Traveller top destinations: Our 15 top places in the world right now

Traveller's writers and editors name their 15 favourite places in the world right now.

BERGEN, NORWAY

Don't let the ring of verdant hills protecting the town fool you. Bergen is a city of the sea. For 1000 years, the good folk of Bergen made their living from the waves; given the number of cruise lines that pull into port, you could argue they still do. Walk around the harbour to the lively market and gawp at the unlikely-looking sea creatures for sale. Plenty of visitors stop to snack on fresh-caught salmon or crabs, however it is worth making a reservation at one of Bergen's fine restaurants. Hanne Frosta's Hanne pa Hoyden with herb pots flanking the entrance and a beehive inside, showcases the best seasonal ingredients. For seafood lovers, Lysverkert is the place to go. The town's museums range from the oddball to the impressive: the collection of Chinese art and artefacts at KODE 1 is one of the best in Europe. See visitbergen.com.

UTE JUNKER

AIRLIE'S FRIENDLIEST FIVE-STAR, QUEENSLAND

It's like you never left home … if your home happens to be a stately mansion overlooking the Whitsunday Islands. But the best places to stay in 2015 are also the friendliest, and nowhere is homelier than Airlie Beach's finest accommodation, OneOceanView Set on a sprawling bush block high above the Coral Sea with five suites to choose from, it has a live-in host who will cater to your every need. See oneoceanview.com.au

CRAIG TANSLEY

POINT LONSDALE, VICTORIA

Could this be Victoria's cutest village? Thirty minutes from Geelong on the Bellarine Peninsula, the seaside village (population 2500) has the essentials: sea views, sidewalk cafes and an early-opening wine bar. Walk the 5.3-kilometre seaside promenade to Queenscliff, climb to the perfectly white lighthouse, or comb the peninsula for the perfect local wine and cheese combination and sit on the pier to watch as craft sail into Port Phillip Bay. See visitgeelongbellarine.com.au

BELINDA JACKSON

THE REBIRTH OF NASHVILLE, US

A new multi million-dollar convention centre, relocated and revamped Musicians Hall of Fame, new Johnny Cash Museum and an expansion of legendary country-music venue Ryman Auditorium are all part of Nashville's new buzz. This year, Grand Ole Opry celebrates its 90th anniversary. An emerging food scene, new hipster hubs in districts such as East Nashville and 12 South, and a new reputation for rock music are other reasons to visit. See visitmusiccity.com.

BRIAN JOHNSTON

Advertisement

SYDNEY'S NEW SHINE

The Broadway-Chippendale area beyond Sydney's Central Station was long a no-go area of rundown factories and shabby terraced housing. Many visitors, and for that matter, Sydneysiders, are still oblivious to its transformation, with massive urban renewal adding parks and spectacular contemporary buildings from world-famous architects such as Jean Nouvel, Norman Foster and Frank Gehry. White Rabbit Gallery provides a leading collection of contemporary Chinese art, and shops and cafes buzz. See centralparksydney.com; whiterabbitcollection.org

BRIAN JOHNSTON

THE MIAMI BEACH EDITION

Master hotelier Ian Schrager has been running circles around the hospitality industry since he invented the now-ubiquitous category of "boutique." Many of the things we take for granted in hotels, including lobby spaces designed for socalising, are because of this consummate trendsetter. Any property Schrager opens is a reason to sit up and pay attention. Recently, in collaboration with Marriott, Schrager has launched a series of jaw-dropping hotels in locations such as Budapest and London. The latest, EDITION, at Miami Beach , is billed as a "next generation urban resort". What does that mean? Mostly, it has to do with ambition. The Miami Beach Edition tries to combine a traditional hotel with everything a guest could possibly want, from dining to nightlife. Just off the lobby is an upmarket food bazaar by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. In the basement, a private club in the tradition of Studio 54 sits alongside a bowling alley and ice-skating rink, all of it pulsing with lights and sound designed by Patrick Woodroffe, the man responsible for the concerts of Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. The decor is white and cool; this is a beach hotel, after all. Think pools, open-air bars, a private beach with an outdoor movie screen. There are 294 guest rooms, suites, and bungalows: private buildings with ocean views and marble soaking tubs. Launched during Art Basel last year, the hotel became an instant favourite of the glitterati crowd. It will be interesting to see if it stays that way when Faena opens just down the road this November, a new hotel designed by Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin. See www.editionhotels.com/miami-beach

LANCE RICHARDSON

KAKA'AKO, DOWNTOWN HONOLULU, US

Between the Ala Moana Shopping Centre and downtown Honolulu there's Kaka'ako, a gritty industrial district of just nine blocks set to become the hippest neighbourhood in Honolulu. While redevelopment into a mixed community of housing, green spaces and cultural precincts will be rolled out over the next 15 years, the street artists, food trucks, designers and influencers have moved in, taking up residence in buildings earmarked for demolition and setting the foundation for a culturally rich, sustainable community. See ourkakaako.com

KERRY VAN DER JAGT

PARK HYATT, BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

For sheer style and opulence the Park Hyatt, Buenos Aires (buenosaires.park.hyatt.com) is fit for a prince. Funny really, as the building is the site of a former neoclassical palace, much of which has been retained to house the property's premium suites. The hotel's flagship features include a 25-metre indoor swimming pool and extensive spa, an art gallery showcasing local and international artists, an elegant, classic-style garden, and best of all, The Oak Bar, the city's only watering hole where it's still permissible, even encouraged, to blaze up a fat cigar while quaffing a single malt. Very civilised.

