Even if we can’t travel overseas right now, we can still dream of our next destination, travel editor Winsor Dobbin reports.
Nowhere on the planet does luxury wildlife experiences better than South Africa.
Which is why the new Kruger Shalati experience – a luxury train parked on a bridge over the Sabie River – is No.1 on my bucket list once travel returns to normal.
Kruger Shalati, which opened in December, adds a new dimension to visiting the iconic Kruger National Park game reserve.
The newly refurbished train sits on the historic Selati Bridge above the Sabie River. It pays homage to the guests who explored the park nearly 100 years ago, when the first visits were allowed in the 1920s.
The train delivering those pioneers would park overnight in the exact spot where Kruger Shalati is positioned.
Offering 31 rooms, consisting of 24 carriage rooms and seven Bridge House rooms that will open towards the end of the year, Kruger Shalati has glass walls which allow views along the length of the majestic river while featuring local art and craft designs.
Aligned with the floor level of the train is a unique swimming pool. Take a dip while gazing at the crocodiles, hippos, buffaloes and elephants below.
Rates include accommodation, all meals, teas and coffees daily, soft drinks, house wines, local brand spirits and beers, two game drives daily in open safari vehicles and return road transfers between the Skukuza Airport (more a landing strip really) and the lodge. Prices start from around $680 per person per night twin share.
All suites have king-sized beds, en-suite bathrooms with both bath and showers as well as separate enclosed toilet, mini bar and electronic safe.
Outside walkways run along the bridge – which was decommissioned in 1973 – connecting the hotel’s different spaces. For details see www.krugershalati.com
Opening a new-build city centre hotel poses considerable challenges.
Launching a new hotel brand in a city at the time of a global pandemic makes that challenge even tougher.
That’s why the team at the new Vibe Hotel Hobart have performed miracles in the few weeks they have been open.
A new team: the first Vibe in Tasmania, and restrictions of everything from soft furnishings to the numbers allowed in the restaurant, or the lifts.
That The Vibe has, sorry for the pun, a very good vibe, is a credit to them – and Hobart folk and interstate visitors now have another excellent hotel option at a lead-in price of under $200 a night.
What we have here is a modern hotel (think plenty of plugs and USB ports, fast free wifi and Chromecast) within walking distance to the waterfront and dozens of Hobart bars and eateries, as well as being just across the road from the Royal Hobart Hospital.
The first hotel from Raadas Property – and managed by TFE Hotels – the lead-in rate here is $183 with an opening special of 20% off a fully flexible rate, room only. There are 142 rooms, including 16 suites, all with air-con, flat-screen TVs, mini bars (post-Covid) and in-room safes.
The feeling is hip, but welcoming, not always an easy combination to find.
There are multiple USB charging points at both bedside and the desk and the beds are super comfortable. You get the sense that a lot of planning has gone into the property. My upper storey room had expansive views of the Hobart waterfront a couple of blocks away.
For those looking to chill out, there is a gym, a lovely, heated pool long enough to allow laps and a bar and eatery with a fascinating history.
Back in the 1930s, the Belvedere Ballroom was Hobart’s best address for fun and dancing.
The Art Deco space, which stood where the hotel now sits, is memorialised in chain art – featuring an eye-catching Kriskadecor panel – and several historic images.
All day dining (although dinner is only offered on Friday and Saturday nights right now) features a very well-priced menu including dishes like pork cutlet with seeded mustard, apple and lemon slaw and fennel aoili ($26) and Cape Grim flat iron steak with potato gratin, salad and truffle butter ($35).
There are several vegan/vegetarian options, including a roast pumpkin salad ($17), I liked my stay a lot – and was particularly impressed with my old school breakfast of scrambled eggs on sourdough toast with crispy bacon.
The Vibe Hotel Hobart is at 36 Argyle Street, Hobart. https://vibehotels.com/hotel/hobart
Slovenia is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets: accessible, friendly and affordable.
It is also the proud bearer of the title of European Region of Gastronomy 2021.
The capital of Ljubljana, a beautiful small city, is big enough to have a cosmopolitan air but close to its farms and providores.
Back in pre-pandemic times, visitors from all over the world sat in Ljubljana’s trendy bistros and posted to their Instagram profiles, tried to capture the best image of the Triple Bridge reflected in the calm surface of the Ljubljanica River.
Major gastronomic events and the promotion and cultivation of local produce and cuisine take place in Ljubljana under the aegis of the Gourmet Ljubljana and Taste Ljubljana – and you are only a couple of hours from Venice by car or bus.