- Park Hyatt Sydney (NSW; tel. 800/633-7313 in the U.S. and Canada, or 02/9256 1234 in Australia): You'll have to book well in advance to snag a room at Sydney's best-situated property, at the edge of the city's historic Rocks district. Many rooms have fabulous views across the harbor to the Sydney Opera House.
- The Sebel Reef House & Spa Palm Cove (Cairns, QLD; tel. 1800/079 052 in Australia, or 07/4055 3633): Everyone who stays here says the same thing: "It feels like home." Airy rooms look into tropical gardens, waterfalls cascade into the pools, mosquito nets drape over the beds, and you could swear pith-helmeted colonial officers will be back any minute to finish their gin-and-tonics in the Brigadier Bar. Idyllic Palm Cove Beach is just across the road.
- Lizard Island (off Cairns, QLD; tel. 1300/233 432 in Australia, or 03/9413 6288): Lizard Island has long been popular for its game fishing, wonderful coral and diving, smart food, and simple upscale lodge accommodations.
- Bedarra Island (off Mission Beach, QLD; tel. 1300/384 417 in Australia, or 07/4047 4747): Presidents and princesses in need of a little time out come to this small rainforest island ringed by beaches. The timber villas are cozy, and the discreet staff assures privacy. Best of all, though, is the extravagant 24-hour bar.
- Hayman (Whitsunday Islands, QLD; tel. 1800/075 175 in Australia: This is Australia's most glamorous resort. It has classy rooms, excellent restaurants, a staff that's keen to please, a superb hexagonal swimming pool, and a fleet of charter boats waiting to spirit you off to the Reef or your own deserted isle.
- Longitude 131° (Uluru, Red Centre, NT; tel. 08/8957 7888): The luxury option at the Ayers Rock resort scene, Longitude 131° is an African-style safari camp set in the sand dunes, with great views of Uluru. It's very exclusive and very expensive, but you experience the Outback in style.
- El Questro Homestead (The Kimberley, WA; tel. 08/9169 1777): Charming country decor spiced up with Indonesian antiques, great cuisine, strict privacy, and a dramatic gorge location make this glamorous homestead on a million-acre cattle station popular with jet-setters. Cruise wild gorges, heli-fish for barramundi, and hike to Aboriginal rock art while you're here.
- Cable Beach Club Resort Broome (WA; tel. 1800/199 099 in Australia, or 08/9192 0400): Chinatown meets the Outback at this elegant corrugated-iron-and-pagoda-studded resort lying low along glorious Cable Beach in the romantic pearling port of Broome. Three to-die-for suites are decorated with superb Asian antiques and paintings by luminaries of the Australian art world.
- Southern Ocean Lodge (Kangaroo Island, SA; tel. 02/9918 4355): Australia's only super luxury wilderness lodge sits high on the cliff tops overlooking a wild and windswept bay. If you can drag yourself away from the view and resist the spa, the wilderness safaris offer some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in Australia.
- Arkaba Station (Flinders Ranges, SA; tel. 1300/790 561): Get a feel for how the squattocracy (Australia's version of landed gentry) once lived in this historic homestead on a sheep station at the edge of the outback. There's also opportunity to sleep out under the stars in a five-star swag on overnight walking safaris.
- The Como Melbourne (VIC; tel. 1800/033 400 in Australia, or 03/9825 2222): Great service, nice rooms, and free rubber ducks for the bathtub make this one of our favorite top-flight Australian hotels.
- Hyatt Hotel Canberra (ACT; tel. 800/633-7313 in the U.S. and Canada, or 02/6270 1234): Visiting heads of state and pop stars make this their residence when staying in Canberra. It's a 2-minute drive from the central shopping district and a stone's throw from Lake Burley Griffin and the Parliamentary Triangle.
- The Islington (Hobart, TAS; tel. 1800/703 006 in Australia, or 03/6220 2123): This Regency-style house, built in Hobart's "dress circle" in 1847, may well be the most beautiful, personal, and exclusive small hotel in Australia. A modern extension has a soaring ceiling and glass walls, with views of Mt. Wellington.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.