Wine Trail, where wine growing dates back to the 1860s.

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
This Cooperstown museum is touted as the “home of baseball” and a place to honour one of America’s greatest games. At this site you’ll learn about baseball’s early years and how it has evolved over the generations. But perhaps the most interesting section of the museum is where you learn about some of the greatest men and women to ever take to the field. Of course, this includes exploring the early days and post careers of famous names such as the one and only Babe Ruth.



Hiring a car at Heathrow … a different dimension

By Europe / UK /

On a recent business trip to the UK we discovered how Europcar have added a different dimension when picking up your car rental at Heathrow Airport. …… You get to actually pick out and choose your car!

OK so arriving at Terminal 3 still requires you to exit the Terminal, head left and wait for Europcar’s minibus to whisk you off to their branch on the Northern Perimeter Road. The wait was short the journey shorter still.

Europcar along with Hertz, Enterprise, national and Thrifty operate their Heathrow branches over the airport fence on the Northern Perimeter. Dollar and Thrifty are a stone throws further on Bath road, whilst Avis and Budget have branch locations within the Short Stay Car park of Terminal 5 (used exclusively by BA and Iberia) as well as on Northrup road adjacent to the Northern Perimeter. So whichever rental company you choose you’ll never have to travel for more than 10-15 minutes depending upon traffic and with minibuses regularly scooting around each terminal the wait there is not long either.

Arriving at the Europcar branch we took our ticket and grabbed a seat. Barely had we may made ourselves comfortable when we were greeted by an English Shakespearean (as it turned out) actor-come-entertainer, wearing a kilt, orange wig and tam o’shanter hat who was there to keep us all occupied whilst we waited to be called up. My job involves a fair bit of travel around the world and I have to say this was a first! What a great idea. Whilst his Scots accent and absence of a sporran would fail to impress north off the border he kept everyone entertained and enjoying themselves and in no time we were called up.

Once we had completed the paperwork formalities rather than being directed to a particular bay to collect our car we were asked to go out and choose from any vehicle in Row 3 and the sign-off would be completed as we left the branch. Whether we were lucky with our timing or whether Europcar maintain a large number of vehicles onsite we had a huge choice of 10 vehicles. As our trip involved over 30 days business travel throughout the UK and given this unexpected choice we needed to ensure we had the right vehicle. Perhaps too much choice! Up and down we went testing bags and cases in boots, rear-seating legroom, previous smoker occupation, figuratively kicking tyres and checking out the driving features of each car. We settled on a Nissan Quasqai and headed for the exit where all the details were quickly recorded and we were on the road.

Overall our experience in collecting our car hire at Heathrow Airport was a good one. Offsite airport rental branches may appear inconvenient but are a necessity in many parts of the world with onsite costs and space constraints. With the regular cycling of minibuses and efficiency of the Europcar Heathrow team we were on the road within 45 minutes of exiting customs, not bad for one of the world’s business airports. The added option of making our own vehicle choice meant we spent more time selecting our car but came away with the one that best met our needs. Great idea.



Five jacaranda hot spots in NSW

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

Late October and November is a time Sydney and NSW is a purple explosion of jacaranda season signalling one of the most beautiful times of the year in the state.

Set against harbour backdrops in some of Sydney’s most picturesque suburbs and historic regional towns in NSW, it’s the perfect time to visit Sydney to take in the stunning sight of the jacarandas.

Destination NSW CEO Sandra Chipchase said: “NSW has so many jacaranda trees in bloom, we even have an annual festival dedicated to them in the historic town of Grafton.  From harbourside enclaves to regional towns, spring is a wonderful time to visit with family and friends to enjoy NSW in bloom during jacaranda season.”