GUY WILKINSON

IRAN

Few countries have been in the news more than Iran over the last year, but through the chaos and the speculation one thing is clear: Iran is opening up. At least that's the theory. Visa applications are still a thing of mystery and occasionally frustration, but if you can get in, the rewards are spectacular. Shiraz, Esfahan and the glorious UNESCO World Heritage site of Persepolis await those brave enough to make the effort.

JOHN GOLDER

SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE HIGH-END STAYS

High-end hotels in Cambodia are taking enormous strides to great social and environment effect in their communities, putting the kingdom on the map for genuinely responsible tourism. Leading the charge in Siem Reap is the uber-cool, Bill Bensley-designed boutique hotel, Shinta Mani Club and Resort. General manager Christian De Boer is passionate about the hotel and its 275 full-time staff – mostly people from outlying villages who have completed traineeships from French baking to hotel management – and providing guests with a seamless, warm stay. "This town has come so far in 10 years and we are focused on building confidence in our staff," De Boer says of the kingdom that has one of the largest populations of unskilled youth in South-east Asia. As well, the not-for-profit Shinta Mani Foundation, a registered NGO, is active in the surrounding villages with education, small business start-ups and health care at its core; 200 water wells, four schools and countless houses have been built so far. South-west off the coast of Sihanoukville, on Cambodia's first island resort of Song Saa guests can explore the now-protected coral reef that rings the exclusive property, which caters to just 60 guests, or venture further afield in the Koh Rong archipelago with the resident marine biologist. Australian owners Rory and Melita Hunter were instrumental in creating the kingdom's first marine reserve that includes the 200 metres from the resort's two islands of Koh Ouen and Koh Bong. And following the establishment of the Song Saa Foundation children's education in the neighbouring village of Prek Svay, sustainable fishing methods and mangrove conservation are among the collaborative projects which have seen fish stocks and corals recovering in the area. See www.mrandmrssmith.com; www.shintamani.com; songsaa.com

JANE REDDY

KANAZAWA, JAPAN

Kanazawa is the most interesting Japanese city you've never heard of. Not part of the traditional "golden route" between Tokyo and Kyoto, the capital of Ishikawa prefecture (hot-ishikawa.jp) is on Japan's west coast. Having escaped bombing at the end of World War Two it is one of the country's best-preserved cities, boasting Kenroku-en, arguably the greatest ornamental garden in Japan. As of April, it now also has a new bullet train, making rail faster than flying when transferring from Tokyo. See kanazawa-tourism.com.

JOHN GOLDER

GEORGIA

Looking to explore somewhere special that still deserves the "undiscovered" tag? Wild but well mannered, with a distinct culture, language, food, history and manners that date back beyond the earliest days of Christendom, Georgia is a pocket-sized country that ramps skywards from vineyards and strawberry fields into the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus Mountains, and it'll charm your socks off. See eetbtravel.com.au.

MICHAEL GEBICKI

CANAL ST-MARTIN, PARIS

From its starting point near Republique Metro station in north-eastern Paris, the Canal St-Martin runs above ground for less than two kilometres before it broadens at the Bassin de la Villette, yet there's poetry, good looks and charm every inch of the way. The one-time working class area in the 10th arrondissement, with its picturesque hump-back iron footbridges and plane trees that cast a mirror image across the canal - bore all the hallmarks of hard times before a starring role in the film Amelie put it on the style radar. Today, the cafes, patisseries, shabby-chic bars and quirky boutiques flanking the canal have become a hangout for fashionistas, philosophers and guitar-strumming street poets alike. See en.parisinfo.com.

MICHAEL GEBICKI

HE TINY HOUSE MOVEMENT

The tiny house movement is fast gaining momentum across the globe as people shun McMansions for sustainable, affordable housing. Now the phenomenon is expanding to the hotel sector and Portland, Oregon, where many a global trend has taken off (think food trucks, hipster beards and craft beers), is its birthplace. Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel, which bills itself as the first tiny house hotel in the US (and possibly the world), has rolled into Oregon's Alberta District. It comprises six custom-made tiny houses on flat-bed trailers, each with a kitchen, bathroom, Portland artwork, games, playing cards and local coffee. See tinyhousehotel.com

SHERIDEN RHODES

NORTHERN BALI

There is a softer, less tawdry side to Bali, than recent tragic events may have indicated. You just need to take the trouble to get there with a four-to-five hour drive across the island's magnificently mountainous interior. Off the coast at Lovina, in a traditional Balinese fishing catamaran which takes tourists on post-dawn dolphin-spotting excursions, there isn't single ostentatious five-star plus resort to be seen, let alone much other development. And further on yet, to the distant western side of Bali where ferries connect it to rest of the Indonesian archipelago, you will find the island's only national park, where the touts, tattoos and tourists of places like Kuta can, happily, seem a universe removed.See indonesia.travel.

ANTHONY DENNIS

 

Comments