The Best City Escapes in Australia and New Zealand

Calile Hotel, Qld

Pool-side loungers and politicos, eco-friendly design fans and Gatsby die-hards there’s something for everyone across Australia and New Zealand at these chic, urban retreats.

If you want a tropical timeout

A dreamy pool for soaking up the Queensland sun and buzzy dining options are just some of the perks on offer at Brisbane’s Calile Hotel in Fortitude Valley’s James Street precinct. Conceived by award-winning architecture firm Richards & Spence, the building pairs concrete with lush tropical greenery that adorns white brick walls.

Inside, rooms are decked out in muted pastels of blush and duck-egg blue with elegant accents of pink marble benchtops and cork floors. But the real showstopper is the 27-metre pool flanked by palm trees and pistachio-coloured day beds, where you can recline with a refreshing watermelon juice mixed with peach and mint.

You can also indulge in an afternoon at the on-site KAILO Wellness Medispa with its infrared sauna and signature facial treatment featuring French clay and cold-pressed plant oils. Food-wise, slice into flaky spanakopita at the hotel’s modern Greek restaurant Hellenika, taste delicate scallop nigiri at the Sushi Room and in the Lobby Bar, snack on blue swimmer crab toast topped with radishes grown in the rooftop garden.

If you want to step back to a bygone era

Hotel Kurrajong Canberra, ACT

The heritage-listed Hotel Kurrajong Canberra delivers historic charm at every turn with its pavilion-style building, grand driveway, hand-carved mantels and corridors lined with framed black-and-white photographs of former prime ministers.

John Smith Murdoch designed the 1926 property – the Chief Commonwealth Architect behind Old Parliament House, which is 10 minutes walk away – and all 147 rooms have plush king-size beds, soft teal furnishings and walk-in showers. Political buffs will love staying in the wood-panelled Chifley Room in the heritage wing – it’s where Ben Chifley lived as PM.

Chifley’s Bar & Grill is perfect for a long lunch, serving hearty classics including a premium selection of meat dishes and Australian contemporary cuisine. Find a comfortable spot to sip a classic Benny’s Double or a gin and tonic made with the hotel’s smoky Cigar Gin, a collaboration with The Canberra Distillery.

Spend a leisurely morning strolling around Lake Burley Griffin and perusing The National Portrait Gallery, both a 15-minute walk away.

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If you want a glamorous city getaway

Occupying a corner of Melbourne’s CBD since 1866, The Savoy Hotel on Little Collins provides an elegant retreat from its bustling location opposite Southern Cross Station. Inside the vast marble lobby, jazzy standards emanate from The Alexander Bar, a low-lit affair with Art Deco influences. Settle into a navy velvet banquette and try the Hollywood Glamour cocktail, a heady mix of dark spiced rum, amaretto, cherry liqueur and pineapple created in homage to cinematic royalty Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner.

Upstairs, the Roaring Twenties design scheme translates into geometric-patterned carpets, subway-tiled bathrooms and guestrooms dressed in palettes of grey and cream. Those on the upper floors look out over the city and Docklands; book the Corner Plaza Room to maximise your vantage point. Need more space? The Alexander Suite comes with a separate living and dining area and a fully outfitted kitchen. There’s also the V Hotel Spa on the lower ground floor for rounding out your weekend with an hour-long hot stone massage.

If you want a sustainable New Zealand escape

The Hotel Britomart, NZ

The Hotel Britomart, a striking brick-clad tower on Auckland’s downtown waterfront, is New Zealand’s first 5 Green Star hotel. Greenhouse-gas emissions are tightly capped and each of its 150,000 clay bricks were handmade – you’ll also find reclaimed wood everywhere, from the handles to the hotel’s double-height entrance doors which is made of driftwood cast in bronze. Kiwi handiwork is core to the rooms, with ceramic vases by Elena Renker, organic Sans[ceuticals] skincare and coffee-table tomes showcasing the best of NZ design. In the top-floor Rangihoua Suite, floor-to-ceiling glass doors open onto a 35-square-metre terrace, where you can laze in front of the outdoor fireplace while watching dusk descend over Waitematā Harbour.

Take the hotel’s custom bikes for a spin around the nine-block Britomart neighbourhood before a spot of lunch back at the on-site restaurant, kingi, a historic exposed-brick space in the adjacent Masonic House building. Naturally, the menu is a celebration of sustainably caught seafood: think Te Matuku Bay oysters, snapper head terrine and fried buttermilk blue cod wings with ranch dip.

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