Here are a few of NSW’s fantastic jacaranda spots:

1. North Shore: The North Shore suburbs of Lavender Bay, Greenwich, Waverton, Hunters Hill, Woolwich, Longueville and Wollstonecraft all display a beautiful selection of jacaranda trees during the season. Make a day of it and pack a picnic to enjoy a feast under the trees

2. Eastern Suburbs: Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs including Paddington, Woollahra and Double Bay all sport stunning lilac hues during October and November.  Oxford Street and Five Ways in Paddington always have a great selection to view

3. Sydney City: Starting at the Royal Botanic Gardens, a jacaranda walking tour through Circular Quay and The Rocks is a great way to see the trees, while taking in the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, harbour views and historic cobblestone streets of The Rocks

4. Inner Sydney:  The giant jacaranda tree at the University of Sydney is so iconic that growers at the University have cloned it to ensure it lives on.  This tree is one of Sydney’s most famous jacarandas and well worth a visit during the season.  Neighbouring suburbs of Glebe and Erskineville are also worth exploring for blue hue.

5. Grafton: Located alongside the majestic Clarence River on NSW’s North Coast, the historic town of Grafton is home to the Jacaranda Festival, taking place from 31 October to 7 November 2015. Famous for its 6,500 jacaranda trees, the Festival is one of Australia’s longest running flower festivals and celebrates the town’s magnificent lilac-blossomed trees. Festival events include the coronation of a jacaranda queen, a street parade with themed floats, markets, live performances and fireworks.




5 great hotels in Brisbane for business travellers

By Brisbane / Queensland /

Brisbane is the capital of Australia’s ‘Sunshine State’, which also means there’s a constant stream of business travellers. Among several great hotels here are five to ponder.

NEXT Hotel Brisbane

This hotel (pictured) offers city views, free WiFi and is located just opposite Queen Street Mall. Add a restaurant, fitness centre and a rooftop swimming pool with a poolside bar, and what other extras could you possibly ask for? NEXT Hotel Brisbane is about a 15-minute drive from the airport. There’s a 24-hour check in for your convenience and there’s also a ‘Transit Zone’, which has sleeping areas for a power nap, along with showers and free toiletries.

Stamford Plaza

Stamford Plaza’s guest rooms are traditionally furnished with spacious sitting areas but the cherry on top after a long day at the office are the  gorgeous views of the Brisbane River from Stamford. There’s a hot tub and a poolside terrace for you to relax and unwind. Stamford Plaza is situated in the heart of Brisbane and is only 300 metres from the Botanical Gardens.

Emporium Hotel

As the winner of two categories in the 2015 Trip Advisor Travellers Choice Awards, Emporium doesn’t disappoint. This luxury boutique hotel is located in the heart of the city’s stylish Emporium precinct, which is only minutes from Brisbane’s CBD. Some of the extensive services and facilities at Emporium Hotel include a stunning cocktail bar, gymnasium, a 24-hour business centre with internet access, express laundry service and iPads available for loan.

Spicers Balfour Hotel

Staying at the Spices Balfour Hotel in New Farm puts you right in the heart of Brisbane’s business district, while you experience 5-star boutique accommodation. Apart from all the comforts you’d expect to find at a modern hotel, there’s also an extensive range of massages, body treatments and facials. Not to mention there’s express check in and check out if you’re in a rush and need to be somewhere!

The New Inchcolm Hotel

The New Inchcolm Hotel in Wickham Terrace oozes elegance, sophistication and glamour. The charming staff and luxurious rooms await behind the heritage-listed façade of the building, which is steeped in history. The 1920s styled rooms feature free-standing baths, king-size beds and sofa beds.




5 great historic New South Wales pubs

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

New South Wales is home to so many pubs that you’ll probably never get the chance to visit them all. Add these five historic New South Wales pubs to your bucket list of great old pubs to visit for an awesome night out with your mates.

The Lord Nelson, Sydney

Established in 1841, The Lord Nelson is one of the country’s oldest brewery pubs. This is the place to go for decent ale. Choose from an incredible selection which is brewed on premises, including several 100 percent natural award winning Mainstay ales.

