THE HEIGHT OF HIGH TEAS
Many cups of tea, glasses of bubbles and delicate cakes will be savoured the world over in May – let’s just call it Harry and Meghan month – if luxury hotels get their way. At Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London (a mouthful in itself ), sweets inspired by flowers grown in the royal gardens are being served as part of a Royal Botanical Afternoon Tea, celebrating the May 19 wedding, until June 1. And this is a high tea that’s really high: it’s served in Ting restaurant, on the 35th floor of The Shard. As well as pastries and cakes, guests can nibble on roast chicken and myrtle sandwiches, a tribute to Harry’s intimate proposal over a home-cooked roast chicken. If you’re in London in the next few weeks, the tea will set you back £60 (about $110). The Savoy in London, a royal haunt for many years, is among Fairmont hotels around the world offering commemorative teas to celebrate the royal wedding.
Melbourne is getting a new boutique hotel in June. United Places Botanic Gardens in South Yarra will have 12 suites with premium amenities and personalised butler service, but also a wood-fired restaurant by one of Melbourne’s most successful chefs of recent years, Scott Pickett. Guests get priority seating in the restaurant and will be able to order in-room breakfast from a Pickett menu, the cost of which is included in the starting room rate of $650 a night.
Spanning three floors, there are nine one-bedroom suites and three two-bedroom suites with large sunken bathtubs overlooking the city. Luxe embellishments include velvet drapes, hardwood floors, bathroom pods clad in charcoaltinted one-way mirror – teamed with the homely comforts of a wellequipped kitchen and terrace. UNITEDPLACES.COM.AU
Vibe Hotels continues to expand. The group, part of TFE Hotels, has just opened Vibe Hotel North Sydney in the revamped Northpoint business precinct, the first of four new addresses it’s adding to its present collection of eight. The 187-room hotel has a rooftop pool, and a rooftop bar will open later in the year.
The group is building another Sydney hotel in Darling Harbour, and two more in Queen St, Melbourne, and Argyle St, Hobart. Vibe’s Gold Coast hotel is being refurbished and a new dining option being added to its Sydney Goulburn St hotel. VIBEHOTELS.COM
Also in Sydney, but beachsidOen, heritage-listed Hotel Rave@siessicnape_team Bondi has unveiled 12 redesigned boutique rooms and suites inspired by mid-century design and the beach playgrounds of Cuba and Miami. But that’s not to say the hotel doesn’t pay homage to its own famous lOoncaptIniotner, down to small touches suc@heasscapesnaps bathrooms stocked with skincare products by Vanessa Megan, a local who started off at Bondi Markets.
The hotel bars, upper terrace and restaurant have also beenVrIaenemovaaIltesdc.ape Rooms start at $285 for weeknights, $315 on weekends.
CYCLE TO RECYCLE
Environmentally-minded cyclists can join the war against single-use plastics on a special Intrepid bike trip. The one-off tour – Peloton Against Plastic – to run in two legs through June and July, will take travellers through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, and will see Intrepid Travel partner with grassroots organisations to combat problems with plastic waste.
A doco will be filmed along the way with 10 per cent of profits from the cycling tour going toward Cambodian plastic upcycling charity Rehash Trash, which turns roadside rubbish into functional items.
Travellers can choose to join the Peloton Against Plastic trip from June 16 to July 12, or opt for the 15day cycle of Vietnam or the 13-day Cambodia and Thailand leg. INTREPIDTRAVEL.COM/AU/PELOTON-PLASTIC
QE2 HOTEL AHOY
One of the great Trans-Atlantic cruise liners, the QE2, is now officially a floating hotel. The ship, which has been awaiting transformation in Dubai since her retirement from 40 years at sea a decade ago, is now a permanent fixture at the Dubai port of Mina Rashid, where the first stage of her reinvention as a hotel is under way.
Some of the 13-deck hotel’s restored rooms and suites are open for guests, who can go to five of the planned 13 restaurants and bars, including originals such as the Chart Room historical lounge and bar and the Golden Lion pub. The QE2 will have a grand launch in October. QE2.COM
Sweets inspired by flowers grown in the royal gardens will be served at The Shard, London, as part of ‘Harry and Meghan month’.