Some of the most stylish souvenirs are in the lobby of your hotel, writes Angie Kelly.
Forget embossed soaps, postcards and toothpaste - the hotel foyer shop has morphed from a place to get essentials to a destination boutique. In many communities of the Pacific and Asia, the resort store is an important showcase for local art, jewellery and fashion.
In big cities, iconic hotels are producing signature delectables to cement the memory of your stay - teddy bears, teacups and even tennis balls are the new monogrammed bathrobes.
Nowadays you can take home the quirky knick knacks from your room (QT Sydney), the linen, pillows, doonas and even the bed (Melbourne's new Crown gifts). And the gift with purchase? Bragging rights to enjoy long after the trip is over.
THE LANGHAM, MELBOURNE
Shop: Flavours of Langham
If you love pink, you will be able to indulge your passion in so many ways here at the Langham Melbourne's first floor boutique, which should be renamed "Girl Heaven". Pillowcases with a princess crown motif, butterfly prints, fairy bookends, heart-shaped chocolate boxes, a teddy mascot in luxe pink satin PJs and pink champagne naturally. But the pinktastic piece de resistance? Rose-hued tennis balls.
(Note: a slight colour scheme departure has been made out of respect for the city's best-loved religious icon - the red leather Sherrin Aussie Rules footy.)
Best buys: Set of three pink tennis balls $15. Monogrammed red leather Sherrin AFL football $149.
The Langham, Melbourne
1 Southgate Ave, Southbank. See melbourne-langhamhotels.com.au.
INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL, HONG KONG
Shop: Shanghai Tang
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the cheongsam is the sexiest dress in the world. Adding even more va va voom, fine silk merchants Shanghai Tang take traditional Oriental cuts and styles and give them a modern edge.
On top of bolts of beautiful fabrics (have your cheongsam made to measure), the store has made its name putting that same modern stamp on homewares typical in the far east - noodle bowls, soup spoons, teapots, crockery and photo frames in hot-right-now colour schemes plus a sigh-worthy collection of vases in primary brights and florals.
Best buys: Pink, silk-lined, Italian cotton chrysanthemum motif cocktail dress $1081. Chinese counting bowl and spoon with rest in bone china with gold trim. $172.
PALAZZO VERSACE, GOLD COAST
Shop: Gianni Versace boutique
It's not often you get hit by a case of teacup envy but in this treasure box filled with the famous Italian designer shoes, fashion and fragrances, the richly patterned, gold-edged china stands out, representing the ultimate elevation of an ordinary daily ritual into the style stratosphere.
Choose from red, black, orange and yellow patterns with flamboyant gold wings replacing the humble handle.
The homewares collection means you can add a flourish to your own palazzo - a lavish cushion or porcelain dinner plates. Nothing says hang the expense quite like a set of monogrammed, made-in-Italy, black wooden coathangers ($120 for a set of six); and since one is never too young to be fashion-forward, why not pick up a pair of faux-fur, calf-length boots for baby ($75)?
Best buys: Baroque black and gold teacup and saucer $320. Baroque black and gold cushions between $400 and $500 each.
Palazzo Versace, Sea World Drive, Main Beach Queensland. See palazzoversace.com.au.
Shop: onboard boutique
Question: What bonus inclusion do you get on an American luxury cruise ship? Answer: An American shop full of American goodies.
As anyone who has hit the malls or outlets stateside knows, that means big savings on favourite brands. Find Marc Jacobs, Coach, Ralph Lauren plus high-end formal fashion (for that unexpected invitation to dine with the captain), fine jewellery and watches from houses like Chopard, Givenchy, Escade and Dior.
The onboard boutique also sells special mementos from around the ship - dinner plates from the main dining room which have a lovely vintage world map design, glassware and other souvenir china and collectibles.
A memorable personal shopping triumph came when I found a long-loved bottle of Idole d'Armani, not available in Australia, which I had been looking for more than 12 months.
Best buys: Crystal Home Collection, The Bistro Guy Buffet porcelain dinner and side plates POA.
CROWN METROPOLE MELBOURNE
Shop: Crown Gifts
Dozens of duck down and feather pillows identical to those found on the hotel beds now have new homes since becoming the most popular item in the new gift shop in the casino and hotel complex.
Guests are also taking home doonas, sheets, towels and specially made teddy bears that double as doorstops. Along with upscale candles, the item with the biggest wow factor has to be the 100 per cent cotton luxury bathmats ($130), which at 1 metre x 1 metre are the size of a rug. Even those who are low on cash after a visit to the casino next door can enjoy a mini retail charge - lead pencils are going for $3.
Best buys: Signature teddy bear doorstop $40. Duck down and feather pillows $170, including pillow protector. Signature white cotton with blue piping pillowcase $30.
Level 1 Crown Metropole Melbourne. See crowngifts.com.au.