The Newport Arms, Sydney

The Newport Arms (established 1880) is one of Sydney’s iconic pubs, which consistently ranks among some of the best pubs in Australia. International visitors have this outdoor beer garden and its stunning ocean views at the top of their to-do list in Sydney.

Jack Duggans Irish Pub, Bathurst

The Irish know how to drink, and Jack Duggans Irish Pub’s numerous awards for excellence over the years prove they know how to make sure Aussie patrons have a good time too! The pub is famous for warmly welcoming visitors, so much so that people will detour during a long road trip just to enjoy one night at the pub.

Woolwich Pier, Sydney

This awesome harbourside pub was crowned the best hotel for dining, according to the Pub Food Guide 2014 awards. It’s diverse menu means you can be served high tea during the day, or a classic-style pub burger and a refreshing beer or whiskey at night.

The Scarborough Hotel, Wollongong

The internationally renown Scarborough has been going since 1886, and its pet-friendly beer garden and ideal location attract people from all over. The Scarborough sits on the top of a cliff, treating guests to amazing views of Illawarra’s coastline. The perfect place for a delicious burger, pasta, steak or fresh seafood on a sunny afternoon.




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5 celebrity chef restaurants in Sydney

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

Book a table at one of Sydney’s celebrity chef restaurants where you’ll encounter scrumptious dishes, superb service and a well satisfied tummy. Here are some of the best celebrity chef restaurants in Sydney.

Rockpool Bar and Grill with Neil Perry
Neil Perry is one of Australia’s most influential chefs, appearing on Foxtel, LifeStyle Food channels in Australia and BBC2 in Britain. Rockpool Bar and Grill in Sydney is located in an American style art deco skyscraper. The restaurant is known for its “perfect” steak, with the menu offering many beef dishes as well as pasta, wood fired grill, and seafood cooked in the charcoal oven.

Red Lantern with Luke Nguyen

The television show Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam warms hearts as he explores the flavours of Vietnam. At his Sydney restaurant, Red Lantern, you can also have a Vietnamese lesson with your meal! Dine on New Zealand King Salmon in caramel, chilli and black pepper sauce, or perhaps you might prefer noodles mixed with vegetables, curry spices, coconut cream and peanuts. With so many scrumptious meals, it will be difficult to choose.

Momofuku Seiobo with David Chang

A guest judge on a number of cooking shows such as Masterchef, David Chang is an American-Korean chef with a flair for all things Korean. At his Sydney restaurant, Momofuku Seiobo, the dinner tasting menu changes regularly and it’s said you should allow two hours for the experience. Momofuku Seiobo’s menu is also inspired by Sydney’s diverse food culture.

Aria with Matt Moran

This award winning restaurant at Circular Quay has gorgeous harbour views and is owned by chef Matt Moran, who is known for hosting the TV show the Chopping Block and appearing as a judge for Masterchef’s third season. Seasonal ingredients feature on the menu, offering delicious dishes such as Murray cod with lime and fennel, followed up with mouth-watering deserts such as strawberries and figs with chamomile ice cream and dulcey caramel.

Bills with Bill Granger

Bills, located in Bondi Beach, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills, is famous for its Ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter. Aussie chef, writer and TV personality Bill Granger started his restaurant in Sydney before going international with his relaxed style and dishes created with fresh, local ingredients. The menu features something for everyone, including old time favourites such as salads, burgers and smoothies.



Best markets in Sydney

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

Sydney is as good as it gets as a shopping destination. But sometimes it pays to venture out of the department stores and warehouse factories and into Sydney’s many different street markets to bag yourself some great bargains.

Here are some of Sydney’s best markets.

Finders Keepers Markets

An indie market which includes hundreds of designers and artists, showing the best in indie fashion, art and design. With over 150 unique stalls, the Finders Keepers Markets are much loved by Sydney-siders and have grown every year.

Bondi Markets (pictured)

One of Sydney’s best markets is located right on Bondi Beach, allowing you to head straight into the water either before or after you’ve trawled through different stalls. Open every Sunday, you’ll find original designer clothing, handmade jewellery, arts and crafts, retro furniture and more.

Liverpool Night Markets

On the first Saturday of each month, head to the Liverpool Night Markets for a range of street food, fashion stalls and entertainment for the whole family. At night, the market comes alive with colourful lights and its festival atmosphere. Have a look at the lovely handmade items by a local indigenous women’s group, Guntawang Arts and Crafts.

Double Bay Organic Food Markets

Open every Thursday in the beautiful Gulifoyle Park. The Organic Food Markets offer certified organic produce to gourmet treats, flowers and fashion. Here, you can show for your weekly supplies or simply enjoy a meal in the park with friends.

Round She Goes

Fashionistas looking for quality vintage fashion, jewellery and accessories will love the Round She Goes Market. With more than 60 stalls selling second-hand and vintage designs for women, you’ll also find brands such as Sass & Bide, Alex Perry and Marc Jacobs. It’s a $2 cost to get in and it’s held only three times a year at the Marrickville Town Hall, so make sure you don’t miss out when it’s on!



Six great reasons to visit Perth

By Australia / Perth / Western Australia /

PERTH is said to be the world’s most isolated capital city, closer to Singapore than it is to Australia’s capital, Canberra. One thing is certain – despite its distance, every Australian and visitor to our country should spend at least some time in this glorious city.

Here are six great reasons to head west:

1. It’s the sunshine capital

Ever booked a beach holiday but it turned into a holiday on the couch because there was hardly sun? Weather is unpredictable but Perth has more sunshine than any other Australian capital city, so you could visit Perth at almost any time of the year and you’re likely to enjoy plenty of outdoor activities. Perth enjoys 3000 hours of sunshine a year (8.8 hours each day on average) and summer sees temperatures remain around 30 degrees celsius.

2. Beautiful beaches

Facing the Indian Ocean, Perth is within close proximity to several gorgeous beaches. The crystal clear waters at Cottesloe Beach, about 15 minutes from Perth’s CBD, is a popular spot for snorkelling and swimming (and stopping in at one of Australia’s best pubs, the Cottesloe Hotel). You can also find you’re own little quiet spot at one of the many smaller beaches just outside of Perth.

3. Food and wine

Just 30 minutes east of Perth city is the historic Swan Valley. Here, you may visit a winery to taste some of Perth’s premium wines or head to a boutique brewery. You’ll also find original gourmet food throughout the valley’s numerous restaurants and cafes, while chock-a-holics can enter a world of chocolate at the Margaret River Chocolate Company’s factory in Swan Valley.

4. Swim with wild dolphins (pictured)

One of the highlights of a weekend in Perth is swimming with dolphins – wild ones! Between September and June, Rockingham Wild Encounters takes travellers out on a boat and into the ocean to swim with these gorgeous animals. This company has won several ecotourism awards and there are few other places in Australia where you can swim with wild dolphins. Photo: Scott Podmore.

5. Rottnest Island

Just a short ferry ride from Perth is Rottnest Island, home to white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. No cars are allowed on this natural paradise, so most people cycle around the island. Look out for the adorable, smiling quokkas – these cute creatures are found throughout the island.

6. Explore the weekend markets

Markets across Perth sell everything from handmade crafts to organic produce. every weekend. Western Australia’s largest undercover market on Sundays, Canning Vale Markets, operates 7am to 2pm. It has over 1,000 stalls selling new and second-hand furniture, clothing, books, toys and war memorabilia. You can pick up some colourful rugs and pottery at the Station Street Markets, which run Friday to Sunday, 9am to 5.30pm. There’s also the Perth City Farmers Market every Saturday morning, where you’ll pick up bargains from growers who farm ethically and sustainably.



Visit the Sydney Flower Market for a splash of colour and sweet scents

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

The Sydney Flower Market in Flemington is without a doubt one of the most colourful markets you’ll come across in Sydney, perhaps even Australia. Get out of bed at the crack of dawn and make your way to Flemington to make sure you don’t miss out on the market’s beautiful colours and the sweet, flowery scents that fill the air.

Address: 250-318 Parramatta Rd, Flemington

Trading hours: Open Monday to Saturday, 5am – 11am but most stores start closing around 10am

About the market: The Sydney Flower Market is Australia’s largest market for fresh cut flowers. While the market supplies flowers to florists across the city, it’s also open to the general public. The Sydney Flower Market has been a part of the city since the First Fleet arrived in the 18th century and today the market is home to around 170 stalls selling pretty flowers of every colour imaginable.

The flowers sold here come from growers from all over the state. New South Wales has a wide range of climates, meaning you’ll be able to find all your favourite flower species plus flowers you probably didn’t even know existed. The main growing areas are around the central coast, with growers travelling up to three hours each morning to bring you Australian grown, high quality, fresh cut flowers.

You’ll be able to find all the different varieties of flowers you would find in a florist shop, but for a fraction of the price! The Sydney Flower Market has a lively atmosphere and is a wonderful place to wander around in the morning, but why stroll without the intention of buying when there are so many beautiful flowers available for only a few dollars? Choose from an incredible range of species, including rows upon rows of beautiful peonies, carnations, blue delphiniums, gerberas, lilies, orchids, roses and many other native Australian flowers. The Sydney Flower Market really is a sight for sore eyes, lit up with every colour from vibrant blues, pinks, yellows and reds. Simply amazing.

Hints: Get there early, especially if you’re visiting the flower market on a Friday as that’s when most florists stock up for Saturday, their busiest day.

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Five of the best boutique hotels in Sydney and luxury accommodation

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

THE Harbour City is overflowing with hotels, B&Bs, backpackers, hostels, apartments and more. When it comes to boutique hotels in Sydney or luxury accommodation, there is no better place than our NSW capital.

Where to start? Here are five to ponder for your next Sydney visit.

1. QT Hotel, Market St, Sydney (right)

Funky bar, slick restaurant, powerhouse design elements threaded throughout, bold and daring modern touches to complement the heritage architecture, and a location right in the heart of Sydney’s CBD in Market Street. QT is one of the smoothest movers on the boutique hotels Sydney scene with service second to none. Some awesome packages include booking your luxury accommodation and receiving one of a Spa Q treatment for two, or a brekky for two or dinner for two.

More www.qtsydney.com.au

2. Blue Sydney – a Taj Hotel, the wharf at Woolloomooloo

A very stylish award-winner set on the water, BLUE Sydney is a hotspot and is located at the Wharf at Woolloomooloo Sydney. Offering special views of the Harbour foreshore, city lights and the Royal Botanical Gardens, Blue isn’t out of place on the trendy marina, entertainment and apartment complexes along the wharf promeade where delicious food awaits at restaurants considered as some of the best in the city.  The central business district, shopping strips, Sydney Opera House and The Royal Botanical Gardens are within easy walking distance from the hotel so you can’t really go wrong. Beautiful and spacious rooms as well as exquisite fit-outs make this a gem.

More www.tajhotels.com/Luxury/City-Hotels/Blue-Sydney/Overview.html

3. 1888 Hotel, Murry Street, Pyrmont

Have a guess when this snazzy hotel was built? Yep, 1888 sounds about right, so it’s certainly steeped in history. It’s located in a super convenient position in the inner-city suburb of Pyrmont, a mere walk away from Chinatown, Darling Harbour, great shopping streets and some of Sydney’s top watering holes and eateries (nearby Sokyo is a must for serious Japanese food!). The interiors are superb, quirky and comfy, featuring reclaimed Ironbark beams and period windows. The lobby bar and restaurant are super comfy to kick back in and 1888 is carving  a reputation for the outstanding service offered by its staff. This is one you can count on.

More www.1888hotel.com.au

4. Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbout, Circular Quay

Sheer bliss is how this five-star luxury option in the heart of the action at Circular Quay can best be described. Gorgeous rooms have beautiful fit-outs and offer breathtaking views of the harbour. It also features a gym, sauna, spa and indoor pool. It’s only a hop, skip and a jump away from the famous Sydney Rocks district. The Pullman has outstanding serviced apartment style rooms with stellar views and right near all of Sydney’s attractions.

More www.pullmanquaygrandsydneyharbour.com

5. Ravesi’s Hotel on Bondi Beach (right)

Sydney ravesis
So, what’s not to like about this one? The ultimate beach right out front, Bondi Beach, that is arguably Australia’s most famous, along with a buzzing night life, 12 individually styled and gorgeous rooms, a great vibe downstairs in the Lowtide Bar, and the chance to enjoy a pre-dinner drink from a range of fresh and innovative cocktails at the award winning Drift cocktail lounge. Location, location, location and style, style, style. This is certainly one to write home about.

10 fun things to do in Melbourne this summer

By Australia / Melbourne / Victoria /

MELBOURNE is one of the world’s most liveable cities. Some say THE world’s most liveable city. So, where to go in Melbourne? There’s an endless list of places to go in Melbourne, with exciting things to see and experience at any time of day.

Here are 10 fun things to do in Melbourne recommended by the DriveNow team.

1. Climb the 1000 Steps, Mt Dandenong

Experience a fraction of the exhaustion felt by Australian soldiers following the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in WWII. Appreciate the surrounding tree ferns, manna gum trees and plaques in memory of the soldiers who lost their lives on the trail.

2. Block Arcade for high tea, CBD

The Block Arcade’s stunning 19th century architecture is a sight for sore eyes, while the delicious treats at the Hopetoun Tea Rooms inside the Arcade are scrumptious delights for hungry tummies!

3. Visit the Vic Market, CBD

The lively and colourful Queen Victoria Market has existed for more than a century. Open every day of the week except Monday and Wednesday, shop for everything from clothing, souvenirs and cosmetics to fruit and vegetables.

4. Get up close with animals at Werribee Open Range Zoo

One of Melbourne’s most exciting places to go, the Werribee Zoo is home to zebras, lions, giraffes, rhinos and kangaroos. Experience your very own African adventure with an Off Road Safari, taking you closer to these magnificent animals.

5. Watch a movie in the moonlight, St Kilda

Ben & Jerry’s Openair Cinemas is the place to be from dusk in summer. Located on the South Beach Reserve next to the St Kilda Sea Baths, watch the latest movies or the good old classics. Bring your own food and blankets or hire a comfy beanbag.

6. Go ice skating, Docklands

You can still escape to a winter wonderland in a city with no snow. The whole family will enjoy ice skating. Saturday nights is Glow Night, where you skate around to some of the best dance tunes while wearing white and glowing in the dark.

7. Check out world-class graffiti art, CBD

Take some time to experience Melbourne’s vibrant urban culture. Unique, colourful stencils and murals line Melbounre’s alleyways, with some of the most popular art located in Hosier and Rutledge Lane (opposite Federation Square) and Union Lane (off Bourke Street Mall).

8. Grab some pizza or gelati, Carlton

Experience a taste of Italy by with a mouthwatering pizza from the first pizzeria established in Australia, Toto’s Pizza House. If you feel like some desert, enjoy ice cream from a nearby gelateria while walking along Melbourne’s famous Lygon St.

9. Cycle the Main Yarra Trail, northeast Melbourne

The scenic riverside path follows the Yarra River, running from Melbourne’s northeast suburbs to the CBD. Relax as you follow the windy path, which is touted as one of Melbourne’s best bike rides.

10. Shop until you drop, inner Melbourne

Melbourne is famously labelled Australia’s fashion capital. Explore the quirky shops along Brunswick St, grab a bargain at one of the several factory outlets in Smith St, find stunning clothes for upcoming events in Chapel St or Bridge Rd.